INDEPENDENT Councillor for Lomond North George Freeman discusses local authority funding and outlines a few ways in which it could be boosted... here's this week's councillor column.


AS most readers will be aware, Argyll and Bute Council continues to be forced into cutting services due to the ongoing cuts in Scottish Government funding for the country’s 32 local authorities.

The latest estimate is that Argyll and Bute Council has had £50 million cut from its funding over the past 10 years.

It is impossible for the council to maintain a reasonable level of services when the Scottish Government continues to remove funding from the council.

Because of these ongoing cuts, I believe that it is essential that the council gets the best value for the funding that it spends on our local services.

READ MORE: Opinion: It's good to talk for the benefit of Helensburgh

As I have said before, the council needs to focus on getting the basic services right. If the council gets the basics right such as bin collections, grass cutting, litter collection, street sweeping, weed spraying and so on, the perception among the public will be that the council is doing a wonderful job.

Get these wrong, however, and the public believes that, if the council cannot even get the basics right, it is probably getting very little right at all.

To take just two examples from Lomond North, I look at the streets around my ward, where the weeds are sprouting from the pavements and do not appear to have seen a drop of weed killer in years. I look at the litter lying at the sides of our roads, such as the A817 Haul Road, and wonder when, if ever, this is going to be removed.

Although the Scottish Government continues to cut funding from Argyll and Bute Council, and other local authorities across Scotland, it appears to have plenty of money when we see the millions of pounds being ploughed into shipyards for ferries that are now years behind schedule, and into airports that very few people want to use.

READ MORE: The latest on Helensburgh's waterfront delays

The government argues that the millions of pounds going into the last shipyard on the Clyde will save 300 jobs. But at the same time they ignore the thousands of jobs that are being lost in our councils across the country due to the cuts in funding from the Scottish Government.

I recently argued that the council’s small twinning budget should be scrapped, as it only allows a few people, who are not short of a bob or two, to have their twinning trips abroad subsidised by the council tax payer.

Unfortunately, the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee thought that this was a good use of the council’s limited funds. I believe that Argyll and Bute Council needs to start getting its priorities right for a change.