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List of cuts planned by Perth and Kinross Council as all events set to be scrapped

Other budget proposals include axing school crossing patrollers and cutting road maintenance.

Boney M performing at the Perth Christmas lights switch-on 2023.
Boney M featured in last year's Christmas lights turn-on. This event could be axed in 2024. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

Perth and Kinross Council is planning a series of brutal cuts ahead of this year’s budget.

Officers have made a series of recommendations as the council looks to balance its books.

It also means the price of services, such as parking and school meals, may increase.

Council tax is set to be frozen for 2024-25, but it could rise by 4.9% and 4% in the following two years.

The proposals state how much money would be saved and the impact this would have.

Some ideas have been up for the chop before before being saved by councillors.

Here are some of the proposed cuts in more detail:

Axing council-run events

Saving: £220,000

This would mean an end to Perth’s Christmas light switch-on.

Officers say this would hit Perth’s economy and result in fewer visitors to the city.

A parade during the Perth Christmas lights turn on in 2023.
A parade during the 2023 Christmas lights switch-on. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

They also fear that a lack of free events would have an unfair impact on lower-income residents.

However, 68% of respondents in the budget consultation backed a spending cut on council-run events, with many in favour of adding a charge for them.

Removing school crossing patrollers

Saving: £89,000 (over two years)

The council report says: “There is no funding for additional infrastructure improvements or alternative crossing provision installations.”

It also suggests it is up to parents to ensure children get to school safely.

Council staff will still be on hand to help plan safe travel routes for children.

Where no safe walking route can be found for children accompanied by an adult, pupils’ transport will be funded by the council

Cutting primary swimming lessons

Saving: £60,000

Under these proposals, swimming lessons would be removed from August 2024.

This was also proposed in last year’s budget but was not agreed by councillors.

The Breadalbane Community Campus.
The Breadalbane pool in Aberfeldy. Image: Margaret Rodgers

The papers say it may lead to children from low-income families losing out on swimming, and the council could face “reputational damage”.

However, it states that children from rural schools may benefit from “less time out of the classroom” as transport times can be “significant”.

Closure of loss-making breakfast clubs

Saving: £98,000 (over three years)

Free breakfast clubs were introduced in targeted areas to provide breakfast before school for pupils who may miss out.

However, uptake has been low since the introduction of a £2 charge for breakfast.

These plans would see any club with under 60% of staffed capacity closed by August 2026.

The council admits this would most impact parents looking for childcare and low-paid female employees.

Reduction in local bus services

Saving: £775,000 

The council could axe the whole budget for local bus services due to it being “non-statutory”.

However, chiefs say this would have a “significant impact on public transport travel opportunities, not just in rural areas, but also in parts of Perth city”.

The report also claims it would have the greatest impact on those in poverty – exasperated by the cost-of-living crisis.

It could also harm the council’s aims to tackle climate change.

Cuts to road maintenance budget

Saving: £187,000 (over three years)

The council is proposing cuts to several road maintenance schemes, including repairs.

This would also mean road markings are generally only repainted every four years instead of three (priority will be given to safety critical lines).

Road closure signs.
Proposals include a reduction to the road maintenance budget. Image: Shutterstock/Amy Johansson

The papers admit that this will lead to more complaints and it will delay the responsiveness to flood alerts.

Roads would also be less maintained, more gullies would become blocked and more standing water would be present, admits the council.

Full removal of adult literacy services

Saving: £180,000 (over two years)

According to the papers: “Adult learning activities include support for asylum seekers and refugees and therefore removing this team would mean PKC is unable to deliver ESOL.”

The impact would affect vulnerable people on low incomes, primarily refugees and asylum seekers who rely on these services.

This would also have an impact on the council’s efforts to tackle poverty.

Reduced funding to Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Saving £24,000 (over three years)

This proposal is to cut funding to Pitlochry Festival Theatre by 32% over the next three years.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre sign.
Funding for Pitlochry Festival Theatre could be reduced. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

While there will be no direct impact on the council, the papers state it may impact the theatre.

It may affect attendances that could impact the wider economy.

School lessons may be changed

Other services that may take a hit include:

  • The removal of out-of-hours treatment to paths in winter outwith Perth city centre
  • A 20% reduction in the winter maintenance road network coverage
  • Stopping street cleaning by hand.

Proposals could also include changes to the school day, which would see two or three longer days and two or three shorter days by making every period 50 minutes long.

It is unclear how these changes would affect school starting and finishing times.

Price rises for council services

As well as cuts, the council also proposes to increase the costs of some of its services.

This includes parking, which could rise by 4%.

Charges for garden waste permits could also increase to £45 per bin in 2025, raising £180,000.

Prices for school meals could also go up substantially after remaining static since 2018. This would include a 36% increase in 2024-25 to backdate inflation, followed by 3% rises in the following two years.

What happens next?

Councillors will decide whether to approve recommendations made for the budget, or make amendments, at a full council meeting on Wednesday, February 28.