What do you think of our draft budget proposals?

Balancing the budget
Balancing the budget

Fife Council Labour administration’s message to the people as it seeks to find massive savings ...

The Fife public is being asked for its views on Fife Council Labour administration’s draft budget proposals which were published this week.

The proposals include savings of £14.5m in 2014/15 – the first stage in reducing the Council’s budget by £92m by 2018.

Council leader Alex Rowley admitted taking such an amount of money out of the budget could not be achieved without affecting jobs and services.

An estimated 700 jobs could go over the next three years if the draft budget proposals are all accepted. But Labour’s plans also include investment in key priority areas.

Cllr Rowley said: “This is a budget for the future . We’ve saved more than we need to this year in order to begin to tackle the massive budget gap we have in the next four years and in doing so we are able to bring about much needed investment which is aimed at reducing pressure on future budgets.

“I hope that people across Fife will take the time to look at what we’re proposing and let us know if they think we’re saving and investing in the right areas.”

Proposed cuts include a reduction in the number of school management posts, grouping schools under the management of one headteacher and requiring deputy heads to spend more time teaching.

The review of the schools estate, which includes the closure of a number of primary schools, is also included.

There are planned reductions in the transport fleet, changes to procurement processes, a reduction in parks and countryside workforce, and cuts in spending on supplies and services.

Many services are being restructured, and the Council is also looking to reduce the number of buildings it uses.

Areas of investment include allocating £500,000 to the area committees for Cowdenbeath, Glenrothes, Levenmouth, North East Fife and South West Fife, to support the priorities of each area.

Both Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy areas are investing £1m in their town centres, and will be allocated a further £150,000 under the proposals.

There is also proposed investment in sports and leisure to improve health and well being, and tackle inequality and deprivation.

There will be opportunities to comment on the draft budget at a series of public meetings, including a ‘pop-up’ meeting in Robertson’s Deli in Hunter Street, Kirkcaldy, on Tuesday, November 19, between 2.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m., and one at St Bryce Kirk, Kirkcaldy, on Wednesday, November 27, at 6.00 p.m.

From Wednesday next week, the draft budget will also be online at www.fifedirect.org.uk/bigchange.

SNP group leader Peter Grant attacked Labour’s budget, saying it was “a betrayal of promises made to the people of Fife”.

He said: “This is the party that promised to balance the books without cutting jobs, and now they’re proposing to take a minimum of 675 jobs out of the Council’s establishment on top of the 135 jobs they cut last year. Half of these jobs are in education, and the vast majority of them are frontline staff, providing direct services to the public.”

He claimed Labour had broken promises not to cut services and slammed the proposed school closures, reductions in support given to local businesses and reduced the standards of footpath repairs, street sweeping and ground maintenance.

However, Labour’s finance spokesperson, Cllr Linda Erskine, hit back: “The level of our budget is, in the main, controlled by the Scottish Government who’ve decided to make local councils take a larger share of the austerity measures than any other part of the Scottish budget. We could behave like the SNP in Fife and issue ranting statements calling the SNP in Edinburgh all kinds of names and accusing them of ‘betrayal and dishonesty’ but we believe the people of Fife deserve better.”