No end in sight for cuts misery in the new year

Photograph Jamie Forbes 25.1.13.  KIRKINTILLOCH Council HQ, Southbank Marina. CLLR Rhondda Geekie at her desk.
Photograph Jamie Forbes 25.1.13. KIRKINTILLOCH Council HQ, Southbank Marina. CLLR Rhondda Geekie at her desk.

It will be a bleak new year for council services as East

Dunbartonshire struggles to deal with a crippling cash crisis.

That was the message from local authority leader Rhondda Geekie as she lifted the veil on a year of financial trauma ahead and predicted further and deeper cuts to services across the district in a bid to achieve target savings of £6.885million for 2014/15.

This presents a significant challenge on its own but it will hit even harder as it follows £34million of savings in the past seven years.

However, Councillor Geekie insisted that there are no alternatives to the tough choices that have to be made by the ruling Labour/Tory/LibDem administration.

At a full council meeting this week she challenged opposition councillors to come up with alternatives if they don’t agree with the administration’s proposals.

She said: “It’s really difficult but if anyone can tell us how to manage all these things without making difficult decisions they should come and tell us as I can’t work out how to do it.

“We know some of the issues that will be caused by cuts will be difficult - we have a high demand for many services in East Dunbartonshire due to the demographics of the area.

“But doing nothing would not be the answer.

“The number of voluntary redundancies and restructuring has helped us to achieve some of these savings but we can only go so far in doing this.

“The other option is to stop services but then we’d have compulsory redundancies and we never want that.

“It’s not concerns that we want to hear from other councillors, it’s alternatives.”

Some areas that are being considered for cuts include supported accommodation for those with mental health needs or a learning disability.

A report to the council report states: “Individuals may, therefore, be left with some risk within the wider community or family settings until resources become available.”

However, £60,000 would be saved in a year.

Care home placements would be reduced to 14 per month (the average this year was 24), with the council acknowledging that this will cause delays in hospital and potential risk within the community as individuals will wait longer for a place in a care home.

It is estimated that this will save £50,000 in a year.