THERE will be a new way to deal with potholes, a rise in the cost of burying the dead and changes in free fruit provision in schools to save money for Fife Council.

The price for meals on wheels will go up, the number of dog wardens will come down, the community use part of some schools could be closed while janitors may be given cleaning duties – no service has been spared the financial squeeze.

While last month’s general fund revenue budget gave a headline figure of £9 million the council needed to save, and reports focused on the council tax rise, 35 job losses and £1.4m cuts in education, many of the other cost-cutting measures went under the radar.

There were 42 approved proposals for the three financial years from 2019 to 2022 – and the Press had to submit a Freedom of Information request to the council to get the information on what they actually entail.

From ambiguous descriptions such as ‘Community alarms, £99,000’ and ‘Revised staffing structures, £238,000’, we’ve found that a lot of services are set to change and it’s unlikely to be for the better.

That’s largely down to a reduction in local government funding with councils forced into tough decisions in order to do more with less, and all the while being told to change the way they deliver services.

Here it means the cost of meals on wheels will increase by an average of more than 13 per cent and community alarms by 24.5 per cent – the latter to save £99,000 a year for three years, although moving the cost of delivery to the Housing Revenue Account is to benefit more older people.

There’s concern that the £90,000 saving over three years for reducing the number of dog wardens – from three to two – could lead to less enforcement on issues such as dog-fouling.

While the number of stray dogs in Fife has reduced by half over the past five years and they will keep enough wardens to meet statutory duties, the move “risks reduction in resilience, education and prevention and diluted enforcement”.

On the other hand, the Kingdom will become more colourful with more wildflower meadows to be planted in open spaces in order to “significantly” reduce grass-cutting costs.

There will be savings of £300,000, staff will be “redeployed” and the change will also support biodiversity.

There are now “revised agreements for weed-spraying and grass-cutting in urban areas, bus stations and car parks” to shave £200,000 a year off their costs. Levels of grass-cutting will reduce in rural areas; safety and visibility sightlines will still be addressed although some roadside verges will go uncut for longer periods.

An “unintended consequence” of providing free fruit in school dining halls only will actually make it available to all primary pupils, “whereas previously it was only available to Primary 1-2”.

It will help them keep waste to a minimum and save £167,000 a year over the next three years.

In order to cut spending by £180,000, there will be a review of the roles of janitors and supervisors with plans for “an integration of duties relating to the responsibility of cleaning standards”.

The community use offering at Fife schools will be reduced – “by closing those where there is alternative provision within the area” – in order to save £150,000. This will be done in relation to a review and changes to reception, caretaking and cleaning duties at council community halls and centres. It’s set to save £350,000 by moving to a “common customer and reception model” and reducing caretaking/cleaning staff.

As reported in the Press recently, charges for burials will increase by around 25 per cent, saving up to £667,000 by year three, to help fund “urgent remedial action” on up to 60,000 headstones, with fears that unsafe memorials could topple over and cause injury or death.

Jobs are to go with “efficiency savings” in community safety, protective services and housing to realise cost cuts of £150,000 in years two and three, and changes in the supervisory structure in communities and neighbourhoods to save £238,000 by 2022.

There’s a possible merger/realignment of corporate support areas, including communications and community planning, with any reduction in full-time employees to be “implemented consensually” to slash spending by £275,000.

A review of the council fleet, to save £270,000, will include “efficient route optimisation” and getting rid of 15 vehicles while £1.5m cuts in building services will see the introduction of mobile and flexible working.

To try to save £75,000, the council will “review charges” on new roads and street works, temporary traffic regulation orders, skips and scaffolding, accident damage and tourist signing.

More efficient and productive roads maintenance will save £100,000 a year through “route optimisation on gully cleaning routes” and “new methodologies for dealing with pothole patching”.

Also included are a remodel of temporary homeless accommodation, to cut £377,000 in years two and three, a total of £1.1m of savings in property services, a reduction in management fee to trusts rising to £282,000, a review of electoral services staffing structure to save £30,000 and a review of software licences, to cut costs by £800,000.

Together, the proposals for 2019-22 aim to save £8.37m.

Councillors also agreed £1.1m of investment with money to tackle holiday hunger for schoolchildren, headstone repair and maintenance, decentralising car-parking and funding for the seven area committees.