Dalkeith protest against council cuts

Unison Midlothian held a protest last week against cuts to council services, calling on the Scottish Government to help the local authority.

Unison union members protesting  against potential Midlothian Council cuts in Jarnac Court, Dalkeith, last week.
Unison union members protesting against potential Midlothian Council cuts in Jarnac Court, Dalkeith, last week.

The protest in Jarnac Court, Dalkeith, was aimed at gathering support for the union’s campaign for fairer local government funding.

Grace Chalmers, branch secretary, UNISON Midlothian, said: “Midlothian Council is facing unprecedented levels of cuts to jobs and services in order to balance their budget before the end of the financial year. Therefore, UNISON feel Midlothian Council are playing JENGA with our services, for each brick (service) removed it will have an effect on the remaining structure (services).

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“All non-statutory services are at risk of being cut, such as early intervention and prevention, disability support day services, social care, reduced waste collection, and there may be only one library and leisure centre.

Unison union protest against Midlothian Council in Jarnac Court, Dalkeith. Photos by Marc Archibald.
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“Cuts to these services will have an impact on all residents and employees in Midlothian Council, at a time when there is a growing demand due to an ever increasing population.

“Cuts to services will have a catastrophic effect on the most vulnerable people in Midlothian.

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“We are looking for our councillors to support us by contacting the Scottish Government. We need as many people as possible to join this campaign before budget decisions are finalised.

“Please sign up now online at: change.org/p/derek-mackay-stop-midlothian-council-cuts-to-services-and-jobs-before-it-is-too-late

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“We call on Derek Mackay (Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance) to look again at the money being allocated to Midlothian Council as the settlement is based on population figures from two years ago.

“We call on the Scottish Government to set up an independent body to look at a new formula to be used for local government funding which is fair for all councils.”

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We continue to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government.

“We are delivering a funding package of £11.1 billion for local authorities next year – a real terms increase of over £210 million for essential public services.

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“Midlothian Council will receive £179.7 million to fund local services in 2019-20. Using their council tax powers could also generate an additional £1.4m to support the delivery of essential local services, meaning an extra £8m or 4.6 per cent in the coming year.”