The war of words over Dundee City Council’s bid to balance its books has escalated with a leading union chief accusing the local authority of a “dereliction of duty”.
Earlier this week, in an interview with the Tele, council leader John Alexander warned that everyone in the city had to be prepared for more cuts to services in a bid to make £80 million of further savings over the next 10 years.
Among possible cuts he listed were some to leisure and sports facilities, including the controversial closure of Camperdown Golf Course.
This week, too, saw fears the city’s Lynch Sports Centre may be cut, although this was denied by the council.
In response GMB Scotland organiser Helen Meldrum has accused Mr Alexander and the council of failures amid “stealth” cuts.
She said: “For John Alexander to state that Camperdown is just the beginning, and accept that these cuts are the inevitable course of events across the city, I just think that’s a dereliction of duty. The people of Dundee deserve better.
“We will vigorously defend all of our members and call on Dundee City Council and Leisure and Culture Dundee (LACD) for clarity and transparency. They should be under no illusion they have a fight on their hands to save our sports facilities and vital services.
“LACD appears to be making stealth cuts. Our members across all facilities in Dundee deserve the truth.
“When we tried to suggest in February that the budget being set would result in closures of facilities, the administration shot us down.”
But Mr Alexander has defended his stance on the proposed cuts and insists it was all part of a realistic projection of the city’s finances.
He said: “My comments were very clearly based on projections in the coming years.
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“I will not shirk my responsibilities like my political opponents.
“This information is based on a report which was agreed by every political party last week which projects a difficult financial situation ahead.
“It is based on a professional judgment by officers of the likely financial situation.
“I was also clear that I’d not leave any stone unturned, would shout loudly to all that would listen and will fight for every pound of investment possible.”
Meanwhile, Labour councillor for Lochee Michael Marra claimed Mr Alexander’s interview with the Tele was a “grossly irresponsible stunt”.
In a tweet he said Mr Alexander had made “off the cuff comments and back of fag packet proposals which had panicked workers in fear of the dole”.
Mr Marra said: “The brutal SNP cuts to council budgets are a reality for all of Scotland.
“The words of Dundee’s administration matter to people locally. To list services in the press that may be next in line for the axe is to invite fear among workers and service users.”
Mr Alexander accused Mr Marra of “blatant hypocrisy”.