Union hit out at city budget proposals

Union leaders have warned planned cuts in Glasgow's spending will hit frontline services and schools.

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Union boss Brian Smith says job cuts will hit frontline services
Union boss Brian Smith says job cuts will hit frontline services

The city council has had to find £70million of savings in its £2.3billion annual budget over the next two years because of a reduction in Scottish Government funding.

As the Evening Times revealed yesterday, the cuts include shedding 600 jobs, increasing the cost of school meals and fitness classes and higher parking charges.

Brian Smith, Glasgow branch secretary of Unison, said: "We are disappointed another 600 jobs are going to go on top of the 3000 taken out over the last couple of years.

"To say that is not going to have an impact on frontline services is a joke, because it clearly is.

"As well as cuts to jobs and services, there has been a bit of a step change in terms of charging, with increases in school, leisure and parking charges against a background of people not getting wage rises.

"If you have a couple of children, drive your car into the city and go to the gym it will have an impact on you."

The council is planning cuts to education services totalling more than £11.3m over two years.

These include saving £5m by reviewing the staffing formula for primary schools and improving timetabling in secondaries to maximise staffing.

Hugh Donnelly, Glasgow local association secretary of the teachers' union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, said he had not seen details of the plans.

But he added: "These are very significant cuts on top of previous cuts, which will put pressure on teachers and schools across the board.

"Cuts on this scale will inevitably have a damaging impact on education provision, particularly in early years and in Additional Support For Learning. "

Mr Donnelly added: "Any reductions in staffing or timetabling restrictions will add to the pressures of overworked teachers and senior staff.

"This, in turn, will impact negatively on children and young people.

"Teachers are already overworked and under pressure from cuts in previous years."

The council is also planning to replace teachers in nursery classes with team leader child development officers.

But Mr Donnelly said: "The continuing removal of teachers from nursery establishments means young children are being denied the access to a teacher, which was a key pre-election commitment for the Scottish Government.

"The EIS will continue to challenge this process by legal means, to ensure all young children have the right to access a quality education led by qualified, registered teachers."

The council wants to transfer surplus teachers in specialist Additional Support For Learning schools to mainstream schools, other ASL schools or offer them early retirement.

Mr Donnelly said: "The proposed removal of support for learning teachers is a major blow to policies of inclusion and would potentially mean support is removed from some of the children who need it most.

"In Glasgow, parents have reported concerns about the efforts being made by schools and teachers to cope with the present supply teacher crisis against a background of the introduction of new qualifications.

"These cuts, aligned with all these other pressures, will clearly impact on the quality of learning and teaching."

Norman MacLeod, SNP Shadow City Treasurer, said: "My colleagues and I are working through the Labour plans line by line to establish the extent to which they can be implemented.

"For example, we have concerns over how the school refurbishment commitment can be met across the full term of this council; how local people will be consulted over changes to parking controls; and the loss of valuable facilities, such as four school swimming pools."

Labour plans to spend £250m upgrading or rebuilding all 138 primary schools, 27 Additional Support for Learning Schools and 91 nurseries.

But Mr Macleod said: "We have yet to see any plans from the administration on when itintends to start work, where we will see the first refurbishment or rebuild and the cost breakdown of the work.

"This ambitious programme needs clarity – for the budget process and communities – to gain the full support of the council.

"I recognise the devil is in the detail and that is why we are taking our time to consider what has been tabled by the administration.

"We shall meet next week to learn more about the administration's proposals and to further consider our plans for Glasgow's budget in the coming years."

Tory councillor David Meikle said he agreed with the continued freeze on council tax, a Scottish Government policy that will be implemented by the city council.

He also backed Glasgow's plan to spend £24m on road repairs over the next two years following the successful Evening Times' Pothole Watch campaign.

He added: "I certainly welcome the investment in our primary schools, which have been long forgotten.

"There are elements of the price increases I agree with. It is not just about efficiency savings and cuts, but also about finding areas where we can generate income."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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