'˜Holyrood short-changing the Capital', argues Labour councillor
A MEMBER of the coalition in charge at City Chambers has called on the SNP council leader to lobby the Scottish Government for more cash after accusing Holyrood of short-changing the Capital.
Backbench Labour Cllr Gordon Munro has pleaded with SNP leader of the council, Cllr Adam McVey, to ask his party colleagues in control of the Scottish Government to pay for council workers and teachers in Edinburgh to receive a pay rise.
Labour and the SNP agreed a coalition deal at City Chambers last year under a new leadership and head up a minority administration on the Edinburgh City Council.
Cllr Munro said: “The leader will be aware that the Finance Minister reported an under-spend for 2017/18 of a whopping £453 million, more than double that of the previous year, which he boasted would not be returned to the Treasury, quite rightly, but in my view it should be returned to local government.
“The leader said he would make ‘robust representations’ to ensure Edinburgh would receive a fair deal. Has he made any since this announcement and, if not, why not?”
He added: “Before he launches into paeans of praise about the minister being prudent with the public purse, I would remind him that the COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) position last year was that local government needed £545m to stand still. I do not expect to get the full amount, but will he at least write and ask the Scottish Government to fully fund the pay rise for council workers and once settled, the teachers, so that council services do not suffer from this council being short changed by the Scottish Government?”
Around £66m of the under-spend will be added to the Scottish Government’s reserves, while £235m is set to be carried into the 2018/19 budget and £100m will fund Scotland’s new social security agency.
Two weeks ago, council leader Cllr McVey was ridiculed by critics after his plans to introduce a tourist tax in Edinburgh next year were shot down by Scottish culture and tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop on Twitter. Opponent councillors called into question Cllr McVey’s sway with his SNP colleagues at Holyrood. Cllr McVey said: “I haven’t met (finance secretary) Derek Mackay since that announcement, but I will meet him in the near future.
“In terms of the hundreds of millions of pounds of under-spend last year, I will absolutely echo Cllr Munro’s comments and indeed the Scottish Government’s comments that money should not be returned to Westminster. It should remain in Scotland for investment in our public services.”
He added: “In terms of asking for a slice of it, I’m not sure it would be accurate to say it’s sitting in a bank account with no home to go to.
“I’m always asking for additional resources for the City of Edinburgh Council.”