You’ll pay more but get less – and more mis­ery on the way

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - Front Page - BY IAIN RAMAGE

HIGH­LAND res­i­dents will suf­fer higher bills and re­ceive fewer ser­vices after the coun­cil pushed through a cuts-laden bud­get.

Aus­ter­ity was the or­der of the day yes­ter­day as the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pro­pos­als were ap­proved to help fill a £20mil­lion black hole.

But the cuts were not enough to stop house­hold­ers be­ing hit by at least a 3% rise in coun­cil tax – with some fac­ing a dou­ble-digit in­crease.

Coun­cil leader Mar­garet David­son ac­cused the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment of “Or­wellian” spin and halftruths that caused con­fu­sion over fund­ing as the coun­cil was try­ing to set its bud­get.

And there was awarn­ing of more mis­ery to come, with signs that sim­i­lar sav­ings would be needed in each of the next two years.

A 22-year-old man who ad­mit­ted drunk­enly shout­ing ho­mo­pho­bic re­marks in two Ler­wick pubs last au­tumn has been fined £150.

El­lis Birnie, of Sand­veien, Ler­wick, pleaded guilty to be­hav­ing in a threat­en­ing or abu­sive man­ner by shout­ing, swear­ing and mak­ing the ho­mo­pho­bic com­ments at the Thule Bar and Cap­tain Flints on Septem­ber 27.

Procu­ra­tor fis­cal Dun­can Macken­zie said Birnie had spot­ted some peo­ple he knew at the bar and started “mak­ing deroga­tory re­marks about the fe­males’s per­ceived sex­u­al­ity”.

De­fence agent Tommy Al­lan said his client suf­fered from epilepsy and di­a­betes, and did not al­ways man­age his diet well.

He added that he ac­cepted he be­came in­volved in a dis­pute and said “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” things.

Sher­iff Philip Mann said he hoped it would be a “wake-up call” for Birnie.

SPIN­NING AROUND: High­land Coun­cil leader Mar­garet David­son has ac­cused the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment of half-truths

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