Council puts cuts decision on hold
Residents urged to have their say on options
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.