Chance to quiz city council leaders on budget cuts

Your chance to ask why things like parking fees might rise. Pic: Andy O'Brien
Your chance to ask why things like parking fees might rise. Pic: Andy O'Brien
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TAXPAYERS will get the chance to quiz a panel of senior councillors tasked with saving £22 million by 2016 over the city’s cost-cutting budget.

Dubbed Budget Question Time, the live summit will ignite debate over belt-tightening proposals to slash costs across a range of council departments.

Major talking points include plans to increase parking fees by 20 per cent; hike up care charges to £15.50 per hour and cut the number of public toilets in the city centre.

A proposed £2m cut to public sports centres – sparking claims that almost one third of council-owned swimming pools, golf clubs and sports centres may be forced to close – is also likely to stoke debate.

Less severe cuts – but equally controversial – are plans to stop painting white lines on football pitches and allowing parks to grow wild.

The city must cut £67m by 2018 to balance the books.

Spectators will be able to pore over the details of the budget with a panel from the Capital Coalition.

The event will be chaired by Evening News editor Frank O’Donnell.

He said: “This is a great chance for the residents of Edinburgh to understand the budget process more fully and to ask searching 
questions about how decisions are made and why.

“It will be my job to ensure councillors answer those questions in this forum.”

The cross-party panel will including finance convener Alasdair Rankin, education convener Paul Godzik, economy convener Frank Ross and health convener Ricky Henderson.

Vice convener of transport Adam McVey and vice convener of culture Norma Austin-Hart will also appear on stage.

Councillor Rankin urged residents to attend the event – being held at the City Chambers – or watch the live webcast.

“We’re now over half way through our budget consultation and the response so far has been fantastic,” he 
said.

“Over 1300 residents have completed our budget planner online, with a further 300 submitting comments by post or e-mail. Monday’s event will give residents the opportunity to quiz senior councillors on the issues that really matter to them and I’m looking forward to a lively debate.

“We do still have some places available and I do hope that people take the chance to sign up or, if not, watch live and contribute via the council’s website.”

The live debate will run from 7pm on Monday.

The consultation period for residents to respond to the proposed budget will run until Friday, December 19.

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com