People of Scotland depriving Councils of £276million of essential cash

Councils across Scotland have been making dramatic cut backs to their services due to financial pressures over recent years with the trend continuing as Councils set their budgets for the next financial year.

Scottish Councils are primarily funded by a grant from the Scottish Government, only around 15% of Councils budgets is sourced from Council Tax but it remains an important funding stream, used to provide essential front line community services such as refuse collection, libraries, community facilities, education services, street lighting and so on.

That is why is it is so important that the people of Scotland pay their Council Tax, to fail to pay their Council Tax is to put at risk essential local services which may hurt our communities for years to come.

It is peoples duty to pay Council Tax, to prioritise its payment over other expenditure such as cable television, cigarettes and alcohol.

In January 2017 records held by Scotlands 32 Councils detailed that the people of Scotland owed a total of £276million in Council Tax from the last three complete financial years.

This is a staggering amount which Councils simply don’t have to spend on front line services.

Imagine how many new Primary Schools could be funded? Imagine how many libraries & community centres could be refurbished or rebuilt?

The people of Scotland must now, more than ever, dig deep to fund local Councils.

Are Councils doing enough to recover the missing cash? Whatever they are doing, they need to do more giving such a large outstanding amount.

With local Council elections being held this year, perhaps we should asking candidates what they will be doing to ensure that their local authority will be doing everything it can to collect the outstanding money in order to use it for essential community services.

Whilst in general Council Tax collection rates remain high, there is clearly more work to be done.

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New Year Honours 2017

As is customary at this time of year Her Majesty The Queen has announced who she will be granting honours to in the New Years Honours List.

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Predatory sex offender Jimmy Savile was Knighted by HM The Queen.

1,197 people are being awarded honours such as the Queens Police Medal or are being admitted to the Order of the British Empire.

I really am of two minds on the current honours system.

On one hand it is a valuable & respected way to recognise those who have shown outstanding & longstanding commitment to their profession, community or country. And I think that is something which should be recognised.

But on the other hand it does seem rather archaic to award honours referring to our British Empire.

As someone who spent some time living in the Borders town of Galashiels, I was pleased to see that well known, well loved & well respected Ice Cream man Adam Kelly (aged 94) gets some recognition in this years list.

We need an honours system that is fit for purpose, fit for the future and rewarding the right people for the right things throughout the UK.

I hope to add to the discussions already taking place around the UK honours system by making this blog post and starting a petition asking for Royal Commission to be established to consider the future of UK honours.

Poileas Alba

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Click  to view the Gaelic Language Action Plan

Police Scotland under the leadership of Chief Constable Philip Gormley & Andrew Glanagan, Chairman of the Scottish Police Authority have this week unveiled their Gaelic Language Action Plan.

This will result in Police vehicles (including helicopters), uniforms, leaflets and Police Station signs all being re-branded to include the Gaelic language.

Most Gaelic speakers reside in the Highlands & Islands region but there are Gaelic speakers throughout Scotland.

 

 

Scrap the re-branding and focus on important front line Police duties like preventing & detecting crime.

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My main concern about this whole affair is that in recent weeks Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the SNP Scottish Government have all been complaining about their finances (or lack of), this BBC article provides a good summary, yet they are able to fund this re-branding.

I could ofcourse understand the re-branding if it was really needed but I have two points to make;

  • How many people in Scotland speak Gaelic but not English? In the 2011 census we are informed that 57,602 people in Scotland speak both English and Gaelic.  Sadly, it doesn’t tell us how many people speak Gaelic but not English.  What we do know however is that in  the 1977 census only 477 people spoke Gaelic only and that was an ever decreasing figure. And I’m sure only would agree that 477 out of a population of over 5 million is a pretty small percentage.  One must seriously wonder if its worth the cost.
  • If we re-branding public bodies such as Police Scotland to a language such as Gealic, what other languages should we using as part of the re-branding?  I strongly suspect there are more people in the country who don’t understand English but speak other languages.

Another key element of their action plan is to have more of their officers speaking Gaelic, it’s always handy to bi-lingual but in times of such austerity, is it money well spent.

Could this re-branding cash be better spent on providing more front line officers? Or ensuring that officers have the tools they need as reported by the Scotsman in this article.

The full Gaelic Language Plan can be found here.

My continuing thanks to all the front line Police Officers working hard to make Scotland a safer place, and special mention to all those Officers who have been working over the festive period.