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The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The coming cuts

I don';t want to repeat myself, about the coming cuts, but just read my previous comments, and compare them to the words of the Auditor General.
Mr Black said he regretted that people across Scottish society failed to start planning for tighter spending several years ago
But the Comhairle have some plans to bridge the estimated cuts of £5m pa.  Lets look at this list:
  • Increase in Council Tax - £190,000
  • Put the leisure facilities into a Charitable Trust - £200,000
  • Reduce library hours by 10% - £38,000
  • Reduce Swimming Pool hours by 10% - £46,000
  • Bin collections fortnightly rather than weekly - £90,000
  • Transferring care homes to the private sector - £217,000
  • Cancel discretionary free school transport - £75,000
That makes £856,000 or 17% or what is required.

I recommended consultation, but this looks like nothing more than a superficial attempt to shroud-wave.

With over £4,000,000 in cuts still unidentified in any way shape or form, WTF was the purpose of the meetings when the substance is missing?

If you are going to consult, then do so with some honesty and openness.

In November we are going to get a totally different menu of choices, with the results of the 'consultation' used to justify a totally different course of action.

The honest approach would be to take the proposals to the Councillors and then take the prioritised list out to the community before a final decision is reached.
Tony Robson said it was important that the council look for savings from within itself when it was asking islanders to bear cuts in public services.
The absence of any detail about the internal plans of the Council is understandable given the processes that have to be followed, but only emphasise why the consultation should have followed after these were discussed by the Council and recommendations laid.


Anonymous said...

What is the present position re An Lantair? Are we still bailing out this place which was supposed to be self supporting within a year or two of opening? If we are anyone know by how much per annum and what the total cost to the ratepayers has been so far?

Anonymous said...

Our councillors, in the main, don't know how to consult, and our officials dont want to consult. Did you really expect any different?

Anonymous said...

And to think that there are many peoople who want the Sports Centre open on a Sunday. If these cuts were to materialise It would be better close the sports centre on one or even two weekdays in exchange for Sunday openings so people who are busy during the week can use it more.

Hacked Off said...

It would be interesting to know what the cost saving would be if CNeS reduced the heating in all their establishments by 2,3 or 4 degrees. The heat in the buildings is stifling. It may also make their staff a bit healthier and save cash by less sick days. Less cash spent on the pallets of new IT equipment that at one time were a permanent feature of the lobby would help too. If this shower were in business they wouldn't last 2 seconds.

Legionaire said...

I think we subsidise the chardonnay in An Lanntair for the lurvies to the tune of £70,000 per annum.

This is to underwrite the continuing unexpected and transitional losses* on the bar and restaurant.

* This is supposed to mean that they hadn't foreseen some of the operational costs. It actually means the place is empty and can never make a profit. Whilst not paying any rates and drving other places out of business.

Anonymous said...


If the Lanntair is empty, how is it driving others out of business? Eh?

Anonymous said...


By soaking up a significant subsidy to maintain a disastrous business model ? A subsidy which could better be used to assist more promising or foresightful businesses ?

Anonymous said...

Out of interest - and given that some considerable amount of national public money went into this (the Arts Council or similar ?) - if the Council withdrew its subsidy or reduced it to the point where An Lanntair became unviable and went bust, wouldn't there be some big clawback ?

And has the Council not given undertakings about opening and availability for those sports facilities which received similar national funding ? (Sport Scotland ?)

There may well be other similar scenarios.

Anonymous said...

Surely with all the extra income being generated by Slàinte Mhath the Sports Centre must nearly be self supporting!

Anonymous said...

Angus, I am disappointed at the overly harsh tone of this post and somewhat sad that you have overlooked the sterling efforts of Dochas and MacIver in addressing required savings.

Single handed, they have undertaken to embark on a personal program of saving the council electricity.

Lateral thinking should always be commended and the community should recognise that it takes a particular level of dedication to achieve these savings by ...erm refusing to reply to the emails from the internal auditor investigating the Sgoilten Ur fandango.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Hacked off this council could not run a business and that is the way it should be done First they should get rid of all there in house business ie the building/joiners ,the street lights the the buses the bin wagons put that out to tender that way they know how much that is going to cost over three or five years, savings all the vans, wagons repairs high living managers and there staff would be gone ,what a saving that would do

Anonymous said...


I don't think that stacks up. It's purely speculation - you'd need to show that with figures to be credible on that.

Basically the Lanntair is badly run, both in the programming and in the catering, and isn't thriving. If it were sucking up all local trade to the detriment of other establishments, that would be a clear negative impact, but clearly it's not.

The Lanntair does generate some town centre activity and that has a positive impact on restaurants etc. Stornoway would be a much duller place without it - which is not to say it couldn't be very much better than it is.

I think it's very promising - not foresightful (is that a word?), but that's because of the board and management. The solution lies is sorting that out, not in removing subsidy.

And as for all the philistines who just think all money spent on culture should be given to their own little businesses to upgrade their vans, or something... they have no understanding of the multipliers inherent in arts funding. It's well proven that subsidising culture has wide, at-one-remove impact on a community.

Anonymous said...


Following on from your suggestion of lateral thinking, surely the old economic theory of 'spending to save' can be applied to the required cuts.

Practical advice can be obtained from either Ena MacNeil or SNH, both of whom were instrumental in securing the services of a goose officer for reducing the numbers of geese in the Uists. Surely such an officer could be readily employed by the council to begin a long awaited cull.

Currently, large herds of
development officers are roaming the island. Studies of their movements reveal that they are very hard to spot as they can only be seen moving quickly between centrally heated offices.

Apparently they become nervous when separated from a phone line, and their anxiety levels increase dramatically when out of sight of a computer.

Some locals argue that this species does not exist at all, while others have claimed to have seen one tucking in to free nosh at summit meetings at the Dark Island. Nevertheless, a quick scan of various departments within the council reveals that they appear to have been multiplying at an alarming rate.

They are reputed to be invulnerable to buck shot and the only remedy to ensure their eradication is to remove the expense account; a slow and horrible end.

For the nature lovers there are whispered tales of a little known sub specimen of mythical beast who has thrived for years on a diet of mileage allowances and expenses. This beastie has even been given a title by those who have long awaited his capture, Uselessonia Wankerious Pokerus.

The culling officer certainly has a wide field to chose from, but may find his prey elusive.

Anonymous said...

Well done 8.19am, a very entertaining and incisive post. Spoiled a bit by the personal reference, but otherwise excellent. More power to your pen.

Anonymous said...

Robbo giving advice on saving money? You couldn't make it up

Anonymous said...

Lanntair puts people off by being too snobbish. Haven't seen so many noses in the air, especially management. Would also help if they actually tried to serve you within 20 minutes

Anonymous said...

If the council got real value from their staff it may help - cut the If the council got real value from their staff it may help - cut the internet that is not necessary i.e. hotmail, facebook, ebay etc. Put trackers in vehicles - should prevent the regular disappearing of staff (in all the islands not just Stornoway). Upgrade video conference facilities between Barra, Uist, Harris & Stornoway if they work well there should not be the need for the huge amount of travel. IF THE COUNCIL LOOK WITHIN ITSELF 1ST as that is where huge money is being drained then people may have more respect for other efficiencies. Why dint they set up an anonymous forum looking for realistic cost cutting suggestions and have an area where the council can respond – there is currently no real way for people to view their suggestions and people could probably see how things can change within their own communities.

Anonymous said...

This is an anonymous forum. Go ahead. Make your suggestions.

Here's one for starters- reduce the temperature in all council offices from short sleeve temperature to cardigan (or jacket) temperature.

Anonymous said...


Just musing, just musing.

There is a serious underlying point though. If we're all being asked to take cuts to services (as we will be) then I think it behoves all those organisations who are receiving discretionary grants from the council to 'open their books' so that we can judge whether we wish to support them.

I for one would like to be able to weigh the merits of a decent public library service against subsidised finger buffets for An Lanntair's clientele.

Anonymous said...

PS - for those who rail against the temperature in the Council's main offices, ask about the capital cost of replacing the antiquated heating system which is not capable of adjustment.

You may get a shock.

Anonymous said...

Some of the suggestions by 10:29 PM are over the top, but the one about video conferencing is bang on. The facilities are mostly, if not totally, all there for doing that.

Even a stripped-down set up of Benbecula (where there's been good facilities for years) and Stornoway (ditto) is good enough to hold many meetings; Barra and Uist people at the former, Lewis at the latter.

Savings on petrol, accommodation = many hundreds of pounds per meetings. Winners: local tax payers. Losers: Calmac on the Sound of Harris run, short hop airline owners, Stornoway accommodation owners, petrol station owners.

There would also be a considerable time saving as well.

Anonymous said...

I manage to talk to people in Australia, Ameria, Canada very well via the web, so surely Uist to SY can't be too much of a problem ...or are we back on to the great internet debate.....

Anonymous said...

An Lanntair is run by Labour lovies so our Labour run council will no doubt keep bailing it out.

Anonymous said...

What about a reduction in Councillors from 30+ to 20? Easily done by clearing all the bottom placed candidates that scrapped through at the election. Does that effect any one of importance?

HR - no real vacancies outside internal scams sorry up grades so why so many employed in personnel?

Housing - what do they do other than the homeless? Yet dozens of clerks using e-mail and the Next site. 10+ non - jobs

COU - BM few tradesmen left yet a huge tranch of managers and paper pushing clerks. Probably £100K pa saved

COU - Garage (know this one) unnecessary bi-monthly services, no service records, half the stock used is for personal or friends repairs and so on. Out source probably £200K saved on wages alone.

Schools project or keep my friends in a job - WTF has moved on this? Yet £M spent. A real Quango.

CEO - useless £80K+ saved

Directors - on over £70K pa directing what? Numerous Managers - £30K+ each saved Managing what? Staff - ah! sack them, keep the non jobs f*** the community they support.

50% of the managers and office staff are non - jobs and their loss would never be noticed.

We know where the cuts will be - care staff, teaching staff, maintenance staff etc

Save Our Non Jobs Save The Clerical Essential Staff - Rid us of the workers.

Anonymous said...


Y'got the finger on the pulse, obviously! Labour-run Council (and it's 'luvvies' by the way) which includes. no doubt, D Manford, G Macleod, Annie, Keith, Maroot, A Campbell etc., etc. All these closet socialists acting as sleepers within the Comhairle for so many years. Eat your heart out, Maclean and Philby, CnES has been infiltrated for years!

Galloping Gourmet said...

Strikes me if the people who moved their excellent restaurant from Ness to Caladh Inn were offer An Lanntair they would not make a loss!!

Anonymous said...

11.36 - I agree with 10.29 - I know people who are now contracted to 5.30 & use the last half hour on e bay as well as checking e mails & on facebook through their day - it would be interesting to see what time is spent on these sites for all employees. I would also like to add that the COU no longer exist yet they are still referred to as this within council offices - it is just for audit purposes they stopping running but they are still there - no one has disappeared so where is the savings if they have been amalgamated! I believe our council & our councillors who do nothing for us think we are stupid.

Anonymous said...

There is proposals to cut off the vital services to a senior council members member after being caught (again) in a loving embrace with a fellow councillor (first time) Its comforting to know that moral and financial philandering is not just the persuit of big government but local clowns as well. trebles all round!

Anonymous said...

Cut all fuel bills. Transport and heating mainly (and that does not mean chase renewables). All offices have detectors that show them to run far too hot. As for An Lant - we need it,but per the energy efficency sign it is an E rated premises. Who allowed that.

Anonymous said...

Planning Dept can be slashed. They took on lots of staff at the height of the great wind debacle but let them all stay. I see now one planner spent his life as a kitchen porter and did OU planning, but had no practical UK experience. Why do the Council give folk like that jobs?

Anonymous said...

re 8.19 Hebrides news reports a development officer outbreak at Callanish.

Anonymous said...


Seems also from the news that Callanish don't need one - they're doing fine themselves seemingly. Still more power to them. I'd just be interested to know in light of the 'job freeze' where a development officer or other post was removed from the Council's strength to accommodate this.

I'm sure the Council will also be looking at their various performance indicators to judge where the axe needs to fall or supplementary resources needed. The Council will doubtless be able to produce the 2009/2010 PIs sometime soon given that we're in October and they were to be calculated to end March 2010. This will be particularly interesting in view of the number of 'annual' indicators on which the Council was apparently unable to provide an interim report in December 2009.

Unless of course they've already squeaked them in somewhere on the website or other publication - in which case, I'm sure we'd all be grateful for a steer in their direction.

Anonymous said...


The development post isn't a council job, it's funded by HIE and Leader (and with some CNES money) as part of HIE's policy of giving 3-year, full-time development posts to a few areas (someone please tell me how these areas were chosen as it doesn't seem to have been transparent or even particularly sensible.)

Other places that got them were Lochs and I think Harris. There were job adverts a while ago.

Also it's the trust that runs Callanish visitor centre that's been in the papers doing so well, and this is a different trust that's going to develop the farm which was recently gifted to the community by Edinburgh University.

Meanwhile as Heb News has yet another dead link, here's the story:

Anonymous said...


Ah, so (leaving aside the CNES money) HIE and Leader aren't facing cuts themselves ?

Anonymous said...

@5.06 Leader isn't being cut, though it's a fixed pot, and HIE has cut what they do so much that who knows whether they have more or less ready cash than before. Anyway just correcting the one who thought this was a reconstituted council post.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Orkney Islands Council ran an online blog for 2 months to canvas public opinion about the cuts. There's some similar ideas to the suggestions on here

It will be interesting to see the extent of the cuts and what direction they take.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for that. I note though

' John, 49, will lead on ambitious plans for the community of Callanish, which include an all facilities camp site, cycle track and paths network, and a crofting heritage centre. The post will not only deliver the trust's projects but will also work with the wider community plan for the whole of the Callanish area.'

Leaving aside the Council money which is going into this post, just where, in the current economic climate, are the Callanish community expecting the funding which will 'deliver the trust's projects'.

Anonymous said...

9:30 They are obtaining a loan to build the Olympic standard facilities quickly so they have a head start over Stoneybridge in South Uist who are also bidding for the 2020 games.