The following is a response to our letter addressed to Constituency / Regional MSPs from Angus MacDonald MSP (SNP).
Dear UNISON Falkirk,
Thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns surrounding Community Learning and Development (CLD) in Falkirk District with me. I have read your email with interest and share your concerns regarding the proposals.
I must stress, from the outset, that any decision taken in respect of Community Learning and Development in the Falkirk District is a decision for Falkirk Council to make. The Council will not approve their budget until February 2017, however I have made my colleagues on the SNP Group at Falkirk Council aware of my concerns.
With regard to the Scottish Government’s draft budget, I am not in a position to comment as this will not be presented to the Scottish Parliament until 15th of December, which will, again, not be approved until February 2017. There will have to be a degree of negotiation over the coming weeks between the political parties given the SNP Government do not have an overall majority.
You have cited a figure of £1.3million in savings from proposed CLD cuts. The failed attempt to put forward plans for a new council headquarters, a move in which the administration had been advised was not appropriate at the time before it had even got off the ground, alone cost over £1million to put together to then be scrapped.
The issues facing Falkirk Council have not come about entirely because of the Scottish Government. These issues have mainly arisen due to a decade of mismanagement of a Labour/Tory run administration. An administration who has overseen some of the largest PFI debts in Scotland, and vanity projects which have been scrapped to the tune of millions of pounds of tax payers’ money.
As a matter of fact, local government have had a similar level of tightening to their budgets as the Scottish Government has. You will be as aware as I am that a Westminster Tory Government has overseen a failed austerity agenda which continues to hit the most vulnerable people in our society, and continues to squeeze hard working families facing in work poverty - an absolutely scandalous legacy which the Tory Government should be ashamed of.
I cannot stress my empathy towards those who work with and benefit from the CLD within Falkirk Council enough, however it is the Council’s own mismanagement, decision making, or lack thereof, which has seen these proposals being made.
Many thanks, once again, for highlighting these concerns.
Should you require to discuss the issue further then please do not hesitate to get back in touch.
Angus MacDonald MSP
SNP – Falkirk East Constituency