Protesters Take To Streets Of Aberdeen Over Council Cuts

AN ESTIMATED 2,000 people marched through the centre of Aberdeen on Saturday in protest at massive cuts in council services.

A £27m reduction in council spending has hit schools, sports facilities and services for the disabled.

Members of the SNP-LibDem administration who attended the rally were jeered as they attempted to pin the blame on the previous administration.

Among the groups demonstrating was homelessness charity Aberdeen Cyrenians, which says that a £900,000 budget cut means it has to sack a quarter of its staff.

Aberdeen Ice Hockey Club was also protesting about the closure of the city’s ice rink.

The leader of Aberdeen Council, Lib Dem councillor Kate Dean, said: “We would not have had to make these cuts if we had a fairer funding settlement from the Government for Aberdeen – we need the funding formula changed.

Labour’s shadow Secretary for Public Services, Andy Kerr, added: “The responsibility for these cuts rest with the SNP.”

But SNP councillor Kevin Stewart insisted: “It is now crystal clear that Aberdeen’s financial problems are a result of years of over-spending, as well as a funding formula inherited from the previous Lab-Lib executive.”

Meanwhile, other local authorities say they are having to make massive cutbacks on vital local services as a result of the SNP’s decision to freeze council tax. They include Dumfries and Galloway and West Lothian. In addition, members of Glasgow City Council say they are relying on cash reserves to avoid cuts.

Dumfries and Galloway has had to cut funding for charity groups and day-care centres. It has also reduced its budget for adults living alone with physical disabilities.

Labour councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “The SNP Government haveforced us to make this freeze and now it seems that they won’t support us when we are struggling.”

West Lothian has cut £6m from budgets, including classroom supplies, early years education, services to the elderly and roads maintenance.

West Lothian Labour councillor Graeme Morrice said: “The worst part of all was that, due to the rise in water and sewage rates alongside the rent rates, which are due to increase 20% in the next four years, people feel they haven’t even benefited financially.”

Glasgow has not had to make any major cuts, but Lib-Dem councillor John Mason said he was concerned about what would happen when the reserve money ran low.

Midlothian SNP councillor Colin Beattie said: “Some councils just have to grow up. Every council in Scotland has been given more than enough money by the Government. People just have to start taking responsibility for things.”