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‘Working together, we can make Argyll and Bute the very best it can be.’
That is the message to residents, businesses, communities and organisations throughout the area from the council’s new chief executive.
Pippa Milne has taken over from Cleland Sneddon, having moved up from being executive director for development and infrastructure services.
Having worked in local government for 28 years, Ms Milne is only too aware of the challenges ahead – but can’t wait to get started.
She said: ‘I’m passionate about Argyll and Bute and the potential that it offers. Leading this organisation is an exciting opportunity.
‘The best part of the job is that, as a team, we get to make a positive difference for people every day.
‘There are undoubtedly challenges, not least delivering services with fewer and fewer resources but there are also great opportunities like delivering our Rural Growth Deal.
‘I’m looking forward to working with all our partners in the area to make the most of those opportunities.
‘I would like to see Argyll and Bute thriving and growing with a buoyant economy; opportunities for work and study that make it an attractive place for young people; housing suitable for those who want and need it; and services which meet the needs of our communities.
‘Things that will help us get there are the delivery of our Rural Growth Deal over the next 10 years and capturing the benefits of the Maritime Change programme at HMNB Clyde for the local area.
‘[They also include] securing much-needed investment through the national review of transport infrastructure projects, closing the attainment gap, and modernising health and social care services for the next decade and beyond.’
Ms Milne first joined Argyll and Bute Council in 2013, having fallen in love with the area as a visitor. She has worked for a number of different councils in England and Scotland, and now lives with her husband at Crinan.
The challenge of helping the area reach its full potential is one she is ready to take on – but it is not something that can be undertaken alone.
Ms Milne continued: ‘Delivering for Argyll and Bute means working in partnership. Since moving here I’ve found that pulling together is something we do really well across communities.
‘Working co-operatively with other public sector organisations like the health and social care partnership, police, fire, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, private sector businesses, voluntary and community organisations and communities themselves is critical to our success.
‘Our community planning partnership brings all those bodies together and a range of teams who all believe we can make a difference.
‘Our population is both ageing and declining. This threatens our economic success, makes it difficult to fill jobs and leads to increases in the cost of public services.
‘We need to make the area attractive for young people to ensure the long-term sustainability of our area.
‘Solving this issue is complex and is getting harder as the resources we have available to tackle it reduce.’
One of Ms Milne’s first tasks is to oversee the council’s 2020/21 budget-setting process, which has already faced obstacles.
Recent events at UK level have left that process shrouded in uncertainty – but the chief executive knows choosing savings will prove difficult in any event.
She said: ‘At the moment we don’t yet know when we will find out how much money the council will be allocated.
‘We have been preparing for the budget using assumptions and the council’s policy and resources committee considered the budget outlook and savings proposals in December.
‘Many of these are proposals we would rather not have to put forward, and they will present difficult choices for those involved in agreeing the budget.’
Ms Milne added: ‘Argyll and Bute is a great place to live, work and invest. It offers great potential and a wide range of opportunities for the future.’