SEVERE cuts to vital public services in Argyll and Bute are looming, according to the local council’s leader.

Helensburgh councillor Aileen Morton has slammed the Scottish Government for slashing Argyll and Bute’s funding by more than the Scotland-wide average.

Councillor Morton says the local government finance settlement unveiled in the Scottish Government’s budget last week will force Argyll and Bute to make millions of pounds in savings to vital services.

Details of Argyll and Bute’s spending plans for the coming year will be published on the council’s website by the end of this week.

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Among the potential savings options identified are the complete removal of all school crossing patrollers, increasing burial charges by 20 per cent and cremation fees by 15 per cent, the closure of up to 25 public conveniences, and the removal of pupil support assistant hours within primary schools.

The government’s draft budget, unveiled at Holyrood by deputy finance secretary Kate Forbes on February 6, includes £11.3 billion for local councils – some of which is ring-fenced for particular policy initiatives.

But Cllr Morton says that Argyll and Bute’s capital budget – for investment in roads, schools and other assets – will be cut by 21 per cent, compared to the Scottish average of 17 per cent, while the area’s revenue budget, for the running of day-to-day services, will be cut by 1.4 per cent, compared to the Scottish average of one per cent.

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Cllr Morton said: “Argyll and Bute deserves as much support and investment as other council areas. This level of cut will mean more impact on our day-to-day services.

“It also puts obstacles in place to growing the local economy at a time when Argyll and Bute needs to attract people and jobs to the area.

“Argyll and Bute covers the second largest area, and has the highest number of inhabited islands, of all Scotland’s councils.

“This means that services can be more expensive to deliver.

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“It also means that the council must invest in services many other councils do not, such as air and ferry services, and yet the council’s budget cut is higher than the Scottish average.

“This is unwelcome to say the least.”

Ms Forbes unveiled the Scottish Government’s spending plans in the Scottish Parliament last Thursday following the resignation of finance secretary Derek Mackay over social media messages to a 16-year-old boy.

Reports outlining Argyll and Bute’s budget outlook will be published on the authority’s website – – by the end of this week, ahead of consideration by the council’s policy and resources committee on Thursday, February 20.

The full council will then meet on Thursday, February 27 to set its budget for the next 12 months.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite a real terms reduction of £840 million to Scotland’s discretionary resource budget allocation since 2010-11, we have ensured our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement that supports vital public services.

“Local authorities will receive total funding from the Scottish Government of £11.3bn in 2020-21.

“In 2020-21, Argyll and Bute Council will receive £216.9m to fund local services.

“Taken together with the potential to increase council tax by 3 per cent in real terms, Argyll and Bute Council will have an extra £10.1m to support vital day to day services in 2020-21, which equates to an additional 5.1 per cent on 2019-20.”

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