This week's Councillor Column is written by George Freeman, independent councillor for Lomond North.

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Concerns continue to be raised with me by constituents, both directly and at community council meetings, about the standard of the basic services provided by Argyll and Bute Council.

Whereas the council appears to be happy to plough massive funds into major high profile projects and initiatives, such as CHORD, the basic services such as litter collection, grass cutting, road maintenance, refuse collection and other basic services continue to deteriorate.

I would ask the question, is the CHORD project value for money when the council tax payer will have to continue to pay this £50 million bill over the next 25 years?

Elsewhere, although £500,000 was allocated by the council to a Rural Resettlement Fund aiming to attract new residents to Argyll and Bute, after a year, only £11,000 in grants had been allocated.

At that rate, it is going to take more than 45 years before the full benefit of this fund is realised.

This would not appear to be good use of council tax payers’ money.

I believe that it is now time the council prioritised trying to get the basic services right.

* Meanwhile, I reported in this column two months ago that I had been told I could no longer raise constituents’ problems directly with the council officers who are responsible for delivering services, and that I must now go through other intermediate officers.

I highlighted in my July column that, although I had queried this decision at the start of May, I was still awaiting a detailed reply relating to this change in the council’s policy.

As I mentioned two months ago, this step would introduce additional delays in addressing constituents’ problems - a move which I believe is totally unacceptable.

Another two months have now passed, and the officer who is trying to obtain answers for me from the departments concerned has still not received replies - more than four months after I first raised this issue.

If this decision stands, members of the public and community councils will be able to raise problems such as dog fouling etc direct with enforcement officers, whereas councillors cannot.

It certainly appears to me that the public and councillors are no longer a priority for the council.