Opponents slam £70m planned cuts to city services

Reducing recycling collections is among the plans proposed by the council. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Reducing recycling collections is among the plans proposed by the council. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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OPPOSITION parties have slammed fresh council proposals to cut services by a further £70 million, including scrapping lunchtime lollipop patrols, another increase in parking charges and reducing recycling.

Today, Cameron Buchanan, Conservative MSP for the Lothians, said the cuts, if approved, would be made in those services which residents rely on most.

Lollipop patrols are important because, essentially, they save people’s lives

Cameron Buchanan

He said: “The services that the public think the council should be providing are the ones that are being cut.

“Things such as the trams inquiry should be forgotten about, and we should be concentrating on the services that our residents rely on the most – such as lollipop patrols.”

On Saturday, the Evening News revealed the latest batch of proposals include withdrawing the night noise team, stopping repair and maintenance of stair lighting in tenements and carrying out a review of city libraries.

It also emerged that city leaders are already consulting on plans for a swathe of cuts, including 2000 job losses as part of the city’s budget for the next four years.

Mr Buchanan branded some of the proposals “ridiculous”.

He said: “I am against the rising parking charges – it’s just ridiculous. It will put people off coming into our city which we don’t want.

“Lollipop patrols are also very important because, essentially, they save people’s lives.”

He added: “Reducing recycling collections just means litter is going to be all over the pavements.

“I am doing a debate on litter in the next few weeks because we already have a major problem with it in the city.”

He also said he was opposed to slashing funding for community policing as this gives residents “reassurance” in their home areas as well as providing guidance at community council meetings.

The council wants to withdraw the school crossing patrol service at lunchtime at 75 primary schools across the city, saying traffic is less busy at that time, and very few pupils go home for lunch. It is understood this will save £104,000.

Council leaders are also hoping to bring in a further 4.5 per cent per year rise for parking charges, over the next four years, which will bring an extra £2.9m to the city.

Former Tory group leader Councillor Jeremy Balfour said: “The administration has been living in never, never land for too long, and now the people of Edinburgh are having to pay the price for bad decisions made by them in the past.”

Gavin Corbett, Green councillor for Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, said the cuts would go even further.

He said: “This year’s round of cuts are a whole new ball game from what has gone before, and they are only the beginning as UK and Scottish governments fail to provide funding for services where demand is rising – from more primary school places to the care needs of older people.

“There is another way. Last year, the Greens put forward a package of proposals to raise an extra £28m, proposals which would seem entirely normal in most other councils in Europe. “

City finance convener Cllr Alasdair Rankin said the most recent proposals have been developed since September and will help the council make “significant savings”.

He said: “We really want to hear what people think of these proposals, and how they want us to invest and save generally, so we’ve added an extra week to the engagement process to allow people to give us feedback.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com