Council agrees £87.2m capital programme

DESPITE overwhelming pressure on the public finances in general, and on its own revenue budget in particular, Argyll and Bute Council has agreed to invest £87.2 million in its assets over the next three years.

Top of the authority’s list is its road network, following a recent report which revealed that a higher percentage of Argyll and Bute’s roads were in a poor condition than any other local authority in Scotland.

Over the next three years £15.6 million will be spent on improving and upgrading the roads network in the area - almost £7 million will be spent in 2011-12, with an additional £4.8 million and £3.8 million in the second and third years.

The investment in 2011-12 includes £3 million approved at the council budget meeting on February 10.

Almost £16 million will be spent to maintain school buildings. This includes rewiring, window replacement and re-roofing to improve the condition of these buildings.

And there’s a brighter future for street lighting, with £600,000 set aside for new LED lighting, which is more powerful, longer lasting and lower energy than traditional lamps.

Nearly £7 million will be spent on community facilities and private sector housing support. Swimming pools in Dunoon, Rothesay and Helensburgh will be improved and there will be money spent to upgrade community education centres in Lochgilphead, Bute, Kintyre and Dunoon.

And the council agreed to continue with capital investment which is already underway in its CHORD waterfront improvements in Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon.

Money from the CHORD project will be invested to provide a new all weather football pitch in Campbeltown. In addition the Tayinloan slip will have the breakwater and land bridge fixed so it will be fully compatible with the proposed ferry service to Gigha.

In Helensburgh, the council will merge some of its smaller offices and bring staff together in one new building. Another project which has already got the go ahead is the Mull and Iona progressive care facility which will prevent local elderly people being moved to care homes on the mainland. In Dunoon’s John Street there’ll be work to alleviate the flooding at the Milton burn.

Council leader Dick Walsh said: “Even though we have had to make cuts in some areas we have to continue investing in roads, buildings and other structures which allow us to work, learn, travel and do business in Argyll and Bute.

“We need to make sure we spend our budget wisely concentrate on keeping our remaining buildings, schools, roads and libraries in the best possible condition we can for the future.

“We have a limited budget, but by focusing it on priority areas we can help improve the potential of our people, our communities and our area.”

The council agreed its capital plan budget at its meeting on Thursday 10 March. Full details of the plan can be read here