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Lib Dems slam SNP over centralisation obsession

April 16, 2015 11:16 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today published a dossier setting out the true impact of the SNP Government's centralisation agenda on local communities.

The centralisation dossier sets out in detail how over the past seven years the SNP Government has systematically and categorically stripped powers from local communities.

On a visit to Inverness today with local candidate and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, Mr Rennie said the longstanding record of local Scottish Liberal Democrats shows how, in each of their eleven held seats, only Liberal Democrats could be trusted to be true local champions.

The dossier shows:

· Decisions on policing and fire services made in the central belt rather than in the Highlands and other local communities. The police service is now in turmoil with low morale, guns on the streets of the Highlands and shocking rates of stop and search. The loss of local accountability means the centralised Police Scotland has closed five police control rooms and closed 61 public counters at police stations

· The closure of five fire control rooms.

· In the health service, the Scottish Government has imposed a new rule on health boards limiting the amount they can spend on capital works at hospitals without the permission of central government. This means the central government now has centralised decisions on major works at 179 hospitals, rather than the decisions being taken more locally

· Local councils have had their funding and council tax levels determined by the Scottish Government rather than decisions taken locally. To get access to revenue support, 32 councils have to agree the council tax level set by ministers in Edinburgh.

· On 11 June 2013, the votes of five nationalist MSPs meeting in Edinburgh were enough to close 17 courts across Scotland, even in the face of objections from local people.

Speaking on the visit in Inverness today, Mr Rennie said:

"Our dossier shows the real impact seven years of SNP centralisation has had on local communities. Five police control rooms, 17 local courts and 21 local enterprise companies have closed in communities across Scotland.

"The SNP have double standards. They angrily demand more powers come to Scotland, but when they do, those powers mysteriously fail to make their way out the doors of St Andrews House and into local communities.

"It's not the liberal way. I want a democracy which is responsive to the different local needs of communities up and down the country.

"It is bizarre that the SNP criticize Liberal Democrats like Danny Alexander for fighting too hard for the needs of his local community. It's because the SNP don't understand that each distinct local community needs a local hero.

"Our centralisation dossier demonstrates how, in each of our eleven held seats, only Liberal Democrats are the true local champions.

"Last year, while the SNP talked up the great democratic achievement of the referendum, around sixty frontline police stations closed their doors to the public.

"Armed police patrolled the streets of the Highlands. College mergers saw the loss of over 130,000 college places. In the space of just one year, the power of local communities was stripped away by the centralizing grip of the SNP.

"That is not the actions of a party that trusts people with power - they show an arrogance that is not Scotland's way.

"We have been the only party in Scotland to consistently campaign against the SNP's one size fits all approach.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats will be the only party to be true local champions.

"With Liberal Democrats returned to each of our eleven seats in Scotland, we will deliver the Smith Agreement in full.

"We will then call for devolution on demand to be extended across Scotland. It would meet the spirit and the letter of the Smith Agreement.

"It will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, creating opportunity for all. It is change which can only be achieved with the maximum Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs fighting for more powers for our communities, not just the central belt."