Another consultation exercise has been launched as Argyll and Bute Council gears up for its latest round of cutbacks.
The council says its ‘budget gap’ for next year is still not known, but will be at least £0.9m and could be as much as £8.5m.
Dozens of jobs are at risk, with potential cuts including:
- Closure of 36 out of the 57 public toilets across the council area, with businesses being encouraged to make their toilets available to the public
- Higher parking charges, and new fees in places currently not charging
- Reduction in the road safety materials budget and ‘removal’ of the road safety unit
- School janitors being ‘reviewed’ with the equivalent of 4.5 full time jobs being cut
- Stopping the display planning applications in post offices – the council says they can be viewed online
Now people across the area are being asked for their views on the future of services in advance of further cuts to the grant received by the council predicted over the next three years.
Council leader Aileen Morton said: “We work year round to meet the needs of our communities and local businesses to build the economic growth that will bring the people and jobs on which the future of our area depends.
“Achieving this has become increasingly difficult given cuts to our funding over the past years.
“The scale of savings we expect to have to continue making in the years to come will mean more difficult choices and significant change in how we work with and for our communities.”
Around 80% of councils’ funding is provided by the Scottish Government.
Over the next three years, the council’s budget gap is expected to be between £11.1m and £33.9m.
Cllr Morton added: “At the moment, we don’t know exactly what we are dealing with – our funding for 2018-19 is expected to be confirmed by the Scottish Government in December 2017 and we need to agree a budget by mid-February.
“We do know though that change will have to happen. It is with the help of local people that we have already made choices that are transforming the work of the council.
“With millions of pounds more savings to make, we would like to involve people again in making the best use of the resources we have and I would encourage local people to get involved and make their views known.”
The consultation gives examples of how responses to previous exercises have already helped change the work of the council, and includes questions on service priorities and potential savings options.
It also poses questions more widely about the council and local people working together to benefit communities and Argyll and Bute as a whole.
It is available on-line at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/planningourfuture2017 and runs until January 2.
Printed copies are also available in council customer service points.