Church leader in plea to 'free' councils from tax freeze

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A church leader has called on the next Scottish Government to "set councils free" by ending the tax freeze.

Rev David Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, said the "populist" SNP policy is "handicapping councils, whilst subsidising the rich".

He said: "We are in an era when the old balances and checks that existed in our country are being threatened by an increase in big government, run by parties funded by big corporations who purchase big media, and led by politicians with a messianic complex.

"Despite the cries of democracy there is an increasing trend towards centralisation whether to Edinburgh, London or Brussels, and the victims in this are local communities and local councils."

He said councils are "in crisis" and are being compelled to make "savage cuts" which disproportionation affect the poor.

He added: "Meanwhile the Scottish Government is enslaved to a policy which seemed like a good idea at the time but is now handicapping councils, whilst subsidising the rich.

"The council tax freeze worked well as a temporary populist measure, but to have it as an indefinite policy in a time of austerity is the economics of fairyland."

He criticised councils who pay their officials several times more than elected members, including over 100 managers at Glasgow City Council who earn over £100,000 a year.

He said: "David Crawford, the executive director of social care services, has a total package, including a redundancy payment, of £486,303.

"At a time when social care is being slashed I'm sure the poor are delighted to know that the person who is being paid to look after them is being made rich."

He called for "a return to a more balanced, and localised politics".

"In the upcoming Scottish parliamentary elections, I wonder if any of the political parties will be prepared to set Scotland's councils free," he said.