As I write this column I’ve just returned from another busy week at Westminster. The deadlock over Brexit continues, meaning MPs are being required to spend more hours in parliament away from our constituencies.
With further key votes expected, it’s Brexit that remains the primary focus amongst parliamentarians. But for me the priority will always be my constituents here in West Dunbartonshire, and I was pleased to see my SNP colleagues in the council administration secure a budget that delivers for our local communities for the year ahead.
Make no mistake, a decade of Westminster austerity is placing a huge strain on public services across the UK. In the Commons, MPs representing constituencies in England speak of brutal cuts in their local council areas – as sport centres, libraries and youth facilities face being closed at an alarming rate.
We are not immune from this damaging Westminster austerity in Scotland, but the SNP at Holyrood and in local councils across the country is working hard to protect our communities from the worst of the Tory cuts.
In comparison with what’s happening in councils in England – where council tax bills are on average £463 more expensive than in Scotland – it’s clear to see the challenges facing local authority finances.
It’s to be commended then that our SNP-led council in West Dunbartonshire has managed to deliver a no-cuts budget that not only protects vital public services but also increases investment in projects to tackle poverty, raise attainment and support vulnerable residents.
There will certainly be challenges ahead, not least due to uncertainty over Brexit, but the SNP will continue working tirelessly to make our communities the best they can be.
My colleagues and I in the House of Commons are clear that we will not support a Tory Brexit that is damaging to Scotland. But it seems Labour are determined to once again jump into bed with the Tories to cook up a ‘Better Together’ Brexit that we didn’t vote for.
Rest assured that whatever Westminster throws at us, now and in the future, the SNP will always stand up for Scotland.
This article appeared in the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter on 9 April 2019.