Lib Dems at heart of the community
Community politics – halls, leisure facilities, and transport.
I have often talked about the importance of community politics to Liberal Democrats – dealing with the local issues that concern people, supporting community groups, empowering people to improve their own area and run things locally.
Community halls, leisure facilities and transport are absolutely vital to this because they provide meeting places, community opportunities and critical mass to make things work.
Transport, and community transport in particular, are a lifeline to elderly and disabled people – as Spittal residents know during the recent unfortunate diversion of the M2 bus and as disabled community groups continue to be threatened by the loss of their transport. Government and Councils
Local councils like South Lanarkshire are the main providers of community facilities, used by a vast variety of groups.
Yet South Lanarkshire Council is being required by the Scottish Government to make savings of around £36million next year – while the SNP government sits on an underspend of no less than £347 million this year – and £444 million last year.
Even £200 million of this could save Scottish Councils from some very nasty decisions in the forthcoming budget.
Yet there is a deathly silence from all the new SNP MPs about it.
The SNP government has centralised the police and emergency services, forced local colleges to amalgamate, and slashed the ability of local Councils to make their own decisions.
The problems of police centralisation – vigorously opposed by the Liberal Democrats, but not by either Labour or the Tories – are well documented.
Less well known is the drop of 100,000 in Scottish college places under the SNP, which disadvantages many mature students and people from poorer backgrounds.
Local colleges like Langside College no longer exist – now it is Glasgow Clyde College, a curious and unwieldy amalgam of Langside, Anniesland and Cardonald Colleges forced upon the colleges by the SNP government.
It is high time the Scottish Government gave the proceeds of business rates back to councils, ended the centrally-imposed Council tax freeze and stopped imposing bureaucratic central controls on councils.
But they also need to use that half billion underspend pot to remove the threat to local halls, leisure centres and community transport. And finally, Liberal Democrat election success
I was delighted to see a Liberal Democrat colleague council by election victory in the Highlands - coming from fourth place and the first win from the SNP of any party since the General Election.
A good omen for the Blantyre byelection here?
Councillor Robert Brown