Savings proposals for 2023/24 to 2025/26

Services for neighbourhoods such as libraries and parks

Libraries

Remove staff from libraries - saving £150,000 in 2023/24 rising to £781,000 by 2025/26

Each library would eventually either be self-service, run by community volunteers or closed.  

Adopt e-book service - saving a total of £144,000 from 2023/24

Shift the focus on libraries to online services and do not replace or refresh the books  or other materials on offer to customers.

Charges, fees and income

Increase Civic Licencing Fees by 50% to cover actual costs - estimated income £50,000 in total from 2023/24

Increase charges for services to customers applying for licences such as public entertainment licences.

Introduce discretionary charges for planning services currently free - estimated income £10,000 in total from 2023/24 

The charges would be for extra advice and support over and above fees already set by the Planning Regulations.

Introduce fees for non-statutory Building Standards duties and continue virtual inspections -  estimated income £6,000 in total from 2023/24

The charges would be for extra support and advice we don’t have a legal duty to provide including document searches.

Increase burials charges to the Scottish average - income estimated at £80,000 in total from 2023/24

Midlothian charges less than other local councils for burials. In Midlothian, exclusive right of burial is £866 while coffin internment is £827. This compares with the Scottish averages of £943.43 and £860.46 respectively.

Charge commercial event organisers for Safety Advisory Group services - income estimated at £25,000 in total from 2023/24

Commercial events require a significant amount of time from various services across the council to make sure they can go ahead and safely. A charge would be introduced for this service (not planning or managing the event).

Change the way developers are charged for road construction consent - estimated income £93,000 in total from 2023/24

Instead of an hourly rate it is proposed that a fixed fee be charged in relation to the size of the Road Bond.

Offer commercial companies advertising space on vehicles and council areas such as roundabouts - estimated income £10,000 from 2023/24 rising to £25,000 in total from 2025/26.

Benefits

Reduce net cost of benefits by 6% - saving of £70,000 in 2023/24 rising to £210,000 in total by 2025/26

Reduce by 6% the costs of administering benefits including Council Tax and Housing Benefit by measures such as offering digital processing, more application forms online and being more effective at recovering overpayments and fraud.

School crossing patrols

Remove school crossing guides from controlled (traffic lights) and zebra crossings - saving £153,000 in 2023/24 rising to a total of £306,000 in 2025/26

This is a non-statutory service. An option to get sponsorship to pay for the service could be investigated. The reduction in the number of guides helping children cross the road at zebra crossings and crossings with traffic lights would aim to start after the Easter break. 

Community events and facilities

Stop funding Christmas lights - saving of £60,000 in total from 2023/24

End all funding and support to communities in setting up and taking down Christmas lights. The council could look at both sponsorship or charging communities as alternative ways to pay for this service.

Stop supporting gala days and events - saving of £44,000 in total from 2023/24

Support includes providing and putting up marquees, staging, temporary fencing and generators. Staff also do litter-picks and clear-ups. The council can look at the potential to charge for this service to recover the full costs. 

Stop maintaining Dalkeith Bowling Green - saving £25,000 in total from 2023/24

Stop all maintenance apart from occasional grass cutting. An alterative option is to charge for the service. 

Parks and green spaces

Reduce shrub bed maintenance or grass over some shrub beds - saving £36,000 in total from 2023/24

The council would also look into getting advertising sponsorships to help pay for the service and/or encourage communities to help maintain and plant shrub beds.

Reduce how often grass areas are cut - saving £25,000 in total from 2023/24

The council cuts grass in towns and villages 12 times a year. This would go down to three times a year in some, but not every, area. Rural verges would continue to be cut to maintain visibility for road users. 

School buildings and council properties

Close 7 primary schools' community spaces during school holidays - saving £40,000 in total from 2023/24

The primary schools affected would be Lawfield, Gorebridge, Loanhead, Moorfoot, Tynewater, Stobhill and Strathesk. This would mean the schools, which are PPP2 and managed by contractors, would not be available for community groups and clubs during holidays.

Cut the budget to maintain council buildings (not housing) - saving £300,000 in total from 2023/24

This would mean council buildings like offices and leisure centres would be kept safe and secure but other repairs would be limited.

Stop the night security service - saving £150,000 from 2023/24

With redeployable CCTV units, there is no longer a requirement to have a staff presence on site round the clock. Key holders would be on standby if needed outwith normal working hours.

Roads, footpaths and transport

Delay gritting footpaths (currently from 5.30am) until 7.30am - saving £73,000 in total from 2023/24

Roads would continue to be gritted ouwith normal working hours. The saving would come from ending overtime payments to staff for gritting pavements.

End grants for commercial bus services - saving £60,000 in 2023/24 rising to a total of £120,000 by 2025/26

This would impact the 339 (since withdrawn by the operator from October); 101/102 bus station charges; 111 cross boundary service from Haddington to the Royal Infirmary; and the 51/52 cross border bus service from St Boswells, covering Fala, Pathhead, Edgehead, Dalkeith, Danderhall and going into Edinburgh City Centre. A lead in notice period of 6 months to withdraw the contract has been included in the savings. 

Stop Community Transport funding - saving £157,000 in 2023/24 rising to a total of £314,000 by 2025/26

The council would stop funding HcL. HcL provides a Dial-a-Ride service, which transports people who can't use mainstream bus services because of a disability, and Dial-a-Bus services offering scheduled trips to shopping locations for the same client group.
Funding would also stop for services provided by Lothian Community Transport Services (LCTS). LCTS runs transport for voluntary and disabled user groups. They also provide community bus scheduled services in areas not served by mainstream operators. 

Waste and recycling

Close Penicuik recycling centre - saving £109,000 in total from 2023/24

Closing the centre would save £86,000 of staff costs initially. Staff would fill current vacancies at Stobhill, which would remain open. Further savings of  £23,000 would come from shutting the site.

Increase charges for the garden waste collection service - income estimated £26,000 in total from 2024/25

The cost to householders would go up from £35 to £37 from 2024/25.

Public toilets

Close all five stand-alone public toilets in Midlothian - saving £81,000 in total from 2023/4

People could still use toilets in our public buildings including the leisure centres and Dalkeith Arts Centre. The council could look at working with commercial premises to offer further toilets for the public to use. Alternative options such as transferring them to communities, commercial sale or demolition would be explored. 

Staffing

Share or cut two trading standards officer posts - saving £90,000 in total from 2023/24

Alternatively, the council would also look at sharing this service with other neighbouring authorities.

Cut five full-time equivalent property facilities posts - saving £125,000 in total from 2023/24

These posts are currently all vacant and would not be filled.

Cut two full-time countryside rangers posts - saving £75,000 in total from 2023/24

A senior countryside ranger post would be retained and continue to work with local volunteers who support council services by doing work like path clearing.

Police

Stop funding the Midlothian Community Action Team - saving £436,000 in 2023/24 rising to £582,000 in total from 2025/26

This funding pays for two full-time equivalent Police Scotland sergeants and 12 full-time equivalent Police Scotland constables. The MCAT team is in addition to existing Police Scotland staff. The team's focus is on improving the quality of life for communities by preventing anti-social behaviour and crime.