Readers' letters: Thatcher led the way on council fund cuts

The irony of Cllr John McLellan extending sympathy towards Gordon Munro’s admirable record of opposing cuts to vital services in our city, (News, 6 January) will not have been lost on those who grew up during the 1980s.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 15th January 2022, 7:00 am

Throughout that decade, Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative government did not limit itself to a programme of ruthless cuts to local government funding.

It also repatriated a range of powers from local government, centralising authority at a UK level to an extent that has contributed to a fraying of public confidence in local democracy.

Further, by legislating for the compulsory outsourcing of services, democratic norms were subverted as supply lines became increasingly opaque and driven by profiteering.

And I haven’t even mentioned the poll tax or the summary dissolving of the Greater London Council.

Perhaps a belief in the right of Edinburgh citizens to hold councillors accountable for the services they are elected to deliver is ‘hopelessly naïve,’ as John McLellan claims.

Perhaps those Labour candidates committed to opposing SNP/Tory cuts to services are ‘tying themselves up in knots.’ Or maybe those candidates understand the importance of a democratic alliance between service providers and users and elected politicians that lies at the heart of thriving, confident cities.

Alongside similarly committed Labour colleagues, if elected, my tenure will break from the myth of the inevitability of austerity cuts. It will seek to restore democratic accountability to service delivery.

I will oppose cuts to services already struggling to deliver what any civilised society ought to expect. And I will reach out to my constituents for support, because only with their backing can the Scottish government be persuaded to provide a realistic funding settlement for the people of Edinburgh.

If those values appear ‘cynical’ to Cllr McLellan, I recommend a crash course in hope and optimism for him and his Conservative Group colleagues.

In times as desperate as these, elected councillors ought to be raising rather than lowering the bar of what is possible in a city as wonderful as ours.

Katrina Faccenda, Labour candidate for Leith Ward.

Hospitality sector

We all have sympathy with the problems facing our hospitality sector (News, 13 January). However, it should be recognised that the Scottish Government has offered better grants and relief packages than elsewhere in the UK but cannot borrow money for day-to-day spending or extending furlough payments in Scotland.

Escalating inflation and massive price increases to household bills and hospitality are almost entirely down to UK government failure on energy policy, Brexit and the disastrous handling of Covid by the Tories which will result in years of austerity.

Brexit restrictions on EU workers and difficulties with supply chains are ongoing plus businesses and employees face a 1.25 per cent National Insurance increase from April.

High energy prices are largely down to privatisation and the fact that the Tory government allowed Centrica to shut down its vast gas storage facility in 2017 that wiped out the UK’s buffer against price moves and left us at the mercy of global markets.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Ross v Jack

Jacob Rees-Mogg is quite right to describe Douglas Ross as a lightweight compared with Alister Jack. After all, Alister Jack went to a public school and Douglas Ross didn’t.

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

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