Kelly seeks face-off

Haughey chal­lenged to de­bate

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

The elec­tion cam­paign in Ruther­glen burst to life this week when James Kelly chal­lenged his SNP op­po­nent, Clare Haughey, to a live de­bate.

Mr Kelly, who is de­fend­ing the seat for Labour, said he wanted to ques­tion Ms Haughey on her views on cuts to coun­cil bud­gets.

He urged her to make clear whether she backed her party’s last bud­get or sup­ported Labour plans to in­crease tax to pay for ed­u­ca­tion.

How­ever, Ms Haughey laid the blame for cuts to coun­cil ser­vices at the door of the Labour- run au­thor­ity in South La­nark­shire.

This year, the coun­cil had to make £ 43mil­lion of sav­ings to bal­ance the bud­get. Since 2008, the au­thor­ity has faced over £120m in cuts.

Mr Kelly is no stranger to chal­leng­ing SNP politi­cians to a de­bate. Ear­lier this year, he called on Mar­garet Fer­rier MP to face him in pub­lic.

He said this week: “Clare Haughey needs to show some ma­tu­rity on this. The SNP have this year cut coun­cil fund­ing by hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds, de­priv­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties of vi­tal ser­vices.

“Noth­ing is more se­ri­ous than our chil­dren’s fu­ture – and rather than try­ing to score points at this elec­tion Ms Haughey needs to tell vot­ers what she would do when it comes to set­ting coun­cil fund­ing.

“The ques­tion is this: come the vote on the Scot­tish bud­get in par­lia­ment, would Clare Haughey sup­port her SNP bosses cut­ting coun­cil fund­ing?”

Mr Kelly will ap­pear on Cam­glen Ra­dio this Fri­day and in­vited Ms Haughey to join him, adding: “She can’t just hide be­hind press releases – it is time for her to tell Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang if she sup­ports the SNP’s cuts.”

But Ms Haughey, who is favourite to win the seat, hit back, say­ing: “James has ac­cused me of hid­ing be­hind press releases but hasn’t con­tacted me di­rectly to take part in a de­bate. The first I’ve heard about this was, iron­i­cally, through a press re­lease he has put into the Re­former.

“I’d be more than will­ing to con­sider it, but he’d need to ac­tu­ally con­tact me with the de­tails.”

She added: “Labour-led South La­nark­shire Coun­cil have a his­tory of ques­tion­able fi­nan­cial choices, such as ex­or­bi­tant pri­vate fi­nance deals to build schools, for which we are all pay­ing through the nose – around £30m ev­ery year to be ex­act.

“They’re also bor­row­ing £3m to­wards build­ing the con­tro­ver­sial, and largely op­posed, £21m one­mile stretch of road at Cathkin. They man­aged to spend an eye­wa­ter­ing £ 14m on taxi fares in just three years, and spent over a mil­lion fight­ing equal pay claims.

“Labour’s pri­or­i­ties are se­ri­ously un­aligned if they are now quib­bling over a few lol­ly­pop cross­ings.”

Street stall Clare Haughey with sup­port­ers on Ruther­glen Main Street

Num­bers game James Kelly pops in on a bingo club in West­burn

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