Where we are and where we will be

Where we are and where we will be
The idea of Edinburgh is a combination of place, soul and symbolic leadership of a nation

Thursday, 15 November 2007

When is a deal just a pig in a poke?

I know that I am still going on about this but the so called Concordat between CoSLA and the Scottish Government has more holes than Rab C Nesbits simmet!
  • There appears to be no provision to meet the costs of PPP payments as more schools are completed.
  • There appears to be no provision for new school building. The SNP pledged to match Labour’s plans for school buildings (a further 250 schools) ‘brick for brick’ – it seems Councils will now be expected to deliver this without extra resources to do so.
  • Those Councils which agreed to increase local taxes to pay for payments for new schools will now have to find that money from elsewhere.
  • The budget contains no money for class size reductions.
  • 50% increase in nursery provision is not being fully funded
  • There is no guaranteed extra money for free personal care, at this stage
  • It is not clear how other key funds for Councils will be distributed, eg, for flood prevention/coast protection schemes. Councils may have to fund above average costs themselves?

The SNP announced on Wednesday that they had secured a deal with local councils to freeze council tax. In return for doing this, councils and the Scottish government would reach agreement on which policies need to be implemented.

However today (15 November) at First Minister’s Questions, Alex Salmond went further and made commitments which would have a significant impact on councils:

Wendy Alexander - "Yesterday Mr Swinney held up a piece of paper from CoSLA. Today I’d like to do the same.

This is also a paper from CoSLA– it makes clear that in the budget there is not a penny more to reduce class sizes. Not a penny more for new schools. No extra money for PE and sports facilities.

I know the FM is not very good at yes or no answers but parents across Scotland need to know the answers.

Does every local authority in Scotland have to make year on year progress to achieve your pledge to reduce class sizes even if pupil numbers are rising? Yes or no?"

Alex Salmond – Yes, it’s item number 4 in the agreement, local government will be expected to show year on year progress on class reduction.

Yet that's not what it says nor is it what Fiona Hyslop said

This is the first, but probably not the last example, of the SNP changing this deal to suit them, at the expense of local services and a big financial cost to councils.

We are in trouble and somewhat ironically its the council tax payer (who think that they are getting a freeze) that will pay the price in the long run.


Calum Cashley said...

How sad that you are so narrow-minded about what is an enhancement of the role that local government plays in Scotland.

You should try to take a leaf out of the book of Labour councillor Pat Watters, president of COSLA who released the following:

The budget settlement announced by Mr Swinney this afternoon signals the start of a new relationship between central and local government in the governance of Scotland COSLA President Pat Watters said today (Wednesday).

Councillor Watters said: "Whilst today's budget in terms of cash is not brilliant COSLA believes that it is the best deal that can be delivered at the moment.
"Whilst cash is the main element of any budget and is obviously vitally important I think it is imperative that we see today's announcement in terms of a much greater role and status for local government. We have to see the cash element in the context of greater flexibility and greater responsibility for local government.

"This deal signals the start of a new relationship between the two spheres of government in Scotland and local government through COSLA is looking at the long term rather than immediate short term benefit.

"The package has been agreed within a tight financial context but the role that local government plays in the governance of Scotland has been substantially enhanced and the decline in local government's share of total expenditure has been halted.

"COSLA's job is to get the best possible deal for its member councils, that has been our key objective throughout the negotiations, and this is something I feel we have achieved."

14 November 2007

Ewan Aitken said...


Thanks for your comments. I read the press release too but after 8 plus years at the heart of local Government including time as a CoSLA spokesperson, I am seriously unconvinced that Pat is right in his comments and I have told him so personally. Only time will tell who is correct.

Surgery Times

1st Wed @ Piershill Library, 30 Piershill Terrace.
2nd Wed @ Craigentinny Community Centre, Loaning Rd.
3rd Wed @ Duddingston Primary School, Duddingston Rd.

All 7:15pm -7:45pm

and the last Sat. Lochend YWCA, 198 Restalrig Road South
12noon -1pm

(no appointment needed, all during school terms)
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