Friday, 7 March 2014

Labour councillors could cost North Ayrshire £5m

Action by Labour councillors on the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) could result in North Ayrshire losing-out on over £5m next year.
The shocking news came after Labour councillors forced through a change to the way Scotland’s 32 local authorities receive funding from the SNP Scottish Government. Until now the funding has been awarded on a ‘needs basis’ with North Ayrshire benefitting because of the area’s high levels of unemployment and poverty. However, Labour councillors were able to amend the funding system to a ‘flat share’, which will result in councils effectively receiving the same share of funding as in the current financial year (2014/15) irrespective of needs within specific areas.
CoSLA is the umbrella body representing all Scottish local authorities, with representation from the political parties that run each of the 32 councils. However, the same Labour councillors that managed to amend the method of funding are also currently considering a move to break away and form their own body. For many years Labour dominated CoSLA, but the party’s power was severely diminished after the last Council Elections in 2012, at which the SNP made advances in most areas.
Reacting to the news that the actions of Labour councillors could cost North Ayrshire £5m next year, Cllr Willie Gibson (pictured), SNP Leader of North Ayrshire Council said, “Normally, the amount of money each council receives is determined by the Local Government Distribution Formula. This is usually updated to maintain fairness. It’s highly unusual for that not to be done, but Labour council leaders proposed and voted for the resolution not to update, and this is now CoSLA’s policy.
“John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, has written to all council leaders providing the detail of what the decision not to update would mean for each local authority. He also asked council leaders to confirm this is the action they want to take. That detail – pushed through by Labour councillors - stands to cost this area more than £5million.”
Cllr Gibson has called on Labour representatives on CoSLA to reconsider their actions and “put things right” before areas of high deprivation, such as North Ayrshire, lose out on badly-needed additional funding.
The President of CoSLA is Labour councillor David O’Neill who is also a serving councillor on North Ayrshire Council, representing Irvine west.

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