A house di­vided, but par­ties unite on call for more cash

Elected mem­bers agree to work to­gether to ar­gue for ex­tra fund­ing for re­gion

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

AGREE­MENT be­tween Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil and the area’s par­lia­men­tar­i­ans was short lived this week when ,de­spite pos­i­tive noises, fun­da­men­tal is­sues on coun­cil cuts were left un­re­solved.

How­ever, all par­ties put aside their dif­fer­ences to pull to­gether a strong case for more fund­ing from the Scot­tish and UK par­lia­ments, and the meet­ing, held in Kil­mory Cas­tle last Fri­day, was de­scribed as ‘con­struc­tive’ by the lead­er­ship of Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil.

Coun­cil leader Coun­cil­lor Dick Walsh, along with De­pute Leader Ellen Mor­ton and Coun­cil­lor Gary Mul­vaney, met with MSPs Michael Rus­sell and Mike McKen­zie, and Bren­dan O’Hara MP to dis­cuss con­cerns over the pro­posed bud­get cuts.

Coun­cil­lor Walsh said af­ter the meet­ing: ‘ Of course there re­main ar­eas where we agree to disagree, but the most im­por­tant out­come from to­day is that we are ab­so­lutely in agree­ment about what we can and will do to­gether.

‘Con­sen­sus like this is in­valu­able in th­ese chal­leng­ing times.

‘What is also very wel­come is their sup­port on some of the sig­nif­i­cant is­sues that can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence to our com­mu­ni­ties, such as im­proved mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity, con­ti­nu­ity of ac­cess through the life­line A82 and A83 routes and re­in­forc­ing to ev­ery­one that Ar­gyll and Bute is very much open for busi­ness.

‘We have said many times that the key pri­or­i­ties of grow­ing Ar­gyll and Bute’s econ­omy and pop­u­la­tion are chal­lenges in which ev­ery­one has a part to play, and it is heart­en­ing that our lo­cal MSPs and MPs are com­mit­ted to do­ing what they can to work to­gether and of­fer their sup­port. This will be wel­comed whole­heart­edly by Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil.’

While the SNP par­lia­men­tar­i­ans is­sued a sim­i­lar state­ment, Mr Rus­sell con­cluded: ‘We ex­pressed our con­tin­ued and com­plete op­po­si­tion to the cuts pro­pos­als is­sued by the coun­cil.

‘Th­ese will harm some of the most vul­ner­a­ble in Ar­gyll and Bute, and the process that has pro­duced them has failed to ad­dress the key is­sues, in­clud­ing con­tin­ued de­pop­u­la­tion and lack of plan­ning for the present fi­nan­cial prob­lems.

‘The SNP gave no­tice that it will con­tinue to bring for­ward al­ter­na­tives and has asked the coun­cil to pro­vide fur­ther fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion to al­low it to de­velop its own plans. The coun­cil leader has un­der­taken to con­sider pro­vid­ing that in­for­ma­tion to the SNP.

MP for Ar­gyll and Bute, Mr O’Hara said: ‘This was in the end a pos­i­tive meet­ing and though the SNP re­mains firmly op­posed to what is tak­ing place in Kil­mory, we do recog­nise the coun­cil needs some de­gree of ex­tra as­sis­tance, given some of the par­tic­u­lar prob­lems it is fac­ing, in­clud­ing de­pop­u­la­tion.

‘We will do our best to help the ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­press th­ese prob­lems clearly to Gov­ern­ment.’

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