SNP targets Labour council tax weakness in Aberdeen by-election campaign


  By a Newsnet reporter
The SNP have pushed council tax to the forefront of the Aberdeen Donside by-election campaign in an attempt at increasing pressure on Labour candidate Willie Young.
Mark McDonald, who is the SNP candidate, has called on all of his opponents to make clear their position on the continuation of the council tax freeze.

The call follows a survey carried out by the nationalists which suggested almost 90 per cent of residents in the constituency backed the SNP policy of a freeze.

According to the SNP, they have surveyed 8487 residents in the constituency on the issue, and found that 88% are in favour of a continuation of the council tax freeze, while just 12% support an increase.

Labour candidate Willie Young has already stated that he believes councils should be able to increase council tax.  Under Labour, Council tax in Aberdeen increased by over 70% to become the highest in Scotland, before being frozen in 2007.

Speaking at the weekend, Mr McDonald said that the council tax freeze has become one of the ‘defining issues’ of the by-election campaign, and called on all candidates to state their position.

Commenting, Mr McDonald said:

“The feedback we have received from residents on the doorsteps is that they overwhelmingly support a continuation of the council tax freeze. It is becoming one of the defining issues of the campaign.

“At a time when families are struggling with rising household bills, it is greatly reassuring that this is one bill which isn’t going up – thanks to the SNP Government.

“The Labour candidate has already made his position clear. After he awarded himself a 5% pay rise as a councillor, he now thinks Aberdeen city council should be able to put council tax up. The people of Aberdeen Donside can draw their own conclusions about this.

“But it’s time all candidates made their position clear: should council tax increase and more pressure be put on family budgets, or will they commit to voting for a council tax freeze in every budget in this Parliament, as I have done and will continue to do?”

The Labour candidate has sought to highlight what he claims are SNP’s cutbacks to the college sector.  Mr Young also attacked his SNP rival’s background, insisting he is a career politician.

Speaking to BBC Scotland reporter Raymond Buchanan the Labour candidate, who is also a local councillor, contrasted it with his own background:

“I have been a member of the children’s panel.  I have helped people who are in very, very serious situations. I have been a justice of the peace and Labour values come through on all those kind of things.”

However earlier this month Mr Young faced some uncomfortable questions from STV’s Bernard Ponsonby in which he appeared to back a council tax increase and refused to confirm whether Labour would re-introduce the funding to colleges he claims is being cut.