Tayside and Central Scotland

Falkirk Council appeal for ideas over £40m budget gap

Falkirk Council has launched a public consultation into how to close a £40m budget gap over the next three years.

The local authority is seeking views from residents about where cuts and savings could be made.

A list of more than 100 possible savings has been put forward, including cutting back on public works to reducing the primary school week by two and a half hours.

Public suggestions will be taken before the budget is finalised in February.

Council leader Craig Martin said feedback from the public would help the authority "come to a better decision" over cuts.

He said: "These savings come at a time when the local population is increasing and demand for services is at an all time high. Attempting to reduce costs but provide the same services presents a difficult challenge.

"No decisions have been taken on savings yet and feedback from both the public and staff will be taken into account before the budget is finalised in February 2015."

Potential cuts

More than 100 options have been put forward as part of the consultation, with residents asked to rate each one.

They include cutting the primary school week from 25 to 22.5 hours, saving £595,000; reducing the number of support for learning assistants, saving £400,000; reducing social work day services, saving £460,000; and bringing in new parking charges, raising £130,000.

Cutting subsidies to unprofitable bus routes would save £1.8m, while cutting additional funding to youth employment support could raise £500,000. A further £200,000 could be saved by closing one of the council's household waste recycling sites.

Another option would see £620,000 cut from the budget of the Falkirk Community Trust.

The projected shortfall for 2015/16 is £7.8m, with further gaps of £17.4m in 2016/17 and £15.2m in 2017/18.

The authority, which has an annual service budget of about £332m, has already saved £70m over the past eight years.

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