Have you completed your response to West Lothian Council’s consultation “Transforming Your Council” which implies significant cuts to front line services? Full details can be obtained here.
You may be interested in a summary of the Community Council’s response as you work your way through the sections!
Linlithgow & Linlithgow Bridge Community Council Comments
As a Community Council we are unable to put the 8 priorities in order of importance. This has to be a personal matter. You may decide that all are equally important.
1 – Modernising services and managing our workforce
1a. We say, the Administration of the Council needs a root and branch review. A £4million reduction in staff costs represents 100 jobs over 5 years, about what could be achieved by natural wastage on a staff of 8,000. A more realistic target is 5 times that amount with a £20million saving.
1b. We say, give headteachers more responsibility but support them with well-trained secretaries. We oppose any reduction in educational psychology and instrumental music teaching.
1c. We have no objection to a revised DSM funding model evolved after thorough investigation but do not put school management in the hands of private management firms.
1d. We say, early learning and care will be increased from 600 to 1140 hours in 2020. so more teachers, significant investment in infrastructure, and new, innovative models of delivery including perhaps a full 10 hour 250 day nursery service. How can this save money?
1e. We say, don’t base the whole service on More Choices More Chances. We need diversity in support models. Adult learning is vital; we would oppose any cuts in this area. No savings!
1f. We say, this sounds a useful suggestion that could have been included in the review proposed in 1a.
1g. We say, a pitifully small saving on a wage bill of about £320 million. Include this in 1a above.
1h. This says the Council will make a further saving of £10.4million but we do not know where the saving will be made. How can we give an opinion on this?
2 – Modernising Social Care
Social care is a primary local authority function. We are unable to comment on such huge cuts to social care without understanding what is involved.
Without more information we would oppose any cuts in this area. We would make the following points:
2b. In assessing older people we are very concerned at the proposal to reset the threshold level at critical before intervention is entertained
2c. We agree with supporting “at home care” but have major concerns if this will result in a reduction in respite sleepovers to allow carers some time off. Once care/respite facilities are closed it is unlikely that they will be reopened.
2e. We agree with the proposal of providing housing with care for older people throughout West Lothian but would strongly suggest that no existing services are cut prior to this provision being made which makes savings in this financial period very unlikely.
3 – Managing our relationship with customers
We agree with the proposal to improve the quality and accessibility of customer services in the Council.
4 – Working with partners to deliver outcomes
4b. Support for community groups and organisations. We say, £600,000 is a pitifully small saving for what is in many instances a voluntary service supported by a small Council grant. We are absolutely opposed to any cuts to grants to LYPP and other groups in Linlithgow.
4c. The Linlithgow BID is beginning to demonstrate an impact on Linlithgow High Street. It is still in its infancy and now is not the time to make cuts of such a small amount.
4e. Community policing provided in Linlithgow by PC’s Andrew Murray and Neill Drummond has been a major success. It is tackling the prime priority areas of concern to residents. To compromise community policing would be absolutely opposed. No cuts in this area.
5 – Managing our assets and reducing energy
Asset transfer is not a quick process. It is unlikely that the savings proposed can be realised in this financial period unless there is a wholesale disposal of assets. This we would oppose.
Linlithgow benefits from a major asset in the context of the Burgh Halls. However, much more needs to be done to promote the venue which means investing more to generate increased income. This is a primary money earning asset that is currently not fulfilling its potential.
Community Centres provide a useful venue for various community groups. The statement “an opportunity to consolidate the number of community centres” sounds like closure which we would oppose in Linlithgow.
6 – Reviewing Income and Concessions
The Council should at least double its aspiration for income during the financial plan period. Things to consider are:
- Charging for all West Lothian owned car parks (Monday to Saturday 8am to 4pm). This is money that could be directed as a contribution to subsidising bus services.
- Discontinue elderly rail concession where there is an adequate bus service.
- Lobby the Scottish Government for an immediate increase in planning fees, particularly for Developers applying for major projects,
- Increasing licensing fees to cover the cost of staff.
7 – Environment
We understand that the matters which concern Linlithgow residents are:
- No cuts to bus subsidies. Those that use the L1 and the 31 do so because they have no choice. Without these services how could those people who don’t drive get to the doctor’s surgery, to the library, to the shops, to St John’s hospital? It is vital that these services are maintained. Further no buses means more cars and we have the worse polluted High St in Scotland at present.
- Whereas we are not opposed to charges for bulky uplifts we are absolutely opposed to the closure of the recycling centre in Linlithgow. To require a town of 13,500 people to drive 16 miles to their nearest recycling centre is environmentally unsound, both from the perspective of fuel consumption and the inevitable fly tipping.
- Charging for brown bin collection needs considerable thought. Better to charge everyone and avoid piles of grass cuttings accumulating in hedgerows and on verges.
We accept a 3% increase in Council Tax in each of the 5 years 2018/19 to 2022/23. For an average band D property this works out at an increase of £3.38 per month less than the cost of 2 Lattes. The Council should make the £20million saving in 1a before making cuts to Social Care and indeed asking for more money.