Argyll and Bute Council is continuing to reduce the amount spent on travel expenses for councillors and employees.
As part of this year’s budget, councillors pledged to reduce the authority’s overall travel expenses by 10% in 2011/12 – a figure which monthly reports show is on course to being achieved.
The continuing reduction comes on the back of a cut of nearly 20% in the last four years in the total amount reimbursed to councillors and employees.
The news was welcomed by council leader Councillor Dick Walsh, who said the fall was the result of the authority’s ‘vigilance and scrutiny of spending’.
In 2007/08, Argyll and Bute Council spent £3,056,222 on reimbursed travel expenses (excluding anything paid for directly by the council such as ferry fares and hotel accommodation). The following year that was reduced by £402,709 (13.2%), in 2009/10 it fell by a further £14,127 (0.5%) and in 2010/11 it dropped by another £170,237 (6.4%).
Councillor Walsh said: “In total, this represents a reduction of £587,073 or 19.2% for the period which, given the current economic climate, is to be commended.
“This is also at a time when costs are generally rising due to conditions outwith our control, which makes it a reduction our council can be particularly proud of.
“We continue to strive to make savings in member expenses through improved technology, shared transport and the better organisation of meetings. We are investing in new ways of working – for instance in smarter technology solutions such as Microsoft Lync, improved video conferencing facilities and web technology – to drive down further unnecessary travel and subsistence costs.”
Councillor Walsh stressed the importance of not looking at expenses in isolation, but rather to consider what the spending represents in terms of the work carried out on behalf of the people of Argyll and Bute.
“As an administration we are clear and focussed on our need to keep expenditure down but at the same time ensuring that we do not unreasonably restrict our ability to get on with the job, working on behalf of our communities,” he added.
“We are also improving our accountability by encouraging scrutiny and supplying information to enable the public to see what we are doing on their behalf. It is easier than ever for our constituents to be satisfied that we are not spending vast sums of money on expenses to the detriment and detraction of their services.
“Our council’s records demonstrate a clear progressive pattern of improvement in our spending, demonstrating our responsibility and commitment to do more with less. We are striving to make this information more accessible to all and encourage public scrutiny in order that people can see the progress we are making.”