SNP group kick it into the long grass

Friday June 29th 2018

Grass Cutting

Written by editor Phil Bowen

This week the SNP group of councillors blocked discussion of improvements to grass cutting and general maintenance.

The Labour group had raised a motion for discussion and agreement at the Midlothian full council meeting. Their motion recognised that the budget cuts in March were having a significant detrimental effect on Midlothian’s parks and open spaces in towns and villages. They proposed re-investing £50k of the £90k, that the Land and Countryside team had raised by doing work external to the council, to improve grass cutting and maintenances standards.

However, as soon as discussion started SNP Councillor Joe Wallace objected. The standing orders (rules) of the council state that no decision made by the council can be re-visited for a period of six months unless 12 of the 18 councillors agree to suspend the standing order. Therefore, in order for the discussion of grass cutting to take place it required a suspension of standing orders as the council budget had been set in February. Although grass cutting was not cut in February it was part of the overall budget.

Councillor Wallace insisted that a vote to suspend standing orders took place and so the councillors voted. The 7 SNP councillors voted against suspending standing orders which meant the motion could not be discussed.

Afterwards Midlothian View asked both sides for comment.

The SNP Group’s Deputy Leader, Kenneth Baird, said:

“This is the second time since Labour’s February budget that they’ve attempted to fudge the numbers to plug a hole of their own making.

Once again they made no approach to the 7 SNP councillors and assumed our support with no explanation as to where the money was being taken from, knowing full well they would need our support to bring the motion to Council.

Enough is enough, if Labour want to admit they’ve made a mess of their budget, we’re more than happy to get round the table and discuss a way forward but until then we cannot support their haphazard approach to our Council’s finances.”

Council leader and Labour Councillor, Derek Milligan said:

“The effects of an early summer and cuts by the last SNP administration to grass cutting budgets have left our grassed areas and cemeteries looking unkempt and untidy throughout our towns and villages.

“Midlothian Labour group attempts to invest in and improve our land and countryside by increasing the rate of grass cutting in our open spaces and cemeteries was blocked by all SNP councilors (on a technicality).

“As the money to pay for this has been generated through additional income brought in by the land services manager raising money from outside work this would have no effect on the councils budget.

“It appears the SNP will continue to play silly immature party political games and it appears they have no civic pride.”

Watch the meeting yourself by clicking HERE and choosing the final motion on the right entitled “Motion by Councillor Milligan, seconded by Councillor Muirhead.”

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