Council cuts could put gritters on ice
Plans for £5m savings mean roads will be treated three hours later in the day
Commuters in West Lothian could be heading out to work over ungritted pavements this winter as the council looks at slashing over £5million from budgets.
Council crews currently grit pavements from 5am, but councillors have been told that £100,000 could be saved by not starting gritting until 8am.
The budget cuts will see staff doing more with less in five years. Around 80 jobs could disappear from roads and environment crews along with overtime bans and shift changes and a reduction in the number of vehicles.
Dozens of cuts to the Roads and Neighbourhood Environment Teams ( NETs) services have been drawn up as the council faces a budget gap of £ 65.3 million over the next five years as a result of Scottish Government funding not covering costs. The council receives 80per cent of its funding from the Scottish Government.
NETs will see the number of enforcement officers cut and a move in focus from enforcement to prevention. There is a pledge to maintain grass in urban areas, and playparks , but out in the country grass cutting and grounds maintenance will be trimmed back.
West Lothian’s roads are in good repair but the austerity of the next five years will take its toll.
“Assets will deteriorate,” an official warned councillors at the Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel. Councillors - who largely listened in silence as officials detailed cutbacks - will have to decide on which cuts to make in the next few weeks.
Proposals to cut Christmas lights and trees from the budget, which would save £120,000, have been scrapped.
After the meeting Executive councillor for the Environment, Tom Conn said: “The amount of funding that the council has put into Waste Management, Roads & Transportation and Nets, Land and Countryside has increased between 2007/ 08 to 2018/ 19. However, the cost of delivering these services has increased significantly – costs associated with increasing demand due to population and increasing inflation.
“This is combined with insufficient funding from the Scottish Government to meet the full increase in the costs and demand for all services.
“We now have to bridge a further £63 million shortfall over the next five-years. You cannot take that level of funding out of any organisation without it affecting local services and staff.”