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Aberdeen budget: Everything you need to know as public parks, graveyards, libraries and streetlights are all in firing line

The authority is preparing to swing the axe to plug a £46.6m black hole.

The Aberdeen budget 2023 has been unveiled
The Aberdeen budget 2023 proposals could impact Pets Corner, graveyards, parks and even Christmas lights. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

Litter bins could be left to overflow, toilets closed, libraries hammered and even Christmas lights could come at a price as Aberdeen City Council embarks on a major savings drive.

Local authority officers have unveiled a raft of possible budget cuts, which will be voted on next week.

A staggering £46.6 million black hole needs to be filled over the coming financial year, with rising power costs devastating council coffers.

Officials have drawn up a long list of potential cuts including everything from increasing the price of burials to axing the taxi rank patrollers paid to keep the peace on busy nights.

A long queue waiting for a taxi in Aberdeen city centre at Christmas. Image: Cameron Roy/DC Thomson

Council staff could even be charged to park at work under the proposals.

Services the public relies on like libraries, public toilets and streetlights are all at risk of cuts.

And Pets Corner at Hazlehead Park, which escaped unscathed last year, is back on the chopping block.

Aberdeen budget 2023: What could happen to libraries and toilets?

Officials say a “city-wide” review of libraries could save £280,000 between April 2023 and 2024.

Meanwhile, taking a similar look at Aberdeen’s public toilets could save £70,000.

What about cemeteries and parks?

Aberdeen has long prided itself on being a multiple-time winner of the Britain in Bloom award, and Seaton Park was crowned Scotland’s favourite just last year.

But spending on public parks could be sliced at Wednesday’s crunch meeting.

A view of a small shallow pond in the centre of Duthie Park.

Officials say councillors should consider a £116,000 cut to the maintenance of Aberdeen’s parks and gardens.

Creating more allotments could bring in £4,000 and exploring “commercial opportunities” at Hazlehead Park could generate £2,000.

A review of Pets Corner at the popular Aberdeen expanse would net £20,000.

Alpacas are a beloved part of the Aberdeen attraction. Image: Aberdeen City Council

Increasing the charges for Aberdeen’s brown bin garden waste collections could add £192,000, despite calls for it to be scrapped ever since the controversial levy was introduced in 2019.

City cemeteries could be hit too, with a £75,000 maintenance cut proposed.

And burial charges for non-residents could go up, to bring in £63,000.

St Nicholas Cemetery on Union Street. Image: Darrell Benns

Could tidiness suffer in major savings drive?

Reducing the number of bins, and therefore the need to empty them could save £60,000.

Alongside that, a review of street sweeping and seasonal leaf clearing could add £40,0o0 to the council’s coffers.

Streets could become less clean under the spending plans.

Another £100,000 could be trimmed from the budget for grass cutting in open space, and a further £75,000 by reviewing the council’s shrub maintenance programme.

And £250,000 could be saved by removing the “environmental hit squad” set up to deal with the scourge of fly-tipping.

What about schools?

A wide range of savings options could affect cleanliness, music tuition and lunch prices across Aberdeen.

There’s even the suggestion of grasping back almost £500,o00 by reducing the teaching week by two-and-a-half hours.

You can read our full account of the possible school cuts here.

What other ideas are being considered?

Though the details are vague at present, top brass thinks communities could be “empowered” to organise volunteers to plug council gaps.

They say increasing the number of unpaid helpers could save £68,000.

Another £10,000 could be saved by stripping the support to the Station House Media Unit (Shmu) community media charity.

The Fairer Aberdeen Fund, which lets communities have a say in how public money is spent, could be axed to save £1.5m.

A staff parking charge could generate £250,00o across council workplaces.

And the authority could stop supplying taxi marshals to look after the long queues of revellers lining Aberdeen on busy nights out.

The move would save £70,000.

What services should be spared? Let us know in our comments section below

Could Christmas be affected by the 2023 Aberdeen budget?

A sign of the council’s desperate need to recoup cash wherever possible is in the suggestion that communities are charged “a contribution” for Christmas lights being fixed to streetlights in their area.

Finance chiefs say this could add £2,000 to the books.

The crunch budget meeting is set for Wednesday, March 1.

If elected members opted to carry out every cut, then they would net £43.4m.

But, with other funding streams taken into account, only £29m needs to be saved. This means several less palatable options could be dismissed.

Read more about the financial storm causing the cuts threat here.