Hard times ahead as Argyll and Bute sets its budget

A programme of cuts worth £5.8 million which could put 670 jobs at risk over the next seven years was agreed At Argyll and Bute Council’s annual budget meeting.

The budget proposals put forward by the authority’s ruling group of SNP and independent councillors was backed by 19 votes to 16 at a meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday.

Ninety-three full-time equivalent (FTE) posts will go over the next 12 months as a result of the proposals contained in the budget, and while the council hopes that the majority of the job losses can be achieved through voluntary redundancy and the non-filling of vacant posts, it seems likely that some compulsory redundancies will be inevitable.

The ruling group’s budget plans were proposed by the new council leader, Helensburgh SNP councillor James Robb, following the resignation of the previous leader, Roddy McCuish, a move intimated at the start of Thursday’s meeting.

Cllr Robb said: “Savings are a significant feature of this budget, but we will keep on improving the way we do things to make sure that we are as efficient as can be.”

An alternative budget was put forward by Dunoon independent councillor Dick Walsh on behalf of the opposition group of independents, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, but the ruling group’s proposals were backed by 19 votes to 16.

The only abstention came from South Kintyre councillor Donald Kelly, a member of the ‘Argyll First’ group which is part of the ruling administration.

* More analysis of Argyll and Bute’s annual budget meeting to follow on Friday.