SNP government’s financial squeeze is bleeding Edinburgh dry – Cammy Day
Happy new year to everyone . . . well maybe not everyone! As we start 2019, Theresa May and the Tory Party are making a real and continued mess of Brexit and Edinburgh is facing a £41 million cut from the SNP Scottish Government.
Before Christmas I wrote of our predicted cuts to local services in Edinburgh, and I think I speak on behalf of every councillor when I say we were a shocked and appalled at the draft budget which equates to £41m of cuts and service reductions in Edinburgh. This cannot continue!
This will undoubtedly lead to pressures across the council, on our staff and to the citizens of Edinburgh. It’s time for the Scottish Government to recognise the important role that local government plays in education and schools, the care of our older people and those who experience homelessness and trying to maintain our vast network of roads and pavements, providing local services in libraries and other community facilities across the city while, simultaneously, trying to modernise the city and encourage active travel – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s time for political parties, trade unions, and communities to stand up to the governments that should fund local services, be that the SNP government and their attack on local councils, or the Tories in Westminster with continued cuts to welfare and benefit caps, ending up with a huge increase in families with young children being made homeless.
Homelessness in this city costs around £53m, not to mention the huge personal impact on individuals and families who lose their homes. Both of these governments, with deep pockets and reserves, are systematically failing to support local councillors in carrying out our role to support local services.
More positively, our evidence-based submission to the Scottish Government for the powers to introduce a Tourist Levy for Edinburgh is now complete. After a long period of engaging with the sector, the city and other stakeholders, we have a prepared a robust case that will soon be in the hands of the SNP government to agree. Most countries across Europe have some form of tourist levy and it’s time now for Edinburgh to lead the way in the UK.
February will see the second sitting of the Poverty Commission, which aims to understand better the drivers of poverty. The city needs to take a hard look at what we can all do to help change the harsh statistics of one in five children living in poverty in Scotland’s capital city.
With Commissioners from all walks of life, experiences and backgrounds, I’m looking forward to engaging with them in the months ahead. In particular I’m keen to engage the business community to see what more they could offer the city.
Recently, I hosted an all-party group looking at the regeneration of the Waterfront. With the council having purchased the former National Grid Site and engaged organisations to work with the wider community, plans are coming together that could see 4000 new homes built, cultural partnerships with the National Galleries, business and employment opportunities and a chance to see the historic Granton gas tower lit up with creative ideas for its long-term future. If you would like to get involved, please get in touch.
Cammy Day is the Labour Group leader at Edinburgh City Council