WEST Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) will meet on March 6 to set its 2024/25 budget.

The meeting will be held at Church Street in Dumbarton.

Councillors will be asked to consider a range of money-saving options in an effort to plug the council’s remaining £8.3m budget gap.

Council tax rates will also be set on this day.

At a previous meeting held on December 20, a first lot of savings options, management adjustments, and a reduction to the council’s employer pension contribution rate were approved reducing the budget gap from its initial £17.3 million.

Now more than 50 additional proposals made by officers across a variety of services will be put to councillors to further close this gap.

We have put together a list of some of the options that are being proposed.

These include:

Reduce opening hours of Clydebank Town Hall

Clydebank Town Hall is currently open to the public five days a week. Documents state that “high operational costs and low visitor numbers” mean there is an opportunity to make savings by reducing the opening hours.

A review of usage and bookings would be carried out to find out what days are the most appropriate for opening and closure.

The first option [estimated to save £40k] would see the town hall reduced to three days a week with access for elected members and support staff maintained on these days.

The building would also open on additional days as required to support booked events as the cost “would be mitigated by the income generated”.

Option two [estimated to save £30k] would see the town hall opened four days a week.

The third and final option [estimated to save £27k] would see the town hall remaining open five days but with reduced hours, e.g. from 9am to 1pm or 1pm to 5pm.

Reduce or remove grant funding for Shopmobility

The council currently provides £47,670 of grant support to Shopmobility who deliver a mobility scooter, manual and powered wheelchair service to residents from Clyde Shopping Centre.

This proposal would see the current grant reduced between 25 per cent and 100 per cent.

Reduce or remove grant funding for Antonine

WDC provide £74,156 of grant support to the Antonine Sports Centre, an independent charity which has offered access to sports and community facilities in Duntocher for over 30 years.

This proposal would see the grant reduced by 25 per cent and 100 per cent.

Review library materials spend

Around £220,000 is spent each year on library materials including physical and digital resources for public lending use.

This option looks at reducing the budget for library materials by £50,000.

It is noted that any reductions to the library offer in West Dunbartonshire carries political and reputational risk.

Review Highland Games spend

The council currently provides a grant of £14,000 to support the running of the Highland Games and spends a further £24,000 on additional costs such as infrastructure and facilities for the event – not including staffing costs.

The documents note that the income generated does not cover the council’s total contribution to the event.

This option proposes removing the £14,000 grant and directing the Highland Games committee towards West Dunbartonshire Community & Volunteering Services (WDCVS) for assistance with applying for external funding or to seek sponsorship for the event.

West Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust (WDLT) option

WDLT retains the region’s three leisure centres (Clydebank, Meadow Centre, and Vale of Leven Pool).

All community centres, pitches, and pavilions would be transferred back to be managed by the council as part of the wider asset portfolio.

The documents note that current estimates are that this would result in a reduction in the management fee of £1.177 million from 2025/26 onwards.

Review of library staffing

Review of menus and food purchases

The council spends more than £1.7 million a year on food to provide healthy and nutritious meals across education establishments.

It is noted that food costs for school meals have continued to rise over the last year and increased food waste is an issue that the service continues to work to reduce.

The documents go on to add that all school menus would “continue to meet national nutritional guidance and requirements”.

This proposal would see a review of the menus carried out to minimise waste and reduce costs.

For example, this could mean increasing the number of meat-free days in the four-week menu cycle or replacing one of the hot vegetable sides with a salad option.

Review of Contact Centre

Currently, the customer contact centre at Church Street employs nine staff. This option [estimated to save £30k per annum] would see that number reduced to eight.

Reduction to Community Budgeting fund

Community Budgeting (CB) is a method of grant-giving to support a range of community organisations.

The recurring CB allocation is £53,404. This option would reduce the allocation between 25 per cent and 100 per cent.

Reduction to the Communities Team core budget

The team that works across communities, community planning, and youth learning currently has 18.7 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.

This option proposes to reduce the budget by £117,000 by reducing 2.6 FTE employees.

Reduction to school clothing grant

WDC currently pays a school clothing grant of £150 per eligible child per year to primary and secondary school pupils to support them with the cost of providing school uniforms.

The Scottish Government funding provision for this is £150 for secondary school pupils and £120 for primary school pupils.

Under this proposal [estimated to save £79k] the school clothing grant payments for primary school pupils would be reduced to £120.

Reduce Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to statutory level

The statutory amount for EMA is a weekly payment of £30, paid by the council every two weeks in arrears.

The council also pays an additional £10 per week to any young person who has 100 per cent attendance with young carers paid a further £10 per week.

This proposal would see EMA payments reduced to the statutory level of £30 per week for everyone saving £114,000 per annum.

Early Start Clubs

WDC currently offers breakfast clubs in all primary schools.

This proposal would see free attendance at these clubs offered to any pupil eligible for Free School Meals, with other pupils welcome to attend for a fee.

It is recommended that a £4 per day charge is introduced and uptake is monitored.

However, this would have to be tested through consultation with parents.

Out-of-School Care Service

Under this proposal, the out-of-school care at Linnvale and St Eunan’s would be closed.

Reduction in secondary school management time

Schools affected by this proposal would be Our Lady & St Patrick’s High School, Clydebank High School, and Vale of Leven Academy.

ELC Early Stages Teachers

WDC currently employs 14.8 FTE early-stage teachers with 1.6 FTE vacant positions.

This proposal would see 11.4 FTE posts retained.

Consultation with all of these early-stage teachers would be required and any displaced employees will be supported through the council’s SWITCH process.

Early Learning and Childcare Officer posts

There are currently 223 FTE early learning and childcare officers made up of 193 FTE term-time contracts and 30 FTE 52-week contracts.

The documents note that there is an opportunity to reduce this number by six saving up to £201k.

Review services for children, young people, and families

The first option under this proposal would be to reduce 9.6 FTE in teaching and support staff with the second to reduce 3.6 FTE in teaching and support staff.

School SMS text messages

Reduce the volume of SMS text messages sent out, estimated to save around £10,000 per annum.

Reduce or remove funding to Y-Sort-It

The council currently provide Y-Sort-It with £117,093 in funding per annum. This proposal would see that funding reduced between 25 per cent and 100 per cent.

Apprenticeship Pathway Modern Apprenticeship

Reduce funding by 10, 20, or 30 per cent.

Review of welfare rights and adult learning services – Working4U

Option one would require voluntary redundancy although there may be scope to transfer some of these posts into externally funded employability posts but the documents note that these are different jobs, with specific funding criteria and not the continued delivery of welfare rights or adult learning.

Option two would require full consultation and would create a need for voluntary severance and potentially compulsory redundancy.

Lomond and Clyde Care and Repair Service funding

The council currently provide LCC&R with £81,000 from the council’s general fund.

Option one would see this funding reduced by £40,000 and option two would remove it completely.

School crossing patrollers

The council currently provides school crossing patrollers at 43 locations with nine vacant positions.

Option one would see this reduced to 31 by not filling the nine vacant positions and reducing the current workforce by one.

Option two would see the number of patrollers reduced to 17 by not filling the nine vacant posts and removing 17 current positions.

Garden waste collections stopped or fee introduced

WDC estimates that this could potentially generate £180,000 in 2024/25, increasing to £360,000 in future years.

Reduce footway gritting

Reduce service by 50 per cent or cease altogether.

Non-statutory roads activities within education

This option would see non-statutory services to schools such as cycling proficiency, road safety, school travel plans, and safe routes to school axed.

Close and transfer bowling club amenities

The council/WDLT maintains six bowling clubs. The documents note that there has been a “steady decline” in membership numbers and use of its bowling green facilities over the past ten years.

Goldenhill and Whitecrook bowling clubs are operated by WDLT. This option would explore the possibility of leasing these clubs as bowling clubs and “only look to close them if this was unsuccessful”.

The overall management of the four veteran clubs (Christie Park, Bonhill, Balloch, and Renton) including maintenance of buildings and ground would transfer to the committee of each club.

Cease of Care of Gardens scheme 

Currently, there is a universal charge of £100 per year payable to join the council’s Care of Gardens scheme which provides two hedge cuts and six grass cuts per annum.

This option would axe the service.

Street cleaning

The service currently consists of 40 FTE employees. Under this proposal, there are three options. These are to reduce the service to 38 FTE operatives, 36 FTE operatives, or 34 FTE operatives.

Review of park maintenance

The council owns and manages four main parks; Balloch Country Park, Christie Park, Levengrove Park, and Dalmuir Park.

Each year the local authority spends around £450,000 on maintenance.

This proposal would look to reduce spending between 25 per cent to 75 per cent.

Reduction in roads operations

This service currently has 29 operatives who undertake a variety of duties including winter gritting, defect repair, and responses to flooding.

This option would see this number reduced to 26.

Increase number of 4G pitches

This would see six under-utilised grass pitches (Two at Argyle Park, two at Posties Park, and two at Mountblow Playing Fields) replaced with three new 4G pitches. This is estimated to save £110,000 over three years.

Recharge WDLT for grass cutting and 4G maintenance

Currently, there is no charge for works undertaken to maintain the grass pitches and 4G pitches utilised for sports throughout West Dunbartonshire.

This proposal would see a recharge of £96,000 made to WDLT.

Reduction in weed killing

Currently carried out twice a year, this would be cut to once a year.

Removal of Night Zone West Funding

The council currently provides partners with £12,500 of funding towards the Night Zone West Project which supports the creation of a safe space for those socialising in the late evening across West Dunbartonshire’s main towns.

Historically this funded marshals for taxi ranks in Clydebank, Dumbarton and Alexandria during the festive period.

This option would see the funding withdrawn.

For further information visit WDC's website HERE