Last week I sent this image of weeds the whole length of the gutter of our street, dense and up to almost 2 feet high, to my MSP and councillors. I asked them for a well-informed opinion on how it has got to this stage.
Ben MacPherson MSP (SNP) said it was a Council matter, ignoring the fact that the Council’s central funding, for which Holyrood is responsible, has been constrained. Adam McVey (SNP), leader of the Council, referred it to the Environment team. A couple of days later a hit squad arrived and it took 6 men two or three hours to do a nice job. Well done lads. It’s not clear whether or not they had come as a direct result of my referral – they were in the area anyway.
In any case, they were clear that their work is a failure of routine maintenance. They said that in lots of streets that get into this state the gullies get blocked and this is a more expensive but avoidable problem.
There was no reply from my Green councillor Chas Booth – very disappointing. Gordon Munro (Labour) replied
… Your street is not alone in this regard but the fact that not even a conservation area is maintained speaks volumes about the impact of the SNP Government cuts on our Council. Edinburgh has for 3 years in a row been given the lowest settlement of the major cities from the Scottish Government despite the fact that they have revenue, capital and Covid funding that could be used to close the gap…
On being pressed for a more substantive reply, Ben MacPherson chose silence, and Adam McVey replied:
…The Council has put additional resources in to relevant areas this year, including winter maintenance (which is also building an all year round additional capacity to help on some of the issues you raise). As well as roads and pavement’s repairs which we added £6m to this year post budget setting… Of course I’d always welcome more resources to the Council.
£6m! That’s a big number, Adam, and as a stand-alone fact no doubt beyond dispute. For it to mean anything, however, you need to put it in context. How about the context of the cuts in the maintenance budget, year on year? Or the context of what it means for the programme of maintenance in this street? Or the context of the Council having to sell key assets, eg the former Leith Waterworld, to pay the bills.
The Big Point is that the SNP has to own this.
The SNP has its reasons for doing what it does, and it can reasonably expect other people to legitimately disagree. Failure to put up its justifications is a major failure to engage properly with the electorate.
No political party that is serious about good governance should facilitate the SNP period in office, which it is using only for the purpose of steering its way towards a futile and damaging separation from our nearest and most intimate neighbours. Scotland’s toxic party.