SNP's sleekit Spaces for People plans show what's wrong with the party's political instincts – Robert Aldridge

I was disappointed but not surprised when the SNP government yet again interfered with council budgets.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, seen with watched by Nicola Sturgeon, has offered councils money if they will agree to freeze council tax (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

They are threatening to deny Edinburgh almost £10 million we are due unless we have a council tax freeze. Whether we have a council tax freeze or not should be based on what it would mean for essential services decided on an understanding of what the city needs, not some cheap election gimmick.

They seem obsessed with trying to control things they don’t have full powers over rather than those they have had every chance to change for the better. But maybe it is because they are trying to take the spotlight away from their many failures.

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Whether it is their disastrous mistakes over the new Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital, or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, the wasting of millions of pounds on the purchase of the lame duck Prestwick Airport, the regular closures of the new Queensferry Crossing because of ice (after we were promised it would never close), the continuing failure to address the educational attainment gap, their internal civil war on the important issue of the rights of trans people or many more, their instinct is either to ask for even more powers, have another constitutional rammy or to deflect attention onto something else.

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They will do anything except focus on improving their poor record in government on the many important issues they have full powers to improve.

They have an attitude of ‘we know best what you need’ and don’t really listen. And that extends to the council too.

The council carries out a very large number of consultations. But time and again the wishes of the local people are ignored.

There are examples where up to 80 per cent of people have said one thing and the SNP-led council has done the opposite.

And that is without even getting into the misguided attempts to railroad communities into long-term infrastructure changes under the guise of the temporary Spaces for People programme.

That sleekit approach simply undermined the many worthwhile schemes which the programme has implemented. It’s little wonder that people in a number of local communities are getting more and more frustrated.

As Lib Dems, we believe in listening rather than telling, and we strongly believe that there should be more local control over what happens locally.

Whether it is local councils having control over their finances or local communities having a real say over priorities for their area, decisions should be taken as close as possible to the community they affect.

Democracy is about trusting the people and I have always found that people take reasonable and sophisticated decisions.

It’s all too tempting for politicians to try to amass more and more power at the centre. It is far braver and more effective to share power.

So it’s time for the SNP government to stop playing politics with our council’s budget and time for our SNP-led council to give our communities the respect and powers they deserve.

Robert Aldridge is Scottish Liberal Democrat councillor for Drum Brae/Gyle and leader of his party’s group on the council

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