£22 million saved but will toilets go down the pan?

The City of Edinburgh Council Headquarters in East Market Street, Edinburgh
The City of Edinburgh Council Headquarters in East Market Street, Edinburgh

The possible closure of public toilets and leisure centres across the city were just two of the cuts to basic services announced in last week’s City of Edinburgh Council budget.

The council has to save £22 million over the coming year and a further £67 million by 2017-18.

A total of £300,000 would be saved by closing many of the city’s public toilets; it still remains uncertain if the two public conveniences in Queensferry will remain.

The council has also reduced its budget to Edinburgh Leisure by £500,000 which will see cuts in sport and leisure facilities.

Among other cost-saving measures is the plan to reduce staffing levels by 1200 posts, mostly through natural wastage; car parking fees will rise by 20 per cent; there is to be a review of library opening hours; home care charges will rise from £13.50 in 2014-15 to £15.50 in 2015-16; and there will be an end to looking after coouncil-owned greenspaces such as parks.

There is also to be a review of council-supported bus services, which could affect routes such as the 63, Queensferry to The Gyle.

There is some good news, however, with the council freezing council tax for the eighth year running; the average band D home will cost £1169 annually, the lowest of Scotland’s four major cities.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, convener of the finance and resources committee, said: “Given the financial challenges all local authorities are facing over the next few years, we want to invest in the areas that are essential to Edinburgh.

“So it is important that the public continue to tell us what is important to them.

“This year we published the draft budget in October and 3525 people gave us their views – five times the number of responses compared to last year.

‘‘We also used a new online planner to give respondents the opportunity to express what they feel the council’s priorities should be.’’