Friday, 19 February 2016 13:30

The SNP Budget Proposals

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The Argyll & Bute Council Budget 2016-2017

People in Argyll & Bute are deeply worried about the proposed cuts in education and services by the Council’s ruling Conservative /Liberal Democrat /Independent Administration 

Hundreds of Council employees have feared for their jobs, this cruel ordeal for them went on for many months without any positive reassurances from the said Administration. 

At the budget meeting the Administration stated that they never had any intention of making many of the cuts they proposed. 

Is this the attitude of a responsible Council Administration or could it be a matter of collective incompetency or basic cruelty on their part? 

 Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that the Council Administration will have to answer to the people of Argyll & Bute for their decisions on this budget.

The Council

SNP Independent Administration always published its budget three weeks ahead of

the budget meeting to allow opposition parties and the public time for scrutiny or to lobby for amendments. 

 The current Administration however, only made it public during the meeting thus denying other members time to analyse it in depth.

 If the Council is to improve, the political leadership has to begin by acting in a fully co-operative manner and not just by talking about doing it.

New Leisure Centre 

Finally the SNP pressure on the Administration has paid off and the development of the pier head looks like moving forward after years of delay. 

 Rather than prioritise this project in the capital budget, the Administration will use reserves (savings) for the balance of £5m required. 

Of course, as a drawback to this, when Helensburgh eventually get something on merit the other areas in Argyll & Bute have to get a hand-out also. 

Basically it is a just a re-run of the CHORD competition, when Helensburgh won; all the other towns had to get prizes too. 

This illogical decision, deemed necessary by the ruling administration, will however, only lead to more expenditure and further cuts to services and jobs at a later time to accommodate these compensatory prizes.

Local Democracy

The SNP proposed that the budgets for Amenity Services (bins, street cleaning, public areas lights etc.) should be devolved to Education to Local Area Committees. This would have brought decision making closer to the communities 

affected. 

To adopt local solutions, local co-operation and local efficiencies rather than a one size fits all central approach.

The Administration refused to support this transformation change.
 
A question must be asked therefore, are the ruling administration completely against any form of local democracy and accountability, and if so why? 

Or, could it be that the real reason is that it would show what a bad deal Helensburgh and Lomond gets from the Council overall?

For example, it was recently made public that Adult Care spending in Helensburgh and Lomond was only 60% of the average spend in the other areas and £3.155m less than Bute and Cowal.

 What is the reason for this?

Hermitage Academy


Parents are frustrated by the slow response and the lack of clarity on any proposed improvements and the new default model. This must be a very difficult time also for the staff and teachers and their continuing dedication and hard 

work deserves recognition and praise.

 The SNP have taken an active interest in attempting to resolve this stalemate and Councillor James Robb regularly gets involved with PTA’s and Teachers Groups.

Summary

The SNP Council Group's budget proposals were defeated in the budget vote despite the support of the Argyll First Group.  

Budget Lead for the SNP James Robb commented;
  
"The SNP proposals were clearly a better offer for the people of Argyll & Bute in very difficult circumstances as we supported national SNP priorities of education and devolving decision making closer to communities."

Councillor Robb added "Thank you to our parliamentarians and members for their support of the SNP budget and its transformational approach to council services."

The key points to the SNP Budget Proposals are as follows

·         The SNP proposed an additional £1.4m for the education of our children.

·         The SNP proposed putting an extra £1.0m into roads.

·         The SNP had also ensured there were adequate funds to take forward the Pierhead project.

·         The Tory/LibDem and Indpendent Administration and the SNP used reserves to balance the budget.

·         The SNP held Council fees and charges increases to half the amount of the Administration's 6% rise.

·         The SNP were not told of the £1.2m extra savings agreed by management and made available to the Administration.

·         The SNP budget would have protected the following services cuts by the Administration –

Third Sector funding, Citizens Advice Bureau funding and the mobile library service,

·         In our schools the SNP budget would have additionally protected - librarians, music tuition, PE facilities, Attendance Officers, clerical assistants and Educational Psychology Services.


The SNP budget is Amendment 1 in the attached link http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/moderngov/mgAi.aspx?ID=92991

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