Council supports young people, the economy and the environment

Council leader Aileen Morton and Finance chief Gary Mulvaney.

By Aileen MacLennan

“We must keep fighting for Argyll and Bute. Everyone who cares about Argyll and Bute must continue striving for the successful future it deserves and can achieve.”

These were the words of Argyll and Bute Council’s Leader on the day the Council set its budget for 2020/21. Councillor Aileen Morton said:  “The budget we set supports our young people, economic growth and the environment on which we all depend. We have protected key support services for young people.

“We are investing millions of pounds to help keep our road network open for business, and we are funding initiatives to protect our climate.

“We have listened to the views of our communities, to support people now, and look after the future of Argyll and Bute. This, in the circumstances, is the responsible budget for Argyll and Bute.

“We want to do more but our geography means we deliver some services most other councils do not, and all our services tend to cost more to deliver. At the same time Argyll and Bute received a higher than average cut to our funding.

“Our on-going work, to raise the challenges we face in Argyll and Bute is starting to make a difference. We recently secured nearly £1 million additional funding to help deliver our ferry services but there is still much more to be done.

We must all, in whatever way we can, continue to stand up for Argyll and Bute.”

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Depute Leader and Policy Lead for Financial Services and Major Projects, sounded a word of warning about future demand on council budgets:  “Demand for council services will continue to exceed council budgets. Managing this means action not only from the council, but also from our partners and key decision-makers.

“Argyll and Bute’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) supports some of our most vulnerable people. We have therefore allocated more than £60 million pounds, a quarter of the total council budget, to the HSCP, and agreed more time for it to repay debts to the council. This scale of council support cannot continue indefinitely; the HSCP needs to increase its pace of change.

“The Biodegradable Municipal Waste ban, that all councils must achieve, will mean another potential £5 million of running costs every single year, as well as one-off spending of £2million-£4million. We have gone part way to address this challenge by allocating funding for strategic change projects but this national initiative, which everyone rightly endorses, requires national funding. This will be the council’s next funding campaign for Argyll and Bute.

Local government funding must allow for councils to address local challenges and local priorities.”

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