Christine Grahame accused of “gutter politics”

Thursday March 28th 2019

Fairfield House

The Deputy Leader of the Council has rebuked local MSP Christine Grahame, accusing here of “gutter politics.”

Earlier this week Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, criticised Labour Leader Councillor Derek Milligan, for failing to answer her questions about his attendance at COSLA, the representative body of local councils responsible for allocating funding to each local authority once the overall amount has been agreed with the Scottish Government.

Ms Grahame said she wrote to Councillor Milligan to ask what representations he had made to COSLA for additional funding for Midlothian following proposals for cuts made by the Labour led council claiming that Midlothian Council did not receive fair share of local government funding under the current COSLA formula.

COSLA holds eight leader of councils’ meeting each year where council leaders can make any representation on behalf of their local authority. And Ms Grahame said:

“It remains unclear how many, if any, of these Councillor Milligan has actually attended.”

“I find it extraordinary that Councillor Milligan has failed to answer the simple question as to how many COSLA meetings he attended despite having had almost 2 months to respond. Given that I have repeated my request and have not even received an acknowledgement to my emails I can only assume councillor Milligan is refusing to answer the question – does this mean he attended none?

“There are 8 leader of councils’ meetings each year and surely Councillor Milligan should have been putting forward the case for more funding for Midlothian if, as he claims, the administration was concerned it wouldn’t receive a large enough settlement?

“People in Midlothian deserve an answer from Councillor Milligan on this. He was elected to represent Midlothian – I am yet to see any evidence when it comes to COSLA that he’s done this.”

Responding, Councillor Jim Muirhead Deputy Leader of the Council and Labour Group, strongly rebuked the local MSP saying.

“This is real gutter politics from Christine Grahame. She well knows that it is the Scottish Government who decide the funding for local Council’s and it is they who have the power to alter the method of distribution. The argument that the inequity in the distribution could be solved through COSLA is a smoke screen from the SNP, designed to deflect people away from the real issue that the Scottish Government’s funding of local authorities is woefully inadequate, in particular in areas of rapid growth.

“When she singles out Councillor Milligan for his attendance record at COSLA meetings she does so fully aware that Councillor Milligan has, in the past year or so, suffered a close family bereavement, a horrible accident and a life threatening health scare, which has meant he has had to restrict some of the many meetings he would normally attend. That said, he has ensured that a substitute has attended in his place.

“This is a despicable statement from our MSP, taking politics into the gutter, particularly when you consider that only this week the SNP group on Midlothian Council brought forward a motion calling for recognition that sometimes Councillors are ill, bereaved, or incapacitated to the extent that they are unable to attend Council meetings and called for the right to have substitutes attend. This was a sensible motion which received unanimous support from Councillors of all parties.

“I would call on all SNP Councillors to draw this to our MSP’s attention and ask her to cease this childish behaviour and start doing her job, which is to support Midlothian people and to support other elected representatives in their fight to get the best settlement possible from the Scottish Government rather than doing anything she can to frustrate their efforts.”

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