Despite holding reserves that have grown by 166% since they took office in 2007 and now stand at a staggering £14m, it is the pockets of the poorest in our community that are being picked as the Labour / Tory coalition running Falkirk Council publish their budget proposals.
With the local press playing their usual supporting role Labour leader, Craig Martin and his depute leader, Malcolm Nicol of the Conservative Party have been allowed to play the blame game and present the Scottish Government as the body responsible for their constantly referred to, “black hole”.
What the Labour Party and their house magazine omit is that under the SNP local government receive a higher share of the national budget now than when Labour left office.
Despite squirreling away council taxpayers money like there was no tomorrow Labour’s list of cuts include:
Stopping free swimming lessons for Primary 5 pupils,
Increasing the price of facilities in the SNP built schools to match their private sector rates, hitting local youth groups..
Increasing above inflation charges for essential services such as Homecare, previously free under the SNP.
Cuts in the care of victims of abuse.
New charges for transport to and from the Day Centres for adults with learning difficulties.
A 13% increase in Burial and Cremation Service charges.
A 5% rise in Child Care charges.
Dramatic cuts in staffing throughout the council.
The only real winner from the Labour / Tory budget with a proposed increase in funding of 5.3%, permission to increase admission charges to centres such as the Mariner Centre by an inflation busting 5%, is the arms length private Falkirk Leisure Trust set up by Labour and the Tories to save the council money.
Opposition SNP Group Leader, Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn said,
“This is a budget straight from Tory Party Central Office that hits all the Tory targets, disabled people, abused women, the elderly, young families and those with Learning Difficulties.
It continues the privatisation process, this time with private Homecare provision and community contracts with community groups being torn up.
The Labour members should feel nothing but shame for putting their name to such a document but they don’t, and that more than anything confirms the completion of the morphing of Labour into a Tory Party mark 2.