Comment: Council money has to come from somewhere

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So the cupboard is almost bare at the City Chambers – we’re borassic, broke, don’t have two pennies to rub together.

Well, not quite. It’s hardly the dark days of the 1980s on Merseyside when the local authority there was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

This is no disaster in the Capital – at least not yet.

No-one is about to pull the plug on the long-awaited projects which have already been promised funds, such as the desperately needed new schools at Portobello and Craigmillar.

And, of course, there is no danger of teachers, street cleaners and so on going unpaid.

But that is not to say that the situation is not extremely serious.

There is no doubt that the city has been handed a tough financial settlement from the Scottish Government.

As things stand, the city cannot afford to invest in anything over and above its current, limited capital spending programme.

If that continues, it will soon start to impact on all aspects of life in the Capital.

It means even more of our potholed roads and cracked pavements will go unrepaired.

It means it will be even harder for parents to get their children into the school of their choice.

If many are unhappy just now at being refused places in schools outside their catchment area, just imagine how much harder it will be if the city cannot continue building extensions or new schools to keep pace with the growing school age population.

In Glasgow, parents who expected their children to be guaranteed a place at Hillhead Primary are being warned they cannot be guaranteed a place at their local school. It is not inconceivable that the same could happen here at some of the popular primaries such as South Morningside.

It also means any future major projects, like a potential extension of the tram line to Leith, would be unlikely to get off the ground.

Over the last seven years, we have all benefited from the Scottish Government’s policy of freezing council tax, but questions are increasingly being asked about what the cost to local services will be of that continuing into next year.

Earlier this month, a Mori poll found that two-thirds of Scots would be prepared to pay more council tax if they were sure the money would be spent on local services.

The Capital is growing, it needs to invest to meet the challenges that come with that – and the money to do that has to come from somewhere.