A house divided, but parties unite on call for more cash
Elected members agree to work together to argue for extra funding for region
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.’