Edinburgh is suffering from a perfect storm of bad government by Tories, SNP, Greens and Labour – Robert Aldridge

While Boris Johnson desperately clings onto power by his fingertips and his party tears itself apart, there are other serious issues which affect us all, and which need attention.

By Robert Aldridge
Monday, 24th January 2022, 4:55 am
Boris Johnson's failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, coupled with cuts to council grants by Holyrood, mean trouble ahead (Picture: Andew Milligan/PA)
Boris Johnson's failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, coupled with cuts to council grants by Holyrood, mean trouble ahead (Picture: Andew Milligan/PA)

It is a sign of how distracted the government has become that it is only now turning to some very late and poorly designed measures to combat the looming cost-of-living crisis.

The problems have been known for months – rising inflation, labour shortages, energy prices going through the roof and so on. There is no clear plan and little action from the least competent government I can remember.

It matters because people are the victims of the government’s inaction. Luckily, so far, the winter has not been too harsh but already people are having to choose between heating and eating and the use of foodbanks is rising.

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They need to spend less time concocting ever more elaborate and unbelievable excuses for breaking Covid rules and instead do the real job of government with a focus on eradicating poverty.

Perhaps a New Year’s resolution to start telling the truth, obey the Ministerial Code, stop handing contracts to their friends and behave with integrity would be a start. But it’s probably a step too far for them.

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And while the focus has been on the disastrous pantomime at Westminster, it has taken the focus off things closer to home. The first Green and SNP budget from Holyrood cuts council budgets in real terms by over £350 million, according to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

That means either further cuts to important services, an increase in council tax or both. Edinburgh Council sets its budget in just a few weeks.

Because the Greens and SNP are short-changing the council, there is little prospect of any real improvement to the litany of failures by the current SNP and Labour council administration. Council tax will go up and services are likely to go down, and all this at a time when family budgets are being squeezed ever harder.

We need more investment in our paths, pavements and roads. Our recycling rates are falling instead of rising. Our street cleaning scores are worse and our schools had their devolved budgets cut last year by SNP and Labour.

For the first time, people have to pay an extra charge for garden refuse collections and our valuable parks and greenspaces have been starved of investment.

Of course, Covid has had a serious impact on how services can be delivered, especially in social care where staff have been working flat out but that is not the only reason. It is also down to the political management of the city.

So Lib Dems will continue to focus on getting basic services right in the city. We think it is important to have a council which actually listens when it consults and delivers on the constructive suggestions made by our wise citizens.

We are in a ‘perfect storm’ of poor governance at present. From all levels of government: Westminster, Holyrood and Edinburgh we deserve better.

Robert Aldridge is the Scottish Liberal Democrat councillor for Drum Brae/Gyle and leader of his party’s group on Edinburgh Council

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