Full impact of £21m council cuts outlined in leaked plan

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COUNCIL cuts are set to hit the day-to-day lives of families across the city from recycling to parking.

A leaked document passed to the Evening News details £21m worth of savings which council officials say need to be made to make ends meet.

Changes to parking zones have been a hot topic.

Changes to parking zones have been a hot topic.

Councillors will be asked tomorrow to put the package out to public consultation before a final decision on next year’s budget is made in February.

The report sets out some of the effects the 45 proposals could have if agreed.

Plans to close the Capital’s world-renowned music school are set to be dropped after the proposal prompted an outcry.

But many of the remaining cuts and increased charges will also prove controversial.

Recycling opening times will be cut.

Recycling opening times will be cut.

Parking zones

MORE motorists face having to pay to park outside their own homes as the city council searches for ways to balance the books.

Expanding the Capital’s controlled parking zones is one of the measures listed in the document, along with a five per cent rise in parking permits and an unspecified increase in pay and display parking prices.

The council could not say where any new zones might be created and it is understood such a move would have to undergo a consultation process with local residents before it could go ahead.

The price of climbing the Scott Monument will increase under plans.

The price of climbing the Scott Monument will increase under plans.

Bus lane enforcement is projected to bring in an extra £300,000 next year. Sunday parking charges are expected to net £250,000 the following year. And the expansion of controlled parking zones is estimated to add another £119,000.

But Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM Road-Smart Scotland, said: “This will be very worrying for residents, particularly, given the lack of detail as to where and why.

“They should be giving a reason for this in terms of areas with parking problems and opportunities to provide improved parking.

“The biggest problem with residents’ parking permits in Edinburgh is you’re paying for something that doesn’t guarantee you a space and there’s a basic unfairness there.

“If they are going to increase charges and expand the area they need to look at value for money. Then people might be more supportive.

“You cannot just keep increasing the cost without giving people something back in return.

“If this were about customer service or more parking spaces, fair enough. But if it’s just prices going up people will conclude it’s all just about money.”

Nick Cook, the Tories’ transport spokesman in Edinburgh, said: “Additional controlled parking can be an effective tool in addressing traffic concerns, if demanded by residents.

“However, these figures will do nothing to dispel the long held perception that the Council regards motorists as little more than a cash cow to swell the city coffers.”

Advertising on roundabouts

SELLING adverts on roundabouts and roadside verges could bring in £300,000 a year to council coffers, according to the budget plan.

Some other local authorities, including Dundee and Fife, already get regular revenue from roundabout advertising.

And detailed market testing is being carried out to check how much income might be raised here.

A council insider said the most likely sites were on approach roads into the city.

But in some places, plans for adverts on roundabouts have been rejected amid concerns they could prove a distraction to drivers.

And in Fort William there was controversy over an ad for a local undertaker placed on a roundabout.

One resident branded it “a bit undignified”, especially at a busy traffic spot.

Night team

THE council wants to scrap its Night Team service for residents plagued by anti-social behaviour and leave the police to deal with the issue.

Currently the council provides an out-of-hours service from Tuesday to Sunday, but it says it is under-used for the early part of the shift between 5.30pm and 10pm.

The council report says: “There is no statutory duty on the council to deliver an out-of-hours service to deal with antisocial behaviour.

“Police Scotland covers the service delivery on Monday-Wednesday evenings and Saturday and Sunday during the day, when the council has no service available. Police Scotland has a duty to provide the service under legislation.”

The proposal would save £255,000. The council says: “Residents will still be able to report their concerns to Police Scotland.”

Sports pitches

THE number of sports pitches in the Capital could be reduced further thanks to council plans to charge its arm’s-length company Edinburgh Leisure for ground maintenance.

The council currently maintains football, rugby, hockey and other pitches across the city for Edinburgh Leisure at no cost.

The proposal is to “secure full cost-recovery for continuation of the service” by charging for the work. It would bring in £375,000 a year.

But the report warns: “There is a risk that Edinburgh Leisure may have to reduce pitch availability if they do not feel that they can accommodate this additional cost in their budget.”

Some 76 pitches in Edinburgh have already been lost to council closures, housing developments and redesignations since 2000.

One insider said in view of the lack of pitches in the city, the more likely consequence would be an increase in charges.

Recycling

OPENING times at community recycling centres are set to be cut to save £200,000.

The council says it is still in the process of working out the new hours, but adds they will reflect customer demand patterns – and the potential increase in demand once residents have to pay for garden waste collections.

It also says it aims to align the opening times more closely with those of neighbouring authorities to stop non-Edinburgh residents using the centres.

The three centres – at Bankhead Avenue, Sighthill; Fillyside Road, Seafield; and Old Dalkeith Road, Craigmillar – are currently open Monday to Friday 8am-7.30pm and Saturday and Sunday

8am-6pm.

Scott monument

THE cost of going up the Scott Monument is set to soar by 60 per cent.

Adults and children currently pay £5 to climb the 287 steps to the top of the world’s largest monument to a writer and there are no concessions.

The budget proposals would mean the charge

for adults increasing to

£8, with a new concessionary price of £6 and children still being charged £5.

The report says the increase is expected to lead to a ten per cent fall in people going up the monument, but adds that numbers should recover within two years.

The move is projected to bring in an extra £25,000 next year, rising to £40,000 thereafter.

Transport

A REVIEW of home-to-school transport provided by the council aims to save £400,000 a year on the current cost of £5.5m.

Most of those who qualify for the transport are pupils at special schools, but primary children who live more than two miles from their catchment school and secondary pupils who live more than three miles away are also eligible.

The council says the aim of the review is to establish more efficient and cost-effective arrangements for pupil travel, especially through better route planning, and adds further work is required to develop detailed proposals for consultation with parents.

The report says: “Potential options include better route planning, more personalisation and increased choice, such as use of bus passes.”

Round-up on other cuts

THE Evening News has already revealed how the council’s budget plans include a new annual £25 charge for garden waste collection, £3 million of cuts from health and social care and dozens of job losses among binmen, as well as a £420,000 cut in funding for Edinburgh Leisure and increased automation of council services.

The proposals have sparked warnings the garden waste charge will encourage flytipping and dumping in landfill bins.

The social care cuts have been branded “utterly scandalous” amid concern about the impact on older people following a highly critical inspectors’ report earlier in the year.

The reduction in binmen was described as “baffling” when lack of resources are blamed for continuing problems with missed collections.

And the funding cut for Edinburgh Leisure has led to fears about potential closures of swimming pools and sports centres.

There are also numerous proposals for efficiencies in council operations, reviews of staffing levels in various departments, less use of consultants, better procurement and retendering contracts.