December marks the end of the year. By this point in the month we are looking forward to Christmas and the hope that a New Year brings. However, December 2018 also marked a turning point for many of the most vulnerable people in Scotland’s capital.
In their draft budget the Scottish Government took the decision to cut Edinburgh’s budget at least 5 times more than was expected. Bizarrely, Edinburgh’s SNP Council Leader claimed “it looks like the Government has managed to protect council funding”. One has to wonder how big the cut has to be before he will speak out against his Holyrood masters.
Two days later Edinburgh’s “Integrated Joint Board” met to agree which communities would fall victim of their latest round of cuts. The meeting began with the SNP member absenting himself due to a conflict of interest, and Edinburgh’s SNP Council Leader failing to find an alternative.
With no SNP Councillor willing to defend their own party’s cuts, there then followed almost two hours of heartfelt pleading from community health groups supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Edinburgh. This included a scathing attack on the Scottish Government by Cllr Cammy Day who spoke on behalf of the Pilton Community Health Project.
Councillor Day was clearly distraught when talking about the loss of a unique service supporting female victims of domestic and sexual abuse – “Women Supporting Women”. I hope he’s wrong, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict what will happen if “essential life-saving services” fall victim of SNP cuts.
Quite bizarrely at the same time as these moving testimonies were being made, outside the City Cambers the SNP’s Ben Macpherson MSP was protesting against the cuts he’d voted for without a whimper of concern in Holyrood. Some say the designer scarf he was wearing covered a brass neck.
So whilst we all look forward to Christmas, let’s hope 2019 is a year where the Scottish Government recognises that a cut on local government is simply an attack on vulnerable people.