CROWDS gathered outside West Dunbartonshire Council's headquarters on Wednesday calling on the local authority to stop proposed cuts to vital services across the area.

Clydebank Post:

Members of various trade unions - including UNISON, Unite the Union, GMB, STUC, and JTUC - as well as local groups and charities joined together on Church Street shortly after 3pm to voice their concerns and frustrations ahead of WDC's budget meeting.

The protest kicked off around an hour before councillors were due to meet to set the local authority's budget and council tax rates for the next financial year as well as discuss ways to plug a £14.6 million budget gap.

Thomas Morrison, secretary of Clydebank's Trade Union Council (TUC), chaired the rally.

Clydebank Post: Thomas Morrison, secretary of Clydebank's Trade Union CouncilThomas Morrison, secretary of Clydebank's Trade Union Council (Image: Newsquest Staff)

Addressing crowds Mr Morrison said: "We're all here to express our total opposition to the cuts that they're going to push through here today.

"We want a no-cuts budget - that's the position of the Joint Trade Union Council (JTUC) in West Dunbartonshire.

"We know there is only one councillor that is going to support us on that, Councillor Jim Bollan, a local hero I think.

“I think you can see the level of support we are getting from the public and we want to make sure this mob are held accountable for the decisions they make because this is savage what they’re doing to the area.”

Clydebank Post: Councillor Jim Bollan Councillor Jim Bollan (Image: Newsquest Staff)

Cllr Bollan said that neither he nor WDC’s other 21 councillors “were elected to implement cuts”.

He added: “I might be a lone voice in there at four o’clock but this is my class here, the working class.

“Speakers before me have said there is a choice, and there is. There is a political choice to be made inside that building at four o’clock.

“You’ve got two options. One is you capitulate and implement Tory cuts costing £21m and over 300 council jobs and drastic cuts to services.

“The second option you’ve got is to fight, to get off our knees and say enough is enough. Our communities have been attacked year after year.

“The choice in there at four o’clock needs to be to fight, to get off our knees and refuse to implement the cuts and let’s see what the government does.

“Let’s sit back and see what the government does and if they do send in commissioners, what we should do is all resign our seats and create by-elections and get a mass movement with the unions, community groups, and local people and stand up to them.

“There are 22 councillors in there today and none of them, none of them including myself were elected to implement cuts to services and jobs.

“None of us were elected to do that. I’m prepared to break the law if the law is going to punish poor people, the elderly, and people with disabilities, then I’m quite happy to break the law.

“We need to make a start today. We need to set a needs budget and refuse to implement the £21m of cuts.

“Get back out onto the streets and start to form opposition to the people who are trying to steal jobs and services which the working class in this area not only need but should demand.”

Clydebank Post: Members of West Dunbartonshire Youth CouncilMembers of West Dunbartonshire Youth Council (Image: Newsquest Staff)

Various local groups and charities from across West Dunbartonshire facing potential cuts to their services also attended the rally with banners and placards.

These included Y Sort It, Working4U, West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, and West Dunbartonshire Gymnastics Club (WDGC).

We previously reported that young gymnasts at the club could see their future snatched away from them as councillors prepared to make crunch budget decisions.

Clydebank Post: Cheryl Lappin, West Dunbartonshire Gymnastics Club Cheryl Lappin, West Dunbartonshire Gymnastics Club (Image: Newsquest Staff)

Cheryl Lappin, a member of WDGC, said the group would not be going without a fight.  

Ms Lappin said: “I know that we seem like a small group in a really large pond but we are here to fight for the West Dunbartonshire Gymnastics Club to stay open in Brucehill Activity Centre.

“We’re here with our young people, our families, and parents. We see 550 service users come through our doors at Brucehill on a weekly basis but apparently, we are an under-utilised facility, we have no idea where these figures have come from.

“Not one single council member or politician has come to ask us for figures so we have no idea why we’re standing here today and we need everybody, our families, our wider community to support everyone in this movement.

“We as a gymnastics club support young people from 18 months old to adulthood and we’re here to make sure we can continue to make an impact in the community.

“Personally as a club, we have invested tens of thousands of pounds to make our facility possible for the community of West Dunbartonshire.

“No matter what we’re going to have to pay more to be able to run our service. What we want to do is stand up and tell those councillors that we are not going to go without a fight.”

Clydebank Post:

On Wednesday evening councillors passed a budget which will see a rise in council tax, job losses, library and community centre closures, funding cuts to local charities and community councils allowance slashed.