Thinking Scotland, Acting Locally
Devolution is not something that ended in 1999!
A major hurdle has been cleared in the battle to bring more powers to Scotland, with the SNP climbdown giving the Scotland Bill support across the political spectrum.
The Scotland Bill will deliver new borrowing powers, which have immense potential to boost our economy, particularly during these tough times.
The Scottish Parliament will take charge of raising a significant proportion of the money it spends, making it more accountable to the people of Scotland.
This is part of the process of devolution, bringing significant new powers to Scotland.
I strongly believe that this is the way forward, and that our future should not be jeopardised by an ill-considered, risk-laden and backward-looking leap into separation.
We should look at each issue on its merits – and not just for the transfer of powers from Westminster to Holyrood.
We also need to consider where powers and funding would be better in the hands of local authorities – and I am not about to stop saying that because I am now an MSP!
Since I now represent Motherwell and Wishaw in the Scottish Parliament, I am standing down as a councillor. I am proud to have served my ward, proud of the record of the Labour Party in North Lanarkshire, and pleased to note that this commitment to improving the lives of the people of North Lanarkshire is being upheld by my colleagues who are standing for election, with promises to fund 5000 new jobs, support town centres, build a thousand new homes, provide new kitchens and bathrooms, deal with antisocial residents, and continue to improve schools.
These will be delivered despite the SNP cuts, 83% of which are falling on local authorities. Over the next three years, councils face a huge 5.5% cut, ten times the 0.5% funding cut in the rest of the SNP Government budget. For North Lanarkshire in the next three years, the cuts add up in real terms to over £100m. Just imagine how much more could have been done if the council had that money available!