COUNCILLOR Gary Mulvaney discusses next year's budget, the Helensburgh waterfront plans, a solution to the Rest and Be Thankful problems and the upcoming Winter Festival.


FINANCE: As we look ahead to next year’s budget, a recent council paper identified a budgetary gap of some £7.8 million, reducing to £3.8m once previous savings are factored in.

As we need to set a balanced budget, we must close that gap – all of which is challenging with a current in-year revenue overspend of £2.7m, largely as a result of social care.

Of course, there are still outstanding pay negotiations for teachers and other local government workers to be concluded, and that may have a substantial impact on our finances if they are not fully funded by the Scottish Government.

With a near £1 billion extra being made available to Scotland by the UK government, it is hoped that local government services will benefit. But that is a decision for Nicola Sturgeon.

WATERFRONT: As agreed at the June area committee, work continues apace on other things that can be done as we await any planning determination.

A contract notice will be published shortly working up to a formal ‘invitation to tender’ (ITT) being published in early March 2019, all of which will culminate in the development and consideration of the full business case (FBC) by the area committee and council prior to the July recess next year.

I also had the pleasure of meeting two representatives from the skateboarders association about their aspirations for an enhanced long term facility at the waterfront. These are the positive, go-ahead community groups we need in our town.

REST AND BE THANKFUL: As depute leader, I recently met with the Transport Secretary to discuss the landslips and closure of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful.

I very much welcome his commitment to identify a long term solution and the confirmation that the mitigation measures will be fully completed.

Once a permanent solution is found, I will push the Scottish Government to fund it and start it.

WINTER FESTIVAL: This is a great event for the town and I would encourage you to make it a day out for friends and family, supporting traders and local shops.

Also spare a thought for the organisers who will be there all weekend from 7am until 7pm. You could maybe pop into their tent and share some festive cheer, or even just a ‘thank you’.

They are all volunteers and Helensburgh is the better for their efforts – a genuine case of action speaking louder than words.