£70m cuts to hit Glasgow

SIX hundred jobs will be axed, charges for school meals and nurseries will go up, and four school swimming pools will be closed under Glasgow's budget plans.

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City Treasurer Paul Rooney defended the Budget proposals
City Treasurer Paul Rooney defended the Budget proposals

The moves are included in the ruling Labour group's proposals for its £2.3billion annual budget for the next two years.

It has had to find £70million of savings because of Scottish Government cuts.

Other major changes will see parking charges introduced for residents in a number of new areas, while on-street parking fees for the first hour will almost TREBLE in some areas.

The cost of attending Glasgow Life gyms, swimming pools and fitness classes will also go up 3% this year and a further 2% next year, as will library charges and venue hire.

But, following the Evening Times Pothole Watch campaign, the council is to spend £24m on repairs to roads across the city, adding to the £46m spent in the past three years.

And in the next five years, the council will spend £250m upgrading or rebuilding almost all its 138 primary schools, 27 Additional Support For Learning schools and 91 nurseries.

Under the agreement with the Scottish Government, council tax bills will again be frozen at 2006 levels. The majority of homes in the city pay Band A of £808 or Band B, which is £943. The Band D rate is £1213.

The council says most of the £70m savings it will have to impose will be found from backroom efficiencies.

Council departments and the council's arms length organisations have been told to cut their budgets by 5%.

The exceptions are education and social work, where the cuts are limited to 2.4%.

A total of 600 jobs will be shed through not filling posts, retirals and natural wastage. There will be no compulsory redundancies.

That is on top of the 3000 staff who have left the council in the past three years.

The budget includes a 10% increase in council nursery charges and upping the cost of school meals from £1.15 to £1.40 from August, with a further 10p increase in August next year.

Council bosses say it will be the first rise in school meal charges for seven years and that the city will continue to provide among the cheapest school meals in Scotland. Glasgow has 35,000 primary pupils, with more than 12,200 entitled to free school meals.

The cost of a pupil's breakfast will double from 50p to £1, while a charge of 25p will be introduced for fruit and snacks in primaries.

It is also planned to increase the cost of school lets by 5%.

The council is also planning to save £75,000 by closing four school swimming pools, which they say are rundown.

Bosses are not naming the two primaries and two Additional Support For Learning schools affected until parents have been told. But they say the pools, which are still in use, are not energy efficient and would cost £500,000 to upgrade.

A total of £80m has been set aside in the next two years to fund the first phase of upgrading the city's primaries and nurseries, with a total of £250m being spent by April 2018.

City Treasurer Paul Rooney said: "We are determined Glasgow's children will be educated in buildings that are fit for purpose and which provide an environment where they can achieve their potential."

Other savings will be made by letting motorists pay their parking charges by mobile phone and almost £1.4m will be raised by installing five new bus lane cameras. These will be in Govan Road, St Vincent Street, Stockwell Street, Clyde Arc and Dumbarton Road.

On-street parking charges will be increased in outlying areas, with the cost of the first hour jumping from 30p to 80p.

Residents parking will be introduced or extended in Dowanhill, Yorkhill, Tradeston, the Barras, Hillhead, Garnethill, Byres Road and the Necropolis.

On-street parking in the city centre will increase to 60p for 12minutes, instead of the present 60p for 15mins.

While the cost of attending Glasgow Life gyms, swimming pools and fitness classes will go up 3% this year and a further 2% next year, there will be no price rise for the 30,000 Glasgow Club members or for pitch hire. Free swimming will continue for children and pensioners.

Over the next two years, the council will spend cash to introduce mandatory 20mph zones and running trails in city parks.

Two new children's care homes and a day centre for older people in the north-east will be built and there will be new accommodation to deal with homelessness.

It is also planned to extend investment in child care and to support more young people in a family setting or in local residential care rather than through expensive out-of-town placements.

More than £750,000 will be spent supporting kinship carers who look after family members and almost £1m will be made available to recruit extra staff to support young people and their families.

It is also planned to free up more than £4m to increase the number of foster carers and adoptive parents in the city.

Mr Rooney said: "Savings have to be made, but they do not have to come at the expense of the opportunities we create for young people."

In the next two years, £5m will be spent on the first phase of the £25m transformation of Sighthill.

The proposals will be discussed and voted on at a future council meeting.

But Councillor Norman MacLeod , the SNP's shadow City Treasurer, said: "Just like Westminster Budgets, the devil is in the detail with Glasgow Labour budgets.

"The elderly and disabled will remember that care alarm charges and closing day centres were not in last year's budget, so the vulnerable will wait with trepidation to see how they are targeted next year.

"We think many of the proposals are unrealistic and, like in previous years, will not be delivered.

"We will be looking to protect the most vulnerable in our amendment when announced."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Savings have to be made, but they do not have to come at the expense of opportunities for the city's young people

Local government

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