Where will Argyll Council Budget Cuts Hit Tiree?

The first headline indications from Thursday 11th February A&BC 2016/2017 budget meeting are noted below.

  • Tiree Service Point service to be provided through voluntary sector contract in line with Jura and Colonsay
  • Tiree High School will no longer be provided with a librarian
  • School clerical assistant ports will be cut by 5%
  • Scarinish Public convenience will remain open
  • Three weekly refuse bin collection will be introduced
  • reduced level of funding support for events and festivals
  • reduced level of funding for arts development
  • Manage cover for ASN assistants from within current devolved individual school budgets and deliver ASN efficiencies to match resources to greatest assessed need
  • Budgets reduced for pre-five education
  • Primary school supply teacher cover will be at a reduced level
  • Reduce devolved budgets to individual schools
  • Education psychologist budgets reduced by 7%
  • 5% reduction in Tiree High School clerical support budget.

Disappointingly, Tiree Community Council have received just one single response from Councillor Michael Breslin to our letter on the 18th January to all thirty five elected Members of Argyll & Bute Council. We can only but hope that the other thirty four elected Members are hard at work finding a way out of the damage that the Council’s `service choices’ will wreck on Tiree, and throughout Argyll. Tiree Community Council have written again to all A&B Councillors, in a final effort to provoke some change in current thinking. The full text is below.

Tiree Community Council
Dear Councillor,
Argyll & Bute Council, Service Choices Consultation.
Tiree Community Council has considered the content of the consultation paper, Service Choices and Planning Our Future, but has difficulty responding in any positive manner, given both the style and overall presumption within the consultation toward low level service and job cuts. The proposals outlined within the consultation documents also appear to be entirely Officer led and do not reflect any serious input from elected members.
Although as a Community Council we were not specifically invited to attend any of the Council appointed consultants `workshops’, Tiree Community Council’s preference is to encourage elected members of Argyll & Bute Council to urgently consider taking a more fundamental look at the way that A&BC conducts its business, with far greater emphasis and thought around strategic vision, and the longer term future of the Council area than these thoughtless, ill-judged, and punitive proposals suggest to us.
The Council must look at the way that it conducts its business and provides essential services to the population of Argyll & Bute in a much more thoughtful and innovative way. The suggestions and recommendations to Argyll & Bute Council, as contained within the Accounts Commission Best Value Audit 2015, give sound advice and are well worthy of members consideration, certainly in advance of any agreement to the ill-conceived `Service Choices’ scenario. Rather than proposals for piecemeal and highly damaging low level cuts, the Council should seriously consider ways in which it can move away from an existing, and highly expensive centralised service, to a far more devolved range of services, where the Council genuinely, and proactively engages with communities to establish where, and how, services can be more efficiently provided.
Argyll & Bute continues to experience significant population decline, along with a resultant decrease of economically active residents, a lack of entrepreneurs, and a growing propensity towards second home ownership and an increasingly ageing population. Despite investment by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government, in high speed broadband provision, and vastly improved ferry/air links to the island, none of the proposals contained within the `Service Choices’ consultation recognise or take any advantage of these infrastructure investments.
As such, Tiree Community Council is regrettably unable to engage with the online `Service Choices’ consultation. We do however remain committed to working with the Council wherever possible to explore any innovative ways in reducing future year’s budget expenditure.
Yours sincerely,
Dr J. Holliday, Convenor,
Tiree Community Council.
The Island Centre,
Isle of Tiree,
PA77 6UP

All respect and credit is due to our Highlands and Islands Members of The Scottish Parliament, (MSP’s), Jamie McGrigor, Michael Russell, Rhoda Grant, and Mike MacKenzie who unfailingly respond in a positive manner to all correspondence from Tiree Community Council. Our concerns on the A&BC budget cuts have also been swiftly answered. We have also received acknowledgements, with a promise of a more substantive response, from both the Depute and First Ministers. A&B Councillor Bruce Marshall has also responded to give support to Tiree Community Council.

Tiree Community Council Service Choices follow up 8th Feb 2016