East Renfrewshire Council Budget plans revealed

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Cuncil tax in East Renfrewshire is set to rise by 3 per cent from April, leader Tony Buchanan has revealed.

The authority, which expects to receive £179.6 million from the Scottish Government, is facing a spending gap of almost £12 million and has outlined over £9.3 million of savings.

Ahead of tomorrow’s (Thursday) budget meeting, council chiefs have announced an additional shortfall of £1.9 million would be covered from the council’s reserves.

Mr Buchanan, SNP, said: “Most councils are feeling some fairly significant financial pressures.

“In East Renfrewshire, we have particular pressures. Primarily because of our demographic, we have both a rising elderly population and a growing younger population.

“What I will be presenting on Thursday is a budget that protects frontline services, commits us to an ambitious future and hopefully improves the lives of all our residents across the authority.”

He has promised there will be no compulsory redundancies and ruled out introducing a work place parking levy or a tourist tax.

The council tax rise is lower than the 4.79% the Scottish Government allowed councils to raise the charge by.

Tax for a Band D household will rise from £1,194.57 in 2018/19 to £1,230.41 in 2019/20.

“When we set our budget last year, we said that council tax would increase by 3 per cent in each of the three years between 2018 and 2020,” Mr Buchanan said. “That decision actually came on the back of quite extensive public consultation.

“We will be sticking with 3% for 2019/20. I can’t put any guarantees out to what will happen in the future but certainly for this year.”

Many of the planned savings will come through efficiencies, the council say. This includes removing PSA classroom assistants and reducing the number of bilingual support workers in schools.

Other planned savings include a reduction of £500,000 to the devolved school management budgets and a review of catering, cleaning and janitorial services.

There is also around £3 million of targeted savings for the integration joint board, set up by the council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Mr Buchanan said: “We have been working extremely hard in terms of efficiency savings, trying to make sure we can still deliver the services and that we’re still getting the incomes we desire.”

The budget proposes £212 million to be spent on a range of projects over the next eight years.

There will be £24 million used on new nurseries in Busby, Clarkston, Eaglesham, Thornliebank and Newton Mearns.

A £15 million primary school will open at Maidenhill in Newton Mearns later this year and a £30 million leisure and learning campus is planned for Neilston. This is on top of a £26 million plan to build a leisure centre in Eastwood.

Over the next five years, the council intends to spend £15 million on maintaining and improving roads.

A £400,000 plan to transform Bonnyton House into a “centre of excellence for older people” includes retaining 22 residential places and a six-bed rehabilitation unit and a new six-bed facility delivering end-of-life care.

Other investment plans include £1.7 million on sports pavilions at Crookfur and Overlee Parks and £3.8 million on a Greenlaw Business Centre.

Mr Buchanan added: “Tenants will move into the first new houses that have been built in East Renfrewshire in a generation in the coming weeks. They’re the first of 240 new houses which will be built by the council in coming years.”