This edition we’ve been looking at local authorities, particularly our four largest cities and at the different ways in which they allocate and manage their resources. There is no doubt that the SNP administration at Holyrood has kept to their word that they will give local authorities greater freedom in the prioritisation of their allocation of resources. Reminding me of the old warning, “beware of what your demanding for you may get it”.
This policy has often worked against the SNP as the blame for disputes over local issues can often be landed at the door of central government when local interest groups notice that an adjoining authority is more generous in their allocation of resources to a particular client group than their council happens to be. This frequently leads to an appeal for central government intervention in the interest of territorial justice. However meaningful comparisons of how fairly resources are allocated are hampered by the lack of meaning statistics being readily available to the public.
With budget allocation being the most important task for local authorities it is remarkable how little advanced information gets into the hands of general public prior to decisions being made. Much of this can be motivated by the councils making sure that campaigns by local citizens to save favoured local amenities from the axe are unable to get up a head of steam before the budget meetings of the council. As for true figures for the cost of PFI projects commercial confidentiality is used time and time again to trump freedom of information. When we consider the constraints about to be thrown round council expenditure in the next decade perhaps we should demand that central government makes it mandatory that local authorities publish both their actual budget figures in a meaningful year on year, population on population and territory on territory, comparative manner between authorities, this to be done via the council’s web sites. If you want to see what is available on these sites at present with regards to the four largest cities you will find them at:
What ever happened to our trades councils? One distinctive aspect of Scottish trades unions was always that of the Trades Councils so whilst looking around the City web sites I searched for our trades councils’ engagement with the internet. Aberdeen trades union council still exists at 13 Adelphi but does not have an internet presence. Edinburgh TUC is still in Albany Street and has its own web site at www.edintuc.org.uk. Glasgow has the Glasgow Trades Union Council based at the STUC in Woodlands Road but no web site. But the winner is…. Dundee. Dundee TUC has a lively up-to-date website. I think I can detect the hand of Mike Arnott in there. The web site can be found at dundeetuc.org. uk/index.htm.html.