Coun­cil bud­get con­sul­ta­tion launched in Ar­gyll and Bute

The Oban Times - - News -

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL bud­get cuts that have caused huge con­cern within Ar­gyll’s ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties have now been put out to the pub­lic for de­bate.

The much-her­alded bud­get con­sul­ta­tion on £18 mil­lion-worth of sav­ings in Ar­gyll and Bute was launched this week by the lo­cal author­ity.

To meet the de­mands of de­creas­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment grant fund­ing, the coun­cil faces an es­ti­mated short­fall of up to £26 mil­lion.

The lo­cal author­ity has set it­self a sav­ings tar­get of around £9 mil­lion in both 2016/17 and 2017/18 with fur­ther sav­ings in fu­ture years.

The lo­cal author­ity has al­ready dis­missed plans to in- crease the coun­cil tax, and lose out on gov­ern­ment fund­ing for do­ing so.

The con­sul­ta­tion, pub­lished on Fri­day, wants views on 140 op­tions for sav­ing cash.

The leader of Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil, Coun­cil­lor Dick Walsh said: ‘We would like to do all that our com­mu­ni­ties want their coun­cil to do for them, but dras­ti­cally re­duced fund­ing means that this just is not pos­si­ble.

‘We must make sav­ings. At the same time we must also con­tinue in­vest­ing in build­ing a pros­per­ous fu­ture for Ar­gyll and Bute.

‘We need there­fore to make choices about the work we do. We need to iden­tify what is most im­por­tant now, and for our fu­ture pros­per­ity. We need to de­cide how we can make best use of the resources we have.

‘The coun­cil has an ex­cel­lent track record in achiev­ing sav­ings.

‘Over the past six years we have de­liv­ered £ 32 mil­lion in sav­ings and re­cently agreed a fur­ther £1 mil­lion that can be made with­out im­pact on pol­icy, num­ber of jobs or com­mu­ni­ties.

‘In ad­di­tion we have been tak­ing steps to iden­tify op­tions for grow­ing in­come or mak­ing sav­ings through in­no­va­tion.

‘ We will con­tinue to pro­vide a broad range of ser­vices. We will con­tinue to be a ma­jor em­ployer and we will con­tinue to work with our part­ners in build­ing pros­per­ity.

‘De­liv­er­ing the level of sav­ings we must now achieve though means change. It means that there are no easy choices to make.

‘We would like to reach de­ci­sions and plan our fu­ture to­gether with our com­mu­ni­ties, em­ploy­ees and part­ners, which is what this con­sul­ta­tion is about.

‘We would en­cour­age as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to re­spond and tell us what mat­ters most to them.’

The con­sul­ta­tion is avail­able on-line at www.ar­gyll-bute.gov. uk/plan­ningour­future and will run un­til the end of De­cem­ber.

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