Scottish Liberal Democrats Business Manager Mike Rumbles today said SNP ministers must reveal their plans to strip power from local authorities following reports that they are concealing controversial plans until after the local government elections next May.
The reports today indicate that “a major assault on Scotland’s town halls” is being discussed behind closed doors, involving service mergers and handing more power to central government.
Mr Rumbles commented:
“The SNP are centralising the life out of Scotland so reports of a secret plan to overhaul local government will set alarm bells ringing across the country. It would be shameful if ministers sought to keep these under wraps until after people have been to the ballot box next May. The public have the right to a full and frank discussion.
“The SNP claim they want to decentralise power but their rhetoric is totally at odds with their record. Just last week the Scottish Government trampled over local autonomy by hiking council tax by £100 million to fund their national policies. Over the last nine years they have established a system of penalising councils for not complying with their diktats and seized control of everything from enterprise investment to policing.
“They haven’t shown an ounce of respect for local government and relationships between the two are now at an all-time low. Forcing councils to hand over yet more powers to Holyrood and dictating that they must merge functions could be their strongest assault yet on local autonomy.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats are champions for our local communities. That is why we have set out bold plans that will liberate them and roll back the suffocating, one-sized fits all culture that the SNP have imposed.”
Scottish Liberal Democrats have set out policies including:
- giving councils back the power to set local taxation so local councils control more than 50% of their revenues and have a real stake in economic progress;
- removing the financial penalties used by the present government to exert control over what should be locally-run services;
- give a full power of general competence to local authorities;
- bringing back democracy into Police Scotland by making sure local policing plans have to be approved by locally elected people.