Paul Edie: Council’s cuts are reckless and nasty

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Later this week we will get a first glimpse of John Swinney’s budget for next year and at last an idea of how much the council will get to spend.

I, like other councillors, am nervously waiting to hear how much local government will be cut back. The hints have not been good and the Nationalists’ record of funding local councils has been abysmal.

Over the lifetime of the SNP administration at Holyrood the share of public spending on local councils has fallen significantly.

That allied to a seven-year freeze on council tax, which has prevented us from raising more of our own income, has led to a much reduced share of the cake. That the cake itself is now shirking doesn’t augur well.

Next year’s council budget promises to be dire. The council’s Labour leader Andrew Burns has for three years made much of the fact that proposals for the council budget, currently out for consultation, are not officer’s proposals but those of the councillors in the Labour/SNP administration.

At the last finance committee we got sight for the first time of a number of new proposals which have been added to that consultation. Some of these are stupid and others frankly dangerous.

Take the proposed cuts to lollipop men and women as an example. This is not something that my Liberal Democrat group could support. It is patently reckless and should be dropped instantly. Myself and the lone Green councillor on that committee tried to get this kicked into touch but the inflexible administration were having none of it.

Other cuts while not dangerous are just downright nasty. Take cuts to respite care for children, or to families through care, targeting young people with disabilities and their carers. Respite is absolutely vital to carers. Adding to their stress levels is callous and yet that is what the SNP/Labour administration are proposing.

Sure they will both blame the Westminster Tory government for it all – George Osborne’s cuts have been draconian and evidence of just what the Lib Dems vetoed – but ultimately on the ground these cuts are council cuts and the result of choices to be made by councillors.

Reckless though the Osborne spending review might be, it takes an administration of pretendy socialists like the current one we have in Edinburgh to really put the boot into the poor and the vulnerable.

Paul Edie is councillor for Corstorphine/Murrayfield Ward and Liberal Democrat group party leader at Edinburgh City Council