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Call to rehire lost Dundee ‘street sweepers’ ahead of city budget talks   

Steel rod failure closes Olympia pools
Liberal Democrat group leader Fraser Macpherson.

At least 30 Dundee street cleaner posts have been lost over the past six years, it has been claimed.

They are among 50 environment management posts that have vanished over the same time period, according to the city’s two Liberal Democrat councillors.

They claim the SNP administration plans to remove another five street cleaners, four full time gardeners and two forestry workers in its latest budget, which will be decided on Thursday.

The remaining 20 posts lost over the last six years are said to include gardeners, ground maintenance workers and seasonal leisure attendants.

Cleaners with Dundee City Council at work in 2017.

Don’t cut street cleaners, argue Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat group leader Fraser Macpherson has asked the ruling group to restore some of the lost posts in one of several key asks ahead of Thursday’s budget meeting.

He said: “Many, many constituents complain that the street cleaning resource in Dundee is simply not as good as it used to be. The street sweeping staff do a great job – there are simply not enough of them now.

“Environment management has lost significant staffing since 2015 and the number of posts lost in the past six years, we are advised, amounts to over 50 posts.

“We want to start increasing staff in these areas not have further reductions as the administration proposes.

“Our city should be as clean as possible and to help existing staff with the load they already have by adding more staff. We know that’s what Dundee residents want too.”

The Liberal Democrat councillors propose a six figure increase in winter maintenance funding and £2 million on top of the administration’s capital budget on a more extensive roads resurfacing programme.

They also hope to create 10 new street sweeping posts, an additional environmental services officer to tackle dog fouling and an additional countryside ranger post.

Conservatives focus on city centre recovery

Councillor Philip Scott.

Meanwhile, the Conservative group has also published its spending plans.

The group aims to support the recovery of the city centre and district shopping centres post-Covid by keeping free parking in the district shopping centres until the end of the year.

They also want free parking in all city centre car parks during the three weekends before Christmas.

The Conservatives have earmarked nearly £600,000 for the city development team and made provision to fund an extra £1m of capital for road and pavement resurfacing schemes.

Councillor Philip Scott, Conservative group depute leader, said: “We have confirmed with council officers that our proposals are competent and deliverable.

“We would urge the SNP administration to accept our amendment.”

Pay increase for 1,000 low paid Dundee workers

SNP group leader John Alexander said he had not yet seen the Conservative plans in detail but has agreed to meet virtually with the Liberal Democrats.

He said: “As we’ve said consistently, we are open to suggestions and dialogue with opposition councillors.

“It’s one of the reasons that I suggested that we maintain fortnightly meetings between the political leaders more generally.”

John Alexander.

He said he had questions over whether the Liberal Democrat proposals were sustainable for more than one year.

“Budgets are essentially trade-offs and in order to pay for one thing an opposition party has to take it from somewhere else. We will have to consider each item listed in their budgets.”

He said austerity had forced the council “to change services and in some areas reduce them in others”.

However, he added: “Our street cleanliness score remains above the Scottish average. That is because of some of the modernisation we’ve undertaken and new kit purchased.”

He said the administration’s budget had come after a public consultation and “tried to reflect feedback on the public’s priorities.”

The SNP group is proposing to embed the Scottish Local Government Living Wage into its pay and grading structure.

The move could increase pay for around 1,000 of the local authority’s lowest paid staff.

The council’s policy and resources committee will consider the proposal at a meeting later this month.