Council leader asks: what’s the big idea?

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson has challenged first minister Alex Salmond to come up with some “big ideas” to help the council cope with having to find savings of almost £30million for the financial year 2015-16.

Meetings to discuss options to meet the savings target are to be brought forward between now and the setting of the council’s budget in February, 2015.

Councillor Matheson said: “We’re going to need to hear some big ideas from [the government] and we’re going to need to hear them soon.”

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The council’s forecast, published this week, shows that the city will need to find savings to meet a spending gap of £28.9 million.

In a statement released along with the financial forecast, the council set out it’s economic problems, saying: “Although the total local government budget in Scotland is the same as last year, Glasgow will again receive a smaller percentage of the available budget, resulting in a £13.1 million cut from the Scottish government.”

The council leader said: “Added to the unfunded council tax freeze that continues to put real pressure on services, only with sound financial planning have we survived the last few years.

“The Scottish Government has saved the really big cuts for the two or three years after 2015.

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“It’s not good enough for them to continue to pretend that everything’s fine.”

However, SNP finance spokesman and southside councillor Norman MacLeod rejected the council leader’s claims.

He countered: “The Scottish Government is to be commended on its efforts, over recent years, to defend local government in Scotland from the worst of Westminster’s austerity programme.

“Rather than criticise the SNP government, it would be more appropriate for councillor Matheson to publicly dissociate himself from the undertaking given by the Labour party to support the Tories’ damaging cuts agenda.”