Coun­cil­lors in bud­get protest

Anger over spend­ing freeze

Rutherglen Reformer - - Win! Win! Win! - Dou­glas Dickie

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.”

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