Edinburgh's Council Tax looks set to rise to pay for madcap schemes of a council with a looming multi-billion-pound capital deficit – John McLellan
We know from bitter experience that Edinburgh’s SNP-Labour administration likes nothing better than making grandiloquent announcements of unachievable ambitions to keep the council press office busy.
The problem is that having had the Council Tax cap removed by the Scottish government, and an oft-repeated belief that Edinburgh is so wealthy it can afford anything, there is a high chance they will try to tax their way to meeting their goals.
Yet it was an SNP councillor, Lord Provost Frank Ross, who exposed the danger this week, wresting an admission from officers that the capital commitments already made by this administration mean the capital deficit over ten years is already “several billion” and there is currently no chance of those commitments being met.
Councillor Ross said it was already known that commitments like the City Plan 2030 and City Centre Transformation cannot be funded. “If we’re ten years short of what we have already decided, do we not need to be more pragmatic?” he asked.
“There is no point adding to the deficit. Realistically we are not going to close that gap,” he said. “… we make commitments to capital expenditure but we know we can’t fulfil them.”
Officers spoke about potential funding coming from developer contributions or the Scottish government (aka tax-payers), but tellingly also mentioned Council Tax “flexibility”. That only means one thing.
You have been warned. For every madcap scheme this administration comes up with between now and the May election, there is no money except what they can wring out of you.