Budget sent to cabinet

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East Renfrewshire’s proposed budget will go before the council this morning.

Council leader Jim Fletcher says it will be a “smarter, more pro-active but nonetheless painful budget” in an effort to kickstart a drive to savings of £23 million by 2013.

Among the plan for savings, is a 33 per cent reduction in senior management, a voluntary redundancy plan and a wage freeze for employees (which is already underway).

An inflamed issue prior to the budget decision has been threatened cutting of the council’s music tuition service for pupils.

Although there will be concessions for pupils who cannot afford it, a funding increase for participants will be used to bridge the budget cap and continue with the music service.

Mr Fletcher told The Extra: “We spend a lot more on music tuition compared to most other councils.

“But it is a very important activity and we hope that by asking parents to contribute more we can continue to provide the excellent service”.

With education representing 50% of the council’s total budget, savings if £1.2m have been proposed in that area while protecting frontline teaching staff.

Fears that campus cops could be withdrawn have been downplayed by the proposals and this community resource will be protected for the forseeable future.

School-based counselling officers have also escaped the threat of being axed.

Among areas that could be cut is the Easter school study and support weekend which will be reviewed (to save more than £50,000) £98,000 less will be available next year for school meals and funding of janitorial services will be slashed by £500,000.

Residents can also expect to pay more for school meals, sports centres,, sports development and theatre.

As for ERC’s streets Mr Fletcher added: “We cannot resurface roads until this is treated by the government as a national priority. We will invest further in filling potholes but would people want that at the expense of schools?

“There are enough budget restraints on education as it is but we will continue to prioritise that service. However, the days of spending on building new schools are over”.

Meanwhile, police funding will be cut by 50%, reducing CCTV response cars to one.

As the consultation is still ongoing regarding closure of Robslee primary, it could not be considered for the budget.

However, to “make better use of buildings several properties have been identified for removal from ERCl ownership. Consultation with users of these properties is promised.

. The proposals will be up for debate among elected members at 10am today.