Council’s cuts proposals come under fire

Argyll and Bute Council is looking to bridge a budget gap of up to �26 million over the next four years.
Argyll and Bute Council is looking to bridge a budget gap of up to �26 million over the next four years.

The Argyll and Bute Constituency Association of the SNP have hit out at the council following its announcement of proposed cuts in jobs and services.

The undernoted motion was unanimously passed by the Argyll and Bute Constituency Association of the Scottish National Party at their regular monthly meeting held on Sunday, October 4, in Tarbert.

“That Argyll and Bute CA of the SNP note the proposals from Argyll and Bute Council which will be discussed at the Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday [October 8] and rejects both the cuts proposed in their entirety as well as the way in which the current administration has handled this issue.

“We recall the advice from Audit Scotland with regard to the need for the council to bring forward proposals for the reconfiguration of services in the light of projected financial difficulties, are disappointed the the current administration has still not stated clearly what those difficulties are and how they have come about, has undertaken no meaningful consultation with staff or citizens about possible new ways of working and has done nothing over the past two years to bring about necessary change, believe that the wholesale “salami slicing” of vital council services that is now being presented is a sign of panic, utterly unacceptable and will result in real suffering, widespread job cuts, the decimation of council services, a downward spiral of depopulation and a further erosion of democracy and accountability.

“The CA, therefore, commits the SNP in Argyll and Bute to working with trades unions and the wider public to resist those cuts whilst helping to develop appropriate and positive plans for taking this area forward based on increased localisation, population growth, extensive consultation and partnership with council staff, communities and the third sector.

“We also call upon the council to allow their employees, at all levels, to allow employees full freedom to speak out against those proposals without intimidation, bullying and threats of disciplinary action- threats that have already been made.”

Councillor Iain MacLean, CA Convener, said: “The SNP in Argyll is determined to resist this destruction of council services which would increase depopulation, cause real hardship to the most vulnerable and render the council unable to meet its statutory obligations.

“Our council group has done its best to persuade the administration to take forward a more positive vision but, along with the trades unions, we have been ignored. We will campaign vigorously across the area with the people of Argyll and Bute to ensure that the voice of the people is heard loud and clear- a voice which we know rejects the way this has been handled and the proposed outcomes.”

Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: “I am rarely shocked by anything that Council Leader Dick Walsh does but these proposals did shock me when I saw them for the first time on Friday, October 2.

“They present a grim dystopian vision of the future and are a result of the abject and complete failure of the present administration .

“Cllr Walsh was told two years ago that reconfiguration of services was essential – he did nothing and now has led the long suffering people to the very edge of disaster. There is a better way to proceed and the SNP will promote those new ideas widely and with vigour.

“However the first thing we must do in Argyll and Bute is to reject these appalling, destructive and cruel plans in their entirety.”