Fergus Ewing under fire over brigades call

A SCOTTISH government minister has been accused of "outrageous" and "high-handed" behaviour by council chiefs in a fresh turf war over Scotland's fire services which could topple SNP plans to pass a budget for next year.

Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing prompted fury among local authority chiefs on Friday after he issued them with a letter laying down the law on long-term reforms to Scotland's fire service.

Ewing's action has resulted in umbrella body Cosla warning that the entire council-government deal on finance for next year may now be off.

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The letter from Pat Watters declares: "It is ironic that you should draw attention to the need to consider the long-term planning of the fire service at a local level when your government decided that only a one-year settlement could be provided rather than a longer term spending review. We wanted long-term financial clarity while your government wanted only short-term considerations. For you now to be asking to be kept informed about our medium and long-term planning, given that we were refused the financial clarity we sought, is nothing short of outrageous."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Ministers are happy to engage with our local government partners."