At the Nairn West Community Council meeting last night Rosemary Young outlined points raised at a recent meeting of all the community councils in Nairnshire with the County's four Highland Councillors. The West Council had raised specific points that they thought would be useful in the current debate about where to make cuts:
'We had all our elected councillors there, we were talking about spending trends and that the council budget has increased by 50% over the last five years and we suggested why not go back to the former amount. We wanted them to look at bench-marking so the Council expenditure needs to be bench-marked against other councils for efficiencies. We looked at outsourcing, we looked at managed areas of the Council that could perhaps look at alternative models of management delivery. We looked specifically at the community centre here which is managed quite differently from the Highland Council doing it. We also asked what could the Highland Council delete immediately. We also asked about grant funding to public sectors, this is my little baby actually, because of Visit Scotland getting such huge amounts of cash given to them to do various things in the Highlands. So we asked them to look at that. Current jobs, if they did not exist would they be necessary to invent. We also asked if we need 4 elected councillors and do we need 80 across the Highland Council. We looked at streamlining everything and...'
At this point Graham Vine intervened: ‘Can we please not have departments engaging consultants merely to endorse what it was they intend to do in the first place. Consultants should only be engaged where the Council simply doesn’t have officers with the necessary expertise.’
‘And we looked at discretionary and statutory..’said Rosemary then Graham continued:
‘Yes, there seems to be a lack of understanding even within the Highland Council as to which of their activities was statutory and which of them were things that they have fallen into the habit of doing’
‘Rosemary continued to round up her summary: ‘To cut a long story short we fine-tuned that and give it to our councillors and asked them to take it,’ she then looked in the direction of Cllr Laurie Fraser who was present and asked, ‘did you?’
He confirmed that they’d given the information to the budget team.
More issues from the West Council meeting last night later, including worries about the Nairn Common Good Fund.