Midlothian Labour call on SNP to stop playing games

Tuesday February 19th 2019

Fairfield House

Written by Midlothian Labour

The Midlothian Council Labour Group has called on the SNP Councillors to reject the cynical game playing and join them in working to address Midlothian’s serious financial problems.

Speaking after the Council’s budget meeting last week, Council Leader Derek Milligan said:-

“At Tuesdays Council meeting the Labour Administration proposed a budget that ensured that many of our vital front-line services would be saved, at least for now.

Labour Councillors rejected a number of measures put forward by Management aimed at dealing with the £9.739m budget gap resulting from the lack of fair Government funding, which would have cut vital services and led to many more job losses.

Amongst the measures avoided were:

– stopping Instrumental music tuition and creative arts service
– closure of libraries, closures of Danderhall, Newtongrange and Gorebridge Leisure centres
– stopping Active schools provision
– stopping free swimming lessons for primary 4 pupils
– cuts in ASN learning assistants
– removal of school crossing guides
– removal of Police Community Action Teams
– closure of public toilets
– closure of Penicuik recycling centre
– stopping all supported bus travel and community transport.

The SNP finance spokesperson, on the other hand, appeared content to play games with people’s services and livelihoods, proposing that a decision be put off for another month to allow talks to take place, when they have failed to engage on this issue before now. Another month of uncertainty for our service users and staff.

She poured scorn on the warnings from officers and the Labour Administration that Midlothian needs to address its serious financial problems, suggesting that they would be pushing to limit the Council tax rise to 3% and that they would re-introduce free music tuition, all of which would have added another £1million to the budget gap.

At the end of the discussion, what did the SNP group do? It voted against the Labour proposals to save all the services mentioned above. Yes that’s right THEY VOTED AGAINST saving services and jobs, despite having posed for the camera just an hour earlier expressing their solidarity with those protesting against the cuts outside the Council chambers.

The SNP group had clearly focussed on closing the budget gap by making the hard-working Council house rent payers pay the bill, robbing the housing account of the money we need to build much needed housing for the 5000 families on our housing list. When that move was ruled incompetent, which they were well warned of, they had nothing left to offer apart from more childish game-playing.

Midlothian Labour will continue to call the Scottish Government to account for their lack of adequate support for our services and will continue to call for the other SNP councillors in Midlothian, who do care about our people and our services, to join us in the fight to make sure that these cuts are not simply put back on the table next year.

We also have to remember that, while we have avoided some of the cuts to front line services, there are a number of measures we have had to accept that will lead to service reductions and job losses.

We need to put aside our political difference and focus on resolving these issues permanently. We all owe this to our constituents and our County.”

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