Budget meeting adjournment bid quashed

Argyll and Bute councillor George Freeman.

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A bid to have Argyll and Bute Council’s budget meeting adjourned for an hour to discuss new Scottish Government funding was quashed.

Councillor George Freeman submitted a 123-word amendment on a single sheet of paper asking for members to be allowed further debate.

An additional £95 million was made available by the Scottish Government for distribution among local authorities the afternoon before the meeting. It is yet to be decided what share Argyll and Bute will receive.

The council has also been given an extra £954,000 for ferry services, but Councillor Freeman said that the sum ‘pales into insignificance’.

His motion to adjourn the meeting was seconded by fellow Argyll and Bute First councillor Douglas Philand, but failed to garner any further support.

Councillor Freeman said: ‘We have not tabled detailed budget proposals because there is too much new information that has materialised, and we request an hour’s adjournment.

‘The funding of £954,000, subject to the decisions of the Scottish Government, for ferry services, pales into insignificance when you consider the hundreds of millions of pounds currently being ploughed into two rusting hulks lying in Ferguson’s yard on the Clyde.

‘COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) have commented about the impact that council budgets will have on staff, and have been clearly quoted saying hundreds of jobs are at stake within local authorities.

‘We have been told ourselves that in the last 10 years the budget has been cut by £50 million, but when you look at staff numbers in the last eight years, our numbers have not changed.

‘I have not got the answer, but how do we lose £50 million while staff numbers stay the same?

‘Also, the Health and Social Care Partnership and Live Argyll staff numbers have actually increased over that time. Somebody needs to explain that to us.

‘We also have to look really seriously at the funding we provide to partners, including the Health and Social Care Partnership, where we have continued concerns at the audit and scrutiny committee.’

Councillor Philand added: ‘I don’t think anybody in here knows the implication of the £1 million being proposed.

‘For me, even to have that hour to be able to discuss with our colleagues will let us explore what this actually means.

‘I think I would like that clarity on the impact on our services. We don’t know what that is and it is something we must make a decision on today.

‘The budget motions are so close with one or two tweaks, so we should get together and think about it and pull something together which is even better.’

Councillor Donald Kelly, the third and final member of Argyll First, was not able to be at the meeting.