Grim rundown of proposed West Lothian Council cuts

West Lothian Council logo
West Lothian Council logo

Fewer staff, scruffier streets and parks would be the direct visible result of more than £1 million of new budget cuts if applied by West Lothian Council’s Operational Services.

The council’s Environment Policy Development  and Scrutiny Panel  (PDSP) heard a grim rundown of proposals to shave more from  budgets as the council tries to close its funding gap  next year.

Councillor Diane Calder.

Councillor Diane Calder.

Around 20 jobs would go if reviews of street cleaning team numbers and service standards, to save a total of  more than £500, 000 go ahead.

Cutting the number of grit bins on the streets would save  £87,000.

Closing the automated toilets in the  area £338,000.

Councillor Diane Calder said: “So the reduction measures that have attracted loads of complaints, to the extent that we have had football teams calling off games because the grass is too long, we are proposing to reduce these services even more?”

Head of operational services Jim Jack acknowledged that difficult decisions would have to be made  and added that he had to look at options  including standards of service.

He added: “The options are limited by the need to maintain statutory services and these are not statutory services. 

“We have to look to where we make some other changes. I appreciate these are difficult decisions.”

”I would like my dissent noted, I can’t agree to any of this,” Councillor Calder told the panel.

The council faces an estimated budget gap of £6.730m for 2020/21 to 2022/23. Council officers have identified a range of potential savings measures which could help the council deliver a balanced budget to meet its legal obligations.

More than £31m of savings have already been agreed for the next three years, in addition to the £121m of savings that have already been delivered since 2007.

After the meeting a council spokesman said: “We would stress that they are only potential options prepared by council officers and no decisions have yet been made.”

Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “The funding we receive from the Scottish Government has not been sufficient to cover the costs of providing essential services for our growing population of younger and older people, creating a substantial budget gap. 

“We have no choice but to look at options for reducing costs and changing services.

“This is why we have again call on the Scottish Government to provide us with a fair budget settlement that will prevent the need for further cuts to local services.”