Speaking ahead of the launch of the Scottish Liberal Democrat local council manifesto on Wednesday morning, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has said that his party will oppose the centralising power grabs of SNP Ministers in Holyrood and campaign to free councils to deliver for their areas, with the powers and financial levers they need.
The manifesto will contain pledges to:
- Support the restoration of local control over council tax and business rates as part of a comprehensive plan to increase the proportion of funding determined and distributed locally.
- Oppose the SNP’s centralisation agenda, including the latest plan to take over social work, children’s services, community justice, and alcohol and drug services.
- Campaign for councils to receive their fair share of Scottish Government resources.
- Work through COSLA to develop a new vision for local councils with a suite of new powers which can be used to make a real difference to people’s lives, particularly in economic strategy, energy, transport, town planning and funding for affordable housing.
- Promote the long-overdue replacement of the council tax.
- Support parity of esteem between local and central government underpinned by a fiscal framework that recognises the important work councils do.
- Adopt fair work principles so that councils, as leading local employers, show leadership and can attract and retain the talent needed for quality services, good governance and to guarantee value for money.
- Recognise that planning decisions are best tailored and decided locally, not overruled nationally.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want powerful and well-run local councils with a “can do, will do” attitude, committed to the delivery of excellent local services. Local Authorities have suffered serious and disproportionate cuts to their budgets at the hands of SNP-Green budget deals, reducing their capacity for innovation and dynamism and damaging their ability to support local communities.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to deliver a power surge for local authorities. That means giving local communities more power over economic development, planning and transport and ending the SNP power grab that will see decisions over social work, children’s services and community justice taken by distant ministers far from the consequences of their decisions.
“After everything we’ve been through, Scotland needs new hope right now. At the coming council elections, you’ll only find that hope with the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Our councillors and candidates are thrilled by the idea of what community can mean. We see the best in people and we want the best for them. If something isn’t working, then we try to fix it. That’s why people should vote for Liberal Democrat councillors on May 5th.”