New Council Leader on the budget

Talking directly on the strategy for the budget the council administration put to the full council at yesterday’s meeting, new Council Leader, James Robb explains that this is less about taking the maximum pain upfront this year but about working to effect a smoothing process.

This does involve, as he has publicly said, making additional savings this year in order to make more manageable the higher savings requirements of future years.

The financial plan put forward covers the full term of this Council and will leave a balanced budget position for the first three years of the next Council.

Council Leader Robb says: ‘The choice yesterday was simple:

  • a budget months in development, subject to weeks of scrutiny and consultation and based on an independent financial model which has been public since October
  • or a last minute alternative budget based on a still secret financial model developed by a politician.

‘Not a difficult choice for those who have the long term interests of Argyll & Bute at heart.’

As we have already said, the decision to supply the full budget detail to all councillors three weeks in advance of the budget meeting was novel in the experience of Argyll and Bute.

This action offered the opposition a choice of constructive engagement in bringing about an agreed  budget in the best interests of Argyll and Bute -  or a continuation of the habits of lifetimes of the political Punch and Judy show.

Yesterday former council leader, Councillor Dick Walsh,  offered, simultaneously, a bit of both – but the mismarriage neutered potential interest in some of his proposals; and his traditional practice of last minute revelations meant that fellow councilors had no detail to test their validity. This is a pity.

The administration’s early release of its formal budget proposals established respect for democracy, collective engagement and for good practice in the management of council business; and it was politically courageous.

Those are qualities needed in Argyll and Bute; and their presence is a hopeful augury.

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18 Responses to New Council Leader on the budget

  1. How many of the 700 or so people to be made redundant will be voting for snp at next election . Between ferries struan lodge and now the budget from hell, I for one hope they are finished in Dunoon and argyll. I would also like to thank Alex salmond for making my mind up on his yes no question.

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  2. Oh dear Alan so it’s all Alex Salmond’s fault.

    What a rigourous analytical mind that you have. Open to intelligent debate I am so sorry that you have made your mind up for the next election.

    Smarter sharper Scotland obviously starts with you and hopefully you will be voting Yes because after a Yes vote, you can then vote for anyone you choose, even if you made your mind up years before.

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  3. Willie, you are so critical but never stop and think to try understand why people make their comments.

    Contrary to what most SNP people seem to think on here, the average person I know has little involvement with politics in the periods between various elections. They judge the local parties along with the National ones – so decisions made at a local level are often used to judge the national party. That’s completely logical, after all most people will feel changes made by a local administration rather than Holyrood.

    But to take it the step further – despite you and other SNP/Yes folks repeatedly trying to dodge responsibility, the SNP are associated with Independence, and what would happen in the years after. Most people I know expected that the SNP would therefore take responsibility for the questions and uncertainties that obvisouyl arise, rather than avoiding setting out a future beyond 2015, as if expecting not to be in power.

    So scoff, mock or whatever, but the SNP would be wise to accept the people view the SNP at local level as the same SNP at a National level – and quite rightly! THey view Alex Salmond’s vision for National politics as being just as relevant to local politics, a connection and comparison that the SNP don’t really like being made.

    As I will continue to point out – if the SNP want to convince people of the benefits of Independence, I expect this time to be a taste of what’s to come…and if it is…well….good luck with that.

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  4. Hi. Willie, I’m on a bit of a rant , tough times for us council workers, we are in the front line when the public has a go at the state of the roads ,cemetery’s,grass cutting and flower beds. A large amount of the council workers wages are spent locally,this has a effect on everyone. A freeze on council tax and free prescriptions could have been reviewed and jobs could have been saved, I would be happy to pay as little a a pound for prescriptions to see school kids getting milk back on the menu, remember maggy thatcher milk snatcher we going back that way ,even copying the Tory budget model .

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  5. Alan, tough times for everyone and not just council workers.

    The UK economy is in a mess. Quite possibly when the figures come out it may be that the UK will have sustained a tripple dip recession.

    The UK’s debt mountain continues to balloon and over the last two years alone has increased hundreds of billions puting the debt well past a trillion pounds.

    Benefits are being cut, wages for ordinary folks are stagnant and or falling, and inflation marches onwards as the Westminster government slashes the Scottish government’s budget.

    Against this background I really don’t know how you can blame Alex Salmond for the budget in Argyll. The Scottish Government is trying to balance the books in the best way it can, and that is why the SNP swept the board taking a majority of seats at the last election.

    So yes, I am sorry for your unhappiness about it being tough for council workers like yourself, but I don’t believe that you can blame it on Alex Salmond.

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  6. Well Willie what you most certainly can blame on Salmond and the SNP nationally is the fact that they decided to pass on the UK cuts direct to local councils here in Scotland. They could have and should have used some of their discretionary budge to alleviaite the worst effects of those cuts but decide not to – preferring instead to proceeed with vanity projects like the new Forth crossing.

    And you can blame the SNP in Argyll for is deciding to close an folks home in Dunoon condeming the resident to be uprooted from their home at their time of life because ‘they cost too much’. No recommendation to do so from officials this time. No this is just the SNP deciding to remove old people from their home and close it. Locally the SNP also arranged a cynically stage managed performace that allowed the two Dunoon snp mmbers to abstain from the vote.

    Add to this the bath tubs they imposed on the people of Dunoon by the SNP, The SNP’s their abject failure to deal with the completely uncessary expense of under-utilised and expensive schools, (with yet another fall in school age population) and their ‘solution’ to the state of the Rest and perhaps you might just begin to see why some are not seduced by the SNP.

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  7. Ah Jamie, I can understand how you conclude that the average voter conflate their perception of local government in Argyll and Bute, and possibly beyond in other authorities, with governance in the Scottish Parliament.

    Maybe you are correct but I very much suspect not and I do think your conclusion is dismissive of the average voter. Voters are quite savvy lot in my opinion, and they have freedom of choice which they exercise quite well as election results show.

    I would certainly not equate local politics with National politics, but maybe I am not like your average voter who you suggest does.

    I like many many others across the polical spectrum will be voting Yes. And with Labour For Independence growing daily, Trade Unions for Independence, Business for Independence, and many other groups, I really think that there is support right across the spectum for a Yes vote.

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  8. Simon, unless I am mistaken the cut in he Scottish Government’s fnding arises because of cuts being made by Westminster.

    With the UK economy in tatters, and the UK is certainly no Germany or Norway, can you not see how funding cuts and macro economic policy by the supra national Westminster has a huge impact on Scotland.

    The lack of control and decision making together with getting a government nobody voted for is one reason why folks want independence. The fact that others believe, and I believe this, that Scotland could be wealthier and more socially equal is another.

    I would not force anyone to accept my view and I would certainly not blame, as you have, Alex Salmond for Westminster’s cuts.

    Quite how we got onto Alex Salmond as the villain of the piece all started with Alan’s rant about times being tough for council workers like him in Argyll and Bute and how he blamed the SNP and one Alex Salmond.

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  9. Willie. Why a 7 year budget do the snp think they will still be in power then? It might not be very important to some but things like school milk especially for young growing girls is important. Classroom assistants are loosing jobs, education will suffer , scotland is still the sick man of Europe . Old people who have contributed tax and insurance through work and expect to be cared for are now to be dumped. Do you agree with this? Do you think we should have a freeze on council tax when the council can’t provide a service to OUR community . I hope mr Breslin will consider his position and give the people a chance to tell the snp how they feel in Dunoon. Ps I’m no politician as you can tell but I’m a hard working council employee who feels very undervalued along with most of my workmates.

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  10. Willie, stop pontificating, theorising and evading – here’s a suggestion – why not respond to the points that people actually make instead of answering questions nobody asked???

    Why did the SNP govt not use their discretionary powers to allameliorate the imapct of UK Govt on Scottish councils?
    Why did the SNP in Argyll decide to close an Old Folks Home and force old people (one over 100!) to leave their homes? (despite figures revealing a rise in the number of older people)
    Why did the SNP natioanlly impose inefficient bath tub boats on the people of Dunoon? With a ‘contract’ that is not does not count ‘non-sailings’ because of weather????
    Why are the SNP in Argyll not tackling the problem of under-occupied and expensive schools? Despite there being a further fall in the number of school aged children???
    Why have the SNP natioanlly opted for the cheapest and least attractive ‘solution’ to the problem of the Rest?
    Why are the SNP natioanlly sanctioning “35% cut in the number of beds at Campbeltown hospital”?

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  11. I find it incredibly amusing that the SNP opponents seem to just accept that the SNP will be the governing party post Independence. Adam Tomkins, Professor of Public Law at Glasgow University claimed in a articl this week in the Scotsman that it was more than likely that a coalition of Labour, Tory, and Liberal Democrats would form the first government of an independent Scotland.

    Given all this power would those not well disposed to the SNP care to speculate what such a government will do, or is the case that they are actually so concerned that such a government got into power that this is the reason for their fear of Idependence and not the SNP ?

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    • You won’t have to worry about the Snp being the governing party “post independence”.

      This will not happen because the Yes campaign would have to win the referendum.

      Claims in the “Hootsman” by anyone will not make a blind bit of difference so why speculate on nothing?

      “fear of Independence and not the Snp? sorry…fear none of them!

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  12. Forgot to say to willie I voted for snp along with most of my family ,last time round I’m not anti snp but feel sold down the river. Why do we need to save so much and this is a open question, it says on net that we only council going down 7 year. Inverclyde 1.5 per year. What has gone wrong? Not sure if this true but thought we had fighting fund in bank in argyll

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    • Your right we are the only council going down this route(tubes)with 7 year budget.
      What has gone wrong? You hit the nail on the head yourself, you and the rest of the people have been sold down the river by this incompetent council.
      I do believe you are right about a fighting(reserve) fund,but going by the Snp decisions so far would you trust them to spend it?

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