Derek Mackay’s discovery of “localism” as a virtue requires definition. Translated it means: “We are again taking hundreds of millions of pounds away from councils but allowing them to raise a fraction of that sum through local taxes.”
Councils in post-industrial areas which see very few tourists will be allowed to introduce a tourist tax. Councils in rural areas with abysmal public transport will be allowed to introduce a parking tax. And the more plastic bags are sold, the more five pences will accrue to council coffers.
Local authorities which cannot raise significant funds from these wonderful new freedoms will be arraigned for their own fecklessness and told they can raise council tax by 4.9 per cent. And if people don’t like that then they can blame ... the council.
Perhaps some illustrative tariffs could be advertised for guidance. It will take X-thousand tourists to fund a music teacher, Y-thousand parking spaces to keep a swimming-pool open and an indeterminate number of plastic bags to fill in a few pot-holes.
In the pious world of urban Greens, everyone lives within cycling distance of a railway station and if they don’t, it’s their own fault. A parking tax in places where the car is the only practical means of low-paid people getting to work must rank among the most idiotic propositions to emerge from Holyrood.
If councils want local taxes as “extras” it should be their democratic entitlement to take the electoral risk. But the idea these can be substitutes for the slashing of core budgets by Mr Mackay and his desk-thumping, guffawing associates is risible – and insulting to real people, suffering real hardships from real cuts.