East Lothian Labour Councillors took their campaign against cuts and for the protection of East Lothian's services to Holyrood today as they joined colleagues from around Scotland at the Fair Funding for Councils pre-budget rally.
Council Leader Cllr Willie Innes, education spokesperson Cllr Shamin Akhtar, health and social care spokesperson Cllr Donald Grant, and Depute Provost Cllr Jim Gillies, were among hundreds of councillors, trade unionists and other activists at the Parliament on the day of the Scottish Government’s budget to protest against SNP cuts to council funding.
Speaking after the rally, Cllr Willie Innes said:
“Like other authorities across Scotland, East Lothian Council’s budget has been slashed year after year by the SNP Scottish Government. We have done our very best to protect vital frontline services from these cuts, but with such large annual budget reductions, it’s inevitable that the Council’s budget is now under great strain.
“Indeed, the central funding cuts we’re experiencing now under the SNP are on a par with the cuts we experienced under the Tories when I first entered local government nearly 30 years ago. SNP Ministers simply cannot keep cutting our funding and expect us to maintain the same level of service. It’s time for an end to cuts and the start of fair funding for councils to allow us to properly protect our essential public services.”
At the same time as the rally was held it emerged that SNP-run Dundee City Council has slammed the education budget cuts imposed on local authorities by the SNP Scottish Government. SNP councillors in East Lothian have consistently refused to speak out against budget cuts and centralisation imposed on the county by the SNP Scottish Government in Edinburgh.
Commenting, Cllr Shamin Akhtar said:
“This refreshing honesty from SNP councillors in Dundee is in stark contrast with Nationalists in East Lothian. They have consistently refused to oppose Scottish Government cuts to East Lothian’s budget and recently tried to shut down any criticism of John Swinney’s education governance review, despite the negative impact it is set to have on our schools.
“Time after time the actions of SNP councillors here have made it clear that their first loyalty is to their party bosses in Edinburgh rather than local communities in East Lothian.”