Tag Archives: budget cuts

Your Views Needed On Amenity Services

Argyll and Bute’s council has to identify options to meet a projected budget gap of £6.7 million in 2021/2022, and as part of that, is asking for your views on amenity services.

Savings can only come from a relatively small proportion of the council’s budget (32%), because of national priorities and other factors outside council control:

• Teacher posts are protected nationally

• Social work costs are managed by the Health and Social Care Partnership

• Utility, loan and other costs depend on external factors.

Some savings have to come from amenity services, which cover everything from bins and grass cutting, to parking, road repairs and public toilets.

The council is therefore asking people to give their views on how best to make savings in amenity services by answering a short consultation. The survey also gives people the chance to give their thoughts on whether local communities would consider stepping in to save a service at risk, and what if any support they would want to be able to do this.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Depute Leader and Policy Lead for Strategic Finance, said:

“Another year and millions more expected to be cut from council services for Argyll and Bute. It’s not enough to say that these are tough times for councils. Years of budget cuts are eroding Argyll and Bute’s council services, and at a time now when they have never been more important – look at how much our communities have depended on council services to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have to focus on the support that is most vital for the area. We have to look again at the work we do that is above and beyond the ‘must-do’ duties of a council. I would encourage anyone who uses our amenity services to give their views.”

You can answer the consultation on the council’s website:

https:// www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/ consultations/amenity-servicesconsultation.

If you have difficulty accessing the web version, you are welcome to contact the council at 01436 658 981.

Island Communities Take Action Against Council Library Cuts

The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away

 

Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council have issued a press release in response to the proposed cuts to the library service, which will result in the loss of library facilities in Tiree.

Tiree High School Parent Council, Tiree Community Council, and local residents of Tiree are furious over the Council cut to their library service, joining the community of Mull who are also up in arms about the proposal. Argyll and Bute Councillors decided, as part of their budget for next year, that Tiree, along with Mull and Iona, should lose their secondary school libraries. This decision has sent shock waves through the community, as the librarian on Tiree also serves the thriving primary school and the wider community. Paul le Roux, Vice-Chair of the Tiree Parent Council told the Oban Times, “We are appalled by this short-sighted decision. The Scottish Government has made the improvement of literacy and numeracy a priority, yet Argyll and Bute want to take our only public access to books away from this island community by removing our librarian at a time when use of our library by the community and children is growing year by year.”

A Tiree resident, who has children at the school but asked not to be named, said, “Tiree High School library caters not only for the High School, but also for the island generally, including Bookbug for under 5s. This is a community that cannot head down the road to another public library – it is our only library. Buying books online is not a replacement for a public library service. Not only does it cost money, but on the one hand we are encouraging children to reduce their screen time, while taking away the opportunity to be able to offer them a good old-fashioned book in its place. Tiree will be losing our library while Argyll and Bute Council reassures us that their hanging baskets will be protected – although I haven’t seen many of those on Tiree.”

Dr John Holliday, Convenor of Tiree Community Council, said, “The Community Council is outraged by this decision by Argyll and Bute, which is possibly in breach of their statutory obligations. If this cut goes ahead our nearest public library will be a four hour ferry ride and an overnight stay away. Our librarian, as part of our community school, provides a wonderful service for older members of the community, for many of whom their day out to the library is one of the high points of their week. It works both ways; the school pupils benefit from the books that the Library Service sends out to Tiree. The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away.”

The two bodies are calling upon Argyll and Bute council to engage with the Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council and to rethink their decision to deny their community this valuable resource. A petition has already been set up to gather support for all libraries affected in Argyll and Bute. You can sign it here:

www.change.org/p/shout-out-for-school-librarians-in-argyll-and-bute

Trust heads bid for eventide home

pcc meeting

The community of Tiree is to look into making a bid to run the old people’s home and home care services on the island.

That was the vote of a packed meeting of islanders last week after fears that the Council could close the facility gained ground last week. A number of the Home staff and home carers were in An Talla, but they had been recommended by the Council not to become too involved in case rival bidders could claim that the local bid was getting an unfair advantage.

Dr John Holliday, the island’s GP, told over one hundred islanders who attended the meeting, that he had now been reassured that Argyll and Bute Council was not about to close the Tiree Home.
He told An Tirisdeach after the meeting, “At a time when money is so tight, we should give Argyll and Bute Council great credit for doing their best to keep the Tiree Home open.”
However, the Council has decided to go ahead and “externalise” the service – in other words, ask private companies to take over both the Home and the home carer service.

Fears have been expressed that this would lead to a worse deal for islanders who need care. It costs the Council £1,061 to keep a resident in the Tiree Home for a week – compared to £550 in a mainland nursing home. Already, eight companies had registered an interest with the Council to take over the running of the Home, and even more to run the home care service. A 15% cut in the Council budget over the next three years is going to make life tough. Added to this, the 40 year old building at Tigh a Rudha, while still structurally sound, was not worth extensively redeveloping in the way that the Care Commission is demanding. The Home also provides 24 people with jobs and is worth £750,000 a year to the local economy – 95% of which stays on the island. Fears have been expressed that a private company would drive down carers’ wages and take a substantial profit ‘offshore’.

The island has been encouraged instead to look into setting up a social enterprise, not-for-profit company, to run the Home and the home care service. The meeting overwhelmingly gave its backing for the Tiree Trust to look into creating one. The department store John Lewis, and Atlantis Leisure in Oban are good examples of social enterprise companies that have succeeded. The Assynt Centre in Lochinver was closed as a residential Home by Highland Council three years ago. Last year it was re-opened by Community Care Assynt, a community interest company, and is running extremely successfully.

Scottish Power Renewables, who are looking into building a giant wind farm off the island, have offered £4,500 to kick start the process. Despite a few reservations, the meeting agreed to accept this money. Dr Celine O’Neill, Coll’s GP, who joined the meeting by video link, gave her support to the meeting. The Home had been a valuable resource in the past for Coll residents too.

Dr Holliday told An Tirisdeach,
“I think this gives us a great opportunity to look at how we do things at the moment. The Home has given great service for forty years, but it was built at a time when most people accepted, indeed wanted, that they would have to spend the last years of their life in the Eventide Home. At the moment we spend less than 5% of the Tiree care budget on care in people’s houses. More people want to stay at home for as long as possible when they become less able, and we want a modern care service that does what people want.

The modern style has been described as ’hub and spoke’ – a small ‘hub’ for people who need the most care, supporting a ‘wheel’ of people at home. It’s cheaper and it’s what people increasingly want. “Our ten year plan is to build a new progressive care centre which is designed for the modern world.
“ I don’t underestimate the challenges – we haven’t got much time, it’s a lot of money and a big responsibility. Setting and collecting charges from our fellow islanders will be more challenging for a local company. However a Tiree community company has just delivered a community turbine costing over £1 million – and jumped a million hurdles to do so. It can be done!”

Fiona MacKinnon, Kirkapol, offered TACIS (the Tiree and Coll Information Service) as the best group to do this work. The meeting, however, voted to use the Trust instead – the feeling was that the Trust had more staff, more involvement from the community, and, crucially, access to funding from the Ruaig turbine. Everyone in An Talla that night was invited to take part in the working group to look at a new community company and eventually build a new progressive care centre.

The following have put their names forward – Kate MacCallum, Mairi MacLean, Pat Campbell, Fiona MacKinnon, Dr John Holliday, Clare Jones, Iain and Anne MacKinnon, Neil Munn, Trudy MacKenzie, Angus MacKinnon, Jackie Jones, Margaret Proud, Lisa and Tim Weeks, Ruaig, Josie Brown, Christine MacDonald, Mary MacLean, John Bottomley, Catriona Cowling, Iain Tainsh, and Fiona Munn. There is plenty more space for those who want to help. Please let Lynne know at the Trust (220074).

Dr Holliday warned that the group would be meeting almost every week until May and that the progressive care centre project could last for ten years. As such, it is not for the faint hearted! Kate MacCallum, leader of the district nursing team and a director of the Tiree Trust, said,
“The turnout demonstrated the commitment of the island to caring for the more vulnerable on Tiree and Coll. We need to move forward to develop a service which truly meets the needs of the community.”

The meeting also backed the plan to bring any future tender for the Home back to another public meeting in the spring.

Leak shows council looking at Eventide closure

wheelchair image

“The Eventide Home could close as the Council thrashes around seeking huge savings at a meeting this week.”

That was the stark warning given by Dr Holliday as he spoke to a packed Windfall Fund meeting at An Talla last Saturday.

The 1960’s Dorran building is nearly at the end of its life and the Care Commission want a big modernisation programme – something Argyll and Bute Council has been reluctant to look at. The new Tory/Liberal/Independent coalition leading the Council decides on Thursday what to do with their six loss-making old people homes.

Giving the contract to run the Tiree Home to a private company is on the agenda, but leaks within the Council suggest the nuclear option is being strongly considered – total closure, with the possible transfer of residents to other facilities.

Dr Catherine Todd told An Tirisdeach, “Although most people prefer to be cared for in their own homes, there are very definitely situations when the Eventide Home is absolutely invaluable. Closure would be a huge loss. It would be a tragedy.”

There are currently six residents in the Home, well down on the figure a few years ago. However, Tigh an Rudha also cooks meals on wheels, gives invaluable respite for families, and provides much of the care for the medical beds in the Continuing Care Unit. Dr Holliday said, “If you close an old people’s home in Oban, there is another one just down the road. If you close the Eventide Home on Tiree, you separate families at a crucial stage in their lives. It would be unthinkable.”

The Trust, in conjunction with a number of islanders, had already begun the process of putting together a package to build a new Home. More recently, the Council had encouraged local people to take over the running of the service and the situation is being closely monitored in the Trust office.

The latest news has put a bomb under the process. “I was concerned before,” Dr Holliday told An Tirisdeach. “Now we have a full scale emergency. I call on the island to stand ready to defend the Scarinish Home and the medical Unit. They are cornerstones of life on Tiree.”

A meeting has been called on Thursday 10th February at 7.30pm in An Talla to push on with the project, and if necessary to plan for the defence of what we have, all Welcome.