Pragmatic solution needed on buses
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