COUNCIL tax is going up and £1 million in budget cuts have been made as the SNP commit more money to roads and apprentices in West Dunbartonshire.

The first budget under the SNP-independent administration was passed on Monday afternoon with a bonus Tory vote while Labour pitched a zero-cuts budget and a reversal of cuts in recent months.

Council tax will go up by 3 per cent with new spending on roads and for an apprenticeship scheme in the coming years.

Money will also go to lessen potential cuts to the health and social care partnership (HSPC) services.

Council officers had put forwarded £3m in options to cut and the SNP selected £1m of those as their preferred option, putting the entire list out to public consultation earlier this year.

After new funding from the Scottish Government, they potentially didn’t need to make any cuts at all.

The SNP council went into Wednesday’s meeting with £671,000 in surplus, but then sent £1.56m into the HSPC coffers, £186,500 in new spending and almost £900,000 for “assumption adjustments”.

That meant they still needed to cut more than £1m from their budget, the same assumption as in December.

New spending will include and extra £3m for the roads budget, focusing on resurfacing rather than patching repairs. They will also pilot a small scheme to test “environmentally sustainable road surfacing materials containing a recycled plastic element, which has the potential to be more resilient in extreme temperatures”.

Labour members offered an alternative budget, proposing using money from “free reserves” to reverse cuts the SNP have already made, plus increasing spending on clothing grants and winter gritting.

They also proposed £400,000 towards two new multi-use games areas (MUGA) for Edinbarnet Primary and St Joseph’s Primary in Faifley.

Both SNP and Labour laid claim to creating a “fairer” West Dunbartonshire, either in their budget documents or arguments in the meeting. Each also accused the other of “smoke and mirrors”.

SNP council leader Jonathan McColl said nothing in the Labour proposals would help communities “be more resilient”.

He said: “I’m more concerned about Labour’s Conservative policies.”

Labour’s Councillor John Mooney said: “The approved settlement we are looking at a surplus, not a budget gap. A lot of growth items we are proposing will have benefits to the community - I think it’s quite a prudent no-cuts budget.”

Councillor Jim Bollan said he had planned to abstain on the budget but would instead back Labour because they offered a no-cuts budget.

He said: “To remove additional educational maintenance payments is quite despicable. The argument we’re higher than other areas doesn’t wash with me.”

The SNP cited in their budget documents and in the meeting how they had listened to the public through the consultation.

But Councillor David McBride countered: “We are saying the consultation didn’t have to happen because cuts were not necessary. Labour will have a balanced budget with higher potential reserves than required.”

Labour group leader Councillor Martin Rooney added: “There are two options: SNP austerity or Labour putting people first.”

Councillor Ian Dickson, summarising the SNP position, said: “There’s one future and then there’s the quick plaster and then we are absolutely going to pay for that.”

The SNP budget received 12 votes, including the SNP, Tory Sally Page and Bailie Denis Agnew. Labour got eight votes, including Cllr Bollan. Councillors Brian Walker and Douglas McAllister were not at the meeting.

SNP approved budget 2018/19

THE approved SNP budget makes more than £1m in cuts as well as nearly £200,000 in new spending.

SNP spending from “free reserves” this year:

  • £1million - new apprenticeship fund to last for the next four years
  • £1,500 - publicise Scottish Government scheme for business rates relief
  • £60,000 - to increase the “change fund”
  • £5,000 - for wildflower seeds and information plaques to replace flower beds
  • £30,000 - for new “community empowerment steering group” to “enhance” relationship with residents
  • £10,000 - to purchase 50 more bins for communities
  • Spending for 2018/19:
  • £1,560,000 - to reverse funding cuts to HSPC
  • £6,000 - to reverse council officer plans to make pupils responsible for cleaning food prep areas
  • £50,000 - to keep grit bins topped up
  • £25,000 - for “cultural events” to attract investment into the area
  • £3,900 - to livestream and record council and committee meetings
  • £100,000 - for raising attainment through pilot projects

Capital spending:

  • £3 million extra - for roads maintenance
  • £4 million - to improve council buildings for cultural workshops and gallery space. This includes renewing Clydebank Town Hall and renovating Bruce Street Baths for exhibitions and events.

SNP cuts:

  • £42,000 - reduce curriculum for excellence funding
  • £75,000 - reduce payments to parent councils
  • £82,000 - remove additional educational maintenance payments
  • £10,000 - raise Dalmuir Golf Course membership fees by 30 per cent
  • £136,000 - cut grass fortnightly instead of weekly
  • £80,000 - remove summer bedding displays
  • £10,000 - review provision of Christmas trees
  • £120,000 - cut grass in cemeteries fortnightly instead of weekly; more use of weed killer
  • £150,000 - reduce summer bedding in parks, cut back on grass cutting and litter picking
  • £180,000 - convert parts of parks and public areas to biodiversity sites
  • £40,0000 - to review community facilities suitable for closure or taken over by local groups
  • £7,500 - transfer cash payments to Post Office and PayPoint
  • £50,000 - reduce number of paid trade union convener posts from 3.4 to two
  • £25,000 - increase food export certificate fees
  • £50,000 - cuts to grants for voluntary organisations
  • £24,000 - cuts to grants to partner organisations such as Y Sort It, Clydebank Asbestos Group, Antonine Sports Centre and others

Labour’s alternative budget

THE Labour Party’s alternative budget rejected all proposed cuts from the recent consultation.

Spending from “free reserves” this year:

  • £1,560,000 - to reverse funding cuts to HSPC
  • £165,000 - fund to reverse charges for care of garden scheme
  • £180,000 - fund to reverse cuts to library opening hours
  • £25,000 - fund to reverse needs assessment for musical instruments

Spending for 2018/19:

  • £70,000 - reverse reduction of building cleaning
  • £55,000 - reverse cuts to free milk for pupils
  • £150,000 - for a meal service to vulnerable children 365 days a year
  • £139,500 - increase clothing grant from £100 per child to £130 (the council currently spends £465,000 on the clothing grant, so this would raise it to £604,500)
  • £242,000 - enhanced winter gritting service with extra 56km of footways and pavements taken on, plus purchasing 24 extra tractors for this work from capital spending

Capital spending:

  • £400,000 for new multi-use games areas for Edinbarnet Primary and St Joseph’s Primary

Total: £1,915,500 in spending, presuming budget surplus as starting point.