Lib Dems at heart of the com­mu­nity

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket - Coun­cil­lor Robert Brown

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

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