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£3.7m park and road safety budget cuts approved by Dundee City Council

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

A raft of cuts to planned park upgrades, road safety and dog waste bins have been approved by Dundee City Council.

The council’s revised capital plan was approved at a meeting on Monday night.

Changes include a £3.1m reduction in proposed spend in parks and open spaces and a further £580,000 reduction in road and footpath spend.

It also means smaller investments in play parks and community sports provision over the next year than previously planned.

The capital plan proposals sparked a row between the SNP administration leader John Alexander and opposition councillors last week but was approved by the policy and resources committee.

Council leader Mr Alexander previously said the total spend in the plan increased by £66.4m overall.

Liberal Democrat group leader Fraser Macpherson called for the initial spending plan, without the cuts, to be reinstated but this was rejected by one vote.

Fraser Macpherson urged the administration to reconsider the cuts at the committee meeting.

The Conservative group also proposed an amendment suggested retaining £1.45 million towards parks and litter bins.

However the SNP-led council voted in favour of the new capital plan, with 14 votes for the original report and 13 for each amendment.

The capital plan for 2022-27 included a number of changes to the one approved last February, including investments in offices accommodation on the central Waterfront and refurbishment and upgrading of Olympia.

It also funds the continued delivery of essential council services, including property improvement and road reconstructions, comprising a total five-year spend of £382 million.

Dundee council cuts ‘disappointing’

Speaking at Monday night’s meeting, Mr Macpherson said: “Our amendment covers everything that was taken out in relation to parks and open spaces and road schemes.

“These were originally in the previous draft plan and were taken out by the administration which, I have to say, is a disappointment.”

He also noted his disappointment in the administration’s reluctance to look into a “small amount of borrowing” to cover the costs.

“I fully accept it means choices within the revenue budget,” he added.

“I was particularly concerned about the dog and litter bins – £300,000 will be taken out.

“That leaves nothing in the capital plan for litter bins and dog bins in the whole of the city of 150,000 people.”

‘Huge impact on the grounds’

His amendment was backed by Councillor Craig Duncan, who mentioned problems with dog mess in Broughty Ferry.

He said: “Some of these proposed cuts, in the great scheme of things, they’re not vast but they actually make a huge impact on the grounds.

“It seems a shame to spoil the waterfront in Broughty Ferry with these small cuts.”

Derek Scott, who tabled the Conservatives’ amendment, said it was not practical to include everything in the original plan.

“We’ve met with officers to look at these issues,” he said.

“We would really have liked to put everything back in to the capital budget.

“But we had to take the view that whatever we tried to put back into the budget here, we would need to find revenue for in the revenue budget.

“We had to take a view on what we could feasibly afford to let these projects go ahead.”

What has changed?

The council has cut its capital budget in the following areas:

  • Parks & open spaces (not allocated) – £400,000
  • Upgrade community sports provision – £300,000
  • Caird Park infrastructure – £500,000
  • Additional dog and litter bins – £300,000
  • Play areas in school grounds – £450,000
  • Dawson Park improvements – £450,000
  • Castle Green – £700,000
  • Adopted and 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.

The revised budget also includes an increase on the below projects

  • 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

The agreed motion to approve the changes was tabled by Willie Sawers, deputy convener of policy and resources.

SNP councillor Lynne Short, who seconded the motion, said: “I am very much trusting Willie, as someone who works very closely with these [finance] officers, as the person who has the experience, breadth of knowledge and the ability to make things work in this city.

“In these times when we juggle money and we look at what we have to do, I know you put the most vulnerable and the most deserving in the city at the heart of it.”