Argyll and Bute Council’s 2016-17 budget: the details

The council chamber at Argyll and Bute Council's Lochgilphead HQ.
The council chamber at Argyll and Bute Council's Lochgilphead HQ.

Secondary school librarians and school attendance officers will lose their jobs in the new financial year after cost-cutting spending plans for Argyll and Bute in 2016-17 were voted through by councillors.

The full-time equivalent of 82 jobs will be lost as a consequence of the authority’s newly-approved budget for 2016-17 - though that’s considerably fewer than the number of posts which would have been cut if a list of more than 140 ‘savings options’ had been approved in full.

Key points from the budget include:

* Cuts of 20 per cent in classroom assistant numbers in both primary and secondary schools will not take place;

* Cuts of 20 per cent in primary and secondary school janitorial cover will not be implemented;

* School technician costs will not be reduced;

* School clerical assistant numbers will be cut by 5 per cent instead of 20 per cent;

* Annual bedding displays will not be replaced by areas of grass (though rose and shrub beds will be grassed over);

* The council’s partnership with Fyne Futures to carry out recycling collections on Bute will not be scrapped;

* Proposals to shut 43 public toilets across Argyll and Bute have been rejected;

* Advice services such as Bute Advice Centre will have their funding from the council cut by 25 per cent (not scrapped entirely, as had been proposed);

* Most school crossing patrols will be retained - the exceptions being at lunchtimes only, and only where an electronic crossing is already in place;

* School attendance officer posts will be removed;

* Librarians will no longer be provided in secondary schools;

* Fees and charges will increase by 6 per cent, rather than the proposed 3 per cent - except for music tuition fees (which will go up by 44 per cent), cremation charges (14 per cent) and burial charges (20 per cent);

* Opening hours for the ‘service point’ at Eaglesham House in Rothesay will be reduced to five half-days per week;

* A £2m ‘asset management fund’ and a £1m ‘inward investment fund’ will be created from the council’s reserves, which will also be used to provide a one-off fund of £300,000 for Christmas lights.

The council’s ruling administration - which didn’t make its spending plans public until Thursday afternoon’s budget meeting was under way - opted not to go ahead with 23 savings options worth a total of £1.402 million, while the total value of service and job cuts which were approved is £5.186 million.

If all 140-plus savings options had been approved, the full-time equivalent of 231 jobs would have been cut from the council’s workforce.

The administration’s spending plans were backed by 19 of the 33 councillors present, while an SNP alternative - also made public only after Thursday’s meeting got under way - attracted nine votes.

A radical budget proposal from the three-strong Reform Group, advocating major decentralisation of senior management, received the support only of that group’s three members.