'IN the last week's, we saw the Scottish Government agree their budget and councils agreeing their's and as a result, what we do know is that most people will be asked to pay more whilst local public services will continue to struggle under cuts.

As part of the deal to get their budget through the SNP agreed to a package with the Greens that allowed councils to increase council tax by up over 4.9% and bring in a new charge for workplace parking. Whilst Nicola Sturgeon claimed the new parking charges were designed to discourage workers from taking the car to work and therefore good for the environment, the truth is it was the back of fag packet deal that was not thought through.

If you charge teachers for parking in the school car park, dockyard workers for parking at their work and factory workers for the same then the theory is they will use public transport. If only public transport was that good! In truth rather than pay an extra £400 a year they are more likely to park in the surrounding streets causing mayhem and I am sure is one of the reasons Fife Labour has ruled out using this new tax power.

After a decade of austerity and real terms pay freezes most working people are struggling and trying to catch up with the cost of living. Thousands of jobs have gone from local councils as they have struggled to balance their books. However, Nicola Sturgeon claims councils have been well treated and got a real terms increase this year. This is disingenuous and fails to acknowledge that in this year’s settlement with councils the Scottish Government introduced £400 million of new commitments that councils must meet without any new money to pay for these. The Finance Secretary said that councils would have to de-prioritise some services in order to meet these new commitments.

Given that councils have squeezed out efficiencies year after year, what this actually means is further cuts to school budgets, a continued failure to meet the funding gap in the provision of social care and continued cuts to youth services, social services, parks and open spaces and to local community organisations. Council services and local government is our government and I believe we need a better deal that empowers councils to drive local economies and provide services to meet local need strengthening community cohesion'.