The Budget has just been passed in the Scottish Parliament with the Scottish Greens and the SNP voting for it and the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats all voting against it. The Greens negotiated with the SNP and eventually reached an agreement that allowed the Budget to be passed. But what is in it for Orkney?
Orkney Green, Steve Sankey said: ” For Orkney in particular this could mean around an extra £1 million windfall for OIC to help save some cuts to essential services in schools, libraries and the care of the elderly.”
Maree Todd MSP (SNP) commented “Last night’s budget will deliver £591.8 million for NHS Highland, over £8 million in additional funding to local government in the Highlands and almost £2.5 million extra local government funding in Orkney & Shetland”
Steve Sankey who is standing for the Greens in May’s OIC elections went on to say:
“We Greens stand firmly with both our communities in Orkney and the public sector workers affected by the proposed cuts and closures. This is the biggest budget concession in Holyrood’s history. My Green colleagues in Parliament have achieved more in a single budget than the other Parties have in a decade of opposition, and it’s now down to the convener and the Chief Executive of OIC to work these extra resources through.”
“If we also get the additional £3 million for our internal ferries, which we will help to push for, things are suddenly looking better again.”
Maree Todd MSP expressed her disappointment that the other parties in the Scottish Parliament were unable to support the Budget and said:
“I was very disappointed that members from the Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories voted against it. It seems they could not break from their anti-independence approach to support a budget that will deliver for the people of the Highlands and Islands.”
It will be interesting to see how the OIC manages with the future constraints on local government finances and the pressure that this will put on our services.
The Orkney News will also follow closely the developments in the proposal to nationalise ferry provision in Scotland announced by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf yesterday.
It’s a pity the Scottish Greens broke ranks to save the skins of the SNP. They have supported a party that is merely a conveyer belt for austerity – having cut £327 million from Scotland’s local authorities whilst there has been no commensurate cut in the block grant received from Westminster. In return the Greens were given the small sop of a rebate of £160 million. Perhaps you ought to give credit to the opposition parties for stopping the SNP’s original plan to sting Council Tax payers in places like Orkney to fill some of the black hole in the underfunding of Education under their SNP allies – for the increasing gap in educational attainment of children in the central belt. An attempt at sly taxation whereby taxes which should have been raised or used from the central pot could be blamed, instead, on local authorities – many of these non-SNP. Then perhaps the Greens in Orkney could acknowledge the leadership of the LibDems in leading the fight to preserve HIE – yet another local agency on the culling list of the arch-centralist SNP. It is always a wonder to me how a party which was formed in order to keep decision making as local and community based as possible could end up as little more than cheerleaders of a Nationalist party determined to reduce local democracy to a rump as part of its Scotland-is-all ideology in which would be enshrined the SNP powerbase in perpetuity. Time to think again Orkney Greens.
The Orkney News is awaiting the contribution of a column from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party (the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament) via Douglas Ross MSP.