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New blood fails to make changes

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Day one of the newly elected Argyll and Bute Council saw decisions being taken to reduce the power of area committees, despite community empowerment and more, not less, decision making at local level being one of the main issues raised at hustings, certainly in Cowal and Bute.

Councillors agreed by 21 votes to 15 on Thursday May 18, the first full council meeting following the elections on May 4, to reduce the number of times that area committees meet from six times a year to four, citing both budgetary implications and that they did not attract public engagement.

Several new councillors from the Cowal and Dunoon Wards voted with the administration to defeat an amendment which would have allowed the status quo to continue.

Re-elected Cowal councillor Gordon Blair, who supported the amendment, said: “At the hustings community empowerment was at the front of each and every candidate’s promise to improve transparency and accountability.” He added: “Taking a swipe at local democracy is a retrograde step.” Also voting to retain the status of area committees, new Dunoon ward councillor Audrey Forrest said afterwards that the council meeting ‘had been a lesson in frustration’.

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