Saturday February 25th 2023
Kelly Parry, The Leader of Midlothian Council and Midlothian West Councillor (SNP).
This View has been written by Kelly Parry, The Leader of Midlothian Council.
Midlothian Councillors work together for the benefit of our communities. Last Tuesday the council passed its budget for the year ahead. We did so in the most challenging circumstances Scottish local government has faced in the modern era.
The Westminster government’s economic mismanagement, a disastrous Brexit, record inflation and its impact on goods and services, and the cost-of-living crisis have created an unprecedented set of financial pressures resulting in a very difficult budget settlement. And in that difficult context, we also rightly want to compensate our staff as best we can through decent pay uplifts.
Despite these tough economic challenges, an increase in demand for our services and a challenging and fixed budget position all Midlothian Councillors have worked hard to do our best for the people of Midlothian. We do all care deeply, and we all care about Council services, it’s why we all do what we do.
Given that we faced a spending gap of almost £14 million, the budget contained some savings all Midlothian Councillors would rather have not made, and we urgently need to address the funding settlement for Midlothian, or the method by which it is calculated, a point of consensus by us all.
But, even within these pressures, Councillors of all parties worked very hard to maintain our commitment to Council services that people really care about like our Countryside Rangers, Music Tuition, P4 swimming, childcare for our most vulnerable children and investing in our cost of living support to residents. We also continued our funding to invest in services like transport for our disabled residents and school travel, school crossing patrols, libraries and gala days, but we do so knowing that we will still need to work hard to transform how we deliver these services and others, or in some cases reduce them further.
Being able to continue to invest in those services wasn’t easy. It involved some very tough conversations with Scottish Government colleagues, and with each other.
Leadership is about making difficult decisions, fighting difficult fights and trying always to make the right choice even when it feels like there’s no right choice available. This budget is not the budget any of us would want, but it protects what needs to be most protected and gives the Council direction and strategy.
The circumstances we find ourselves in require us all – more than ever – to seek solutions across our communities, and across different public services. And most importantly to work together, in solidarity, with compassion and with our communities at the heart of everything we do.Tweet Share on Facebook