Statement by Kevin Keenan, Leader of the Labour Group on Dundee City Council

21 February 2019

Labour's alternative plans for a better Dundee

Dundee Labour - protecting our future, saving jobs today

" The Labour Group on Dundee City Council tabled a wide-ranging amendment ahead of the Dundee City Council budget meeting.

"The amendment included major alterations to the proposals that the ruling administration has brought forward.

"Dundee Labour’s amendment would have:

• halted all education cuts to protect the future of all our children and our city

• stopped the attack on the terms and conditions of vital council workers

• put money back into vital third sector services who work with our most vulnerable citizens

• protected family budgets by freezing charges in our schools


• created a Caring Dundee Fund to support vital work in social care to protect the elderly and vulnerable and to help stop the scandal of the revolving door at hospitals.


How Dundee Labour would pay for it:


• Maintain council reserves at the recent level of £5 million rather than increasing them to £7m


• Take the full council tax rise available of 4.7% rather than the proposed 3%

• Remove the second civic car


• Cancel the second homes discount


• Remove the funding for Police Scotland activities which should be funded from their £1.2bn annual budget "


On the budget settlement, Kevin said :


This is a truly dreadful SNP budget from a party that has let Dundee down yet again. Labour wants to protect our future and to save jobs today.


Even the SNP Administration has given up pretending that the budget allocation from their SNP bosses in Edinburgh is anything other than a disaster for the City of Dundee. There is another option locally – the choices Labour is offering.

The dismal decade of SNP incompetence has left us with a crumbling NHS, a broken train service, teachers balloting for industrial action as attainment plummets, a stagnant economy with soaring poverty and the true abhorrence of child poverty at levels unseen since the days of Thatcher.

“Now the SNP consumes itself in a civil war as the country spirals downwards.”

On education, Kevin said:

“Protecting and enhancing education for all our children is the best chance of a better future for our city.


“The test of real leadership is to plant trees knowing that we will not see their fruit.


“To cut our schools and teaching workforce again and again and again as the SNP has done shows they only care about the short-term.

“To cut another 26 teachers from our primary schools is a terrible decision.


“To remove the support in secondary schools that keeps kids on the brink inside our classrooms is a dereliction of duty.


"To do all of this would be to declare in public that any attempt to close the gap between the poorest and the richest kids has been abandoned.


"Remember when we were told that education would be the defining mission of the SNP?


"We knew it was nonsense then, but every day we see the proof of what hollow words those were.

"We would scrap all of the SNP education cuts.”

On jobs Kevin said:

“Dundee currently faces a jobs crisis.


“The tragic closure of Michelin.

“The abandonment of McGill by the SNP - when they are
pouring millions into failing businesses across Scotland they refuse to stand a short term loan to a Dundee firm with a massive order book.


“The SNP plan to cut 10% of the NHS Tayside workforce.


“When the time has come to lift us up the SNP have kicked us when we are down.


“For years now the people of Dundee have put trust in the SNP.


“That trust has been betrayed.


“Over recent years the SNP has cut 1400 jobs from our council.


“Good secure jobs.


“Now they are coming for the wages and conditions of the staff that remain.


“They are using the threat of compulsory redundancies to strike fear into staff. It has to stop.”

On presenting a balanced budget Kevin said:


“Labour is completely opposed to nationalist austerity cuts.


“We do not support any of the SNP cuts.

“These are wounds inflicted by the SNP and they are responsible for them.

“For a decade now Dundee has sent SNP MSPs to Holyrood and what they have sent back is cut after cut.

“The choice we face as a Labour Party is to play no part in this dreadful SNP budget or to try and make better choices for the City of Dundee.

“Over recent weeks we have listened to the anger in our communities, spoken to bewildered council workers, heard the despair of teachers in our schools, met with angry trade union colleagues and taken the counsel of clergy and the city at large.

“These cuts are much worse than anyone anticipated.

“So our choice is to invest for the future where we can and to protect jobs wherever possible.

“In order to do so we would stop the increase in council reserves.

“There is no point salting away cash for a rainy day.

"This is the rainy day.

“The increase in council tax brings a little more money to the budget.


“We know that will be difficult. Hard working people are struggling too.


“But our schools desperately need the resources to ensure we have a better future for everybody.

On the budget process, Kevin said,

“Labour Councillors have met with council officers for detailed discussions.

“We have engaged with the process whole-heartedly and used all of the resources at our disposal.

“We have met with community groups, with trade unions and with service providers.

“I have sat with the Leader of the Administration to discuss his cuts and try to understand why he is putting our city’s future at risk.

“We will be sharing our proposals with all parties ahead of budget day.

“Our proposals have been accepted by legal services and the relevant officers and I hope there will be a constructive debate from all parties on Thursday.”

Our proposals are detailed here, in the narrative we have set out thinking about each proposal.

“In the face of the refusal of the Scottish Parliament to use all of its powers to deliver a better settlement for Dundee, Dundee City Council has to use all of its powers to deliver a fairer budget designed to protect jobs and services.

 

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