PKC Budget Celebrations Hide The Real Costs

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The Perth and Kinross Council budget for 2018/2019 was agreed yesterday at a meeting of the full Council.

The widely publicised proposed removal of recycling centres, school crossing patrols and winter maintenance were rejected.  The saving of these services making the rest of the budget seem something of a celebration.  There are however still savings to be made and they have been made in different areas.

Teacher numbers will still be reduced, just not to the extent that was originally proposed. The proposed measures for secondary teachers was to reduce numbers by over 20.  Funding has been partially reinstated so that the reduction in staff is now down to just over 10.

There will also be a reduction in provision of service for ASN early years children as the targeted supply budget has been removed in its entirety.

Property maintenance is another area where there has been a partial reinstatement of funding.  Savings have been reduced by £12,000.  Not much of a reprieve when the reduction of funding is  £808,000 in 2018/19.

Funding for groups such as Victim Support and Street Pastors is also only receiving a partial reinstatement with a reduction of £40,000.  Meaning these community groups must look to alternative methods for funding their activities.

The proposed closure of public toilets was widely publicised and many local residents voiced their dismay.  Now instead of a complete shut down of all facilities in Perth and Kinross area, Pitlochry, Dunkeld and Blairgowrie will have year round facilities.  The rest of the area will have seasonal facilities only, open April to September.

Garden waste charges which have not been implemented in some areas yet are now increased to £35 per bin as opposed to the initial £25.

With all the proposed development in much of Perth and Kinross, one of the more questionable savings is that in the Building Standards Department.  Two Building Standards posts are to be removed.  This at a time when there are very public issues with building safety and workmanship nationally.

The very obvious rejection of proposed savings to some of the most vital services has given Perth and Kinross Council some much needed positive publicity regarding their budget.  However, the above cuts alongside a 3% increase in Council Tax show that there will still be an impact on local residents.

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