SNP Group condemn wasteful cost

Friday April 7th 2017

Midlothian Council Tax Letter

Midlothian residents have all been sent a letter this week from Midlothian Council Chief Executive about the increase in council tax charges in 2017/18.

Midlothian SNP Councillors have condemned the use of council tax payers money to send out the letters informing residents about changes to council tax made by the Scottish Government, despite already receiving council tax bills in February.

The letters were sent out following a motion at the last Midlothian Council meeting by Independent Councillor Peter De Vink and the Midlothian Labour Group leader, Labour Councillor Derek Milligan.

Midlothian SNP Council Group Leader, Councillor Cath Johnstone said:

“This absurd waste of money has been an exercise in inflating political egos and using council tax payers money for political point scoring.

“The band changes affect only a quarter of Midlothian residents yet the motion called for the Chief Executive to write to every household despite this not being a council decision.

“The cost alone is staggering at an estimated £20k, let alone the staff effort and extra workload to get these out in line with the demands of Cllr De Vink and the Labour Group.

“The SNP Group tried to make sensible cost saving suggestions in the chamber but these were rejected by all Councillors, except the SNP group.

“Midlothian voters won’t forget this episode when we go to the polls on the 4th May. It is becoming clear that Midlothian Labour and the so-called ‘independents’ are cut from the same cloth and only the SNP will stand up for Midlothian.”

During the debate on the motion last week Labour Councillor Milligan said:

“Council Tax has always been for councils to decide what their priorities are.

“It pays for vital services.

“I want all voters to know that the incoming council [after the local election on May 4th] will have horrendous decisions to make as a direct result of the mess you [SNP councillors] have made of running the council.”

Midlothian View checked with the council as to the actual cost of sending out the letter and a council spokesperson said “The total cost of sending out the letter was £11,560 plus VAT. This excludes Officer time.”

The motion was passed with 11 votes for and 6 votes against with SNP councillor Andrew Coventry voting for the motion. Councillor Coventry said “It is important to be open and honest with the public so they are fully aware and they know why they are having to pay the rises.”

It is unusual for a councillor to vote against their party however Councillor Coventry has been deselected by the SNP and is standing as an independent in the local elections on May 4th.

The full text of the motion can be read HERE.

The extract of the webcast of the meeting can be viewed HERE, see agenda item 7.3.

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