Council budget decider

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Argyll and Bute Council meets today, Thursday February 24, to set its budget.

Council leader Councillor Robin Currie has already warned the budget will be stretched although a lot of work has been done to secure more funding for council services this year.

Estimates show budget gaps for Argyll and Bute’s council services of £2.2 million in 2022/23, and as much as another £30 million plus in the three years after that.

Councillor Currie said Argyll and Bute’s long- and short-term future needs to be planned for when the new budget is set.

‘The council’s role in people’s day-to-day lives is huge. From roads, schools and bins, to transport or economic regeneration to create local jobs – our budget has to stretch to support these and many other services.

‘We’ve done a lot of work with other councils through CoSLA to secure more funding for council services this year, and while we’ve had some success, choices will still have to be made about how we deliver most value for Argyll and Bute from the budget we have.’

CoSLA is a councillor-led, cross-party organisation championing councils’ vital work to secure the resources and powers they need

Oban North and Lorn Councillor Kieron Green said this has perhaps been one of the years where the council has not had so many challenging decisions come up, adding: ‘and that could be because of a lot of planning from previous budgets that have left us better off.

‘Due to planning in previous budgets we are in a better place financially. We have also received money due to Covid and that has alleviated some pressures, and the HSCP (Health and Social Care Partnership) has been repaying loans. These are feeding in and helping out a bit.

‘But all of that doesn’t take away the need for some hard choices still to be made, especially with inflation remaining above five per cent.

‘Just as people’s heating bills are going up, so are the council’s bills. We can’t sit back and do nothing now as that would only store up problems for the long term.’

Papers going before councillors today assume a council tax rise of three per cent.

Also included in the papers is a budget of £85,777 to be invested in harbours across Argyll and Bute over the next four years – this money will come from income from users of the area’s harbours and piers such as cruise ships – Oban’s North Pier, Craignure Pier and the council-run harbour at Luing are among those covered.