UNION bosses and councillors have clashed over plans to plug a £45million budget black hole over the next three years.

The local authority has revealed proposals to save £25m between 2020 and 2023, which include, among other measures, reviewing existing short-term contracts and gauging employee interest in voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

The need to manage the workforce over the three-year period was described as “inevitable” in a council report – dubbed “Right for Renfrewshire” – by the chief executive and director of finance and resources.

Trade unions and opposition councillors have expressed their worry over the stark financial picture, but the leader of Renfrewshire Council has accused them of “scaremongering”. 

John McMenemy, GMB Renfrewshire branch secretary, said: “My fear is what we’re looking at is the end of public service as we know it.

“I’m talking about non-statutory council services, which include bins, street cleaning and the wardens service.

“I am genuinely concerned the job losses will run into the many hundreds, as £45m is a massive gap in funding.

“There’s no flesh left on the bone to cut, so there’s going to have to be a serious conversation about the planned savings.”

Councillor Jim Harte, the Labour group’s finance spokesman, said: “The shortfall is significant and it can’t go on. There has to be an injection of funds from the Scottish Government.”

The challenges come as ambitious plans to add 9,000 jobs to the local economy by 2030 were revealed by business leaders on Friday.

Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Right for Renfrewshire is the continuation of a programme which has run for nearly 10 years in change and transformation of how the council delivers its services.

“All local authorities are working under tight financial constraints and Renfrewshire is no different, however we recognise we must also change in the face of increasing technology and find different ways of working.

“This type of scaremongering is disgraceful and founded upon complete ignorance of any facts.”

The report was debated at last week’s Leadership Board and, while some councillors called for the report to be rejected, a majority voted for its approval.

Councillor Jim Sheridan said: “Labour’s group have rejected this report on the basis we predict the continuous austerity cuts by the SNP will and have resulted in significant job losses and threats to our local services.”

By Jack Haugh and Jack Thomson 

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