Edinburgh council elections: Labour candidates put anti-cuts message at heart of campaign

Labour is planning to put a distinctive anti-cuts agenda at the heart of its campaign for the Edinburgh council elections in May.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 4:55 am

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The party has helped run the Capital for the past five years as junior partner in a minority coalition with the SNP, but it is warning that public services in the city are under threat from inadequate funding by the Scottish Government.

A statement by Labour candidates says they stand for "rebuilding our services, not managing cuts".

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Stephen Jenkinson is Labour candidate for Pentland Hills

In her December budget, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes set funding for councils in 2022-23 at £6.9 billion, though the Scottish Parliament Information Centre said it needed to rise to around £7.1bn to keep up with inflation.

The candidates' statement is headed: "We say: Enough is Enough: an end to Cuts: Let’s Invest in Our Communities and Edinburgh. "

It continues: "The Scottish Government's continued failure to properly fund Edinburgh City Council has resulted in struggling local services, which are very much under threat in the face of further cuts.

"As candidates for the 2022 local government elections, we want to establish a distinctive position, separating us from the austerity manifestos of the SNP and Conservatives.

Nkechi Okoro is Labour candidate for Drumbrae/Gyle

"The Green Party have now joined the SNP in government. In Holyrood they will vote in favour of cuts to local government and Edinburgh council. We want to help take back power for our communities.

"Publicly-delivered services and democratic principles are indivisible. We stand for rebuilding our services, not managing cuts. To this end, Labour candidates will help build and support any initiative for resisting planned cuts to local government funding.

"We commit to a campaign aimed at forcing a Scottish government responsible for 80 per cent of funding to provide resources proportionate to our city’s needs. Edinburgh’s settlement over the past four years has been the lowest of all cities in Scotland.

"No more blaming Westminster for cuts amplified at Bute House."

Katrina Faccenda is Labour candidate for Leith

And candidates warned of the likely effect of the budget settlement for people in Edinburgh.

Stephen Jenkinson, an IT specialist standing in Pentlands Hills ward, said the funding settlement would make it much harder to provide the better services the city needed.

He said: "In Pentland Hills the impact of yet another round of community cuts handed down from the SNP and their Green colleagues in government are most likely to affect the provision of the day to day services that people really rely on. Cuts to school budgets would have a huge impact on our young while cuts to care services would predominantly affect our elderly. I want to improve services in Pentland Hills not cut them."

Nkechi Okoro, candidate for Drumbrae/Gyle, works in social care and said she feared the impact of the latest budget.

"With further cuts from the SNP/Green government at Holyrood I worry about the future of our services for both our elderly and young people.

"As a liaison officer for a local charity, I know that when cuts are made to councils, local community groups suffer as well.”

And Katrina Faccenda, candidate in Leith, said: “Year after year the Scottish Government’s budgets are disastrous for local services in Edinburgh and across Scotland. Now is the time for councillors to send a message to Holyrood and Westminster: we need fair funding and will not implement your austerity cuts.”

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