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.