Hard times ahead for East Ren?

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Up to 200 jobs could be cut and services lost at East Renfrewshire Council in a bid to close a budget gap0 of £20 million over the next three years.

The council has released details of its £17.6m budget saving proposals, asking residents for feedback in a consultation running until December 5.

ERC has said that around £10.3 million (58 per cent) of the saving required could be done “without impacting on frontline services” — but the Budget Savings Proposals lay out proposed cuts in five key areas.

If the plan goes ahead, the council will look to make £9.1m in cuts under the headings of early years and life, learning and work — including handing over school management responsibilities to teachers, as well as axing breakfast clubs and free fruit for nursery and P1-3 pupils, upping class sizes in S1 and S2 English and maths and removing the campus cops scheme.

And, as reported in The Extra, ERC intends to hand over leisure facilities to an independent trust, saving an estimated £400,000.

Council leader Jim Fletcher said: “The proposals we are presenting do not make easy reading, and it is with a very heavy heart that my colleagues and I must bring this savings package forward for review.

“The focus has always been on maintaining quality services while protecting local jobs. Despite our best efforts, a reduction in staff numbers and the services we provide is likely to be unavoidable.”

Councillor Gordon Wallace, leader of the opposition, responded: “As far back as 2009, local authorities were advised of the multi-billion pound hole in public funding we now face.

“The Conservative group budget in the last two years alone highlighted a total of £4.7m in savings with no impact on frontline services — had the administration accepted the proposals when first mooted, this would have gone some way in mitigating the cuts now being proposed.”

East Renfrewshire Joint Trade Unions have released a statement raising “significant concerns for staff and residents alike”.

It reads: “There are pages of proposals, and at this stage too many to comment upon. Overall, the trade unions would ask the question: why has the council put forward a favourable spin on these cuts when their implementation will inevitably be damaging to council services and lead to the loss of 200 jobs?”

A final decision on the proposals — available to view at getinvolved.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk — is expected in February.