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EXCLUSIVE: Planned £3.7m Dundee cuts could see park improvements scrapped and fewer dog waste bins

dundee council cuts
Changes to Dundee City Council's capital plan were approved.

Dundee City Council hope to push through almost £4 million in cuts to various projects including park upgrades, road safety and dog waste bins.

A briefing note to councillors revealed to The Courier shows a planned £3.1m reduction in spend in parks and open spaces and a further £580,000 reduction in road and footpath spend.

If agreed it would also mean smaller investments in play parks and community sports provision over the next year.

Multi-million pound spending cuts

The capital plan proposals have sparked a row between the SNP administration leader John Alexander and opposition councillors.

Lib Dem leader Fraser Macpherson says he has concerns that the proposed budget reductions would have a “real and negative impact.”

Councillor Fraser Macpherson is concerned about the planned cuts.

However, council leader John Alexander says the total spend in the plan has increased by £66.4m overall.

Among the investments are a new £65 million secondary school in the east of the city — partially funded by the Scottish Government — and a new primary school in the Western Gateway.

West End councillor Mr Macpherson said: “I have real concerns that the capital plan that councillors are being asked to agree to next Monday has big cuts to parks, open spaces, keeping our streets clean and roads and road safety that are totally unacceptable.”

Mr Macpherson says he also believes that the city is paying the price for the council’s roofing and Olympia swimming pool “disasters.”

The row falls during a time when the council is facing a huge financial blackhole with a deficit of over £10m.

The proposals are to be voted on at a council committee meeting on Monday.

Breakdown of planned cuts

The proposed cuts are:

  • Parks & open spaces (not allocated) – £400,000
  • Upgrade community sports provision – £300,000
  • Caird Park infrastructure – £500,000
  • Additional dog & litter bins – £300,000
  • Play areas in school grounds – £450,000
  • Dawson Park improvements – £450,000
  • Castle Green – £700,000
  • Adopted & unadopted footpaths – £180,000
  • Regional Transport Partnership – £200,000
  • Road Safety Measures – £200,000

Further detail on exactly what the projects are and how they will be affected has not been provided.

Councillor says he is ‘incensed’

His Lib Dem colleague and Broughty Ferry councillor Craig Duncan said the scaled back plans are a “real concern”.

Earlier this week residents in Broughty Ferry called for dog poo bins for the new £9 million walkway

He said: “I am also incensed by the £300,000 cuts to additional dog bins and litter bins in a week I have been highlighting the need for more provision to tackle the scourge of litter and dog fouling.”

Labour group leader Kevin Keenan said cutting bins is “just asking for parks to be left in very poor condition” and said he “cannot believe” the council is thinking about cutting anything at all from road safety.

The Strathmartine councillor highlighted increased pet ownership as a reason to invest in bins while stressing cuts to parks could also be a big issue.

He said: “Many of our citizens live in flatted accommodation and have relied on these open spaces to take their daily exercise.”

Council leader says money is being invested

However council leader John Alexander said that not all of the changes proposed were reductions overall.

He said that in some instances some of the spend was being pushed back so instead of spending the money in the next year it might be spread over two or three years.

Mr Alexander said: “Just because we’re revising some of the figures downwards, doesn’t mean that there’s not an overall increase when compared to last year.

“In the two areas councillor Macpherson mentions, spend will actually increase, just not by as much as we had previously planned.”

Various parks in Dundee were due to be upgraded as part of plans by Dundee City Council.

He said that parks & open space funding will go from £2.265m in 2021/22 to £2.431m in 2022/23.

Sports facilities funding will go from £205k in 2021/22 to £609k in 2022/23.

The £66.4m increase in spending overall includes:

  • Western Gateway Primary School – £16m
  • Harris Academy Extension – £4.2m
  • Ice Arena Replacement Plant & Upgrade – £7m
  • Waterfront new offices site 6 – £15m
  • Olympia refurbishment/repairs – £4.5m
  • DCA refurbishment – £3.5m
  • IT including equipment for home working – £4.9m
  • Block spending programmes – £15.1m

Mr Alexander said: “Our ambitious £382 million capital plan delivers on the promises we’ve made to the public and includes significant new spending.

New school spend

“This includes on the building of a new £65 million secondary school in the East and a new primary in the Western Gateway.

“Spend on parks & open space will also increase, just not by as much as we had originally planned.”

Mr Alexander added: “Given the delicate financial position of the council, we need to balance new spend with the overall budget.

“If the opposition want to spend more money, they need to tell the public how they will pay for it, otherwise such statements are all show.”

‘More pain to come’

Conservative group spokesman, councillor Philip Scott, spoke of his frustration over the dire financial situation.

He said: “Once again, the hard-pressed council taxpayers of Dundee are having to pay the price of SNP failures.

“There is bound to be more pain to come when the council sets its revenue budget next month, with cuts to important services and a big increase in council tax on the cards.”

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