Ferguson calls for budget clarity from Council Leader

> Leader of the SNP Council Group on Dumfries & Galloway Council Cllr Andy Ferguson today (Thursday) called on Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson to “stop playing Russian Roulette” with the region’s finances and state his Administration’s intentions ahead of next Thursday’s Full Council meeting.
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> Cllr Ferguson said:
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> “So far all we’ve heard from Ronnie Nicholson and his Tory-supported Administration is the standard unionist “SNP Bad” mantra accompanied by political brinkmanship at COSLA, which he had no real mandate from this Council to indulge in. It’s time for him to stop playing Russian Roulette with the region’s finances and tell people what he intends to do.
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> “Budget setting day is rapidly approaching and what the people of this region need to hear from the Leader isn’t more posturing but instead what he plans to do to balance his budget.
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> “Everyone knows that the Scottish Government’s overall budget has been cut by Westminster year on year, with even more cuts to come.
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> “Equally, everyone is well aware that the Scottish Government doesn’t have the powers yet to fully mitigate these cuts without tax hikes which would hit the poorest hardest. Labour’s disastrous income tax grab proposal yesterday was falling to pieces as soon as it was announced.
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> “The draft budget continues the Scottish Government’s commitments to a whole range of measures to mitigate the worst excesses of the Tory Welfare Reform agenda, finance the integration of adult health and social care and increase investment in affordable housing. You simply can’t achieve all of that on a reducing budget without making savings somewhere.
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> “Even with this budget settlement, Councils in Scotland remain far better off than our near neighbours in England, who have seen their budgets slashed by a massive 27% since 2011. Not only that, Labour’s claims that Scottish Local Government has been disproportionately treated, when we face a reduction of 4.5%, is also wrong, when the Scottish Government’s devolved budget is also due to fall by 4.2% in real terms by 2019.”
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