Cuts slashing £73.3 million from North Lanarkshire Council’s budget will be decided at a meeting on Valentine’s Day.
Councillors work out a savings package covering the next three financial years, selecting options from 281 proposals totalling £105 million, on their February 14 budget day.
Union officials have called the consultation process “a sham” and say that they will ballot for strike action if compulsory redundancies are involved.
The cuts decision was originally due to be taken last month, but councillors agreed to postpone it in order to gain additional time to consider the proposals and the responses to the public consultation exercise.
Council leader Jim McCabe said: “I will put forward a package for consideration which best protects frontline services and jobs and takes into account some of the very strong views expressed during the consultation.
“We have scrutinised every single option over many hours. We didn’t make this challenge, which comes as a result of unprecedented cuts handed down by the UK and Scottish Governments.
“However, we have to deal with it, and we have done so responsibly by examining every option and every detail to ensure we produce a package of savings which best serves North Lanarkshire and the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Among the wide range of potential savings, covering every department and service of the council, are introducing alternating three-weekly bin collections, reducing road and pavement repairs and grass-cutting, charging for disabled badges and community lighting, and ending the primary school swimming scheme.
Unison, which represents local government workers, is demanding further talks about the cuts; union members staged a rally outside the December meeting in protest at the £105 million package’s threat to nearly 1400 jobs. Local branch secretary John Mooney said: “Members are calling our office on a daily basis asking for more information on the cuts – it’s imperative that we know the details and have the opportunity to discuss alternatives with the council.
“Most importantly, we want to know if there are any other cuts being planned following the sham of a consultation process which took place.”
The union’s Scottish secretary, Mike Kirby, added: “In the continued absence of any meaningful consultation from the council and amid the increasing concerns of the workforce, we are asking why jobs and services should go if the need still exists?
“We demanded in December that the council open up a dialogue with us, because we realise just how damaging that £73 million cuts package will be to our communities, services and the local economy.”
Councillors will also set their budget for 2013-2014, approve council housing rent levels and agree their capital spending programme for the next 12 months at the meeting in three weeks’ time.