Councillors in budget protest
Anger over spending freeze
Two Labour councillors from Rutherglen and Cambuslang who organised a protest at Holyrood say they hope their message has been heard.
Councillors Gerard Killen ( Rutherglen South) and Richard Tullett (Cambuslang West) were part of a South and North Lanarkshire group, which also included Councillor Denis McKenna, who travelled through to Edinburgh last month.
They say decisions taken by the SNP government have forced hundreds of millions to be cut from both North and South Lanarkshire Councils since 2008.
North Lanarkshire Council is facing £ 68 million of cuts this year, with South Lanarkshire facing £36m.
Councillor Tullett said: “Our protest was about saying to the SNP government that we want fairness for local government.
“For far too long decisions taken in Edinburgh have forced deep cuts to South and North Lanarkshire Councils and councils across Scotland.
“There is no doubt that the UK Government has cut the Scottish Government’s budget – that is beyond dispute. While the Scottish Government’s budget has been cut by three per cent, they are hitting councils with a six per cent cut in real terms.
“This unfair settlement needs to be addressed by John Swinney when he makes his budget announcement.
“Our councils do not want special treatment - far from it - we just want a fair funding settlement for our communities.”
Councillor Killen added: “Our demonstration gave councillors from across Scotland the opportunity to say enough is enough.
“The figures speak for themselves. Over the last two years the Scottish Government has had a £ 794m underspend – £444m in 2013-14 and £350m last year – yet they are making choices that are pushing councils to breaking point.
“Both South and North Lanarkshire councils serve areas of significant social deprivation. John Swinney needs to realise that cuts to councils are cuts to communities. It is time for the SNP to step up to the mark and give Lanarkshire the fair deal it desperately requires.”
John Swinney said: “The work that Scottish Parliament Information Centre has undertaken demonstrates the government’s council tax freeze has been fully funded. Indeed, it has been overfunded given the level of inflation prevalent in Scotland over the years.
“Local authorities in Scotland have been given very substantial financial support and advantage in comparison with local authorities south of the border.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Despite cuts of nearly 10 per cent to the Scottish budget from the UK Government, local government has been treated very fairly by the Scottish Government and protected from the worst impact of UK cuts.
“All Scottish local authorities, including North and South Lanarkshire, are in receipt of their fair share of the total funding.”