Council leader presses case for more funding for local services
Midlothian Council Leader Derek Milligan called for more funding for local services when he met with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay, at the Scottish Parliament last Thursday (November 2).
The meeting was held in response to the council’s growing financial challenge, with current projections showing that Midlothian is facing a budget shortfall next year of £13.5 million, rising to £44 million by 2021/22.
Severe financial pressures
Councillor Milligan, who was accompanied at the talks by senior council officers and a representative of the council’s joint trades unions, set out the severe financial pressures the council is facing as the result of reduced Scottish Government funding at a time when rapid growth is increasing the demand for services in Midlothian.
Midlothian making key contribution to economic growth
“I welcome the fact that we were given a hearing by the Minister and that he recognised the key contribution Midlothian is making to economic growth, and in helping meet the Scottish Government’s priorities,” said councillor Milligan. “However, our plea for additional, specific grant funding for Midlothian was not accepted – this despite the fact that we will soon be the fastest growing area in Scotland, and will be harder hit than other areas by the impact of a massive growth in new housing and a fast-growing population.
“I made it clear to Mr Mackay that without an end to the cutbacks and additional funding from the Scottish Government, the impact on local services will be devastating for Midlothian’s communities.”
3000 signature petition
Councillor Milligan also presented Mr Mackay with a public petition containing more than 3000 signatures, on behalf of the Midlothian Council joint trades unions, calling on the Scottish Government to provide additional investment to protect jobs and services.
“I was delighted that Grace Chalmers, secretary for the joint trades unions in Midlothian was able to accompany me to the meeting and that union members were present outside the parliament to meet MSPs and to protest against funding cuts,” said councillor Milligan.
The Scottish Government is expected to announce its grant funding for local councils on 14 December. Meanwhile, a series of savings proposals prepared by council officers to help meet the shortfalls in Midlothian Council’s budgets are currently the subject of a community consultation.