Call for Dundee City Council to go public on budget cuts

Cllr Kevin Keenan.
Cllr Kevin Keenan.

Dundee councillor Kevin Keenan has called on the SNP administration to go public on its budget cuts as early as possible this week.

The Labour Group leader says other authorities across Scotland including SNP-controlled Angus Council have put their proposals out for consultation and he insists Dundee should follow.

He said: “People have the right to know what type of services they are likely to receive after this round of budget cuts.

“Last year saw the SNP administration disregard nationally-negotiated terms and conditions, railroading through cuts in staff terms and conditions. The staff mileage rate was one of these cuts, slashing the mileage allowance from 45p to 23p.

“This policy saw departments becoming extremely inefficient as individuals refused to use their own vehicle, opting to walk or use public transport.

“This left the administration with no alternative but to make a complete U-turn.

“This year has been incredibly poor in terms of industrial relations reflected in the number of employment tribunals that have been played out against Dundee City Council.

“I believe that the administration and its conveners are concentrating too hard on the next round of cuts and taking their eye off the ball with regard to revenue streams.

“I am hoping that, with next year’s budget, the administration and their departmental conveners will pay particular attention to the revenue streams as this year there have been considerable shortfalls.”

Pointing to shortfalls of £645,000 in the environment department, £348,000 deficiency in income through car parking charges and a £477,000 shortfall in external rental income for the city development department, Mr Keenan added: “The conveners, when they first saw the level of shortfalls building within their department, should have brought alternatives or recovery programmes before council.”

Willie Sawers, depute convener of the policy and resources committee, said: “The SNP administration of Dundee City Council are committed to the delivery of high quality services to the Dundee public.

“This has been acknowledged by the results of the annual consumer survey showing very high levels of satisfaction with the council, the services it provides and the way our staff deal with the public.

“As always when preparing budgets, and throughout the year, our administration are prioritising the delivery and, where possible, enhancement of frontline services, no compulsory redundancies for our staff and the continuation of the council tax freeze.

“We have identified ‘back-room’ savings of nearly £4 million, which will have no impact on the public. This has allowed us to increase investment in social work services, protecting the most vulnerable in the city.

“The administration will be publishing our budget proposals at the earliest possible opportunity. This contrasts with the practice of the former Labour administration, who waited until the 11th hour of budget setting day to publish their own proposals.

“Our actions speak louder than the words of our opponents.”

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