Greenock Telegraph 26th February 2021

Understandably councils throughout Scotland, including our own in Inverclyde, are asking for clarification on budgets for next year. Handling a council budget demands responsibility and it is perfectly reasonable to want to get ahead of the game and therefore be in a position to plan expenditure. Already Inverclyde council have decided to freeze council tax for the impending financial year, without full knowledge of their budget but with the financial support of the Scottish Government to offset any monies not raised, for this year. A declaration of intent from central government at Holyrood which has made things easier in very difficult times.

Personally, I believe more collaboration, where councils can be part of the financial planning process would be advantageous. The UK government at Westminster could learn from this. The UK budget will be presented on the 3rd of March, but the devolved parliaments have not been included in any discussions regarding the disposition of that budget. That gives the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes MSP, a week to finalise the Scottish budget and then councils should know their outcome.

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Conservative and Unionist UK government does not want to take advice or even listen to the people of Scotland. They have embarked on a full-scale campaign to undermine and belittle Scotland. The department for the Union has been given a makeover and the media war is on. Scotland should once again be prepared to be told that we are too wee, too poor and too stupid to run our own affairs. The perfect example being the billboard on Brougham Street which undermines and misrepresents the Covid vaccine rollout in Scotland. I prefer to remember the Noam Chomsky quote “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”

The councils of Scotland and the parliament of Scotland need the powers to make change and with that power comes responsibility. The government and local authorities are willing and able to accept that responsibility and Scotland will thrive when we do.