After seeing this tweet by Cllr Richard Laird yesterday this observer went and watched the full council meeting pre-budget statement debate when it was posted online later in the day.
This observer can only wonder why anybody would want to be a Highland Councillor in the current environment: 10% was taken out of th budget last year and the same again looks likely to happen to "unprotected services" this next financial. A lot of jargon in that debate but one wifie said that one of the unprotected services was Community Services which is all the guys that go round in the yellow vans etc and do the stuff that is perhaps the most visible and the most valued by the community.
And it gets worse over the next three years with more to come on top of that, here's what one paragraph in the document before the council said: "In the scenario outlined ‘unprotected’ services would have to deliver a 23% reduction on their current budget over the three year period, with a 10% saving required in 2017/18 alone."
23% could go out of what remains from previous cuts butchery.
It seems councillors are (courtesy of austerity) simply there now to inflict cuts in services on the population. The only arguments in the debate seem to be about how you do that and the Convenor, Margeret Davidson, called for everyone to come to an agreement on it all by February.
So loads of cuts to services to come and more again still in the years following. We have elections for the Council too in May. No doubt there will be a lot of sound and fury as battle commences over the blame game but will sufficient people care? Last time only 48% voted in Ward 19 Nairnshire and this observer wonders if, even with such cuts, will the noise generated by hostilities between the Indy administration and the other parties prompt more people to go to the ballot box? This observer doubts very much if it will.
If you are one of the 48% that voted last time and are considering going to the ballot box again you might want to watch the webcast yourself and see what you make of it. Go to this page and go down and click on item 11. Pre-Budget Statement / Buidseat Teach-a-steach.