Employees at Leisure and Culture Dundee could be offered voluntary redundancy as part of drastic measures to reduce spending, it has been revealed.
The exact extent of the cuts is unclear at present. The arms-length organisation, which runs many of the city’s most popular attractions, says it needs to analyse a range of “savings and investment” options before taking any decision.
Voluntary redundancies and early retirement schemes are on the table after Dundee City Council agreed £10.3 million of savings at its annual budget meeting last month.
The SNP administration said it would increase the management fee by £50,000 compared to the previous year, but L&C Dundee had a contingency fund of £250,000 to cover pay rises which would allow it to make savings of £200,000.
Other possible measures include increasing prices and memberships of its centres.
L&C Dundee is responsible for venues such as the Caird Hall, the McManus museum and the Olympia swimming pool. It also operates resources such as public libraries, which have been repeatedly threatened with reduced opening hours.
The body recently hosted the annual Dundee Sports Awards at the Caird Hall which recognise the city’s most successful sports clubs and individuals.
A L&C Dundee spokesperson confirmed its finance committee met this week to try to trash out a plan, adding: “Management now intend to discuss recommendations made with staff in the first instance.
“At the HR and equalities meeting scheduled for March 13, consideration will be given to a voluntary redundancy/voluntary early retirement scheme which mirrors the policy decisions taken by Dundee City Council.”
The spokesperson added: “The savings figure is variable and dependent on a combination of increasing our income streams through a variety of initiatives, working with our charitable and external partners and the results of voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes.”
Dundee Labour group leader, councillor Kevin Keenan, said he was surprised to hear the organisation was seeking to make cuts, since he believed funding from the agreed budget would be “adequate”.
He said: “During the budget meeting, we heard from the managing director of L&C Dundee about the negative effects the Lib Dem’s proposal would have had on the organisation, quoting ‘closure of libraries in every community’.
“I am surprised that L&C Dundee Board are planning, or have to, make cuts given the briefing the Labour group received.
“I hope that the administration have not starved them of funding whereby the board propose closures of the size and scale the managing director warned the budget meeting about.”
Council leader, councillor John Alexander, said: “Every council in the entire UK is dealing with the negative consequences of the Tory’s fixation on austerity.
“Unfortunately, that also means that the partners that the council works with are facing similar challenges as we try to deliver the same amount of services from a pressured budget.
“We have and will continue to work with Leisure & Culture Dundee to support its activates, it is a jewel in the crown of the city.
“As one example, within the last 6 months we included over £5 million of new capital investment for Leisure and Culture to expand its operations and increase its income generation.
“It seems that councillor Keenan has forgotten that and I’d also remind the public that Kevin Keenan’s Labour Group proposed the exact same saving.”
L&C Dundee’s budget will follow on from the March 13 discussion but will not be approved by the board until March 27 at the very earliest.