ARGYLL and Bute Council is encouraging people to get involved in 2015 in planning the future of council services and in backing a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute.
Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Dick Walsh said: “The council is in a period of relative financial stability from 2014 to 2016. We are using this time to develop a financial strategy that will meet both short and longer term financial challenges.
"We must invest in the long term future of Argyll and Bute. We must also make considerable savings from 2016/17 on.
"This will mean making careful choices and challenging decisions. We would like to work with our communities in putting our resources to work for our communities.”
Inflation, cost and demand pressures, and funding changes mean that the council is facing a predicted funding gap of between £5.5 and £7.5 million each year over five years.
In addition, the population of Argyll and Bute is falling. A population that continues to fall will mean significantly less funding for public services in the longer term as council funding depends on the size of an area’s population. It will mean fewer people to deliver services, and fewer people to keep the local economy and communities thriving.
Councillor Walsh said: “We are ambitious for Argyll and Bute – everyone must be. We must continue taking action to develop a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute. We will do this by delivering on the key objective of our Single Outcome Agreement – to build economic success through a growing population.
"This will depend on everyone involved in the life of Argyll and Bute playing their part. The SOA is a shared agreement which requires input from all partners. Its overall aim is securing a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute, with an economy built on a growing population.
"Argyll and Bute Council is committed to leading by example in doing all that we as a council can do. We are already investing millions on regeneration across the area. Our focus must continue to be on building up the resources we have as a council, as a community planning partnership and as an area.
"A great deal of effort has gone into identifying a range of actions possible in putting our financial resources to best use for the longer term benefit of our communities."
These actions, approved at Policy and Resources Committee, focus on:
- Investing for economic growth- turning Argyll and Bute’s economic potential into reality
- Developing a Strategic Infrastructure Plan to support economic growth
- Investing to increase income
- Service choices: making choices about future service funding with public consultation at key stages
Councillor Walsh continued: “The approach set out by these actions is focused on putting our resources to best use, attracting investment to the area and investing to develop economic growth.
"The extent of financial challenge means that we will also have to make considerable savings in the more immediate term.
"Like many other local authorities, we will need to make changes to how we do things. Whatever changes, the council will continue to be a key local employer and service provider.
"We will ensure that our employees and communities have opportunities to give their views at different stages in this process so that we can work together in securing the right changes.
"Argyll and Bute is a wonderful place with so much to be proud of. I would urge everyone to get involved in planning our future and to do what you can to support, promote, and back Argyll and Bute.”
Consultation on planning for the future will begin in January 2015. Further details will be provided in the New Year.
The Single Outcome Agreement sets out the overall objective, shared by the council and community planning partners, that Argyll and Bute’s economic success is built on a growing population. There is more detail at http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/council-and-government/community-plan-and-single-outcome-agreement