Cuts – a Conservative Group Perspective

Thursday November 16th 2017

Scottish Conservatives Council Elections 2017 Pauline Winchester

Article written by Midlothian Councillor Pauline Winchester, leader of the Conservative Group.

Everyone should know by now that Midlothian Council has to make cuts. The cuts this year will be around £14m. I was intending to only talk about the cuts, but without speaking about the financial situation, it would be impossible to put them in to context.

In a previous article in Midlothian View, Councillor Kenneth Baird (SNP Councillor) blamed the U.K. Government (‘Westminster’) and COSLA.

Councillor Baird says that the Council Leader, Councillor Derek Milligan, should go to COSLA as it has a Labour President. He obviously doesn’t know or realise, that COSLA elected a Labour President and an SNP Vice President in a Labour / SNP coalition. So if he blames Labour he should also blame the SNP!

COSLA (Labour/SNP coalition) have recently published a document called ‘Local Government Settlement’ #BUDGETREALITY. I suggest that Councillor Baird read this carefully. The document shows that the Scottish Government budget has increased and the settlement to Local Government has decreased. As the SNP / Labour coalition produced this paper, maybe he should look more to the SNP and stand up for Midlothian.

This is why Councillor Milligan went to see the SNP Minister for Finance Derek McKay.

Midlothian has no choice but to cut the budget.

But where should the cuts be made? That is where all three groups will differ. The Labour administration have put out the cuts to public consultation. Most people can see that the front line services are the worst hit. Most people will also have an opinion on what cuts they don’t want to happen, but very few have an opinion on what they would cut in return.

You don’t want the libraries to close? Where do you want cuts instead?

You don’t want teaching assistants to go? Where do you want cuts instead?

You don’t want the charities to lose funding? Where do you want cuts instead? So you get my drift by now.

The Conservative Group are looking for alternatives to the cuts to those front line services. But again, cuts will have to happen.

Do we want or need a snow sports centre? Do we need Vogrie Park? Do we need to spend so much on transport? The Conservative Group are thinking outside the box and are unrestrained by our party in Holyrood or Westminster. Both Labour and the SNP are so busy fighting each other they have forgotten their purpose. That is to represent Midlothian residents and not their party, to the best of their ability.

Despite what the SNP group like to say, we are not in a formal coalition with Labour. Neither party has approached us regarding where they want to cut the budget, but both will need our help if either of their budgets are to pass, whether that is to abstain from a vote or vote for a budget. We are willing to work with either party for the benefit of Midlothian.

Both parties need to stop playing party politics and get on with the job they were elected for. Stop the blame game, and get on with the job they were elected for. Stop the pettiness and get on with the job they were elected for. Move in to the 21st century, think outside the box, be inventive and come up with different ideas.

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