COMMUNITY councils representing the major towns of Argyll and Bute could have their grants from the local council slashed – one of them by more than 40 per cent.

Helensburgh Community Council’s funding from Argyll and Bute Council will be cut from £1,790 to £1,034 if the recommendations contained in a new report are endorsed this week.

Oban Community Council’s grant is proposed to be reduced by £379, Dunoon by £249 and Campbeltown by £200. Lochgilphead Community Council is also recommended for a £27 reduction.

The reductions are part of the ‘preferred option’ in a report by the authority’s executive director of customer services Douglas Hendry, which will be considered by the policy and resources committee on Thursday, May 16.

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But Helensburgh Community Council convener Norman Muir has claimed that the group has never been consulted during the process since it was first mooted by the council in December.

Mr Hendry said: “Options were explored by officers which looked at alternative ways to disperse funds in accordance with the existing budget of £10,000.

“Being limited by budgetary constraints, only two options are feasible to progress, and in each case there would be a reduction to the level of direct financial support some community councils would receive.

“The most recent set of accounts on file for each of these community councils does indicate that their core costs could continue to be met from reduced funding but it would limit, particularly for Helensburgh Community Council, some of the community engagement work that could be undertaken.”

Mr Hendry added about the preferred option: “While it does still reduce the grant level for our main towns – Rothesay is excluded on the basis of its Island status – such a reduction could not be avoided when these five areas currently benefit from 43.2 per cent of the funding distributed.”

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Helensburgh Community Council’s existing grant consists of a £700 core grant and the remaining £1,090.90 coming from discretionary funding.

Mr Muir said: “It is instructive that unless one is an avid reader of Argyll and Bute Council meetings’ agendas, this item of information would not have surfaced without the eagle eye of the press.

“The matter arose from a December 2018 meeting in which three rural/island community councils made representations that there was an inequity in personal costs to those who volunteer as a community representative in more rural areas and that this should not be a barrier to volunteering.

“While one sympathises with the principle involved, without knowing the details, it is important to note that no Helensburgh community councillor receives any reimbursement for any travel expense on community business from our financial grant.

“As a matter of additional principle, it is up to Argyll and Bute Council to make certain that the representation to meetings they call should not involve financial loss to the individual.

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“The precedent of Argyll and Bute Councillors receiving travel allowances should be sufficient.

“At no time was Helensburgh consulted or even brought into the discussion of this proposal over the six-month period when the subject was first raised in December to the present day.

“Helensburgh stands to lose a considerable amount of grant, based on some arbitrary judgement, without any form of redress.

“Such cavalier treatment speaks volumes for the attitude of the council towards its community councils.”