Children who use an Aberdeen family centre were left in tears after hearing of council proposals to slash £91,000 from a treasured community facility.
Residents are planning to turn up outside Aberdeen’s Town House armed with placards next week to protest against a budget saving option which could see drastic cuts to funding for the Woodside-based Fersands Community Project.
Community workers and local residents reacted with horror at the proposals and youngsters at the project’s after-school club left in tears when they heard the news yesterday.
Jobs could be lost at the facility – which runs a full-time nursery, parents’ group, social work service and youth clubs – and services “dramatically reduced” if the proposed savings are approved by councillors next week.
A wide-ranging raft of measures have been put forward by council officers in a bid to plug a £41.2 million funding black hole, with proposals unveiled to axe crossing patrollers, close libraries and increase council tax by up to 4.79%.
Mum-of-three Kimmy Crawford, who lives in the area and whose children all use the facility, said its support changed her life when she moved to the area in 2012.
The 30-year-old, mother to Sophie, 8, Max, 3, and one-year-old Reggie, said: “Most of the staff at the centre were heartbroken, some kids were crying when being told in the club after school.
“It’s just horrific. This area has been brought back to life and now they are looking at taking it away again.
“They took us to cooking classes to learn how to cook on a budget.
“My son (Max) goes to the nursery and my daughter goes to the after-school clubs and play schemes.
“I wouldn’t move from here now because of the centre. It’s a massive family.
“My life is hectic and as soon as I go there they know me and my kids.”
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There are also fears youth crime in the area will soar if cuts are approved on Tuesday, as the project runs a number of youth clubs and activities with local young people. Kimmy said: “The youth crime rate is nearly at zero.
“The teenagers are really nice but if they’re left to wander the streets then who knows what will happen.
“It might turn into how it used to be. Maybe about 15 years ago the whole place was boarded up and there was drugs and graffiti.
“The council has worked really hard to regenerate the area. If they take it away it will just go backwards.”
Kimmy and her children, along with other families in the area, joined forces yesterday to create signs and placards ahead of the crunch budget meeting scheduled for 2pm on Tuesday.
An urgent meeting was also expected to take place today involving local residents at the Fersands Family Centre on Marquis Road.
Claire Whyte, community worker at the project, said: “We want to tell people to come along on Tuesday just to get our voices across.
“We also want the councillors to know what we are doing within the community.
“It’s not as simple as crunching numbers. Do they realise the difference we are making?
“There’s not been a consultation to find out what we are doing.”
Claire previously told the Evening Express the cuts would be “catastrophic” for the organisation.
She added that in 12 years she had never seen cuts of such a scale, branding it “absolutely terrifying”.
Other community leaders have expressed their shock at the savings options, including Inchgarth Community Centre chairman Paul O’Connor. He said proposals to save £300,000 by transferring community centres into community ownership would kill off centres across the city, including his own.
City council bosses have laid the blame squarely at the feet of the Scottish Government after being made to find savings of £41.2m.
The local authority is the lowest funded in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has said the council will receive an additional £15.4m from it in 2019-20 to fund local services.
It added: “Using their council tax powers they could also generate an additional £5.8m meaning a total of £381.6m.
“This represents an increase of £21.2m or 5.9%.
“Like all councils, Aberdeen City Council already retains every penny that it raises in council tax and business rates.”