Fife Council service ‘decimated’ by cuts

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The Fife Council team which looks after public spaces and streets has warned that more cuts are expected in the future.

The council’s Parks, Streets and Open Spaces team has had to slash its full-time workforce by around 23 per cent over the last four years – and more job losses are expected.

Scott Clelland, team manager (Levenmouth & North East Fife), Parks, Streets & Open Spaces, told north east Fife councillors last week that a range of cuts had a “major impact on our resources to meet the challenges on a daily basis”.

A review presented to the councillors admitted that ‘maintaining streets and public space to a reasonable standard has been a significant challenge for the service over the last 12 months’, and said that summer conditions had ‘exposed’ the impact of the staff reductions.

There are plans to transform the service going forward, however, the report admitted that these would ‘not be enough to meet future savings targets alone’.

More staff cuts are expected in the future, with Mr Clelland telling councillors that, while there is not expected to be any compulsory redundancies, retirement could be offered to individuals within the team in a bid to make savings.

Cllr Linda Holt said she was “worried” about the pressure being put on the staff and asked about the absence rate,

Mr Clelland said that the “capacity of staff is a significant issue” and told councillors that illness had been an issue because of an ageing workforce.

He also told councillors that long-term sick leave was increasing.

Cllr David MacDiarmid thanked the team for its work in north east Fife, adding: “We know your staff have been decimated. I don’t know how you do it, to be honest.”

Cllr Tim Brett raised concerns about the implications of Fife Council budget cuts on the team, telling his fellow north east Fife councillors: “I think we should be asking more questions when the budget is set.”

The report also set out the team’s north east Fife priorities, noting that the managers would be meeting with group representatives to establish a plan of local priorities.

It is hoped the plan will recognise what communities want in regards to ground maintenance. It is also looking to increase community participation to support grassland management.

The Grounds Maintenance and Street Cleaning Services are also being transformed in a bid to make savings.