HOW ARGYLL & BUTE COUNCIL WORKS: THE BUDGET PROCESS: UPDATE

I now know that I won’t get a reply on the questions I raised about the status of the project board until next week. This will be published as soon as I get it.

The council is forecasting a funding gap of £37.5m and says it needs to find savings of £25m over the next 2 financial years, ie 2016/17 and 2017/18. This is an enormous amount to take from the budget and with today’s election results, the Tories will most likely continue with their unnecessary austerity and will commit the UK to spend £4bn every year for the next 40 years on Trident.

The project board set up to look at what is called Service Choices has 12 elected members on it from the 36 councillors. Apart from Cllr Walsh, he has hand picked councillors from his administration most likely to go along with what he wants. These are Cllrs Robin Currie, Alex McNaughton, Roddy McCuish, Aileen Morton, Ellen Morton, Gary Mulvaney and Len Scoular. These 8 will, in effect, finalise the cuts before a  decision is made by the full council in February 2016. Unless the numbers change, Cllr Walsh will get these cuts voted through by the numbers he controls in the council administration in February no matter what. The bottom line is that Cllr Walsh and his 7 pals on this project board will have a huge influence on what is cut and what is saved.

Remember that at the moment they want to cut what is spent on adult care, much of this relating to the care at home service for the elderly. The cuts to the adult care budget could be as much as 40% of the total cuts to be made or almost £9m. They want to protect councillors’ salaries and allowances, much of which is wasted travelling to and from Kilmory. (They awarded themselves a 1% increase at the last council meeting and the single biggest beneficiary of this is none other than Cllr Walsh.) Lastly, they want to increase spend on “communications”, or spin to you and me.

The full details can be found on the council website at the link below but right now the link to the papers isn’t working for some reason.

http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=544&MId=6611&Ver=4

You could not make this up which is why the legality of this project board is the single biggest question at the moment. If they deem it legal, 8 people will make effectively make these decisions and that cannot be right.

More as soon as I get a reply from Mr Hendry.

Author: Michael Breslin

I am no longer a councillor with Argyll & Bute Council but given the appalling treatment I got from the senior officers and a few elected members, I plan to continue keeping an eye on what the council is doing.