THIS weeks' Councillor Column is written by Conservative Cllr Barbara Morgan, chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee.

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RECENTLY we have passed Argyll and Bute Council’s budget, which has ensured a council tax freeze for householders for the forthcoming year.

The spending plans which were voted through at our annual budget meeting last month also include investing £6.8 million into a variety of projects predominately aimed at supporting the area’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

As many of you will know, the damage to our communities and our economy is not just being caused by the direct effects of Covid – the knock-on consequences, whether to people’s physical or mental health or to our economic wellbeing, are just as harmful.

READ MORE: Letters to the Advertiser: March 11, 2021

Argyll and Bute Council realises this, and we are trying to support young people and families as best we can. The health and financial implications of Covid on so many people have been vast, and could go on for years after the pandemic itself has passed into history, and it is incumbent on us as the local authority to do whatever we can to help as many people as possible.

On that theme, it was great news to learn that the UK Government is to make money directly available to councils for specific projects through the Levelling Up scheme unveiled last week.

Here in Scotland, the SNP government has not been providing the budgets required to councils for years, while wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on vanity projects like the £200 million wasted on ferries which are rusting away on builder’s blocks or at docksides.

That is money that could have gone back to taxpayers, through local authorities such as Argyll and Bute, to provide better social care, improved infrastructure, and the kind of technical connectivity that the economy of the 2020s really needs.

READ MORE: Councillor Column: 'Our decisions affect the safety of everyone'

Argyll and Bute has many capital projects which would benefit from investment, and now more than ever is the time when that investment is needed.

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WHILE most people have been helping each other and pulling together during the pandemic, sadly there has been a huge rise in scams – by email, text and phone.

These come in a range of forms, from text messages purporting to have been sent by HM Revenue and Customs, to callers claiming to be phoning from the NHS.

Many of my constituents have mentioned these, and they have also been reported in the local media, including the Advertiser.

They can sound very convincing and genuine, so it is important to be vigilant – and don’t hand out any personal or financial details if you can’t be sure who it is.

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