COSLA President Pat Watters has today (Sunday) said that Scottish Local Government is facing its defining moment.
"This is crunch time for the vital local government services that communities across Scotland rely on, and also for the workers who work day in and day out to deliver them. If it is not handled correctly then the consequences could be disastrous."
The COSLA President was speaking ahead of Chancellor George Osborne's Comprehensive Spending Review announcement on 20th October, and the budget announcement Scottish Government Ministers will make in November.
Councillor Watters said: "The decisions taken by the UK Government next week, and then by Scottish Government Ministers will have a massive bearing not only on the local services we so often take for granted, but also on tens of thousands of local jobs.
"What I have noticed over the summer months is the fact that nobody from outwith the local government community has spoken up for or on behalf of Scottish Local Government and that is disappointing. Politicians, opinion formers and the wider public should realise that local government provides a huge range of services that enable our communities to grow and flourish - and to do damage to such services would be catastrophic.
"From making sure that the food we eat is safe, the buildings we live and work in are fit for purpose, and the communities we live in are clean and vibrant, councils are there providing vital round the clock services that support every aspect of our work, learning and leisure lives. From registering births to carrying out cremations, councils really can be relied on from the cradle to the grave.
"This is not about preserving the status quo, and nor is it a go at our partners in Government– but the reality is that ignoring our front line services carries major risks and could set the most vulnerable in Scotland's communities back by decades.
"We regularly hear from the Westminster Government that the private sector will fill the gap in jobs left by public sector cuts. Not only does this defy logic - the bottom line is that the loss of local government jobs in Scotland will affect the private sector every bit as badly as the public sector. We must move away from the old rhetoric of damaging the public sector being good for the private sector. If it can be argued that it was the private sector that got the Country into these financial difficulties why would anyone suggest that it has the 'Silver Bullet' to solve them.
"Councils provide a safety net for all of us– housing the homeless, protecting women and children from domestic and sexual abuse, helping those with mental health issues, and rehabilitating offenders. We deal with those that others often choose to ignore and this must be recognised in the decisions that will be taken in the days and weeks ahead."
17 October 2010
David J Kennedy,
Head of Media and Communications
0131 474 9205