South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has pledged to vote against the Scottish Government’s budget when it comes before Parliament this week and has accused the SNP of seeking to decimate local services in Dumfries and Galloway.

The pledge came as ALL groups on Dumfries and Galloway Council including the SNP unanimously agreed to write to SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and all local MSPs warning them that the Scottish Government’s budget proposals, which include a £319m real terms cut to councils, means Dumfries and Galloway Council faces a funding gap of £18.467m this year alone.

The letter warns that as a result of the Government’s planned budget, councillors are being forced to “consider cuts such as school closures, closures or transfer of leisure facilities and public toilets and measures which will increase pupil:staff ratios” if proposals to axe  teaching posts go ahead. The £18.467m of cuts and increases in council tax will take the amount of money the council has had to save since 2010 up to almost £100m. MSPs will vote on Stage 1 of the budget bill in Parliament this Thursday.   

Colin Smyth wants the SNP to make changes to their budget including ending the cuts to councils. He believes the SNP should consider raising the top rate of income tax to 50p to raise extra funds. The current level for those earning over £150,000 is 46p.

Colin Smyth said, “People need to wake up to what the Scottish Government’s budget means for Dumfries and Galloway. Every MSP in this region knows the Council cannot make savings of £18.5m without axing hundreds more council jobs and closing schools and leisure facilities.  I am not prepared to sit back and watch that happen so I will vote against the Scottish Government’s budget in Parliament and urge the SNP to stop the cuts to councils. Under the SNPs budget Government Ministers will actually be paying less tax than they did last year, yet council workers locally face losing their jobs. That is just perverse.  I hope that all local MSPs will show the same unity their councillors have in the region and join me in standing up for Dumfries and Galloway. The people of our region expect us to fight for our constituents local services and send a clear united message to the SNP Government in Edinburgh that they need to rethink their plans.”

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