Brexit, The Meantime and Budgets

Monday January 27th 2020

Christine Grahame MSP

Christine Grahame MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

Friday 31st January

Brexit day is this a good deal for you? For Midlothian? For Scotland. Like it or lump it, we are out. The European Flag which flies outside the Parliament may or may not be taken down. It is after all the Flag of the Council of Europe, of which we remain a member. We’ll see.

And where is the respect for the devolved parliaments every one of which, the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament, voted to reject the Withdrawal Agreement? This is not a Union of equals but a Union which is dominated by Westminster which to all intents and purposes behaves as the English Parliament. That is not a wise move.

As for the impact on our goods, services, food supplies, medicines, on our farmers and manufacturers, time will tell. That time is eleven months hence and the end of the Transition Period when Boris has pledged the final farewell, Deal or No Deal. All of this which we did not vote for. Scary times.

Meantime

It is business as usual on the domestic front. Bills progress through Parliament and committees continue to critique the government. The Scottish Government will shortly set what must be a provisional budget as Westminster has delayed its budget from which ours must flow. Likewise this has left all 32 councils delaying their budgets.

What does Boris care? He frets over bongs from Big Ben real or electronic. He waxes lyrical over a Brexit souvenir coin. What would Rabbie Burns have said of him? Ah yes “Ye see yon birkie ca’d a lord “or perhaps as Boris tries to bribe his way into Scottish hearts as no doubt he will “ Sic a parcel o rogues in a nation”

Back to budgets

Midlothian indisputably has the fastest growing population in Scotland. Fact. The budget which Midlothian Council receives is based on a formula agreed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities better known as COSLA. For decades it has been the organisation which negotiates with the Scottish Government the overall budget for all 32 councils then applies this agreed formula to distribute the monies.

The Scottish Government does not negotiate individually with each local authority. You can imagine how that would not work and the time it would take for it not to work. Part of that formula and by far the most significant part is population size. You would think then that Midlothian would do better over the years and so it should.

I would have some sympathy for Midlothian council but it has been reluctant to tell me how often it makes representations along these lines. The result of that greatly expanding population is added pressure on our roads with tailbacks the norm. It is my understanding that all these new developments have to have had an impact analysis of the increase in traffic. Following from that I wonder what commitments the developers had to make to road improvements? I have asked MLC and await an answer.

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