Council must reverse education cuts - Adam Nols-McVey

Cllr Adam Nols-McVeyCllr Adam Nols-McVey
Cllr Adam Nols-McVey
SNP councillors propose to give a £200 cost-of-living winter payment for around 9000 kids across Edinburgh in receipt of free school meals or receiving a school clothing grant. That money could be a winter coat or just a little help for families over the winter months.

This payment is possible because the council has an extra £13.7m to spend right now. This is money from a whopping budget underspend in the last financial year, which begs the question - how can Labour and their allies say they have no money for Council services while accumulating so much extra cash? We believe instead of hoarding money; it should be used to improve people’s lives now.

We’re also proposing to reverse the hugely damaging cuts to education which will remove all Education Welfare Officers, a key support from families who need extra support to attend and get the most of school. We have now tried four times to stop or reverse the cuts to Education Welfare Officers with the Labour, Tory, Lib Dem administration blocking us each time. If they do so again, that team, and the vital support they offer, will disappear. If we want to close the attainment gap, this is entirely the wrong approach.

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The SNP believe to our core that councils should be a force for good in our communities. It’s why we passionately believe in using all powers available to tackle poverty and climate change and transform people lives. It’s also why we demanded (and got) extra powers from the Scottish Government for councils to deal with Airbnb-style short-term lets and to raise new funds from a prospective tourist tax and others. We have an obligation to spend all the money available to us to benefit and support our residents. It’s our residents’ money after all.

Kids on free school meals need more helpKids on free school meals need more help
Kids on free school meals need more help

Residents are right to expect all parties to share that sense of public good. However recently we’ve seen examples falling far from that standard. In North Lanarkshire, Labour and their Tory coalition partners tried to close 39 community centres and leisure facilities. Thanks to an immense campaign, the council administration was forced to U-turn and admit they didn’t need to close them after all. In the end it had all been unnecessary, playing a political game with lifeline local services. A political ploy to blame the Scottish Government and the residents of North Lanarkshire saw right through it. Credit to all those communities in North Lanarkshire who spoke out against the Labour-Tory administration and, with the help of SNP Councillors, local SNP MSPs and SNP MPs, forced them to abandon their plans.

Edinburgh is unfortunately not immune to these tactics. At Edinburgh’s last Council meeting a prominent Tory Councillor argued that the issue of concrete safety in public buildings should be used as an excuse to close community facilities here in the Capital. Edinburgh’s Labour, Lib Dem and Tory administration leaders failed to challenge the comments. Again, it was the SNP group which immediately responded to make clear we will fight any such attempts to axe local facilities.

SNP councillors are steadfastly on the side of our communities and residents. We will work with anyone we can to protect public services, support those residents who need it most, tackle poverty and meet the challenge of climate change.