Wednesday, 12 February 2014


Edinburgh Conservatives have today published a budget that shows how the City can have better services at a lower cost. The proposals to be put forward at the Council budget meeting on Thursday by Conservative Finance Spokesman Cllr Iain Whyte include:
A 1% Council Tax cut;
Details of the £61m wasted by Labour and the SNP when they rejected partnership with the private sector to provide better services and details of how this can be re-instated;
Plans to reduce management layers and unnecessary management posts in contrast to the Council’s increase in posts of over 300 in the last year despite austerity budgets;
An end to the war on motorists and boost for City Centre businesses with a freeze on parking charges;
A trial of powered compacting bins with a view to reducing street litter;
Withdrawal from CoSLA the ineffective councils umbrella group making a considerable saving in future years and mirroring the approach of Aberdeen and Dumfries and Galloway;
Plans for further efficiency savings to reduce the risk of overspends or major cuts to public services in the coming few years.
Cllr Iain Whyte said: “All Councils claim efficiencies when making budget reductions but unless you make real structural change in the way the Council is run progress will be limited. Our plans make that structural change and will free up resource to maintain frontline services and make service improvements. We also have to work with all partners to bring innovation, adopt modern technology and working practices and a more customer based approach. We have to truly embrace partnerships with the private and voluntary sectors as these can give us the holy grail of better quality services at lower cost.
“In contrast the current Administration has wasted millions by sticking to a blinkered and old fashioned approach to service delivery. This is failing to deliver the savings they predict and service standards on areas like bin collections and recycling are missing their limited targets.”
“Our budget makes a number of service improvements and shows how to fill the Council’s financial black hole over the next few years while maintaining service levels. But even more importantly we show that this is possible while returning money to hard-working families through a Council Tax cut. Just like Stirling Council has proved this is perfectly possible. It will help family budgets as the recovery takes hold and boost our local economy. But most importantly it sets the Council’s a clear aim to achieve a more efficient and effective Council in future.”

Monday, 3 February 2014

Conservatives challenge Property Repairs secrecy

Conservative Finance Spokesman Cllr Iain Whyte today challenged the need to hold a discussion of a report on the Council's resolution of the Property Repairs scandal in private.  The Committee went ahead behind closed doors after the Convener accepted that there may be confidential legal advice given to Committee. 
Iain Whyte said:  "I wanted as much discussion of this issue as possible in public as people are angry that the Council hasn't yet resolved the affected property owners complaints or finalised bills for those left in limbo as they haven't been given a cost for work that was carried out.  The report at the meeting today was largely about setting the procedure and not about individual cases and I believe the procedure should be a matter of public record.
"Following the discussion I successfully pressed for a greater proportion of cases where there is a proposal to write off debt, to come to a Council Committee rather than simply be decided behind closed doors by officers.  This can give councillors and the affected owners more confidence that their case is being dealt with in an open way.  It can also strike a balance by ensuring Council officers don't just throw further large amounts of public money at the issue to 'make the problem go away'. 
"Finally, I have successfully persuaded the Committee that we need monthly reports on the resolution process as many owners are concerned at the slow progress made to date so far.  Now we can hold the officers to account over the performance of the system.  Conservative councillors want to see a more open approach in future and a swift resolution to the many cases that have caused owners so much distress."
For further information contact Iain Whyte on 07879 486133.