Yousaf’s council tax freeze brings us major problems - Cammy Day
Like most council leaders across Scotland we’ve been keen to support the Verity House Agreement, agreeing to the SNP/Green Scottish Government in working with councils to get the best we can for our towns and cities. Or so we thought.
Last week with no engagement or consultation with council leaders, Cosla, anyone supporting the Verity House Agreement or even their Green Party colleagues, the SNP leader announced changes to freeze local council tax - the only tax powers we have!
It’s no secret that local authorities are increasingly strapped for cash and are facing huge budget cuts. Here in the Capital, we remain the lowest funded local authority in Scotland and a freeze in council tax could cost us significant further cuts and job losses.
I share the sense of anger as to how this announcement was made and its impact. I’ll be raising this with the SNP First Minister and asking him to cough up for what is quite obviously electioneering and an ill-thought-out announcement. Supporting people through the cost-of-living crisis is the right thing to do, but it cannot be at the expense of funding the services that local people rely upon.
We need to find a resolution to this dispute, and while we have an emergency Leader’s meeting on Friday at Cosla to see what direction we wish to take nationally, only once we know the details of funding levels – and if there are conditions attached to our funding – will the council’s own budget become clearer.
In other news, I’m really pleased to see Nicola Benedetti CBE will receive the Edinburgh Award for her work. The award celebrates people who have made a unique contribution to the city, as well as bringing national and international attention. From her role as director of the Edinburgh International Festival, to the work of the Benedetti Foundation, based in Edinburgh, as well as a world-renowned musician, she represents Edinburgh with dedication and pride. Nicola joins previous Edinburgh Award Winners such as Ann Budge, Ian Rankin OBE, and Doddie Weir, to name but a few.
As we get closer to our world-famous Winter Festivals you may have seen the announcement that Pulp will headline this year’s Hogmanay celebrations. There’s something for everyone this year including; Bairns New Year Revels, internationally acclaimed ABBA sensations Björn Again headlining the Night Afore Disco Party, the return of the Torchlight Procession. After the difficult years of the pandemic, I’m overjoyed that our festivals are back to their brilliant best and providing such high calibre cultural offerings for our residents and visitors.
Finally, last week also saw the passing of my old friend Paul Nolan a former Labour councillor and a big figure of Edinburgh labour. Paul represented Craigmillar on Lothian Regional Council for nearly two decades, and was closely involved in many local organisations. I know will be missed by many not least for his sense of humour and passion for Craigmillar.