Public to be asked for views on proposed council cuts

Argyll and Bute Council is to ask members of the public for views on 146 proposed cuts in jobs and services.
Argyll and Bute Council is to ask members of the public for views on 146 proposed cuts in jobs and services.

Councillors in Argyll and Bute have, as expected, voted in favour of putting a long list of proposed cuts in jobs and services out to public consultation.

A special meeting of the council on Thursday backed a motion to ask members of the public for their views on the 146 savings options contained in the authority’s Service Choices programme.

The proposals are aimed at bridging a financial gap which the authority predicts to be between £21.7m and £26m and which the council has blamed on a reduction in the funding it receives from the Scottish Government.

The consultation will begin online on Friday, October 30, with printed versions being available at local libraries and customer service points during the week beginning November 10.

Angry parents staged a protest outside the council’s Lochgilphead HQ ahead of Thursday’s meeting - with a particular focus on proposals for cuts in the council’s education service, including a 45 per cent reduction in the number of additional support needs (ASN) assistants, which the council says would lead to the loss of 72 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts across the council area.

In total the Service Choices options include a potential loss of 306 FTE posts through redundancy while a further 125 posts would be transferred to a new trust to run the council’s libraries, leisure, community and arts operations.

However, the consultation also notes that council officers have “identified more options than needed so that we can reach final decisions with

the views of our employees and communities”.

Council leader Dick Walsh said: “This is a time for everyone to work together. We as councillors need to hear the views of people right across Argyll and Bute so that we can all work together to ensure that people continue to receive the best public services that the council is capable of delivering.

“No decisions have been made yet; we will use the consultation responses to help us make decisions in February.

“There are more options for consideration than we need to take. This is about giving people a real choice. It is really important that we get the views of the community.”

You can read the consultation document in full by clicking here - the full list of potential savings is on pages 9 to 22 of the PDF document.

* More on this story in the next edition of The Buteman - on sale from Thursday, October 29.