Union brings cuts concern to council’s door

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Protestors will gather outside Falkirk Council this weekend to show their disdain for proposed cuts to local authority services.

As part of Unison Falkirk’s ongoing campaign against money saving plans for the council’s community learning and development service, members will be holding a public demonstration at the Municipal Buildings, in West Bridge Street, from 10.30am on Saturday.

According to Unison, proposals totalling more than £1.3 million are aimed at completely stopping all adult educational services in the community, and youth services in selected council areas.

The union, which is urging everyone to get behind its campaign to protect these services, claims the cuts will affect service users across Falkirk and also result in 138 council employees losing their jobs.

Falkirk Council responded to news of the demonstration with disappointment this week, stating nothing was set in stone as yet and budget proposals were still being looked at.

Unison representative Anthony Beekman said: “We are extremely concerned about the effect these cuts will have on local services. From parents and toddlers groups to youth groups to senior citizens groups, no area of the community will remain unaffected.

“And to top it all off, 138 people will lose their jobs, creating misery for them and their family as well as the wider community.

“It is totally unacceptable these cuts are being passed on to local communities in this way and we ask Falkirk Council to go back to the drawing board and spare their residents from these damaging plans.

“We are well aware that Falkirk Council is in a financial crisis due to Scottish Government cuts to council budgets, which have seen 7000 jobs lost across Scotland since April 2016.”

Unison branch secretary Gray Allan added: “We also call on the Scottish Government to ensure they put people first and ensure fair funding for Scotland’s councils. Nevertheless, we call on Falkirk Council to step up and defend the services our communities rely on.”.

Council leader Craig Martin said he was disappointed Unison had not contacted elected members first before organising the action.

He added: “We could have told them there is no support from elected officials of Falkirk Council’s Labour group administration for the community learning and development service cuts they have mentioned and are campaigning against.

“I cannot go into budget details at the moment because they are still being finalised, but people will see we are doing our best to protect these services, although it is getting harder and harder to do so.”

Last year councillors were warned the £20 million funding gap could see the equivalent of 228 full time posts being axed. In the last few years the council has reduced its workforce by around seven per cent through voluntary severance, deleting vacant posts and suspending recruitment.