THE next steps in Argyll and Bute Council’s service choices process will be workshops for all councillors, following the second meeting of the project board.
A budgetary outlook, which provided an update on the initial report tabled at the Policy and Resources Committee on 18 December, indicates that the current budget gap is estimated to be between £21.7M and £26.0M. The Board considered the Council’s budget of circa £240M and how that is broken down, including information about the Council services and their associated costs. Initial savings options proposals from each service were also received by the Board, the information of which will be presented to the workshop for all elected members on 5 June 2015.
The board – which includes eight members of the council’s administration and four from the opposition, alongside two trade union representatives – met on Monday 25th May. A programme of meetings over the coming months has been agreed, including a series of workshops for all local councillors in June and August.
Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “Like all Scottish local authorities we are faced with the challenge of investing in the future for our communities while achieving significant savings now. We must have a robust process in place so that the right choices can be made.
“It is important to take time to do this and to ensure that any choices made are informed and effective. The project board is providing a clear starting point for discussion, opportunities to fully explore issues and to collate possible options which all members can look at more closely in the workshop sessions.
“Continual budgetary monitoring is being carried out to ensure that the council balances its budget, makes the right level of savings and puts the resources it has to the very best use.
“The first session for all councillors takes place later in June with more workshops during August before detailed proposals go first to the Policy and Resources Committee in October. If they are approved they will then go to the full council later the same month.
“Throughout the whole process so far there have been regular updates for staff and, following the initial consultation at the beginning of 2015, we will be seeking more views from local people and communities on the proposals agreed by the full council.
“Inevitably these are challenging times which need careful consideration but everyone who has Argyll and Bute’s best interests at heart is focused on working together to find the best options for our communities and for the future of Argyll and Bute.”