The next step along the road towards major cuts in budgets and services in Argyll and Bute will be taken by local councillors next week.
A workshop for the area’s 36 elected members will be held on Friday, June 5 against the backdrop of a budget gap for 2016-17 estimated to be between £21.7m and £26m.
Further workshops will follow in June and August before detailed proposals go before the authority’s powerful policy and resources committee in October.
Most of the council’s departments have been identified as having potential for a budget cut of 20 per cent - and while it is far from certain that cuts on that scale will indeed be made in all the areas in question, the prospect is unsurprisingly causing alarm among council staff and communities throughout the area.
Among the information presented at the workshop next Friday will be initial savings options proposals from each service area.
Councillor Dick Walsh, the leader of the council, said: “Like all Scottish local authorities we are faced with the challenge of investing in the future for our communities while achieving significant savings now. We must have a robust process in place so that the right choices can be made.
“It is important to take time to do this and to ensure that any choices made are informed and effective. The project board is providing a clear starting point for discussion, opportunities to fully explore issues and to collate possible options which all members can look at more closely in the workshop sessions.
“Continual budgetary monitoring is being carried out to ensure that the council balances its budget, makes the right level of savings and puts the resources it has to the very best use.
“Throughout the whole process so far there have been regular updates for staff and, following the initial consultation at the beginning of 2015, we will be seeking more views from local people and communities on the proposals agreed by the full council.
“Inevitably these are challenging times which need careful consideration but everyone who has Argyll and Bute’s best interests at heart is focused on working together to find the best options for our communities and for the future of Argyll and Bute.”