Coun­cil cuts could put grit­ters on ice

Plans for £5m sav­ings mean roads will be treated three hours later in the day

West Lothian Courier - - News -

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.”

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