The chance of a £100m of investment into the Falkirk economy was rejected after only 12 minutes of consideration behind closed doors by Falkirk Council’s ruling Labour / Tory coalition at the budget setting meeting of the local authority.
Previously Labour leader, Craig Martin, was chided by Labour colleague, Pat Reid for a long rambling budget speech that was both error strewn and low on positive content.
Despite the wider consensus being that the biggest single issue the people of Falkirk district face is the impact of the Tory Welfare Reforms Martin made only one fleeting neutral mention of the Bedroom Tax, With the council’s Tory Depute Leader, Malcolm Nicol nodding his approval Martin also refused to make one single criticism of the impact David Cameron’s Government’s cuts are having on Falkirk residents.
In a stark contrast to the Labour leader’s 39 minutes of growling anti SNP negativity with little by way of initiative or vision SNP Leader, Cecil Meiklejohn with her first alternative budget speech as leader laid down a fresh positive approach that represented a very welcome change.
In her speech Councillor Meiklejohn proposed the use of £2m that Labour had earmarked to delete jobs that when borrowed against would produce £25m of capital for investment in projects that would create jobs and or income streams for the council.
The council’s finance officer confirmed that for every £1 invested by the public sector attracts £3 from the private sector thus making the potential investment in the Falkirk economy up to £100m with an annual income to the council of around £1m as a consequence.
The SNP leader proposed;
The Completion of the Denny Eastern Access Road, £7m
- A town centre regeneration fund, £5m
- Accelerating the construction of new commercial office or workshop units as part of the Asset Management Portfolio, £2m
- A school hall for Blackness Primary School, £500k
- Upgrade of the Blackness Coastal Road, £135k
- Targeting key infrastructure projects that deliver benefits the local economy, £3m
- The provision of 3 new 3g pitches, £3m.
- Further investment in leisure facilities, £2m.
When the chairman suggested a recess to allow the Administration to consider the proposals a number of Labour members objected as they didn’t need a recess to vote against an SNP proposal to the extent that Gerry Goldie had to apologise to the council for his “industrial language.”
On return to the chambers 12 minutes latter a huffy Labour Leader, Craig Martin, in answer to a question from the Provost dismissed all of the SNP alternative budget with no explanation given.
In the formal summing up, the Labour Leader, once again, had to be warned by his Labour colleague, Pat Reid for a rambling directionless rant that had even Labour members scratching their heads.
The vote taken saw the extra investment proposal of the SNP defeated by 17 votes to 14.