Church leader urges end of council 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 also said Scotland's biggest council employs 100 managers who earn more than £100,000 - a claim which has been denied by Glasgow City Council, which said it has seven managers earning a six-figure salary.

The Free Church moderator 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.

Mr Robertson said "civil servants have more power than elected officials and therefore reap the rewards".

He added: "Glasgow City Council has over 100 managers who are earning more than £100,000 per annum.

"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.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "The council does not and never has had 100 managers earning that kind of money.

"In our most recent accounts, we had seven - and that fully audited information is published and routinely available to the public.

"We continue to make substantial cost savings at the top layer of management.

"The individual named has not worked for the council for some time. The figure quoted is not correct and appears to include pension costs not paid to him."