FRONTLINE services will be protected in Scotland’s two biggest cities after this year’s budgets were agreed, it is claimed. Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey promised to “take the city forward” with more cash to fight homelessness and investment to reopen Leith Theatre and turn it into “the coolest arts venue in the country”.

Meanwhile, Susan Aitken said Glasgow City Council’s spending plans will have an impact “long after the lifetime” of her administration.

Citing the Michael Marra song Mother Glasgow, she said the budget was “not about quick headlines or boxes ticked”, adding: “City mothers and fathers of the past, however well meaning, have clipped Glasgow’s wings. It’s time to let all those birds that never flew spread their wings.”

In the capital, where a three per cent council tax rise was agreed, £400,000 has been dedicated to lower-income families, with a holiday hunger fund created to cater for children outwith term time and an increase to school uniform grants.

Play parks will also be upgraded, with others added, and £8.5 million will go to improve council properties.

Almost £200m has been allocated for health and social care services by the SNP-Labour coalition, with a further £1m for waste and cleansing.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, convener of the finance and resources committee, said: “When forming the coalition, we pledged to deliver improved services for residents and communities over the next five years. We have taken opportunities in this, our first budget, to do things differently and invest in key areas, delivering on our 52 coalition commitments.

“We are committed to protecting frontline services and maintaining investment in areas which will provide more support for our most vulnerable residents. Despite an uncertain financial climate, we have set a balanced budget for Edinburgh, as well as securing funds for improvements throughout the city.”

Glasgow’s plans include bringing the country’s biggest arm’s-length external organisation back under direct council control. The change, which is in line with the SNP’s local election manifesto, will affect thousands of workers at facilities management and care Cordia arm, which the administration says has become “unwieldy and inefficient”.

Council tax will also increase by three per cent in Glasgow, to generate cash for “improved city services”, but the authority says bills will be unchanged for one in four households.

A £22m “pothole blitz” has been agreed following widespread criticism by road users, with another £3m put aside for smart bins and £2m for energy saving LED lighting for public areas.

There were also allocations to improve “digital inclusion”, to support those affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit, and to tackle lone- liness and mental ill-health. Hot school meals will be provided for 6000 pupils year-round. Treasurer Allan Gow said: “This budget is about investing to improve. We need, as a city, to increase our expectations of our council and our council needs to respond.”

Three Glasgow councillors were unable to vote as they have outstanding council tax debts. The SNP’s Elspeth Kerr, Elaine McSporran, and Labour’s Cecilia O’Lone all have payment plans.

Meanwhile, West Dunbartonshire Council will consider merging its roads and transportation services with those of Inverclyde at a meeting next month.

In other news, Glasgow City Council has agreed to hold a consultation on allowing boys to attend Scotland’s last all-girl state secondary, Notre Dame High, following a campaign by parents.