Chris Kane – your Labour candidate for Stirling & Strathallan

A General Election will be held on 4 July.  Only Labour can kick out the Tories and form a new government.

Voters in Stirling and Strathallan have the chance to have their say on the Tory record, and after the many failings of Johnson, Truss and Sunak, put competency at the heart of government.

A vote for Labour will help deliver the change we need to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and prioritise our public services.

Stirling & Strathallan seat looks to be a fight between Labour and the SNP.  For too long the SNP have prioritised independence before public services.

It’s time for a fresh start, both in Westminster and at Holyrood.

Your Labour Candidate for Stirling and Strathallan is Chris Kane

Chris says,

“Stirling and Strathallan is a great place to live and bring up a family. I’ve always been passionate about improving local services and doing my bit to help the community.”

“There is no better job than working in the community in which you live and grew up and helping make it a better place. Bringing more UK Government funding and jobs here would be my priority as your MP.”

“As Stirling Council Leader I’ve seen the effect of central government cuts on Council budgets and how this affects all of us.  The SNP’s recent Council Tax freeze puts further strain on local services.” 

“It is a time for change, it’s a time for hope and a time for action.  It’s time for Labour!  Vote for change on 4 July. 

Going to be away on 4th July – Click here to find out more about a postal vote (Apply before 19 June).

 

Stirling Council By Election – Scottish Labour select David Wilson to stand in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan

Stirling Council Labour candidate David WilsonIn the forthcoming Stirling Council By election on 25 January 2024, Dunblane and Bridge of Allan Labour Party members have selected Local Government IT expert David Wilson as their candidate.  David knows how crucial Local Government services are to our communities and wellbeing and that high quality services are vital.

David Wilson says,

The people of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan need a strong voice in the Labour Administration running Stirling Council.  I will be that strong voice for Dunblane and Bridge of Allan and will fight to protect and defend local services for all.’

David added,

It is the declared austerity policy of the Conservative Party, since 2010, to underfund and undermine the ability of local councils to provide services which are vital to the lives of local residents – from all walks of life.

 The SNP have multiplied the attacks on local government services by refusing to pass on even the paltry level of funding they have received from the Conservatives in Westminster.

Our teachers, librarians, street sweepers, care assistants and every other local authority worker are the glue that hold our local services together for people. We need to fight to protect these services and jobs from mismanagement of our finances by a failing SNP government.  After 16 years in power, our services continue to be slashed, year on year while children and communities suffer.

 The people of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan deserve a councillor who will fight for the services they need.  I look forward to offering myself to be that councillor who will fight for the priorities of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan – at all levels of government.’

On 25 January, vote ‘1’ for DAVID WILSON and elect a hard working Labour Councillor for Dunblane & Bridge of Allan

David Wilson 1 and Scottish labour logo

Stirling Council Labour Group Leader, Councillor Chris Kane, says,

David has an impressive track record delivering local services, championing environmental and climate issues and a passionate belief in improving the life chances of people of all ages. He will be an excellent addition to the Labour Group on Stirling Council and a strong voice for Dunblane and Bridge of Allan.’

You can get in touch with David online at www.stirlinglabour.org, via Twitter @labourstirling and facebook.com/stirlinglabour.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of a Tory Councillor and will be held on 25th January, 2024.

(Promoted by Sean Austin on behalf of David Wilson, both at ‘Mo Dhachaidh’, Park Avenue, Gartmore, FK8 3RL)

 

Chris Kane’s Blog: Community Councillors make a huge and positive difference – could YOU be one of them?

Stirling Councillor Chris KaneCommunity Councillors make a huge and positive difference – could YOU be one of them? Plus, funding reprieve for some budget cut council services and ‘perplexing and unprofessional’ SNP Councillors in this week’s newsletter

All in this the latest update from Stirling Council Leader and Scottish Labour Councillor Chris Kane

Community council elections

It’s an election year for Community Councils across Stirling, with the nomination period for Community Councillors opening on 3rd April and closing on 17th April.  Having previously served as a Community Councillor on both Braehead and Mercat Cross, I am keenly aware of the vital role these bodies play in local areas. From having a statutory right to comment on planning applications, to accessing money for local projects, to working collaboratively or being a critical friend to public bodies including Stirling Council and Police Scotland, I cannot stress enough how much of a positive difference an organised and engaged community council can have in any community.

Community Councils are a ‘constituted organisation’, two words that don’t mean much unless you’re applying for money.  There are funds available to communities for projects, provided by all levels of government, philanthropic organisations and the National Lottery.  For example, Stirling Council has the ‘Community Pride’ Fund and accepts applications for up to £1500 for projects designed by and important to the community making the application.  Community Councils are able to work collaboratively with public bodies such as Stirling Council and Police Scotland to ensure the services these bodies provide align with community priorities.  Most importantly, Community Councils are free to do whatever they can build support for in their communities that makes a difference.  In Braehead, where I was on the Community Council from 2011-2017, we raised £247,000 to build a community garden. Every Community Council can point at something they’ve achieved that can make a difference.

Braehead and Broomridge Community Council is one of two community council areas in the Stirling East Ward.  The other is ‘Hillpark and Milton’, which is unfortunately one of just three communities in the district which has failed to attract enough volunteers to form a community council for some years now. This means a quieter voice and missed funding for community projects and priorities. As a ward councillor, I’ll always do everything I can to speak up for my communities, but I know how much more can be achieved with a strong community council.

To become a Community Councillor, you need to be a registered voter in your area.  I first joined a Community Council in my twenties and I recall the advice I was given from a community councillor when I was thinking of standing – she said, ‘you can either complain or do something about it – what would you find more rewarding?’  I think about that often and I would encourage anyone who wants to do something positive to put themselves forward and join their local community council.

You’ll find information about community councils and information on the forthcoming elections on the Stirling Council website.

Newsletter

You can now receive a regular newsletter update from me direct into your email inbox. In this week’s edition, I’ll talk more about a funding reprieve for some budget cut council services and why I think the recent behaviour of the SNP Councillors on Stirling Council is both perplexing and unprofessional.

Chris Kane’s Blog – Billund, Bridges and Back to the Futureworld

  • ‘Embarrassing’ conduct of SNP Stirling Councillors
  • Letter to First Minister on Big Noise funding
  • Councillors from ‘Home of Lego’ visit Stirling
  • A trip back to the Futureworld

All in this week’s update from Stirling Council Leader and Scottish Labour Councillor Chris Kane

By-election Result

My thanks to everyone who came out to vote for Labour’s David Wilson in the Dunblane and Bridge of Allan by-election, and to David for standing up for Labour values and being a fantastic candidate.   Congratulations to Robin Kleinman as the newest member of Stirling Council.  I’ll leave it to others to pore over the data and try to work out patterns and infer thinking and suggest what it means for all the political parties, but Stirling Council is now back up to a full complement of 23 councillors.  All of us must now get on with the job Stirling’s citizens elected us to do – deliver the best local services we can with the money we’ve got, help those who need our help the most and work hard to articulate and deliver an inclusive, fair and prosperous future for everyone.

SNP Councillors ’embarrassing’ behaviour 

The SNP Group of Stirling Councillors have indicated their intention to be ‘in opposition’ to the Labour Minority Administration.  That is their choice but the SNP Councillors conduct at recent meetings is, frankly, embarrassing.  I’ve had Stirling citizens who vote across the political spectrum approach me to say parts of recent council meetings were excruciating to watch.  Don’t take my word for it – have a look at the recordings of the budget meeting and special council meeting and judge for yourself.

Big Noise

Last week I wrote of the funding issues for Stirling Council caused by the First Minister announcing on Twitter of a funding package for Big Noise projects across Scotland.  At the Stirling Council meeting on 9th March, council agreed to ‘ask the Leader of the Council to write to the First Minister to express our regret that (funding) information was not available to all affected councils prior to the budget setting process and to ask for a fair funding arrangement extending the same consideration to Big Noise Stirling as Big Noise Dundee and Big Noise Aberdeen’.  I have now done so, and you can read the letter here.  We’ve still not heard anything either in response to the letter or following up on the First Minister’s Tweet.

Billund Visit

Billund visitors at Codebase in Stirling

Stirling welcomed a delegation of politicians from Billund in Denmark last week for a tour of the Wallace Monument, Codebase and the Reuse Hub in Springkerse.  I was keen to hear of a collaboration between Lego, who are based in Billund, which has seen Billund branded as the Danish ‘Capital of Children.  Billund has an annual Children’s General Assembly and has been designated as a UNICEF Child Friendly City.  I think it’s a great example of a town working to forge its own identity when it could so easily be consumed by an overwhelmingly large and internationally important brand in the area.  By working in partnership with Lego, Billund Council are giving another reason to stay and explore the area while recognising many people will initially be attracted to the area by the theme park.   Stirling is incredibly lucky to have world class heritage attractions, but I think we also have to work hard to show visitors there’s more to our City and our district than monuments and castles.  I hope we can keep in touch and Billund and Stirling can collaborate and learn from each other in the years ahead.

Wallace Monument

My visit to the Wallace Monument marked the first time I’ve climbed the 246 steps to the top in over ten years.  I nearly didn’t set off up the stairs – I do need to lose, ahem, a bit of weight and I was nervous about how difficult I would find the climb.  But I’m glad I did and it reminded me that everything starts with the first step, sometimes metaphorically and sometimes literally.  It is good to get a reminder every now and again and for a while at least I’ll be thinking of how I good I felt making it to the top rather than how apprehensive I was at the bottom.

Stirling Bridge Lights

Congratulations to the Guardians of Scotland Trust for realising an ambition to light up Stirling Bridge.  The bridge lights are a fantastic complement to those that illuminate the Wallace Monument in an array of different colours throughout the year.  Along with looking fantastic, the colours are aligned at different points in the year to mark different occasions and causes.  I recall the monument being lit up during the pandemic in solidarity and celebration of the NHS.  Perhaps the most striking of the colours  on the monument was in support of Stirling’s ‘City of Culture’ Bid last year.  I took this picture from the car park and it reminded me of the logo to the 1980s ‘Future World’ vision for Stirling.

 

When the plans for Futureworld were unveiled in 1984 they were of a scale rarely seen in Scotland.  I was at primary school at the time but many of the elements were so creative and imaginative that I remember today the excitement I felt about the notion of self-drive cars and technology driven visitor experiences.  The promotional video hosted by Magnus Magnusson is available via the Stirling Smith Youtube channel and it is fascinating to see how the Top Of The Town looked in 1984.  Futureworld was a project of its time, but forty years later I hope we can harness that level of ambition and creative thinking for Stirling’s future.

 

That’s all this week

That’s it from me this week and I haven’t had space to talk about pedometers for cows – we’ll keep that for next time.

Chris Kane’s blog – by-elections and budgets

In this week’s update from Labour Group Leader Chris Kane:

  • SNP Councillors voting AGAINST reversing budget cuts they’ve spent the week complaining about
  • Dunblane and Bridge of Allan residents – VOTE for David Wilson ON THURSDAY THIS WEEK
  • Labour Councillors put £1.5M into a Community Wealth Building Fund for Stirling

Stirling Councillor Chris KaneI’m going to try and write more regular blogs on what’s been happening at the council.  There’s a huge many things going on and I’ll not get to cover everything, but I’ll try to write about the issues looming large in my mind when I sit down to write it.  This week that’s council budget issues and, unfortunately, the, ahem, regrettable behaviour of the SNP Group and Independent Councillor Alasdair MacPherson.  But first, I’m hugely excited by the possibilities in next week’s Dunblane and Bridge of Allan by-election.

Dunblane and Bridge of Allan residents – vote ‘1’ for Scottish Labour’s David Wilson on Thursday 16th March.

David Wilson 1 and Scottish labour logo

 

There is a by-election in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan next Thursday 16th and turnout will be key.  If you’re a Labour supporter, your vote could be the difference between electing Labour Candidate David Wilson or an SNP/Tory candidate.  David would be an excellent councillor and you can read more about his story. The political pendulum is swinging back towards Labour.  Less than two weeks ago, Labour won a by-election in Aberdeen which saw SNP voters desert the party and Labour increase vote share from last May. Labour has a real shot in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan – but only with your help.  Vote ‘1’ for David Wilson on Thursday 16th March and elected another strong Labour voice to Stirling Council.

SNP Councillors vote AGAINST reversals to budget cuts

 Stirling Council set its budget before the First Minister announced full funding for ‘Big Noise’ projects, saying on Twitter:

Her announcement came on the back of SNP led councils in Dundee and Aberdeen taking the decision to cut 100% of the funding they provided for projects in their area.  Given Stirling’s long partnership with Big Noise, we felt a 10% cut was appropriate in the current financial climate, but we did award £392,000.

Had we known the Scottish Government were prepared to fund Big Noise projects, we would have taken the opportunity to use this £392,000 to offset difficult decisions in other areas.   So on Thursday 9th, at the full meeting of council, we presented a motion to reverse the cuts listed below.  All SNP councillors, and independent councillor Alasdair Macpherson, voted AGAINST saving these services:

  • No rise in Bridge of Allan allotment charges – SNP against
  • No cut to Smith Art Gallery and Museum budget – SNP against
  • No cut to Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise budget – SNP against
  • No changes to provision at Aberfoyle Nursery – SNP against
  • No changes to provision at Fintry Nursery – SNP against
  • Don’t raise charges for nursery fees – SNP against
  • Reinstate free bulky uplifts for over 60s – SNP against
  • Reinstate Springkerse Park and Ride – SNP against
  • No increase in charges for MECS users – SNP against
  • No reduction in digital inclusion support in libraries – SNP against

I find it difficult to understand how the SNP Councillors can spend all week on social media decrying the decisions of 2nd March, but when presented with an opportunity made possible by an SNP First Minister, they decided NOT to help local organisations and services.  I can’t help wonder if the SNP Councillors, and Cllr Macpherson, are prioritising political point scoring over the financial wellbeing of council services and partner organisations.

It’s not just SNP Councillors …

Stirling MP Alyn Smith and local MSP Keith Brown have been tweeting about increases to Bridge of Allan allotment fees, as has the SNP candidate in the local by-election.  On this particular issue, the SNP Group of Stirling Councillors proposed exactly the same increase in fees to the allotments as the Labour Administration.  The SNP councillors had the chance (see above) to vote to reverse the cut but chose to vote against a Labour proposal.  When the SNP propose a cut, SNP MP Alyn Smith is silent, but when another party proposes it, he is shocked.  Keith Brown is silent on SNP proposals to raise Bridge of Allan allotment fees but happy to retweet an SNP candidate calling the cuts ‘vicious’ and allotment users ‘victims’.  Do Alyn and Keith not care, or not notice, that their SNP councillor colleagues proposed identical cost increases in their budget motion? Or could it be that one narrative suits them better than the other?  Nicola Sturgeon talked about the ‘brutality’ of modern political discourse as part of her consideration in resigning.  The SNP candidate is inexperienced and has a lot to learn, but Keith Brown and Alyn Smith are professionals of whom we should all expect a higher standard.

Community Capacity Fund

The budget decisions around Bridge of Allan Allotments are a good example of a looming, larger problem faced by Stirling Council.

As I’ve said in a previous blog, unless the funding arrangements for councils is overhauled in the coming months not years, then the very survival of councils as we know them today is under threat.  Unfortunately we’ve got to play with the cards we’ve been dealt, so in our budget we’ve created a ‘Community Capacity Fund’ to assist communities in building both the capacity and the resilience to take over the running of council assets such as Community Centres and sports pavilions.   If the council can’t afford to operate these assets, then the alternatives are community transfer, temporary closure (‘mothballing’) or permanent closure.

Braehead Community Garden

In 2013, when I was the chair of Braehead Community Council, we were (one of a few community councils across Scotland) given a grant from the Scottish Government of £10,000 to test a question ahead in the early planning stages of the work on what would become the ‘Community Empowerment Bill’.  The question was ‘does a community council have the capacity to run a council asset within the community’.  This grant gave us the support to work up a further funding application to the Big Lottery which resulted in a £250,000 award to build Braehead Community Garden.  Our answer to the question was, yes, community councils can run community assets but community development trusts are more agile and so we set one up and the garden has been open for seven years and is doing well.

Our ‘community empowerment fund’ will allow us to work with communities to ask similar questions and where capacity does exist and where there is a willingness, we can have conversations about whether the most sustainable future is as a council run or a community run asset.  Where capacity does not exist, just as we did in Braehead, the fund can help build it until an asset transfer conversation is viable.

This is all a key part of ‘Community Wealth Building’, and you can read more about Stirling’s approach to it in this paper that was passed by council this week.

Allotments

Specifically on allotments, currently the council owns four allotment sites.  Three are self-managed by user management committees and as such are able to run the sites much more cost effectively than the council.  Stirling Council currently spends £9000 per year administering this allotment site and generates £2876 in income.  The option taken in the budget was for ‘full cost recovery’, so council would not make any money from Bridge of Allan increase, but wouldn’t lose money either.  I would encourage the users of the allotments to get together and look to take over this site and run is through a user group – I know the council would actively welcome this and work closely with allotment holders to make this happen.

That’s it for this week

That’s all from me this week – but one final reminder if you live in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, don’t forget to vote ‘1’ for David Wilson on Thursday 16th March.  If you’re pledged your support to another candidate, you can still support David with your second preference ‘2’ vote.

David Wilson 1 and Scottish labour logo

The Stirling Council 2023/24 budget

Stirling’s Labour Council Leader, Cllr Chris Kane has written a blog on the budget setting process for the coming year.

Update:  The Administration budget motion was passed at a meeting of full council on 2nd March. You can watch a recording of the meeting here.

Introduction

The Labour Administration have tabled a budget motion for consideration by Stirling Council on 2 March.

Given the severe financial pressures facing the council, this has been challenging – emotionally and politically – to draft.

Nobody likes cutting budgets.  Nobody likes raising taxes.  What we all want are decent local services.

This is a lengthy blog, but the budget is complicated and local services important, so I want to do this properly.  I have linked to various documents and other sources throughout this article.

Stirling Council Services

Stirling Council provides hundreds of services.  Some are obvious, like running schools and collecting bins.  Others less so, like ensuring buildings are constructed safely.

Council provide support for people when they need extra help at every stage of life, from foster care to social care.

Councils are obliged by law to offer ‘statutory’ services, like educating children.  Some services, such as economic development, are ‘discretionary’.

Councils provide a delivery mechanism for Scottish and UK Governments.  Councils do this because, regardless of what party is in power, collectively we must work together to support our communities.  If asked to deliver a national priority, we expect that the money to deliver it comes along with the obligation.

Council Funding Sources

Scottish Local Authorities receive funding for core services through two mechanisms:

Local taxes and charges (20.8% of Stirling’s budget):  raised through Council Tax and charging for some of the services we provide.

Local Government Settlement (79.2% of Stirling’s budget):  This is an amount given to councils by the Scottish Government.  This includes a proportion of all non-domestic rates raised in Scotland.

Included in the local government settlement is ringfenced funding (4.8% of total) to deliver the national priorities referred to above.  The money we receive for ringfenced services can only be used to deliver these services.  If councils tried to use them for anything else, the Scottish Government would ask for the money back.

What this shows is that we are hugely dependent on the Scottish Government for the funding to deliver our local services.

The budget starting position

Our revised core budget this year following the recent Local Government Settlement is £252,067,000.

Once we factor in inflation, pay rises for staff, increased energy costs, and other pressures totalling £24,342,000, we would need an extra £17,648,000 to do everything the same next year.

For 2023/24 the Scottish Finance Secretary has told us we’re receiving an extra £2M in our ‘local government settlement’ which is 0.95% of an increase from the previous year.  £1,864,000 is ‘ringfenced’ to protect policies Scottish ministers were elected on rather than the services local councils are expected to deliver.

That leaves just £136,000 extra for core services. In effect, our ‘pay rise’ from the Scottish Government is 0.05%, not the 7% minimum we require just to stand still.

The financial crisis facing local government is of a magnitude which has never been experienced before.

What Would You Do?

Your options are (1) raise council tax, fees and charges and/or (2), spend less on services.

You could do it by increasing council tax by 32% (1% brings in roughly £550,000).  You could cut £17.6 million from schools, libraries, bin collection, parks, community centres, etc.

Hopefully, you try to set your budget with a mixture of both.

Scottish Government contribution

You could, and you should, also ask whether you think we are being short-changed by the SNP/Green Scottish Government.

the Scottish Parliament Information Centre noted in its Local Government Finance Budget 2023/24 update that over the last decade funding to councils has increased by 4.3% but much of it ring fenced for national priorities (see above).  In the same period, Scottish Government funding has increased by 8.3%.

CoSLA, the body which represents all 32 Scottish councils, estimates that over one billion pounds of funding we would normally expect to flow to local government has gone towards national priorities.

The SNP Government also try to dictate how we spend some of our core budget. Stirling Council has been told if we reduce teacher numbers by as much as one post, we’ll be punished by a reduction in our local government settlement by around £2 million pounds.

Between 2007 and 2021 Local Authorities were told that if we raised council tax by more than 3%, the Scottish Government would reduce our overall budget by at least the same amount.

Imagine for a minute what the SNP would say if the UK Government tried to exercise similar control over Scottish Government spending?

They would be screaming from the rooftops that it was undemocratic.

Councils Across Scotland

 In January all 32 Council Leaders (including 14 SNP and 10 Labour Council Leaders) wrote to the First Minister to say local government was in danger of collapse.

In December, all 32 politically neutral Council Finance Officers wrote to the SNP Finance Secretary to say local government was in danger of collapse.

We are all in agreement that the very survival of council services is at stake.

Here’s what Glasgow’s SNP Council Leader Susan Aitken had to say in a recent newspaper column:

“What we cannot be is treated solely as a delivery vehicle for national priorities at the expense of local needs. Almost the entirety of the £550 million announced for local government in December has to be directed at national priorities. It did little or nothing for Glasgow’s budget gap, protecting the policies ministers were elected on rather than the services local councils are expected to deliver.  Our call to remove the restrictions holding us back from setting local priorities and taking local decisions isn’t just about democracy and accountability, it’s about the very survival of these services at this critical time.” 

If you don’t like the options we are proposing, that’s absolutely your choice.  But our hands are being increasingly tied by the SNP/Green Government in Holyrood who either don’t realise or don’t care about the magnitude of the impact their choices are having on local government and local services.

What are we proposing in Stirling?

The Administration have worked with council officers to identify £6,486,000 in budget reductions.

Some are ‘business as usual’ reductions, where officers are content that they can still deliver a service, albeit a smaller one.

Some of the larger reductions will have profound impacts on the level of service provided.  Some services may stop altogether.  We have issued a call for voluntary severance to reduce staff numbers.

Every organisation we fund and every service of the council we provide will have less money to spend next year.

You can see the full list in this council report.

We’ve taken the tough decision to propose a council tax increase of 7%.  This table shows the increase across the bands.

Despite all of this, we were still £9M short.

The Scottish Government has changed an aspect of Local Government Accounting rules that allows councils to account for the financing of schools built using PFI (Balfron High) and PPP (Stirling, Wallace, Dunblane, McLaren, St Modan’s and Raploch) over the life of the asset (judged at 50 years) rather than the life of the contract (fixed at 25 years)  This ‘service concession’ has realised £27,358,000, of which we are using £3,712,000 to help balance this year’s budget.

We will NOT be paying any additional money to the PPP/PFI contractors, and the schools will revert to full ownership of the council once the original 25 year contracts have been fulfilled.

In addition, our earmarked reserve fund is made up of the money allocated to projects in previous budget years which are still ongoing.  We’ve trimmed these projects and realised an additional £5,350,000.

The problem with using both the reprofiling and the earmarked reserves is that you can only use that money once, but the budget it is paying for will continue for years, meaning we have to either find another £9M in money or £9M in cuts in 2024/25.

The Positive News 

In December, the Labour Administration proposed, and council passed, the following ten priorities:

  1. Improving the quality of life by providing responsive services that ensure our neighbourhoods are attractive, safe and happy for everyone
  2. Providing quality services people need.
  3. Building community capacity and empowering citizens
  4. Developing a competitive and thriving sustainable local economy
  5. Improving health and wellbeing outcomes that help our communities thrive
  6. Embedding digital and physical connectivity and accelerating infrastructure development
  7. Ensuring our young people have access to the best quality education enabling the best start in life
  8. Tackling the climate and nature emergency and pursuing our net zero ambition through action
  9. Investing in wellbeing, including sport, leisure, food & Nutrition, culture and events
  10. Continuing investment in housing, learning & education to address health and wellbeing inequalities

The service concession has allowed us to propose allocating some monies to assist with these priorities.

We will create a £1.5M economic development fund to help market Stirling as a place to invest and create jobs and to speed up deliver of City Region Deal projects.

We will create a £1.3M fund to develop community capacity and community wealth building principles.  By investing in this way, we can help communities and third sector partners who may be able or want to deliver some of the council’s discretionary services and assets that are facing an uncertain future.

We will invest an extra £1M in our roads and pavements.

We will invest £200K to top-up the Scottish Welfare fund to help provide support to people in crisis.

We will also  allocate £30K to support development work around public transport.

You can see how we intend to allocate the entire service concession from page 179 of the council agenda.

Conclusion

Despite the previous section, it is my assessment that the survival of Scottish Local Government is hanging in the balance with the current funding arrangements.  This year we may be debating whether we can afford summer bedding plants in our parks; next year we’re on course to debate how many of our libraries and community centres can we afford to keep open.  The year after that, it will be how do we provide support for our most vulnerable citizens, educate our children, pay our staff, and provide basic local services.

If we are to survive, we need a true partnership model with the Scottish Government with a fair funding settlement that allows us to deliver the services we all rely on.  Given that the current SNP led Scottish Government have eviscerated local government funding in a sustained attack going back to 2007, I have no confidence that they are prepared to change course.

if we survive until 2026, Scotland must grasp the opportunity to elect a Labour Scottish Government with a history of partnership working and a great deal more respect for local democracy and local decision making than the SNP.

In the meantime, if all of this worries you, and it sure as hell worries me, then I hope you’ll join me in calling for our local MSPs Evelyn Tweed and Keith Brown to work with councillors of all parties to save our services and save Scottish Local Government from extinction.

Scottish Labour select local government worker David Wilson to fight Dunblane and Bridge of Allan by-election

Stirling Council Labour candidate David WilsonStirling Labour have selected Local Government worker David Wilson as their candidate in the Dunblane and Bridge of Allan by-election.   David knows how crucial Local Government is to our communities and our wellbeing.  As an elected Trade Union Officer for UNISON, David also knows how important it is to defend the staff and protect their employment rights that underpin the quality of those services.

David says, ‘I’m delighted to have been selected to stand in this election and if elected I promise to be a listening councillor who will always put the priorities of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan first at the council.  I will work hard to help all residents and ensure a fair share of resources are spent in the ward.  My focus will be on education, the environment, improving our town centres and protecting local services and standing up for workers’ rights.’  

 ‘It is vital that our children receive the best start in life, with more apprenticeships being rolled out to ensure we have the workforce skills to grow our local economy and businesses.  I believe thriving town centres are vital to the wellbeing of local communities and I will engage with all stakeholders to protect and develop the heart of Bridge of Allan and Dunblane.  I believe our environment needs our help, which is why I’ve campaigned for biodiversity in our green spaces and against new incineration plants for household residual waste’. 

David has been active in raising funds for welfare schemes through his trade union and has a focus on helping people who are facing daily challenges with food and fuel poverty.

Stirling Councillor Chris Kane Stirling Council Labour Group Leader Chris Kane says, ‘David has an impressive track record in championing environmental and climate issues, in defending the rights of local government workers and a passionate belief in the need to work hard to improve the life chances for people of all ages.  He will be an excellent addition to the Labour Group on Stirling Council and a true champion for Dunblane and Bridge of Allan.’ 

Away from politics, David is a keen road cyclist and hill walker who supports better access and biodiversity in our green spaces, especially around the Dunblane and Bridge of Allan ward.

You can get in touch with David online at www.stirlinglabour.org, via twitter @labourstirling and facebook.com/stirlinglabour.

Stirling Heading for Labour Minority Administration

Chris Kane with vote Scottish labour sign at Stirling CastleIn our first blog, Labour Group Leader Cllr Chris Kane gives an update on what’s been happening since the election on May 5, and what is the likely outcome of negotiations to form an Administration to run Stirling Council.  

I’m delighted to have been returned as a Councillor for Stirling East and I’m grateful to the people of Stirling for electing six Labour Councillors to work hard to improve the quality of life in Stirling.

Labour Minority Administration

At the election, Stirling’s citizens elected 6 Labour, 7 Conservative, 8 SNP, 1 Green and 1 independent councillor.  We have no option but to try and find common ground.

We can do this by Labour forming a Labour Minority Administration to run Stirling Council. After extensive talks we believe we have the support of a majority of Stirling Councillors to achieve it.

Labour’s Political Priorities

Labour’s primary purpose is to deliver on the manifesto commitments we put to the people of Stirling before the election, with a particular focus on addressing the severe cost of living crisis and improving the quality of life for those living in challenging circumstances.  We must also provide local services that meets all of our needs.

Over the coming weeks we will be bringing forward new policies and improving existing ones.

As a minority administration, we know that the SNP and Conservative Groups can vote together against Labour policies. Issue by issue, Labour Councillors have to find common ground with all elected members. We must work hard and we must work with respect.

6 Labour Councillors. 23 Stirling Councillors. 170 Positions To Fill

On Thursday, the Council meets for the first time to appoint councillors to the many committees, public bodies, external organisations and boards we are required to serve on.

There are one hundred and seventy positions to be filled.  A Minority Labour Administration will consist of six Labour Councillors.

We must prioritise.

In the new spirit of finding common ground, we have this week reached out to all councillors to offer the opportunity to serve Stirling in a meaningful way.

Labour Political Leadership

I want to be crystal clear that all political leadership positions will be filled by Labour Councillors.  This includes appointing a Council Leader and Convenors of ALL decision making committees (Finance and Economy, Community Planning and Regeneration, Environment and Housing, Children and Young People).

We will seek to negotiate on an issue by issue basis. There is common ground between Labour and the SNP in Stirling on Labour manifesto commitments to more council housing, tackling poverty, addressing the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency.  There is common ground between Labour and the Conservatives in Stirling on the need to invest in roads maintenance and community sports facilities.   There is common ground between Labour and Green Councillor Tollemache on active travel and protecting our green belt.  There is common ground between Labour and Independent Cllr MacPherson who wants a fair share of resources for the Bannockburn ward.  Just as every councillor does for their ward.

There are, crucially, red lines for the Labour Group and the wider Labour movement which we could never support.  For example, there will be no compulsory redundancies at Stirling Council and there will be no outsourcing of council services under a Labour minority administration.

We are clear this is a Labour minority administration with Labour and Cooperative values at its heart.

Political, Civic, Regulatory, Advisory 

The council has four main areas of operation.  It delivers services and brings about change through political leadership and policies. It leads on Civic life in Stirling and represents Stirling culturally to other areas.  It regulates on issues such as pub licensing and planning.  It works with other public bodies, such as the Police and Fire Services through the Public Safety committee.

While Labour will lead on all political matters, we have offered to support the election of SNP and Conservative convenors to positions such as the Public Safety Committee and Planning Panel.

We spoke with the SNP Group about nominating a Provost and they declined.  We spoke with the Conservative Group and they agreed.  We have offered the Deputy Provost role to Green Councillor Tollemache and await his answer.  We have met with Councillor MacPherson and want to find a way to work with him and look forward to hearing his ideas.

Next Steps 

Stirling needs all of us to step up and work together. I hope all councillors will support this new way forward.

The Labour Group is ready to serve.

 

Read our “Manifesto for Stirling 2022-2027″

We’re excited to publish our “Manifesto for Stirling 2022-2027”, setting out what Labour Councillors will look to achieve over the next term of Stirling Council.

Download:  Labour manifesto for Stirling 2022 to 2027

Above everything else, Labour Councillors will focus on addressing the Cost of Living crisis and improving our quality of life by providing local services that meet our needs.

Labour Group Leader, Councillor Chris Kane, says,

Chris Kane with vote Scottish labour sign at Stirling Castle“There is a severe cost of living crisis which affects everyone in our communities, cutting the quality of life for most families and dragging more people into severe poverty.  It is Labour’s primary mission to do all we can to lift people and communities out of poverty by using every power we have to improve the lives of those living in challenging circumstances.  We must work hard and work together to build a Stirling which is safe and thriving and offers opportunities for all, with local services that meet our needs and improve our quality of life.  I would encourage everybody to read our Manifesto for Stirling and vote for hard-working Labour councillors on 5th May.”

Stirling Labour’s Manifesto sets out our Priorities for Action in Stirling. It is organised around our key pledges setting out the actions which we will pursue throughout the term of the next Council.  Among the commitments are:

Safe and thriving communities: with good street lighting and safe walking routes, access to libraries, sports facilities and cultural experiences. Well-maintained parks, roads and pathways, allotments and community gardens.

Children and Young People:  access to high quality childcare and schools which are well resourced and give your children the best start in life.

Housing:  affordable new build and regeneration schemes with a focus on modernisation and upgrading, insulation and carbon neutral electricity generation.

Transport:  an integrated transport system for every community that is run for public good and not private profit.

Economic recovery, jobs & regeneration: a strong focus on the recovery of the local economy that will prioritise well-paying secure jobs.  Encourage local job creation. Develop community wealth building strategies.  Promote business models that support wellbeing.  Recognise the contribution of our public sector key workers.

Download a copy of our Manifesto for Stirling:  Labour manifesto for Stirling 2022 to 2027

Our candidates (l-r): Ewan Dillon (Dunblane and Bridge of Allan), Josh Hamilton (Trossachs and Teith), Margaret Brisley (Bannockburn, Chris Kane (Stirling East), Jen Preston (Stirling West), Danny Gibson (Stirling North), Gerry McGarvey (Forth and Endrick
Our candidates (l-r): Ewan Dillon (Dunblane and Bridge of Allan), Josh Hamilton (Trossachs and Teith), Margaret Brisley (Bannockburn, Chris Kane (Stirling East), Jen Preston (Stirling West), Danny Gibson (Stirling North), Gerry McGarvey (Forth and Endrick