Tuesday 21 February 2023

A cleaner city : Liberal Democrats’ big offer for Dundee council budget

Dundee City Council’s Liberal Democrat councillors have released their full budget proposals ahead of Thursday’s council budget meeting and have proposed re-hiring every single street cleaning post in Dundee axed by the SNP since 2015.    That’s some 39 posts, the SNP having cut the number of full time equivalent street cleaning jobs from 115 in 2015 to just 76 today.

Group Leader and West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson said, “We continue to get many complaints from constituents about street cleaning in the city which is simply not as good as it used to be.   The street sweeping staff left do a really good job but there’s just not enough of them now.    It has been a picture of decline in the staffing resource year after year under the SNP.

“Not only has the SNP cut 39 posts, there’s an additional 16 vacancies that have not been filled.    So with just 60 street cleaners in post at the moment, staffing levels currently in post are little more than half the staff that were in place in 2015. 

“Environment management generally has lost significant staffing since 2015 and in our view has borne a disproportionate share of the cuts.   For example, leaving aside cleaning the streetscape, the council’s Director of Neighbourhood Services has confirmed to us that grounds maintenance staff who maintain Dundee’s parks and open spaces has declined by 27 full time equivalent posts since 2015.

“We want a cleaner city – not litter lying, overflowing Eurobins, litter bins and dog bins and to achieve this we need to help existing staff with the load they already have by adding more street cleaning staff so we have found the funding necessary to reinstate every single street cleaning post lost over the past 8 years.    We’ll also create new posts in forestry and animal control and add to the community safety warden and countryside ranger staff resource.”

To pay for this, the Liberal Democrats have identified a large range of small savings right across the council in areas like equipment and furniture, car allowances, travel and subsistence and also hospitality.    This would include scrapping the second civic vehicle and removing alcohol purchases.   It would also mean greater recharges for providing services to third parties.   The Liberal Democrats also aim to propose a lower council tax increase than the SNP’s proposed 4.75% increase.

Broughty Ferry councillor Craig Duncan added, “We are also proposing an additional £2 million next year for roads resurfacing, £1 million on pavements resurfacing to properly tackle the state of many footpaths and road surfaces that we get so many complaints about.

We are also proposing to save local supported bus services including the 206 service in my own Broughty Ferry area that are proposed for the axe by the SNP.  We want to save this service as well as others in the West End/Lochee, Kirkton/Lawside/The Glens and Mill O’Mains/Mid Craigie and cuts to Service 10.   

“We are also proposing to save the sheltered shoppers’ bus and the ‘Out & About’ bus service that the SNP intends to end.   We feel this will be detrimental to the elderly folk who rely on these services and would be an unkind and inappropriate thing to remove these vital services for older people.”

West End councillor Michael Crichton added, “We are also proposing improvements to the City Centre and District Shopping areas with a £1 million for shopfront upgrades and other exterior improvements such as improved lighting, painting, stonework repairs and repositioning façade signage in the City Centre targeted on Murraygate and Reform Street to complement the existing scheme recently agreed for Union Street.

“A further £1 million will be shared across the five district shopping areas – Stobswell, Hilltown, Broughty Ferry, Perth Road and Lochee – to undertake further environmental improvements there.    

“We also want to double the frequency of bus shelter cleaning back to monthly as it used to be before the SNP halved it last year.    We are determined to see real environmental improvements in our shopping areas, particularly in the city centre.

“We’ll also reduce parking charges in areas like Hilltown and Broughty Ferry and abolish the West End car parking charges altogether.”

Strathmartine councillor Daniel Coleman said, “The Liberal Democrat Group will try stop the SNP proposal to hike the brown bin charge yet again – to £45 from 2024 – and would seek to cut it to £35 to support the recycling effort in Dundee.

“We also aim to oppose the SNP’s increase in the bulky uplifts charge and would aim to cut the SNP proposed charge by £9 per collection.

“We are also strongly against the SNP’s proposal to cut 10% off local community regeneration funding.   Not only will we oppose this SNP cut but our budget alternative aims to give each local area an extra £10 000 each specifically for localised cost of living support.

“There are areas where we will support parts of the SNP budget – for example, their areas of additional expenditure like supporting Dundee’s food network.

“We would also continue to provide support to Sistema’s Big Noise Douglas that the SNP says it will no longer support.”

Councillor Macpherson concluded : 

“Liberal Democrat budget proposals also allow for growth in key areas like supporting local communities, roads and pavements improvements, shopping area improvements and keeping our streets cleaner.

We have listened carefully to the issues our constituents are raising and feel our proposals are fair and deliverable.”