Climate change, the economy, and housing are all on the list of priorities Argyll and Bute Council will focus on delivering over the next five years.
At a full meeting of Council today, councillors agreed a range of priorities intended to support communities and deliver success for the area as a whole.
Leader of the council, Councillor Robin Currie explained:
“We have set out strategic priorities which focus on people and places. These priorities are about getting the most from the resources we have, and delivering success for Argyll and Bute.
To develop them, we considered the diverse needs of our remote, rural and island communities. We listened to what matters to our communities. And we assessed Argyll and Bute’s unique challenges and opportunities.
Progressing these priorities will help ensure we are investing in the future, and are making our assets work for us right now and in the right ways.”
“The council alone cannot deliver the progress we all want to see for Argyll and Bute. Working together – council, partner agencies, communities and anyone who influences life here – will be key, so our priorities recognise the importance of partnership action for the area’s future success.”
The priorities will be developed in line with Argyll and Bute’s Outcome Improvement Plan – the plan shared by the area’s community planning partners that include health, police, fire, council and other services.
The council’s Chief Executive will develop an operational plan for how the council will deliver the priorities.
Priorities for Argyll and Bute Council 2022 to 2027
We have a vision for a successful, vibrant Argyll and Bute with a growing population and a thriving economy. A place where people want to come to live, to work and to do business as a result of action to combat and reverse decline. We see the potential for thriving local economies that support our rich mix of remote, rural and island communities. Communities which also benefit from services that work - where we make the best use of all of our resources so that our core business as a council is as effective as possible.
We want Argyll and Bute’s communities to be on a level playing field with others around the country - that is why we will campaign for equity for our communities on issues like fair funding, coping with challenges like the cost of living, and securing digital access and physical access to other opportunities. We will do our utmost to ensure that local voices and needs are taken into account in national decision-making.
We recognise that the cost of living crisis will affect countless households in Argyll and Bute. We want to play a part in responding to that and mitigating the impact on our communities’ overall wellbeing and future success.
We see our council and our communities working together in playing our part and making our contributions to wider priorities like climate change, economic growth, strong local governance and more - using our strong track record in partnership working, at all levels, to secure the best possible outcomes.
Our Priorities for the Council Term 2022 to 2027 are shaped around delivering this vision for Argyll and Bute, our people, our success and our future.
PRIORITIES TO SUPPORT DELIVERY OF OUR VISION
People and Places - our core business as a council
Attaining and achieving at all stages:
We will improve outcomes for our children and young people by:
- Improving educational attainment, achievement and outcomes for young people within Argyll and Bute to Scotland’s upper-quartile.
- Educational Attainment and Wider Achievement – Developing the use of all the available data and intelligence on each of our educational establishments to focus on and drive improvement, achieving our stretch aims (goals to improve opportunities and outcomes for young people) as agreed with the Scottish Government.
- Developing a broader curriculum offer to augment current opportunities with a range of wider achievement awards and accreditations.This will have a positive impact on leaver destinations through inclusive, skills - based programmes in each secondary school.
- Continuing to promote the teaching and use of Gaelic as set out in the council’s emerging Gaelic Plan for 2023.
Learning Estate - now and in the future:
We will ensure our schools are effective, sustainable learning environments by:
- Progressing a bid to the Scottish Government to establish a new campus on Mull.
- Develop the next generation of capital investment plan and priorities for our school estate.
Supporting children and young people with additional needs
Continuing to support all of our children and young people with additional support needs across Argyll and Bute, within our schools and other service areas by:-
- Reducing the number of children and young people who have to travel outwith the area to access services by enhancing provision where gaps currently exist.
- Working to improve and secure equity of specialist provision across Argyll and Bute by addressing gaps where they exist across the education estate.
- Maintaining the current staffing complement who support this work, in line with our nurture stretch aim agreed with Scottish Government.
ROADS, AMENITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Roads and pathways
Connections to, from and within Argyll and Bute will be supported by:
- Reviewing our approach to road repair prioritisation to make the most effective use of resources in the context of budget pressures and to achieve the best possible balance in terms of strategic, operational and member input.
- Creating a plan, by 2025, for further active travel routes across Argyll and Bute and completing the Helensburgh-Dumbarton cycle path by 2027.
- Initiating plans for a 20mph speed limit by working in partnership, and in line with national legislation, on the rollout and delivery of a 20mph limit where that will work best for our communities.
- Completing a review of parking and traffic management/enforcement to reshape arrangements that reflect community needs and ambitions.
Piers and Harbours:
In recognition of the importance of marine connections to and from our island and mainland communities, our role in maintaining these links will include:
- Upgrading the council’s harbour infrastructure to ensure it is capable of receiving existing and planned new ferries (including at Craignure, Fionnphort/Ruahaich, Port Askaig, Dunoon,Kilcreggan and Campbeltown).
- Creating a new municipal harbour authority in Oban, ensuring that proposals are submitted to Scottish ministers as soon as possible following consideration by the Harbour Board in December 2022, and putting preparations in place to commence operations upon approval by ministers.
- Seeking funding for the procurement of new council-operated vessels including Islay/Jura, Luing and Easdale.
- Finalising the demand, economic impact and business case assessment for the Helensburgh Pier strategy in 2023.
Waste and recycling services:
Reduce our carbon emissions by:
Delivering a solution that enables the council to divert its biodegradable waste from landfill, within 2026, while seeking a short term derogation to allow the PPP contract to expire.
- Encouraging households to increase use of recycling services to reach at least the Scottish average (with service exploring options to stretch targets where possible).
Argyll and Bute has a good track record in delivering affordable homes but to support our drive to grow the population, we need to do more. We will seek to increase availability of all types of housing, including affordable homes, by:
- Supporting the provision of over 1,000 affordable homes by 2027 (247 in 2022/23 plus at least 750 additional homes over the life of the Strategic Housing Investment Plan).
- Exploring additional options to increase the availability of all tenures of housing - mid market rents, shared equity, affordable by design and other developments - in the area.
- Considering the implementation of short term lets control zones to open up more housing availability.
- Continuing to support households to improve energy efficiency and tackle rising living costs through annual investment through and implementation of the Home Energy Efficiency Programme in Argyll and Bute.
- Developing the opportunity for the council to become a Rural Housing Body - where it would be more directly involved in the delivery of housing or land for housing.
We will build up and strengthen our communities as attractive, vibrant places to live, work and do business by:
- Creating area-based plans for all our communities, reflecting investment opportunities and local service prioritisation.
- Seeking ways of securing more community wealth building opportunities across Argyll and Bute and supporting communities to gain maximum benefit from developments in their area.
- Seeking to maximise scope for community involvement and participation, including exploring the role that community transfers can play.
Potential and Growth - turning opportunities into reality
We believe Argyll and Bute has tremendous potential and many opportunities. To turn those into reality, we need to make assets work now while we plan for and invest in the future. We will do this by:
Economic Development - investing in the future:
- Achieving sign-off of the Rural Growth Deal business and cases and begin delivering priority projects like The Marine Industry Training Centre, UAV Drone Hub and Seaweed Academy.
- Securing of Levelling Up funding for projects, including Argyll and Bute Western Seaboard Marine Gateways Initiative, targeting the Royal Hotel in Rothesay and Dunoon’s historic pier; and Connected Argyll and Bute – Whisky Islands; and Lorn Economic Growth Zone which targets a package of transport infrastructure improvements.
- Complete site development of Helensburgh Waterfront project securing long-term economic benefit and provision of a public skateboard facility
- Delivering the £15m Campbeltown Flood Prevention Scheme.
- Completing the Ardrishaig Public Realm Project.
- Driving forward additional strategic economic development projects including progression of the Dunbeg housing, commercial and infrastructure projects and the North Lorn Economic Growth Zone through the Lorn Arc TIF scheme.
- Delivering and completing more Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) Projects - in Dunoon, Lochgilphead, Tarbert and Helensburgh.
- Maximising community economic and employment opportunities from the Islay Scotwind offshore wind project.
- Preparing an options appraisal for implementation of a transient visitor levy.
Commercial Services - making assets work now:
- Increasing commercial development of business and retail space, including the Kilmory Industrial Park, and identifying other opportunities wherever possible.
- Exploring additional commercial opportunities at Oban Airport.
- Delivering the Modern Workspace Project, rationalising the council estate and facilitating hybrid working solutions.
- Leading the development and creation of Craigendoran Business Park as a business, engineering and innovation hub.
- Exploring opportunities for sharing services where possible - both to help grow our income through providing our expertise, and enhancing service delivery in communities where we need to source options from elsewhere.
- Driving down further our own carbon emissions, achieving net zero by 2045 and exceeding our target of a 75% reduction by 2030, building on our good track record in relation to combatting climate change, through the delivery of our Decarbonisation Plan
- Securing Carbon Literate Organisation status by the end of 2023, including completion of the rollout of carbon literacy training to all councillors.
Partnership and Action - everyone has a part to play in Argyll and Bute’s success
In our Priorities for the Council Term 2022 to 2027, we have set out our areas for action to deliver our vision for Argyll and Bute. There are elements of that vision which require action from other agencies at all levels - from our communities right up to national government. We will commit to working in partnership wherever we need to as well as calling on others, with responsibility, to take the action that is required to safeguard Argyll and Bute’s success. This will include:
- Continuing to build up our strong track record in partnership working and seeking new ways of working with communities, other organisations, and the third and private sectors.
- Continuing to work in partnership with further education and higher education providers in Argyll and Bute to ensure young people have access to high quality innovative educational opportunities that support local employers and the Argyll economy.
- Lobbying for support for the higher-than-average energy costs faced by Argyll and Bute communities.
- Pressing the case for retaining delivery of care services locally, where community knowledge, relationships and experience are best placed to identify and meet local needs and local accountability.
- Calling for funding support to tackle challenges in local social care delivery - including recruitment, retention and development of care staff in communities - rather than centralisation of services.
- Continuing to call for planning, construction and opening of the replacement route at the Rest and Be Thankful within the life of the this Scottish Parliament
- Working in partnership with the Rothesay Pavilion Charity Trust to lobby for funding to complete the refurbishment of the Pavilion.
- Seeking additional funding support to address the unprecedented severe weather damage to the sea defences supporting Bute’s main island roadway at Ardbeg.
- Working with the Community Planning Partnership to develop a Climate Change Strategy for the region as a whole.
- Adding our voice to those of our local government colleagues across Scotland to call on national government for fair funding settlements which enable councils to deliver the services that matter to communities, and reinforcing the need for recognition of the vital contribution that local government makes to national priorities and Scotland’s overall success.