Dumbarton Reporter Column – 28th February 2017

Council Meeting – SNP Supports Local Communities

Last week’s Council budget saw no real surprises, perhaps with the exception of Labour’s new love of the Council Tax freeze they spent 5 years complaining about; it must an election year. In contrast to Labour’s budget of cuts in services and election grandstanding, where they have once again put more on the Council Credit Card, the SNP proposed a no cuts, no extra borrowing budget and asked for all budgets to go out for public consultation.

Presented by SNP Leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl, the SNP budget proposals showed another way of doing things; using resources to ensure no service cuts and extra investment where it’s needed most. The SNP refused to back Labour’s cuts to classroom assistants and early education staff.

SNP proposals also included £1,000,000 for roads, £50,000 for dog fouling and litter enforcement, £90,000 for maintenance of our green spaces, £100,000 for more pavement gritting, particularly in steep areas like new Bonhill and so much more.

Cllr McColl asked the Council to post all of the evening’s budgets online for public consultation. He asked Council to contact all local Community Councils, Community Groups and Council Staff to make them aware of the consultation, but terrified their budget wouldn’t stand up to public scrutiny, Labour refused and railroaded through their borrow now blame the Scottish Government later budget.

The meeting wasn’t all doom and gloom. Council passed an SNP motion supporting the local WASPI campaign and agreeing to assist them with publicity.

There have been many changes to pensions in the recent past that adversely affect men and women, all of which need to be properly reviewed, and the WASPI campaign highlights a real injustice on a particular group of women. Many women born in the 1950s are being left in financial ruin; with no proper notice of changes to pensionable age, their financial plans have been shattered. It’s unacceptable.

Also unacceptable are DWP plans to close Alexandria Job Centre, and I would like to thank the Council for backing my campaign to fight this UK Government decision. The SNP motion, backed by the whole Council, calls the DWP’s bluff by seeking to resolve the issue of high cost accommodation identified by the Minister.

It’s also very welcome that the SNP motion will allow the DWP to use the One Stop Shop in Alexandria for compulsory attendance, face to face meetings with my constituents, greatly reducing the risk of people being unfairly sanctioned as a result of the proposed move.

We will fight this all the way and the SNP have given the DWP a viable option to reconsider their decision. I will work with everyone involved to persuade the DWP to engage constructively with the Council and find a way to retain this vital service in Alexandria.