Moat council chair ‘hopeful’ as fight against cuts goes on

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THE chair of the Moat Community Centre Council says he is “hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel” as the centre continues its battle against planned cutbacks.

A meeting of the centre council, which deals with the day-to-day running of the facility, was held last Wednesday evening and was addressed by an Argyll and Bute Council official as part of the consultation into plans to withdraw janitorial and cleaning services from the authority’s community centres.

Three jobs at the Moat Centre are under threat as a result, and will be lost on April 1, 2012 if the proposal – agreed at the council’s annual budget meeting back in February – goes ahead in its original form.

But the centre council is considering alternatives which it is hoped could see at least two of those jobs saved in return for a scaling-down of supervision when the Moat is lightly used.

Councillor Robert Macintyre, who chairs the centre council, told The Buteman: “We recognised that other savings will need to be made if supervision at the Moat is to continue, and while we feel strongly that a janitorial and cleaning service must be retained, it needn’t necessarily be covered by three posts.

“The Moat is very heavily used during the week and in the evenings, and it is essential to have a supervisory presence to ensure the groups which use the centre stick to their allotted times, as well as a cleaning service to keep the facility in good condition.

“The meeting heard proposals to make savings on Saturdays and Sundays, when the centre is very lightly used, by removing the need for a janitor to attend at those times. Only one group uses the centre on a Sunday, and it was suggested that they could be a keyholder.”

One sticking point which remains unanswered, however, is the question of why the entire utility bill for the Moat falls to the centre council when the community facility which it oversees is only part of the building’s function.

“We have been asking officials at Kilmory since July to investigate why the entire cost of electricity, gas and water for the Moat Centre falls on the centre council,” Cllr Macintyre continued, “when the building has three different functions – the community centre, the library and the Green Tree Cafe.

“We feel we are being unfairly penalised, and we still think it is unacceptable to cut £45,000 from a total budget of £110,000.

“I’m meeting Malcolm McFadyen [the council’s head of facility services] to discuss the matter on Thursday, and I’m pretty hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The results of consultation with staff, centre management committees and centre users will be reported back to the council’s budget working group.

The authority agreed at its meeting on October 6 that “following this scrutiny and consultation, detailed proposals will be developed for implementation that will reflect practical measures with outcomes based on the priorities indicated by centre users and management committees”, and that “this would outline the proposed changes and the impact they would have on the operation of each centre”.