Opposition councillors in Argyll and Bute will fight savings options that impact on the vulnerable, young and elderly, it has been pledged.

Helensburgh Central councillor Lorna Douglas said that the SNP group, which is led by Mid Argyll councillor Sandy Taylor, recognises the financial challenges faced.

The council revealed over £4million worth of savings options for the coming 2020/21 financial year on Friday, with a total of over £9million needing to be found by the end of the following year.

But Cllr Douglas said that some of the options would affect services which are most valued by communities, and that they would be rejected by the opposition.

READ MORE: Argyll and Bute faces £9 million budget savings target

The council agreed on Thursday to run a public consultation on spending priorities until early December.

Councillor Douglas said: “However much we would like to see the development of services delivered by Argyll and Bute Council, the SNP group recognise the continuing challenge of reducing resources.

“The range of services included in the savings options, developed by the officers and Tory/Lib Dem administration, include those which support the young and vulnerable and are most valued by our communities.

“The SNP group has and will continue to protect the vulnerable, young and elderly by rejecting those saving options that will impact on their wellbeing.”

Speaking about the need to find the savings on Friday, council leader Aileen Morton was blunt.

READ MORE: Argyll and Bute slammed over 'box ticking' budget consultation plan

She said: “There are no easy options left for making more savings.

“We’ve delivered £57 million in savings since 2010, we’ve had the third highest cut in funding of all of Scotland’s councils in recent years, and estimates show we will have to deliver another £9.2 million of savings next year.

“The scale of the savings potentially required means that all options open to councils to take must be explored and identified, including some of the most valued services – the services which, if things were different, we would like to protect and grow.

“The majority of the council’s funding comes from the Scottish Government. As we don’t expect to know until January next year exactly how much funding this council will get for next year, we have to identify as many savings options as possible just now so we can deliver a balanced budget in February.

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“We recently secured a rural growth deal of £50million for Argyll and Bute.

“While this is great news, this one-off funding cannot be used to bridge gaps in our budget; it must be used to deliver specific economic development objectives to be agreed with the UK and Scottish Governments.”

And Councillor Mulvaney added: “Delivering more savings will mean focusing on duties and growth: we must protect the services all councils have a duty to provide, and we must achieve the population and economic growth Argyll and Bute depends on to grow a successful future.

“A number of options open to the council to take are outlined in the reports. More must be found before the council meets to set its budget in February, and our officers will continue to explore where further savings could be found.

The views and ideas of our communities have helped us set our budget in previous years and are especially welcome when the decisions to be made are as difficult as those that will be needed to balance our budget in 2020.”

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