It was pantomime season in the Scottish Parliament last week and the SNP’s finance minister, Derek Mackay, played the role of Scrooge by delivering news of even more cuts to local councils.

The SNP will blame Westminster, and I have some sympathy with that, but the rhetoric hides another reality. The Tories have cut the Scottish Government’s budget by 1.5 per cent over the past three years, but over the same period, the SNP’s cuts to local government funding amount to 4.6 per cent.

Argyll and Bute Council has published a list of £2 million of cuts to local services and jobs over the next year. This includes plans for fewer janitors in local schools, closing public toilets, increasing parking charges and hiking up fees for council services.

The council is also planning to cut up to £1.45m from the Health and Social Care Partnership’s budget, which pays for vital services for the most vulnerable residents in Helensburgh and Lomond. The HSCP is already predicting an overspend of £3.4m this year and even deeper cuts would stretch local services to breaking point.

Much of the council’s proposed cuts focus on areas like planning and regulatory services. There are no petitions circulated or public meetings called when planning officers and trading standards officials lose their jobs. But these cuts will leave consumers, particularly our older family members and neighbours, at risk from rogue traders. There will be less scrutiny of planning applications and fewer staff means more delays, damaging Helensburgh and Lomond’s reputation as a good place to invest.

And even if councillors decide to implement every single cut in the proposals, they still won’t be able to balance the books. Councillors have already asked senior officers to draw up a list of further cuts to fill the black hole.

Derek Mackay needs to get back to the drawing board and give Argyll and Bute Council a fairer deal.