Letter: Budget winners and losers

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Sir,

Another year and another budget for the council and as always there are winners and losers.

I have to congratulate all the officers of the council, particularly Kirsty Flanagan, head of strategic finance and her team, for being so helpful during this process.

I also thank the leader of the council for the manner in which the papers were presented this year which made alternative motions possible.

However what did this year yield?

The main differences in the budget came down to the administration of the council proposing £500,000 more for winter gritting, outwith the A83 which is covered by the contract with BEAR.

This was against cuts in the road safety unit, an award-winning safety programme for young children, a cut in youth and adult learning, a cut in environmental warden services, which means a focus on more fines but less time for fly tipping and dog fouling and a cut to music tuition in schools.

There were amendments lodged by Councillor Donald Kelly and myself, the SNP group and councillors George Freeman and Jean Moffat.

While gritting our roads is important Councillor Kelly and I, along with other council opposition groups, thought the other considerations were important to our communities which strangely enough is also supported by our corporate plan.

Alas the gritting won the day.

Full motions and votes can be found on the council website.

However it was more disappointing that Councillor Kelly and I included in our motion a scheme to change funding due for Helensburgh and Dunoon.

Just more than £1 million would be moved to the regeneration project of Tarbert/Lochgilphead/Ardrishaig.

This was defeated by the rest of the council which was particularly galling.

Money for Helensburgh had been questioned by its community council which felt that too much had already been spent.

The money for Dunoon was because of poor procurement processes and a general ‘I want syndrome’ all to the detriment of this its area.

It is local democracy at work which should be communicated to our communities.

Councillor Douglas Philand,
Argyll and Bute First: Time for Change,
Oriago,
32 Fernoch Crescent,
Lochgilphead.