THE council’s potential budget savings options — unanimously approved by all elected members on 28 September — continue to generate coverage in the Tele, although the formal consultation won’t begin until January.

It seems that local SNP politicians are determined to distance themselves from many of these savings despite their councillors backing their issue for consultation.

It is a rather strange approach to consultation to ask local residents their views on something when you have already told them in advance you won’t support the proposal under any circumstances.

Rightly people will ask what the point is in responding to the consultation if councillors have already made up their minds.

Fortunately councillors from other groups have so far adopted a different approach. We have decided to wait until we hear the views of the public before reaching decisions on the savings. I believe that is the right thing to do.

As I said in my previous column, the focus for councillors and residents should be on lobbying our MSPs and MP, asking them to bring pressure to bear on both the UK and Scottish Governments so that the council doesn’t need to make any cuts to important frontline services.

To this end the council’s chief executive has arranged a briefing next week for Inverclyde’s MSPs and MP to make them aware of the potential challenges the council faces. I hope there is a good turnout at the briefing.

The date was arranged to suit the diary of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, Renfrewshire North and West MSP Derek Mackay. Unfortunately his office has advised that he cannot now attend. The chief executive is trying to arrange a separate meeting with Mr Mackay, as he will obviously have a key role in deciding the level of funding the Council receives next year from the Scottish Government.

Of course Inverclyde is not alone in facing significant funding pressures.

Glasgow — Scotland’s largest council — is planning for £165 million of cuts over the next three years. 

Our neighbouring council, North Ayrshire, is anticipating making savings of £70m over the same period while East Renfrewshire Council is looking at a figure of around £26m.

Edinburgh is facing cuts of £140m over the next five years.
These are just some examples. All of Scotland’s 32 councils are facing huge cuts unless there is a change in approach to funding public services by both the UK and Scottish Governments.

The next seven weeks will be crucial for the future of local services.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond MP, will publish the UK Government’s Autumn Budget on 22 November and Derek Mackay MSP will announce the draft Scottish Government budget on 14 December.

These two events will determine the scale of cuts councils will have to make in the coming 12 months. We are all holding our breath.