Saturday, February 25, 2012

SNP Stirling Council condemns council tax cut decision as Labour and Tory Councillors force through alternative budget, nats defeated by 23p

Dear All

One of the things about the forthcoming council election in May is that it throws up interesting wee stories.

Stirling Council has agreed to the 1% cut which takes the average band D levy down from £1209 to £1197.

Stirling becomes the first local authority in four years to cut its council tax.

For the punters, the decision sees about £12 a year off the average household bill.

Labour and Tory councillors joined to vote the measure through in an "alternative" budget, after rejecting the minority SNP administration's proposals.

The sum maybe paltry as it is a weekly saving of 23p.

No one will be booking up for cruises anytime soon.

The SNP group has called the cut "fiscally imprudent" and "irresponsible".

You could argue why the SNP Group have a ‘giro’ mentality and not done enough to create additional revenue streams using council resources.

Probably because they don’t have any ideas or vision, but now they want to whine about not getting their own way like a five years old little girl.

The Council has lost £450,000 by the proposal, but they could have been making money.

Justifying their decision Tories and Labour believe this can be shored up with a deal to sell land to Waitrose.

Unison said the deal puts Stirling's commitment to a living wage of £7.20-per-hour in jeopardy.

Dave Moxham, the STUC's assistant secretary, said:

"Council services are under severe pressure without crackpot ideas like this. Proposals like this can only serve to reduce services and increase charges. We'd criticise any party which cuts council tax when services are under so much strain."

Unison's Scottish convenor Mike Kirby said:

"The big disappointment for Unison is this no longer guarantees that the council will implement the living wage promised to the unions. It also means the council appears to be shoring up revenue spending through capital receipts, a dangerous road to go down."

Alex McLuckie, senior officer at GMB Scotland, said:

"This is another weird decision by Stirling which goes against the grain of current thinking. And it looks a lot like electioneering for both Labour and the Tories.

"But we'll be wanting assurances that this budget will not impact on frontline services which are already at breaking point and the job security of our members. The taxpayers of Stirling will also want to know they will not suffer a cut in services."

One could ask why unions and others aren’t pressing for local government reform to make services better and generate liquidity!

Scott Farmer, who proposed the SNP's budget, said his group had made "repeated approaches" to Labour group leader Corrie McChord in an attempt to reach a consensus over the budget.

He said:

"Mr McChord could not bring himself to sign up to anything proposed by the SNP. Selling whatever principles he ever had to jump into bed with the Tories – what an insult to his party."

Much like Glasgow SNP did with the Tories at Glasgow Council budget meeting.

Mr Farmer interesting said it was "not the time" to be cutting council tax, in fact, the SNP should abandon the council tax freeze as it unduly punishes the poor and vulnerable.

How much longer can the SNP stick with policies that see millionaires getting free prescriptions and council tax freezes?

Millionaires get this at the expense of the working class with cuts to services and provision.

The Labour group leader responded by calling Mr Farmer's argument "bunkum" and rejected claims that the party's amendment was "imprudent".

Mr McChord said:

"In the last two or three years we have supported cuts in council tax because it had grown more than in other areas of Scotland."

Tory group leader Alistair Berrill claimed the SNP had previously relied on their support.

He said:

"They were quite happy the last three budgets to accept our support. There was no talking about jumping into bed with the devil then."

Maybe ‘it’s time’ that the SNP woke up and smelt the coffee, local government reform is needed to be started now, at present due the referendum, the entire Scottish Government is paralysed because the big decisions are all being shelved.

People at the Accord Centre were promised a new facility.

Alex Salmond’s office issued a formal statement:

“During the election campaign I met many people who benefit from the Accord Centre. They put a good case to me for the future of the facility. They told me that a commitment had been made to them by Glasgow City Council some years ago, that if the centre had to go to make way for the Commonwealth Games as part of the local authority’s programme of modernisation, then they would be offered a like-for-like replacement. I was asked to come and see the centre so that I could understand why those who benefit from the services it provides believe that the alternative they are being offered is not appropriate. Today I was proud to meet staff, carers and service users as well as local people campaigning to save the centre. I think it is an important service for the community and I will continue to urge Glasgow City Council to ensure it is re-housed in suitable premises.”

The people of the Accord centre didn’t get a like for like replacement and they are still waiting on the First Minister to act.

But these people are working class; they are in for a long wait if they are waiting for Alex Salmond to come to their aid.

Blair in office doesn't 'do God', Salmond in office doesn't 'do working class'.

It would be quicker to ‘wait for godot’.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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