Prag­matic so­lu­tion needed on buses

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane -

We’re all pretty used to fund­ing cuts nowa­days. As the Tories con­tinue their ide­o­log­i­cal cru­sade, both the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and lo­cal author­i­ties have to find ways of mak­ing money stretch.

The SNP have sought prag­matic so­lu­tions to the aus­ter­ity prob­lem.

John Swin­ney has been re­ferred to as a ‘fi­nan­cial ma­gi­cian’ by Alex Salmond for be­ing able to bal­ance a bud­get fairly, at a time when he is un­der im­mense pres­sure.

Since Scot­land’s eight po­lice forces were merged two years ago to form Po­lice Scot­land, the equiv­a­lent of the bud­get of three of those forces has al­ready been saved.

A new state-of-the-art hos­pi­tal in Glas­gow has been built, the cost of which will largely be off­set from the sale of land of the four hos­pi­tals it will re­place.

Dur­ing the aus­ter­ity years, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have not only man­aged to keep pre­scrip­tions and univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion free, but have pro­tected the poor­est in so­ci­ety by off­set­ting the Bed­room Tax.

These achieve­ments have not come easily, and it is through clever re­source man­age­ment that we have been able to achieve these feats.

All of this proves that when we put our minds to it, we can find so­lu­tions to dif­fi­cult prob­lems.

I at­tended the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee meet­ing of South La­nark­shire Coun­cil last week to wit­ness a fi­nal de­ci­sion be­ing made on the school bus pro­vi­sion is­sue.

The style of pol­i­tics on show couldn’t be fur­ther re­moved from the prag­ma­tism of the par­lia­ment at Holy­rood.

The stub­born­ness and in­flex­i­bil­ity of some coun­cil­lors on the com­mit­tee was truly as­tound­ing.

This is a row that has rum­bled on for some time with­out res­o­lu­tion.

Whilst I don’t pro­fess to have all of the an­swers, it is clear from the level of public out­rage that the pro­posed re­duc­tion in this ser­vice sim­ply wasn’t an op­tion.

Yet there sim­ply didn’t ap­pear to have been other av­enues and al­ter­na­tives ex­plored.

Non-par­ti­san pleas from Coun­cil­lor John Men­zies to re­ject the pro­posal and work to­gether on a so­lu­tion were loudly shouted down by oth­ers who sought to pin the blame for bud­get cuts on the SNP.

The safety and ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren should be para­mount, and the re­duc­tion of this mat­ter to a po­lit­i­cal football was a truly galling spec­ta­cle.

To blame the SNP for the coun­cil’s fi­nan­cial af­fairs is crass to say the least.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil man­aged to run up taxi fares cost­ing over £14m in the last three years - the sec­ond high­est to­tal for any lo­cal au­thor­ity in Scot­land.

This doesn’t sur­prise me in the slight­est.

This is, af­ter all, the same coun­cil that has racked up enor­mous le­gal bills in un­suc­cess­fully fight­ing equal pay cases, and gave a £500,000 pen­sion pay-off to their fi­nance chief.

Dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions need to made in pol­i­tics, and it would be wrong of me to ar­gue oth­er­wise. Per­haps though, when mak­ing cuts, the coun­cil need to sharpen their think­ing, not their axe.

To blame the SNP for the coun­cil’s fi­nan­cial af­fairs is crass to say the least

Protest Dozens of pro­tes­tors turned out against the pro­posal

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