No surprises in council budget

As expected there are few surprises in the forthcoming Angus Council budget which will go before councillors for approval on Thursday.

The authority’s finance convenor, Arbroath councillor Alex King, briefed the press on Monday morning and reiterated that this three year budget plan, which aims to make in the region of £19 million in efficiency savings, is not about wants, but needs.

Councillor King told the press that Angus Council could no longer afford piecemeal shaving of budgets and would need to take a radical approach to its business.

He said: “We can’t go back and keep on salami slicing, we’ve got to the point where we’re putting the salami through the slicer and it’s our fingers that are being sliced.”

The authority’s directorates were instructed to provide cost savings of 15 per cent each, totalling around £30 million.

Mr King said: “We knew that we would throw out some things that were politically unacceptable to ensure that we got enough things that were politically acceptable.”

The new budget requires Angus Council to be more efficient in staffing, deliver a number of services differently, reduce or stop some services, and in other places attempt to increase income.

Proposals to increase income to the council, include a five per cent increase in burial charges, along with an inflationary increase in various road related charges and an inflationary increase in leisure fees.

Brechin’s paddling pool is also ear marked for closure under the new budget plans, along with the paddling pool in Kirriemuir. The council has said that at least £5,000 would be saved per year for planned maintenance, but they added it does not reflect the actual savings which will be achieved. In 2013, £25,000 was spent on the two paddling polls to cover repairs and emptying/refilling of pools following incidents of vandalism.

Another suggestion for savings is reducing the number of visiting art and PE teachers to primary schools, which could save the local authority £276,000.

School clothing grants could also be phased out under the new budget, with a three year phased reduction, netting a saving of £165,000.