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Council budget passed

Cuts to school crossing patrollers and council customers service staff have been rejected as the council administration narrowly pass its budget for 2023.

By Megan Bonar
Council budget passed

Cuts to school crossing patrollers and council customers service staff have been rejected as the Argyll and Bute Council administration group narrowly passed its budget for 2023/24 this afternoon.

In a budget put forward by Council Leader Robin Currie on behalf of the TALIG group, a five per cent council tax rise will go ahead, as will a controversial cut to the post of cultural coordinator.

However, a handful of other savings proposals have been rejected.  This means the jobs of school crossing patrollers and some council customers service staff have been saved.

Delivering the budget proposal, Councillor Robin Currie said: “Today is the first budget in the life of this new council in its new five-year term. However, the context we are working in is all too familiar.

“It has featured in many budget meetings over the past decade and even further back. It is a story that has been told again and again as councils find themselves having to consider even more difficult decisions.

“They have to defend, again, even more challenging savings proposals. They have to find, again, places to save money where these have become fewer and fewer over the years when services have already been cut to the bone.

“We are doing all we can to ensure Argyll and Bute is defined as a success story, a story of triumph in the face of adversity, and of delivering in extremely challenging financial circumstances.”

The budget also sees ferry fares on council operated crossings such as Mull frozen until the end of March next year, as well as no increase to the price of school meals.

The newly formed Strategic Opposition Group, made up of SNP, Green and a handful of independent and other councillors put forward an alternative budget which also rejected the cuts to school crossing patrollers, customer service staff and toddler groups.

However, this budget also rejected the axing of the cultural coordinator role, which was described by the group as ‘a key difference’.

The opposition budget also called for the introduction of an environmental warden for Mid Argyll and the Islands as well as £465,000 in cost of living support.

Speaking on behalf of the group, amendment seconder Councillor Dougie Philand said: “We believe people are at the centre of this budget amendment.”

Both budgets were deemed as financially component.

The administration budget was passed with 18 votes, to the opposition’s 17.

A more in-depth looks at both budgets, as well as reaction in next week’s Dunoon Observer and Isle of Bute News.

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