LETTERS: Holyrood must reverse its council funding cuts

The scale of the budget cuts facing Scotland's capital were made clear in an e-mail that welcomed all of the City of Edinburgh Council's staff to work last week. It outlined how over the past five years we've faced cuts amounting to £240m and over the next five years we'll have to deal with a further £140m.

Monday, 30th October 2017, 4:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:16 pm
Tough Call: City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey

Despite the problems facing education, social care and waste collection, these budgets will be further squeezed. Readers should ask themselves how we can hope to improve these key services by cutting their budget.

The discussions surrounding the latest round of cuts have been protracted and difficult. Although I was openly critical of the decision my Labour colleagues made to enter a deal in Edinburgh with the SNP, I can say now that the cuts facing Edinburgh would have been worse without our progressive voices being around the table arguing for the many, not the few.

While as much as possible we argued to protect services used by the vulnerable and those who need a helping hand to have the best start in life, these cuts have sacrificed non-statutory services to protect what we are legally obliged to deliver. Notwithstanding this, everything from waste collection to education is being cut.

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The good news is that if you can afford it, you can pay to have your garden waste collected or even hire a music tutor to ensure your talented youngster reaches their full potential. If you are on a low income, the story is a little different however.

Be in no doubt, this is just the start. If continued, the council will only provide basic statutory services and those who want something better will have to pay if they can afford to do so.

One piece of non-statutory provision, however, will not be consulted on. Because policing in the Capital is not adequately funded, the City of Edinburgh Council contributes around £2.6m to pay the salaries of well over 50 police officers of various ranks. So not only is Edinburgh dealing with its own funding crisis, it is also making up for the underfunding of Police Scotland by the Scottish Government.

The SNP council leader Adam McVey said about the latest round of cuts that the “consultation will go live soon” and he wanted to “hear what you think”.

Well I think these cuts to basic services are unacceptable and it is time this his party’s elite in Holyrood used its powers and gave Edinburgh the funding it deserves.

It needs funding not only to reverse these cuts, but also to bring social care back from the brink, close the attainment gap and actually get the bins collected on time.

Prof Scott Arthur, Labour Councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead Ward, City Chambers, Edinburgh

I don’t want to say I told you, but I told you

I read with great interest the council’s proposed budget plans for next year. During the local government elections last May, I did try to warn people what would happen if they persisted in voting in Lab/ Nat administrations.

Well, that’s democracy, I suppose. Never mind, only four years to go

Paul R Penman, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Candidate, Leith Ward

Instead of bin tax how about a student tax?

The council are proposing another charge to home owners, brown bin collection tax -if they remember to collect the bin in the first place.

I keep a communal garden, 95 percent of the other tenants are students so they don’t bother about the garden. They use it to hang out washing or have BBQs but that’s all. There’s that woman that does that. The one that cuts the grass. Keeps the garden tidy. Puts out the bins on bin day. Brings them back in to the garden. Fights past cycles in a filthy stair to put them away.

These are the very same persons that don’t pay council tax. They don’t respect the bin collections and if the black bins are full, leave bags next to the bins.

These are the same people that put inappropriate things down the drain or sewer. No wonder the council have no money.

Edinburgh is a student city and none of them pay anything towards the running of the city facilities they abuse. But it’s easier to go after the council tax payer who already pays for everything. And we pay for parking. Why not add a student tax to our list of items?

Mrs Lyn Blackhall, East Preston Street, Edinburgh

Audit Scotland has bad news for our NHS

Another day, another depressing report on the NHS in Scotland. Audit Scotland tells us that life expectancy is ‘lower than in most European countries’ and that drug-related deaths are now at the highest rate in the EU, having ‘increased significantly’. Overall, key national targets were mostly not met in 2016-17.

Instead of prioritising universally the Named Person, more child care and baby boxes, would the Scottish Government not do better to focus on promoting healthier living - including combating drug abuse - in those communities where early mortality is at its highest?

Audit Scotland tells us that general practice faces ‘significant challenges’. One way in which GP surgeries are facing these is by deterring patients from seeing GPs.

I do not know whether it is routine to have to phone the surgery at 8am, tell the receptionist what the problem is and then wait, possibly all day, for a GP one has never set eyes on and with whom one has no relationship to phone back. Perhaps at the end of all that people do see their own GP. I wouldn’t know

Jill Stephenson, Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh

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