An Aberdeen council leader has today pledged not to cut funding from community centres currently under review.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden gave the guarantee after managers feared the review would force some centres to shut.
But Mr Lumsden stressed that was not the council’s intention – and revealed some might even get more money.
Councillors voted in March to review the city’s leased community centres, along with its 16 learning centres, to “ensure best value, appropriate direction and scrutiny of service provision”.
The findings were to be discussed at a council meeting on November 12 but those talks were postponed after critics urged the council to speak with centre volunteers first.
Now council officers are to meet community centre representatives on Monday.
Inchgarth Community Centre committee chairman Paul O’Connor said: “This review can only be about the budget we get.
“Without that small grant some community centres would close.”
However, Mr Lumsden said: “The intention of the review is not to cut budgets.
“It is to ensure that centres are offering best value.
“These community centres do some great work.
“We want to look at whether there are more services we could ask them to deliver and give them more money for doing so.”
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When asked what would happen if council officers recommend a budget cut for some facilities, Mr Lumsden said: “It is up to elected members to ultimately make the decision based on an officer’s recommendation and cutting these budgets is not something we will do.”
Danestone Community Centre manager Lyndsay Johnstone said: “This review started in the March budget papers, so it is pretty logical that the intention is to cut funding.”
While Mr O’Connor said: “Until we have a categorical written assurance that budget cuts are off the table, we will fight against them.
“In balancing the books, the council should not be looking for an easy scapegoat in community centres.
“It shouldn’t be the disabled, elderly and vulnerable who suffer.”
He added: “I’ve been involved here for 24 years and for 20 of them have had to have discussions about protecting our budget.
“At times we have been treated with complete disdain.
“It is because of the way we have been treated in the past that we are nervous about it.
“For about £11,000 each a year, centres provide a wide array of services, and if we didn’t provide them, the cost to the council in dealing with the people we help would be ten-fold.”
SNP operations spokeswoman Jackie Dunbar said: “The administration must provide reassurances that funding won’t be slashed to balance the books next March.”
Lib Dem councillor Ian Yuill said: “We will continue to do everything we can to protect the community centres from any threats of cuts or closures.”
A city council spokesman said the local authority was aiming to consult with communities and stakeholders to consider the findings from the initial review.
He added: “This will allow feedback to be incorporated into the final report which will be presented at the next available committee.
“It is understood the review will be presented to a council committee in the new year.”