In his latest Reporter column, Dumbarton Councillor David McBride shares his thoughts on the latest rounds of cuts...

Unfortunately, Dumbarton residents face further cuts in council services due to insufficient funding from the Scottish Government.

Public finances are very stretched mainly due to austerity policies from the UK Government since 2010.

However, the Scottish Government has received increased funding, year on year albeit the increase should have been greater.

Despite an increase in funding, the Scottish Government has once again cut our funding and WDC will get less money than the current year.

This has resulted in your council being in a financial crisis, while like you, the council are facing increased costs including fuel, wages and interest rates.

This year is far worse because it’s harder to identify savings due to the severe cuts already having been taken, but this year the Scottish Government has taken the decision to freeze Council Tax.

We are all aware the First Minister made this off-the-cuff pledge with no consultation with anyone including the Scottish council's umbrella group COSLA.

The First Minister stated this freeze in Council Tax would be funded by the Scottish Government.

Yet, the council’s Chief Finance Officer informed the December council that is not the case and our funding is being cut.

Our financial crisis is not just being reported by Labour politicians.

COSLA last week wrote to the First Minister requesting further talks and informed them that councils are now in a “fundamental position of dispute” with the Scottish Government.

It’s very clear that the Scottish Government holds the services Dumbarton residents require and deserve, in contempt as you face another year of budget cuts.

Despite the financial crisis, Dumbarton has been successful in gaining Levelling Up funding which will allow us to make a difference to our town centre.

We have already reported the council has purchased the Artizan Centre and there are plans to partly demolish the centre, clearing the site for further investment in appropriate retail space, housing and potentially a new health centre.

I can report the demolishing contractor should be on site this week and begin the process shortly.

In addition, the pavement and road improvements at Dumbarton Central Station and the underpass have concluded and planning permission has been granted to transform Dumbarton’s oldest building Glencairn House into a library and museum.

In addition, we are also seeking funding from Historic Environment Scotland and the Heritage Lottery to improve the oldest and some listed buildings in the town centre that have fallen into disrepair.

If successful in gaining funding this will be delivered 2025-30. I’m sure everyone will welcome the long-term plan to improve and bring new life to our town centre.