AN EXTRA £2.9 million is coming the way of Argyll and Bute Council as a result of a Scottish Parliament deal over the SNP government's budget plans.

The money is part of the deal which saw the Scottish Greens give their backing to finance secretary Derek Mackay’s budget plans in a Holyrood vote last week, the local authority will receive an additional £2.9 million in central funding in 2018-19.

The latest increase is on top of the additional £3m secured as a result of a Scottish Government ‘adjustment’ of its local government finance settlement for next year.

But it's still not clear exactly what impact the two fresh injections of funds will have on the delivery of local services in Helensburgh and Lomond.

Council leader and Helensburgh councillor Aileen Morton told the Advertiser: “When the local government settlement was first announced in December, Argyll and Bute looked set to be one of the lowest funded councils in Scotland.

“Our funding was cut by 4 per cent, compared to the Scottish average of 1.8 per cent. We obviously welcome the announcement of additional funding but will have to take time to consider what this announcement means for our budget decisions.

“With budget challenges expected to continue for councils in the years to come, setting a responsible budget in February will be about making decisions that best support our communities and our area in the longer term, as well as now.”

The council’s powerful policy and resources committee will meet next Thursday, February 15, to consider their budget options – though spending plans and council tax rates for 2018-19 won’t be set in stone until the full council meets on February 22.

Potential savings of £1.8m, including shutting public toilets, scrapping the authority’s debt counselling service and reducing the number of janitors in the area’s schools, were identified in a report to councillors in October – though that same report warned that the authority faced a budget gap in 2018-19 alone of up to £8.5m.

Reacting to the news of the Holyrood deal between the Greens and the SNP, Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland, said: “This budget deal is a big win for Argyll and Bute.

"For two years in a row the Greens have taken nearly three million pounds of proposed cuts to our local services off the table and on top of that, this year we have secured a better pay settlement for hard pressed public sector workers, greater action on fuel poverty and the opportunity to radically improve local public transport.

“Most importantly, this means proposed cuts in Argyll and Bute including closure of public toilets, higher parking charges and reduction in school janitors can be ditched.

"This shows the value of electing Green MSPs who are serious about winning progress for our communities rather than the unfortunate posturing and theatrics of other opposition parties.”