Edinburgh council tax is set to rise by 5% after councillors agreed a budget from the city’s Liberal Democrat party – as “tactical voting” saw the administration’s plans fall at the first hurdle.
The vote came after a day of often acrimonious debate, which saw the shock resignation of a suspended Labour councillor – who then attacked his former party’s plans, and said: “I know how little work the administration has put into this budget.”
Dozens of protesters were outside the City Chambers ahead of the debate, calling for a “no cuts budget” – while the council leader admitted the city needed “a massive injection of cash”.
Lib Dem group plans will see a 5% council tax increase – adding £68.94 rise for band D properties across the year, in order to raise an additional £5.39m.
Their budget will also scrap proposed £5.5m cuts to school funding, £370,000 speech and language therapy cuts, and maintain the Taxicard scheme.
And it will invest nearly £10m into fixing roads, £3m in street cleansing and a further £3m into the city’s parks and greenspaces.
The shock decision will also lead to hard questions for Labour councillors – especially as the Lib Dem proposals also include a move to end the policy of no compulsory redundancies among council staff.
Earlier in the debate Labour had come under fire from SNP leader Adam McVey, who criticised the party’s budget for not having “not a single word on climate change,” saying they “couldn’t be bothered”.
“We need leadership and the only leadership we have is akin to a jellyfish in the sea floating whichever way the Tory current pushes it,” he added.
And after the vote he suggested the current council leader should resign, tweeting: “If my budget had been voted down as Council leader I’d have had the integrity to resign.”
Cllr Ross McKenzie – who was an independent after being suspended from the Labour party – did step down during the meeting, and took a swipe at the administration’s budget for being “misleading”.
Cllr McKenzie said: “I know how little work the administration has put into this budget and that could be down to personal failings but it’s also down to the political reality of the need to leave space in our motion for the Tory party.”
“When I sit down just now I’m going to resign from the Labour Party, I won’t be voting for any of the motions today I don’t think.”
He said the move was not a protest but a result of being isolated from the budget process and decision making like other, unsuspended members of lab group.
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