Coun­cil puts cuts de­ci­sion on hold

Res­i­dents urged to have their say on op­tions

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

S outh L a n a r k s h i re coun­cil­lors have de­ferred a de­ci­sion on next year’s bud­get to seek feed­back from res­i­dents.

As ex­pected, no de­ci­sion was taken on the fi­nal pack­age at an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee last week.

But mem­bers did agree to send an in­for­ma­tion leaflet to ev­ery house­hold in the re­gion, out­lin­ing the pro­pos­als.

The cash-strapped author­ity is set to make £36.3mil­lion in cuts for 2016/17.

That fig­ure could even in­crease de­pend­ing on their grant set­tle­ment, with the de­tails ex­pected next Wed­nes­day, De­cem­ber 16.

Mem­bers were due to meet to­day (Wed­nes­day) for a spe­cial sem­i­nar to dis­cuss var­i­ous ser­vice re­views.

Last week we re­ported that Burn­hill Sports Cen­tre was fac­ing clo­sure un­der the plans.

Over 400 jobs are ex­pected to go, with ed­u­ca­tion be­ing the worst-hit coun­cil ser­vice.

Coun­cil leader Ed­die McAvoy urged res­i­dents in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang to have their voices heard.

He said: “About 85 per cent of coun­cil fund­ing comes from the gov­ern­ment grant and we know that the West­min­ster gov­ern­ment is pur­su­ing a pol­icy of aus­ter­ity.

“But the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is making things even worse by fur­ther cut­ting the pro­por­tion of funds they pass on to coun­cils.

“South La­nark­shire has al­ready found more than £ 90m in ef­fi­cien­cies in re­cent years and it is recog­nised as a very well run coun­cil so find­ing £36m more in sav­ings next year, plus more in the years to fol­low, is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult.

“I’m ap­palled that the gov­ern­ment has put us in this po­si­tion and I call on min­is­ters to do more to help us pro­tect lo­cal ser­vices. If they fail to do that we have no op­tion but to look for cuts.”

He added: “All the pro­pos­als are just that at the mo­ment : pro­pos­als.

“We are look­ing for pub­lic feed­back and also all coun­cil­lors are be­ing given plenty of op­por­tu­nity to make their own al­ter­na­tive op­tions.

“How­ever, we are legally obliged to bal­ance our bud­get so if any­thing comes out of the pack­age we need an­other, fully-costed way to find the money.”

The sav­ings pack­age to­tals £36.27m but bet­ter col­lec­tion rates of coun­cil tax could con­trib­ute £3m more to­wards that next year and an­other £470,000 in sav­ings was iden­ti­fied as op­tions as part of last year’s bud­get process.

An­other £2.5m could be saved in the coun­cil’s bor­row­ing costs, while of­fi­cers have sug­gested a fur­ther £1.5m could be used from re­serves to re­duce the sav­ings re­quire­ment in 2016/17.

A full list of all pro­pos­als is avail­able on the coun­cil web­site at www.south­la­nark­shire.gov.uk/ sav­ings and in all the area’s Q&A of­fices and li­braries.

Res­i­dents are be­ing in­vited to leave com­ments on a form on the web­site or send them to a ded­i­cated email ad­dress: sav­ings@ south­la­nark­shire.gov.uk

Writ­ten re­sponses are also be­ing wel­comed, in­clud­ing via a feed­back form in the sav­ings leaflet. Th­ese should be sent to: Sav­ings, Floor 4, Coun­cil Of­fices, Al­mada Street, Hamil­ton, ML3 0AA.

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