FAMILIES and communities should not have to bear the brunt of East Lothian Council budget cuts, it was claimed at a meeting of Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council.

Former community council chairman Robert Bryson told a meeting of the group that the local authority needed to look at its own practices instead of asking the people it serves to lose services.

But Councillor Fiona O’Donnell, ward member, responded by pointing out that everything the council did was a public service.

She said: “There is nothing local government does that does not impact on people’s lives.”

Mr Bryson was responding to the council’s 15 ‘budget saving proposals’ which have been put out for public consultation.

He said that every single proposal asked the community to take on more responsibility or accept losing services.

Mr Bryson said: “There is no reference to any areas where they could be cost saving before putting [cuts] on to the community.

“What about road maintenance? How much does it cost to continually patch up the roads, which are in a terrible state, instead of investing money to repair them properly? Families in communities throughout East Lothian are already struggling due to austerity.”

READ MORE: 15 options the council is considering to save money

Mr Bryson questioned the timing of the public consultation, coming after the council elections had been held, describing it as a “box-ticking exercise” and said that when he was younger he recalled proper maintenance being carried out, which prevented expensive fixes.

He said: “When I was a boy the windows and walls were regularly scraped and painted. Windows did not need to be replaced because they were maintained.”

Earlier the meeting had been told that plans to refurbish Port Seton Library were likely to take longer than planned as the carpet had not been lifted in 20 years and the condition of the flooring underneath was not known.

Mr Bryson pointed out: “The library hasn’t even been painted for 20 years.”

Ms O’Donnell told Mr Bryson that the council could not undo the past and had to face the possibility of budget cuts.

She said: “We do not know how much money we are getting from the Scottish Government but our officers believe we are looking at a three per cent cut, which equates to £25 million we need to save.

“I do not want to introduce these cuts, none of us do, but the reality is we have to find £25 million.

“If our funding is cut by as much as predicted then it stops being about cutting things. It is about things we have to stop altogether.”

The consultations document can be found at eastlothianconsultations.co.uk/policy-partnerships/east-lothian-council-public-budget-consultation-20

Print copies are available on request by calling the council on 01620 827270.