MACDONALD CALLS ON COUNCIL LEADER TO APOLOGISE FOR ‘BLATANT LIES’ SLUR
Monday, 28 September 2015 12:12
MSP upholds official research on Band D households in Falkirk district saving £1128 in Council Tax freeze
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has called on the Leader of Falkirk Council, Councillor Craig Martin, to apologise to independent, impartial experts at the Scottish Parliament’s information centre (SPICe).
Councillor Martin has implied that SPICe have lied in a report which shows that, "the money provided by the Government to freeze the council tax has resulted in local authorities receiving more income than they would have done by increasing rates by RPI%."
He goes on to claim that the funding given to local government was such that, "it could be said that the freeze, over the period 2008-09 to 2013-14 was ‘over-funded’..."
However, in an ill-conceived outburst by the Leader of the Council, Martin accused the independent, impartial experts of ‘blatant lies’.
Angus MacDonald MSP - pictured below outside the Scottish Parliament buildings in Edinburgh - has now written to Councillor Martin urging him to apologise to the staff of Holyrood’s independent information service. Furthermore, Mr. MacDonald also calls on him, in light of the new evidence from SPICe, to "publicly retract you and your party’s previous inaccurate, misleading claims on the subject and reflect on the negative brand of politics pursued by your party."
Commenting, the MSP for Falkirk East and former Grangemouth Councillor said, "People across Falkirk district have benefited from the Council Tax freeze - and this new independent, expert research shows that the freeze has been more than fully funded by the SNP in government."
"SPICe’s research stands in stark contrast to years of claims from the Labour party that the freeze has been underfunded – claims made by Labour’s finance spokesperson Jackie Baillie and Deputy Leader Alex Rowley this year, and also from local Labour politicians including the Leader of the Council and former Leader Councillor Linda Gow."
"I have called on the Leader of the Council to publicly apologise to SPICe staff for attempting to bring their independent, impartial analysis into disrepute, and have also highlighted to him the benefits of the Scottish Government’s Council Tax Freeze, which has saved the average Band D household in Falkirk district a total of £1128, a substantial saving which I’m sure is welcome during tough economic times."
The text of Mr. MacDonald's letter to the Leader of the Council is detailed below:
Councillor Craig Martin
Leader of the Council
28th September 2015
Dear Councillor Martin,
I am writing to you with regard to your recent comments on the report published by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) concerning the Scottish Government’s Council Tax freeze. In the Falkirk Herald article dated 24th September 2015, you publicly decry the report, claiming it to be “blatant lies”.
This is an astonishing, ill-considered outburst on a report published by independent, impartial experts at SPICe who are unable to respond to unjustified public attacks such as yours.
As you should know, and need to accept, the report finds that far from being underfunded as you and many senior Labour figures have suggested over the last eight years, the council tax freeze has in fact been ‘overfunded’ with “an estimated £164.9m extra going to local government as a result of the freeze.”
As you’ll be aware, this stands in stark contrast to claims made by senior Labour party figures over the last eight years – with your party’s new Deputy Leader Alex Rowley stating in February this year that “the on-going council tax freeze remains underfunded putting even greater pressure on frontline council services” and Labour’s finance spokesperson Jackie Baillie said that “the council tax freeze has been underfunded by the Scottish Government…”.
In light of the new evidence from SPICe, I would be grateful if you would publicly retract you and your party’s previous inaccurate, misleading claims on the subject and reflect on the negative brand of politics pursued by your party.
In addition, on behalf of the independent researchers at SPICe I call on you to release a public apology for inferring that SPICe staff are liars.
In closing, you will also of course be aware that the Scottish Government’s council tax freeze policy has saved the average Band D household in Falkirk district a total of £1128. I hope that in light of this new factual SPICe report, you will be happy to welcome this substantial saving to family budgets during tough economic times.
I look forward to your swift response.
Yours for Scotland,
Angus MacDonald MSP
Falkirk East Constituency
For background information on Councillor Martin's statement about SPICe and the response of local MSP Angus MacDonald and MP Martyn Day, click on the following Falkirk Herald website link: http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/news/local-news/falkirk-council-leader-council-tax-freeze-has-caused-cuts-1-3896710