Nearly 700 people have responded on-line to the Council’s planning the future consultation in the first few weeks after its launch.
Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Dick Walsh, welcomed the response:
“This is already a much higher level of response than we’ve had to previous consultations.
Drastically reduced funding means that the Council will have to make very difficult decisions about what we do and how we do it in future. We want to work with our communities in reaching the right decision so hearing the views already of so many people is extremely welcome.
Through this consultation we are opening up a wide range of the Council’s work for in-put from our communities. We are asking them to tell us about what matters to them.
Options presented show the challenge that councils face – the drastic reduction in funding expected means that we have no choice but to consider reducing or withdrawing services, as well as changing how we work.
The need to make savings is long term. Transforming how we work is an on-going process that we want to achieve with our communities. We are therefore also inviting people to be part of changing how the Council works by putting forward transformational ideas that would be acceptable to them.
We have identified a high number of savings options, more than we need to take. There are choices to be made. I would like to thank everyone who has taken time to respond, and would encourage anyone who has not yet replied, to please give us your views.”
The consultation asks people to indicate how much they agree or disagree with over 140 savings options, from a wide range of council services.
It also invites suggestions on how the Council could grow its income or transform its services.
Councillor Walsh explains:
“We have looked at different ways in which we can make changes to balance our budget – from innovation or raising income, to reducing or even stopping some of the work we do.
We are receiving a range of ideas from members of the public on different ways in which we could make the savings we need to make and transform our work, which is very welcome. “
Reducing print and postage costs, reducing travel costs through use of pool cars or on-line rather than face to face meetings, hiring out skills or facilities to the private sector – these are some examples of initial ideas put forward.
Ideas are being considered as the consultation progresses. Feedback on actions taken will be highlighted when findings from the consultation are reported in January 2016, in advance of the budget-setting meeting scheduled for February.
Over the next five years the Council’s funding is expected to be reduced significantly. Budget estimates show a funding gap of between £21.7 and £26 million, meaning a savings target of around £9 million in both 2016/17 and 2017/18 with further savings in future years.
Councillor Walsh said:
“We would like to do all that our communities want their Council to do for them, but drastically reduced funding means that this just is not possible. We will continue to be a major employer. We will continue to provide a wide range of services.
However this level of funding drop means that change must happen.
I would encourage as many people as possible to contribute to the consultation and to reaching the right decisions for Argyll and Bute.”
The on-line consultation, and an update for those who have requested additional information on savings options, is available on the Council’s website at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/planningourfuture. Printed copies of the consultation are available in libraries and council offices.
The Council will also be holding a webchat on Monday 14 December at 6pm for anyone with additional questions. The webchat will be available on www.argyll-bute.gov.uk. Further details on how to participate will be available on the website nearer the time.
If you would like to be part of it, but cannot join the conversation on 16th, you are welcome to submit a question to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 01546 604171.