Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray and Dumfries & Galloway MP Russell Brown have voiced their concerns over SNP MSP Joan McAlpine’s latest column in the Daily Record on the 14/01/15 where she revealed her opposition to further powers being devolved to local communities.
McAlpine says that those who support devolution of local powers want to “bring down our parliament” and referred to it as “empire building.”
McApline’s comments have come under attack from members of her own party and so far no senior SNP Government Minister has backed her attack.
In the seven years the SNP have been in government in the Scottish Parliament, the power to set Council Tax has been taken away from local authorities and we’ve seen the closure of Police and Fire Control Rooms following the scrapping of local Police and Fire and Rescue Service, along with cuts to Court services despite strong local opposition.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:
“Ms McAlpine’s latest rant is very revealing and extremely worrying for people that stay in this region. The SNP’s centralisation regime has hit areas such as Dumfries & Galloway the hardest.
“We’ve seen the closure of the Dumfries Police Control Room which resulted in 30 local people losing their jobs and the closure of the Dumfries Fire Control Room which affected 16 local people.
“Local people will be wondering what other services will be centralised in Edinburgh and how many more job losses this policy will bring.”
Dumfries & Galloway MP Russell Brown said:
“It is patronising for politicians like Ms McAlpine who live in the central belt to say they don’t trust people in local communities such as Dumfries and Galloway to make decisions for themselves.
“Ms McAlpine’s claim that people who want to see decisions made locally instead of everything being centred in Edinburgh are trying to destroy the Scottish Parliament is frankly bonkers. The Scottish Parliament is getting more powers, not less, but why shouldn’t more decisions be made locally. One example is the workfare scheme to help people into employment. As a result of the Smith Commission the Workfare programme to help people into employment is being devolved from the UK Parliament to the Scottish Parliament. But my view is it should then be devolved down to local councils.
“Too many of the schemes are based on what works in big cities, not rural areas such as ours. We need local schemes that meet local needs.”
Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said:
“Joan McAlpine’s lack of respect for hard working men and women who serve as Councillors for all parties, including her own, is appalling. More importantly it is an attack on the local people who work for the local authority across Dumfries & Galloway, from bin men and librarians to care workers and teachers.
“Local councils are under huge pressure because of the decisions made by the SNP Government who have passed on millions of pounds of cuts.
“Since 2007, the Scottish Government has hoarded power in Edinburgh and, with their restrictions on local government spending, have cut the money available for vital services.”