COUNCIL officers say good housekeeping has allowed them to embark on a programme of improvements to educational establishments in East Ayrshire.

The largest of these, which was exclusively revealed in the Chronicle last week, is a campus at Knockroon which will incorporate Cumnock and Auchinleck Academies as well as three local primary schools.

At a cabinet meeting of the council this week, further projects were announced including major renovation work at Doon Academy, under East Ayrshire’s Capital Investment Programme.

Council leader Douglas Reid said: “This is a significant investment which will improve the education of young people and make a difference in learning attainment in the area.” There are also plans for a new primary school in Muirkirk, as well as major work at Netherthird Primary, and Auchinleck Early Childhood Centre, with all schemes scheduled to be completed by 2019.

Mr Reid added: “There has been very positive feedback from the community so far, especially with regard to the Knockroon project which will teach young people from pre-school to further education.” Meanwhile, a waste recycling centre is proposed for Lugar - officials are currently costing it out - as the council works towards its target of a balanced budget by 2017.

There will be some cut-backs to achieve this, but the council claim that they will maintain services while using spare accommodation in schools instead of them being open only from 9am to 3.30pm.

“It is not necessary for every building that we own to stay open, but we will work with Vibrant Communities to make sure services are protected in the long-term — it is all about safeguarding activities,” said Mr Reid.

One controversial proposal has been the reduction in green bin collection to once every three weeks, but Mr Reid says this will encourage more recycling. Provision will be made for extra collections to meet hygiene needs, while they will also consider requests made through exceptional circumstances for further bin pick-ups.

A council spokeswoman added: “An Economic Regeneration and Development Fund will be created, with £6million used to take forward a wide variety of acquisitions and/or redevelopment of derelict areas, and construction or refurbishment of commercial or industrial premises where a demand exists.

“Included in this will be improvements to parks and playparks, extensions to some cemeteries as well as road repairs to others, and an upgrade to CCTV coverage to improve crime detection and prevention.” The budget continues East Ayrshire Council’s Transformation Strategy, which was introduced in 2012 with the objective of ensuring that council services remain financially sustainable in the current economic climate.

It was created after it was identified £34million of savings would be necessary to maintain services over the following five years, which resulted in some staff volunteering for redundancy.

Some council workers, however, have criticised the strategy with leaders of the trade union, Unison, contacting every councillor this week with their views.

A letter sent to them says: “Senior council officials paint a fairly positive picture of East Ayrshire. However, you are now being asked to agree a series of reviews in order to “save” a further £20million in the next three years.

“With 174 people leaving the council’s service by the end of March 2015, little information about how their workloads are to be spread amongst remaining staff, redundancies being revisited 2017/18, and public services outsourced to private and third/voluntary sector where there will be less secure service provision, worse terms and conditions for staff, and more unpaid work - 3,300 hours according to the Council - around £25,000 if these hours were to be paid the living wage which won’t be spent in the local economy, the implications of this budget are far-reaching; not just for current staff and service users, but for future generations.”