East Ren opposition predicts hard times ahead

editorial image

Opposition leader Gordon McCaskill has hit out at East Renfrewshire Council for being “unwilling or unable to prepare for the worst” following last week’s budget announcement.

The council has announced cuts of £17.4 million over a three year budget, to meet a shortfall of £22m.

ERC leader Jim Fletcher has promised no compulsory redundancies for the coming year, and moves to protect frontline services. He added: “We are confident that we will end up in a place that is fair for all.

“We will use the forthcoming years to identify further savings as more information about future funding emerges.”

However, councillor Gordon McCaskill, leader of the Conservative opposition, points to £4.6m still needed to bridge the £22m gap — and the council “facing very hard choices”.

He told The Extra: “Following eight years of a council tax freeze imposed by the Scottish Government, East Renfrewshire gathers near to 20 per cent less council tax than it did in 2007 while prices have risen by 20% over the same period. The cuts forced on the council have to be viewed in that light.

“The fact that the council still has a shortfall in the cuts programme — and roundly rejected the £1.2m of additional savings called for by the Conservatives — demonstrates that, while they still hope for the best following the end of the council tax freeze in 2016, they are unwilling or unable to prepare for the worst.”

The Tory councillor fears “shaky foundations” for the current Labour/SNP council coalition on the subject of council tax.

He added: “It is my sincere hope that very necessary savings ERC still needs to make will not be pushed aside in order to maintain a political alliance.”

Councillor Fletcher maintained: “This has been a difficult budget process but it has not defeated us.”

What do you think of the council’s three year budget plan? Share your thoughts by emailing Gillian(address above) for inclusion in next week’s Extra.