Council asks: What are your priorities?

editorial image

Residents are being encouraged to respond to West Lothian Council’s consultation on budget proposals.

It comes as the local authority attempts to bridge a £73 million deficit over the next five years.

The consultation, Transforming Your Council, which was launched on October 16 and ends on November 12, aims to find out what the public’s priorities are, what they think of budget proposals and plans to raise council tax by three or four per cent annually over the next five years.

The council needs to make substantial savings across those services as it is legally required to balance its budget.

In the consultation the local authority said it is going through a period of huge change with “fewer staff operating from fewer offices, providing fewer direct services but in a more joined up and cost-effective way”.

One of the proposals is looking at saving nearly £21 million over the next five years from its social care budget which would involve “modernising internal teams and processes to focus on highest risk cases” in Care for Children services.

With an aging population more pressure is put on the budget for adults and older people and the local authority is looking to increase the threshold to be set at “critical/substantial” levels for all new clients, respite provision and private adaptation grants.

Funding from 2018-2019 to 2022-23 could also be cut in other areas including the delivery of culture and sports with some activities no longer provided. Funding to Police Scotland for 21 officers, vehicles and analyst support is also proposed to be scrapped.

While another £13 million over the next five years from the environment budget including £3.9 million for transport services is to be slashed which would impact on bus services in the county. Festive lighting will no longer be provided by the council either if proposals go through.

It is proposed to introduce charges for bulky uplifts and use of brown bins. In addition the review would include the removal of the commercial waste service and closure of three community recycling sites in West Lothian.

At the Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Community Council meeting on Tuesday, critics were concerned about the amount of jargon in the document.

Another member said: “The focus should be on identifying required services and then delivering them rather than just delivering services in a different way.”

To take part in the consultation, visit www.westlothian.gov.uk/transforming.