Council leader calls for North Lanarkshire MSPs to reject Scottish Government budget

North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue
North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue

Council leader Jim Logue has written to every MSP in North Lanarkshire asking them to vote down the Scottish Government’s budget tomorrow (Thursday).

The stage one debate is the first opportunity MSPs will have to express their thoughts about this year’s settlement and the Labour-run council administration want MSPs of all parties to vote against the current proposals.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP has announced an additional £730 million investment in health services, £180m to boost attainment in schools and £5 billion of capital investment.

The council’s budget is expected to increase by £17m over last year’s settlement, but anticipates still having to find savings of £31m.

Councillor Logue said: “The stage one Budget debate at Parliament is crucial for the future of public services in North Lanarkshire.

“This catastrophic draft budget settlement gives a tax cut to Government ministers whilst forcing councils to increase council tax on people across North Lanarkshire to pay for their services.

“The Scottish Government have quadrupled the austerity it has received from Westminster and we can all see the impact cuts have had on our roads, environment and facilities.

“MSPs have a responsibility to protect the interests of their constituents and this settlement manifestly does not.

“That’s why we’re asking MSPs of all parties to vote against a budget that will devastate the services of their own constituents. It’s time for a fair deal for North Lanarkshire.”

Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle says if councils want more money they need to suggest where other cuts can be made.

He said: “As a former councillor of course I want to see the local authority get a good deal to ensure good services are being provided in North Lanarkshire.

“As I understand it the draft budget put forward by the Finance Secretary would provide North Lanarkshire Council with many more millions than previously expected, and this comes at a time when the Scottish Government’s own budget has been cut by Westminster.

“If Labour want more money directed to councils then they need to come up with suggestions for where it should come from.

“That has not been done, so as things stand I will be supporting the budget.”

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson has called on her political opponents across North Lanarkshire to get behind the budget proposals.

This comes in response to a warning from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) that a defeat could create difficulties for businesses.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “In the current volatile economic and political climate, businesses need as much certainty as possible. That’s why it’s crucial MSPs take a collegiate approach to ensure a budget which supports economic growth is passed without delay.

“Robust debate and scrutiny over the coming days is both right and necessary. However, any failure to pass a budget in good time would add uncertainty at an already challenging time.”

Ms Adamson added: “In the face of Brexit chaos and confusion, this draft budget offers stability for businesses and protects Scotland’s public services.

“I hope my parliamentary colleagues from across the political divide will heed the call from Scottish retailers and get behind our plans.”