East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson has defended local Lib Dem councillors who pushed through cuts to redundancy packages for council employees.
The SNP minority administration at East Dunbartonshire Council quit a few weeks ago after the Lib Dems and Tories joined together to vote through the controversial new terms for staff.
Ms Swinson told the Herald: “The SNP Government’s funding decisions mean that East Dunbartonshire Council is struggling to find enough money to provide social care for the elderly and make our roads and pavements safe.
“In these circumstances, it was impossible to justify continuing to spend tens of millions of pounds on redundancy packages much more generous than those for nurses, police, teachers, or any other public sector workers in Scotland.
“The SNP shouted loudly at the election in May about wanting to run East Dunbartonshire Council, yet at the first sign of difficulty they have thrown a tantrum and walked out.
“Yet again, the SNP have proved they are quick to criticise but won’t take responsibility. In Holyrood, they blame Westminster for everything despite their extensive powers. Here in East Dunbartonshire, they’ve shown they have no ideas, no plans and no commitment to improving our local area.”
SNP group leader and former council leader Gordan Low said: “In the 2017 council elections, the SNP set out a clear agenda to improve local democracy and promote progressive policies, prioritising affordable housing and enhancing additional support needs in our schools, and that is the agenda we attempted to take forward as a minority administration.
“However, for any party to be able to run the council requires either an outright majority of its own, or the support of enough councillors from other groups to carry out their political programme and priorities. Instead, Lib Dem councillors have consistently opposed much of what the SNP group has tried to achieve, and are working to a different and right wing agenda aligned with the Tories.
“Jo Swinson and her Lib Dems are well used to working in coalition with the Tories at government level, and this has continued at local level with a ‘coalition’ in all but name.
“Crucial to protecting local services is the need to maintain the goodwill of the council’s workforce, ensuring they are meaningfully consulted when significant changes are proposed to council structures and staff terms.
“Whether running schools, emptying bins, or caring for vulnerable people in our communities, it’s frontline staff we rely on. A reasonable and fair working relationship, where councillors show respect for our own employees, is fundamental to delivering essential public services.”