Glasgow Labour Leader urged to clarify ‘worst yet to come’ comments

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The leader of Glasgow City Council is being urged to clarify comments he made in a Scottish newspaper where he suggested that the city would face worse cuts after 2014.
 
In an interview given to the Herald newspaper, the Labour leader of the local authority claimed that the three years after 2014 Commonwealth Games would be “the toughest” for Glasgow.

“The period after 2014 and up to 2017 is going to be the toughest.  The worst is yet to come.” he said.

Following the Labour Councillor’s remarks, SNP Cathcart MSP James Dornan has now written to the Labour leader asking for clarification on his claim that worse cutbacks are on the way.

Whilst insisting there would be no compulsory redundancies, Mr Matheson cautioned that “nothing can be ruled out.”

He added: “There are big announcements but nothing I can go public with just now.  It would only undermine what is at a very early stage of discussion, but we will be bringing forward proposals which are surprising.”

Commenting on the interview, Mr Dornan said:
 
“I recognise that Councillor Matheson’s party won the local election in Glasgow and his political, and personal, mandate to preside over the council for the next five years.
 
“However it doesn’t simply end there.  Councillor Matheson has a responsibility to my constituents, and all Glaswegians, to spell out what he means when he says that his administration will continue to make cuts, and that these cuts will be worse than those that people have already experienced.
 
“Whilst I would hope that this would mean a reduction in excessive salaries and redundancy packages for senior members of Councillor Matheson’s administration, I have little faith that this will be the case.

In his letter, the SNP MSP pointed to the cuts inflicted on the Scottish budget by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition, which he said would inevitably have an affect on public services across Scotland, but insisted the Labour leader had a “responsibility to Glasgow’s citizens” to explain his remarks.

Demanding to know where Mr Matheson’s axe will fall, he added:
 
“So I’m giving Councillor Matheson the opportunity to be up front with Glaswegians and tell them – will he continue with cuts to social work services, cuts to front line jobs across the council and cuts to environmental services – or will he start to make meaningful reductions in the amount of waste and bureaucracy that exist right across his administration.
 
“I urge Councillor Matheson to engage with the other parties and the public over future council spending and take meaningful action to take money from where it is not required, and put it to the areas where it is needed most.  If he does this then I have no doubt the city will benefit.”

In the aftermath of May’s local council elections, the Labour were group were accused of breaching their manifesto pledge to protect jobs and frontline services.

Commenting on May 22nd, Simon Macfarlane, UNISON’s Regional Organiser, said:

“We are seeing a wholesale onslaught against our members working in social care in Glasgow with jobs, pay and conditions all being cut.

Mr MacFarlane added: “Our members are committed to providing service users and their families with the best possible service and they are not willing to be exploited any longer.  If the Labour council doesn’t act on its new mandate to stop these cuts then they are going to see significant unrest and disruption in social care and the blame for this will be laid squarely where it belongs – at their feet.”

MEANWHILE, the local authority is also facing claims of negligence after an independent audit discovered evidence of systematic and well organised theft of IT equipment.

The investigation was triggered after two laptops containing the personal details of 37,835 suppliers and city residents went missing earlier this year.

In total auditors have discovered that 743 laptops and PC’s are missing from the Labour run Council, it has also emerged that none of the PC’s were encrypted

Other items reported missing from other council premises around the city include laptops and blackberry handheld devices.  The loss of the equipment could see Glasgow Council facing a significant six figure fine.

Glasgow City Council’s IT department is looked after by an organisation called ACCESS who were awarded the 10 year £265 million contract in 2008, the year the firm was established.  ACCESS, trading name of Service Glasgow LLP, is a joint venture owned by Glasgow City Council and Serco Ltd – the company which run prisons and immigration removal services across the UK.

The report found that 53 laptops disappeared from ACCESS own city-centre premises despite having been stored in a secure basement.  ACCESS was strongly criticised earlier this year after an internal audit found the company had issued over 160 unencrypted computers, in contrary to council policy.

Despite this, the Labour run council recommended the firm take over responsibility for security at key council buildings, including the City Chambers, Park Circus registry office, Parish Halls and the council’s offices in Martha Street.

Speaking to the Herald newspaper, Graeme Hendry, leader of the council’s SNP group, said: “Glasgow’s management of IT systems has been chaotic at best.  To lose two laptops is worrying but nearly 750 is beyond belief.

“It would seem Glasgow’s idea of looking after its resources involves ticking boxes rather than genuine management of equipment.”

Mr Hendry also criticised a recent decision to award the £7 million security contract to ACCESS.