Edinburgh Council budget: Cammy Day's credibility has been shattered. We now have a clown for a council leader – John McLellan

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I doubt Stephen Sondheim ever witnessed an Edinburgh Council meeting, but from the reaction of the hard-left circus to last week’s budget vote someone certainly sent in the clowns.

I’ve heard a lot of nonsense from councillors over the years, but the claim from the Greens’ that tactical voting was “at huge personal cost” sets a new standard for sanctimonious balderdash. What did this bravery entail? Not going to prison or volunteering for the front line in Ukraine, but sticking up their hands in a smart-assed stunt to embarrass political rivals, which then backfired.

Such hyperbole simply insults the public’s intelligence, but the public is smart enough to recognise a five per cent council tax rise isn’t a bad deal under current circumstances, although the Conservative budget would have limited the increase to four. When even dogs in the street know the SNP-Green government handed Edinburgh a stinking deal, the lowest block grant per capita of any Scottish council last year, it only adds to their hypocrisy.

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The approved programme means the schools’ budget has been protected, and the officer recommendation of a £5.55m cut to teachers and pupil support assistants has been avoided. And as the state of the city’s streets was the top concern in a 2021 council residents’ survey, the £11m extra for paths, pavements and roads, and the £3m increase in street sweeping, gully cleaning and graffiti removal are long overdue.

Two-thirds of voters believe economic conditions will worsen in the next year, according to research for the David Hume Institute, so most sensible people would agree it’s unacceptable for the authority to spend £600,000 a year to keep highly-paid officers whose roles have been scrapped in a “redeployment pool” where they do little but play golf or sudoku because of an absolute refusal to countenance compulsory redundancies.

They can be paid off now this commitment has gone, but apparently this “throws workers and trade unions under the bus”, as opposed to freeing up resources to help relieve pressure on other staff. So too is it beyond the pale to just explore the possibility that £2.5m a year could be saved by outsourcing waste and cleansing services.

But then why bother seeking such efficiencies if you think it’s fair to simply fleece those who live in higher Council Tax band properties to fund your political posturing? I’ve some sympathy with the defeated sulkers in that, having failed to preserve his budget, the credibility of council leader Cammy Day has been shattered because he ended up voting for a package which included measures against which he railed in every budget debate I sat through.

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How ironic that just as Labour looks like getting its act together nationally, the local party is falling to bits, with at least one branch calling for him to quit. Under normal circumstances it would trigger resignation, as the SNP leader of Dumfries & Galloway has just done, but Councillor Day has enough brass for an aircraft carrier’s propellor and will no doubt try to brush it off.

No need to send in the clowns to Edinburgh Council. They're already there (Picture: Chris Ison/PA)No need to send in the clowns to Edinburgh Council. They're already there (Picture: Chris Ison/PA)
No need to send in the clowns to Edinburgh Council. They're already there (Picture: Chris Ison/PA)

It’s a Lib Dem budget, but most of their leading councillors can’t accept senior administrative roles because they have other occupations they can’t afford to abandon, so the bold Cammy looks safe unless his party dumps him. Send in the clowns? Don’t bother, he’s here.

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