Feb 16 2011 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Wednesday
PLANNED new community facilities were cancelled and rents raised as Clackmannanshire set its budget in the face of what the council leader called “unprecedented challenge.”
A total of £8 million in “efficiencies” were made as Clackmannanshire Council agreed its budget for the year ahead at a meeting last Thursday.
The council insisted such savings meant they were able to invest more in frontline services looking after the most vulnerable members of communities.
Council leader Sam Ovens said: “The process of developing council budgets across Scotland this year has been characterised by a level of unprecedented challenge.
“All of us are aware of the financial constraints within which councils are operating and the challenge this presents in the face of increasing demand for the services we provide as well as the level of expectation we continue to face in terms of demands for increased quality and choice of services.”
The council have said they will continue to invest in support for vulnerable families with young children, including improved early intervention.
They also maintain the commitment to free personal and respite care and will retain paid for school meals at the same price as they have been for the last seven years along with additional investment in the recycling service.
However, while Alva’s library and local council office will be refurbished plans for the development of further community facilities in the town has been cancelled.
Under the capital expenditure programme the proposed new primary school replacing St John's and Claremont, currently subject to consultation, will still go ahead, along with improvements to Alloa Town Hall and the redevelopment of the town’s Speirs Centre.
The number of jobs at the council itself will continue to be reduced through a mix of vacancy management and restructuring, while changes to staff terms and conditions are being discussed with unions.
Rents for council tenants will rise by 6.6 per cent, taking the average rent to £60.68.
An increase of £3.76 council bosses said this was still below the Scottish average.
Council tax has again been frozen.
Regeneration Portfolio Holder, Councillor Janet Cadenhead, said: “This rent rise will allow us to continue to bring real benefits to our existing tenants.
“We will invest over £20 million over the next four years, ensuring that we will reach our commitment of delivering the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, and the enhanced Clackmannanshire Standard, by 2015.”
Councillor Ovens said: “The budgets we have prepared have involved a significant amount of engagement and involvement of staff, service users, the public, partners and other key stakeholders.
“This has allowed us to develop a range of proposals which aim to deliver a reduction in the council's expenditure over time and provide a sustainable cost base from which the council can move forward.
“We are keen to keep up the dialogue on these important issues, and while we cannot promise that everyone will get what they want, everyone's voice will be heard.”