TWO key community projects in Dumbarton and the Vale will stay on the books as “terrible” council budget cuts start to hit hard.

Millions have been cut from West Dunbartonshire Council’s spending but they still need to find twice as much to balance the books.

And finance chiefs revealed the latest Scottish Government funding will make things even worse - by more than £270,000 on top of an existing £20million hole.

The Labour administration voted through more than £5 million in cuts recommended by officials.

But the SNP argued the public should be consulted and that cuts could be avoided until March.

There remains £14m to find locally unless more money is offered from the Scottish Government or Westminster.

The council’s top financial calculations advised cutting 34 capital projects and “reprofiling” more, meaning recalculating when plans will be delivered and when they need money. 

That helps avoid longer-term borrowing and the rising cost of interest payments on loans.

But Labour moved to keep two Dumbarton projects going forward.
One was for new sports changing facilities at the former Our Lady and St Patrick’s High. 

Councillor David McBride said in his motion on it: “It was a long term commitment to the local community following the relocation of the secondary school.”

They also backed a new Westbridgend Community Centre. This project has seen no progress this year but campaigners are applying for cash to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, with a decision likely next September - meaning the project will be kept on the books until it’s known if external cash could pay for it.

The SNP pushed their own list, with the old OLSP site and Westbridgend. But they also wanted to retain upgrades to footways and cycle paths and improvements to the A813 and to move Changing Places toilet provision to the Concord Centre and Alexandria Community Centre.

They also wanted to keep funding for audio-visual equipment for schools, and for new facilities for children and families social work meetings.

Finance bosses said some projects will be covered by normal spending, such as roads or pavements, but opposition councillors asked how that would be possible given the dire position of the finances. 

One plan was for a JCB pothole patcher, which the council said would take 18-24 months to deliver.

But Councillor Jonathan McColl said he’d called JCB, who told him the council had not contacted them, and that it could be delivered in 8-10 weeks.

SNP group leader Cllr Karen Conaghan said: “It seems like we are going to have to accept that each road is going to have its own pothole.”

Council leader Martin Rooney, in pushing back against the SNP options, said: “We cannot forget we have a £21m budget gap. We need to close that by March 31.

“I understand the sentiments. Ultimately we would keep as many [projects] as possible. Some might come back in the future when we get a proper government in Westminster and Holyrood.”

Community Party councillor Jim Bollan said: “It’s the same every year. Labour says ‘our cuts are better than yours’ and the SNP respond and say theirs are better than Labour.

“When are we going to resist? When will we get off our knees? When are we going to get a backbone and challenge what the Tories are doing to us?”

Cllr McColl said he respected the need for savings  But he said they should reconsider what was being cut, especially on so many areas that both Labour and the SNP agreed.

Cllr McBride said: “It gives me no pleasure. We are here in a situation with a budget gap and we have to look at absolutely everything and we have to make certain cuts.

“Our cuts are not any better than the SNP. Our cuts are terrible. We have never been in a situation like this.”

The capital programme cuts were approved by 11 votes to eight, with two abstentions.