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Daily Record
Daily Record
Fraser Clarke

West Dunbartonshire Council leader says budget cuts 'would make Thatcher blush'

West Dunbartonshire Council’s leader has accused the Scottish Government of cuts to local authority budgets “that would make Margaret Thatcher blush.”

Labour’s Martin Rooney made the comments during a heated debate at Church Street over funding for councils in Scotland.

However, leader of the SNP group, Councillor Karen Conaghan, hit back - asking Rooney what vital services his party would choose to cut.

During a stormy full meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council, the two parties clashed over the £14m budget gap facing the local authority.

Councillor Rooney said: “The Scottish Government is the main funder of West Dunbartonshire Council. For the financial year the Scottish Government has received a significant increase to its funding.

“The budget increased from £36,7bn to £41,8bn. Despite this the Scottish Government has continued to underfund West Dunbartonshire Council.

“The Scottish Government is also looking to reduce funding to West Dunbartonshire by a further seven percent over the next four years. This is extremely worrying to our council and communities.

“The SNP raided the reserves to balance the books, leaving us with a forecast budget gap of £13.8m next year.

“This is a disastrous situation for our communities. We have a perfect storm of inflation, funding cuts and a massive debt left by the SNP.

“These cuts proposed by the Scottish Government would make Margaret Thatcher blush.”

Councillor Conaghan hit back however, questioning what cuts Labour would make, and insisting that independence was the only way to ensure councils were properly funded.

She said: “There is a significant underfunding of local government, and that is something which is worrying.

“The underfunding that happens is as a result of the Scottish Government underfunding by Westminster. The simple solution to that is to campaign for independence.

“This is all being imposed by the Tories.

“I’m at a loss as to how we get out of this mess other than by governing our own country.”

Kilpatrick SNP councillor James McElhill agreed, adding: “I’ve never seen such politicking in my life in the council chamber.

“The UK Government are the ones cutting back budgets not just in Scotland but in Wales too.

“It’s the UK treasury that keeps Scotland and Wales short on money.”

Labour’s Michelle McGinty however questioned why the Scottish Government had allocated £20m to planning for a future independence referendum.

The Leven member added: “Did the additional money received from the Barnett Formula in Scotland come to councils? No it did not.

“It’s an absolute disgrace.”

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