People in Argyll and Bute will have the opportunity to give councillors their views on a range of saving options after the council yesterday (Thursday 22nd October) agreed to begin a public consultation.
Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Dick Walsh, explained: ‘’This is a time for everyone to work together. We as councillors need to hear the views of people right across Argyll and Bute so that we can all work together to ensure that people continue to receive the best public services that the council is capable of delivering. No decisions have been made yet; we will use the consultation responses to help us make decisions in February.
‘’We currently spend around £250million a year on delivering a whole range of services, from educating our children to emptying the bins, but this budget is set to reduce significantly in the coming years as our funding from the Scottish Government falls. We would like to do everything that our communities want but our reduced funding means that is just not possible.
‘’We will have to make some very difficult decisions at our budget meeting in February which is why we are asking our communities, our staff and their representatives, other agencies and political colleagues at all levels to work with us, giving us their thoughts and helping us make the best choices we can. This is a time for everyone who shares an interest in our area to stand up for it.
‘’There are more options for consideration than we need to take. This is about giving people a real choice. It is really important that we get the views of the community.
‘’The consultation will begin online on Friday 30th October, with printed versions being available in libraries and customer service points week beginning Monday 10th November, with further details being published in the local press.
‘’We could face a funding gap of up to £26million over the next five years. Despite that we will still deliver a huge range of services, continue to meet our various statutory obligations and be a major employer.’’
To ensure the council engages with as wide a range of people as possible the public consultation will take the form of:
· An online questionnaire
· Hard copies in libraries and customer service points
· A Citizens’ Panel survey
· Specific engagement with young people through the council’s youth services team
· Working with partners in the third sector to engage with hard to reach people
· Focus group sessions across the area
The consultation will run to the end of December.