Edinburgh council budget: Lib Dems want more money for schools, roads, police and buses

Here's what the Lib Dems want to see in Edinburgh council's budget for 2024/25
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Lib Dems say they want to put more money into schools and invest in resurfacing more roads and pavements as their priorities for next year's council budget.

The party also proposes giving Police Scotland £600,000 to carry out speeding enforcement and making companies pay more for occupying road space with scaffolding, skips and cranes. Councillors meet next week to set the city's budget for 2024/25.

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Lib Dem group leader Kevin Lang said the debate over the past few weeks had centred on proposals from officials to cut £8.2 million from school budgets. "The Lib Dem budget does not only avoid those cuts, we are actually including millions of pounds more for schools."

He said the party's package would see a one-off boost of £2m for devolved school management budgets, used to pay for anything from additional staff to classroom supplies or IT equipment. "This will give headteachers complete freedom and flexibility to decide how that money is spent within their schools."

And the Lib Dems' proposals include a one-off capital investment, funded by borrowing, of an extra £12.5 million for resurfacing projects for roads and pavements. Cllr Lang said: "Officers tell us that is the amount of money needed not just to top the decline but seriously begin to improve the overall quality and condition of roads and pavements in Edinburgh.. This has always been one of our key priorities - it is the number one thing that our constituents tell us they want this council to do.

The Lib Dems say they will only vote for a budget which includes more money for schools and investment in roads and pavements.The Lib Dems say they will only vote for a budget which includes more money for schools and investment in roads and pavements.
The Lib Dems say they will only vote for a budget which includes more money for schools and investment in roads and pavements.

"We're talking about record sums of additional money to finally get on top of this historic problem that has made so many people ashamed of their city."

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A similar record investment of £11m was a key feature of the Lib Dem budget last year, which was approved by councillors after tactical voting by the Greens saw the defeat of the minority Labour administration's budget proposals.

Other proposals being put forward by the Lib Dems include an extra £200,000 for supported bus services. "We are very conscious that, particularly for remote, rural and disadvantaged communities we need a network of supported buses."

They also want to restore council funding for the police with £600,000 specifically for speed enforcement. "Historically the council gave additional funding to Police Scotland for specific tasks to be done on community policing. It was the SNP that scrapped that several years ago. Our budget seeks to restart that partnership with £600,000 specifically for speed enforcement. Our constituents tell us a big concern they have is speeding vehicles in their communities without any kind of monitoring or enforcement by Police Scotland."

The Lib Dems propose an increase of 22 per cent on parking charges rather than the 20 per cent proposed by officials. And they want to see a 15 per cent increase charges for road occupation paid by companies and developers when they use space on roads or pavements for things like scaffolding, skips and cranes . "Not only would that raise money, but it would help incentivise these companies to be more efficient and do their work more quickly, so we think that's a win-win situation."

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Cllr Lang said the Lib Dem budget was based on agreeing a council tax freeze in line with Scottish Government policy, although he pointed out a freeze was not fully funded by the government. He said: "On the basis that the government is effectively holding a gun to councils' heads, we have stuck with the council tax freeze."

And he said the Lib Dem budget also proposed efficiency savings of almost £2m. "Despite all the work that has been done, we still think there is opportunity to make the council more efficient and leaner."

Asked whether he expected a repeat of last year's budget drama, Cllr Lang said: "We have set out an ambitious Lib Dem budget that we think focuses on the priorities of the city. It's now for the administration to look at our budget and decide where they would want to go further . We are open to having conversations but we have always been clear that Lib Lib Dem votes can never be taken for granted by the Labour administration."

He said the two top priorities for the Lib Dems were investing more in schools and young people and building on the Lib Dem budget passed last year, which saw record investment in roads and pavements. "We will only vote for a budget that ensures these two big issues are key priorities."

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