‘Truth is there’s no alternative to cuts’

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I feel that I have to reply to the inaccuracies in last’s week’s letter from J. S. Douglas (Time for cuts councillor to tell constituents the truth).

The truth of the matter is that I did try to reverse the axing of the green waste service at the administration meeting at St Boswells, but I was heavily defeated. I could not identify where I was to find the required £800,000 of savings that our department is required to make.

The truth of the matter is that the Scottish Government has had its budget reduced by the British Government by 11 per cent in real terms over four years. Within that the Scottish Government’s capital budget is being reduced by one third, so I don’t think it takes an Einstein to work out that the Scottish Government, in turn, has to make cuts to councils

Regardless of being in opposition or in administration, we, as local members, all have to face up to the fact that we are not being given enough money to do the job. It’s almost like we are being brought back to Dickensian times with the Westminster government trying to dismantle local government. As one leading Tory, Gordon Oliver, mayor of Torbay, recently said, we simply cannot sustain the yearly level of cuts that the Tory-led government requires us to make.

Mr Douglas also made reference to my recent Soap Box column in which I asked the question where would the Tories and the independent councillors have Cllrs have made the required savings. Would they possibly have went along with Devon and Cornwall council which is looking at plans to effectively end the 100 per cent Council Tax discount for hard-pressed families from April including those out of work?

We could have looked at selling school playing fields as many Tory-controlled councils are doing, but this is something this administration does not want to do.

I was asked if I was in opposition would I have voted with the Tories. The answer is no I certainly would not have. I think they [the opposition] should come clean and tell the people of the Borders where they would be making the cuts would they go along with Tory-controlled DumfriesandGalloway who are looking at slashing their adult learning service, or possibly go along with Tory-led South Ayrshire Council where dinner ladies, cleaners, janitors, librarians and classroom assistants are all targeted for the axe. South Ayrshire is also looking at charging its citizens for the brown bin collection, while janitors are being put on term-time contracts.

With Scottish Borders Council having to make £28million of savings over the next five years it’s fair to say that difficult decisions will have to be made, but I for one will not run away from taking difficult decisions. Those who do should explain to the public where they will be making the required savings and what services they will be cutting.