Tough times ahead

IN THE face of a declining budget both Glasgow city and East Renfrewshire councils are being forced to tighten purse strings.

Both authorities will meet today at 10am in their respective chambers to vote on their individual budgets.

ERC leader Jim Fletcher says the council have to face up to the reality of making “cuts in real terms”.

He told The Extra: “We are trying to slim ourselves down and be lean, mean and efficient in order to lessen the impact of service cuts.”

The budget, which is a two year process designed to save ERC £11 million, means class sizes are likely to increase for primaries one to three, and a possible reduction in pupil support assistants.

Savings could also be found in the sale of council property, such as Rhuallan House, and replacing many nursery teachers with child development officers.

The administration has identified investment in early years, employment opportunities and safety as priorities, and also aims to develop East Renfrewshire as a “place to grow”, as well as plan for the area’s ageing demographic — for which £800,000 has been ringfenced despite the declining budget.

Barrhead high school (£1.525m), OLM primary (£1m), Crookfur primary (£138,000), Eastwood high (£3.634m), St Marc’s primary (£900,000) and St Ninian’s (£502,000) will all see significant investment.

There will be a £274,000 investment in the lowest performing 20 per cent of pupils within the local authority.

And it’s good news for motorists, as roads will receive an extra £625,000.

Mr Fletcher said: “Most people in the area have cars so the roads do take a pounding. As a result we try and spend as much as we can.

“However, nobody in their right minds would spend every penny on roads. The roads are getting better but won’t be fixed till central government makes it a priority.”

In the next two years £6.1m will be spent on Eastwood health and care centre.

Councillor Fletcher has promised the council will face up to long-standing problems such as Braidbar Quarries and the condition of mixed housing estates, which are set to receive £500,000 of investment.

He has also promised a continuing commitment to non-profit events which “showcase East Renfrewshire”, such as the food festival and the Electric Glen (see page 7).

In a move designed to target unemployment issues, £150,000 will be spent on a youth employer subsidy scheme, graduate internships and the Rouken Glen training centre.

Meanwhile, the council has assured its employees of a £7.50 living wage and no compulsory redundancies.

Councillor Fletcher added: “This is not an expanding budget, but we have tried to ringfence certain areas. Any cuts have come as a result of intensive discussions.

“We will spend money based on need and that’s why we are investing in areas such as the Eastwood health and care centre.”