By a Newsnet reporter
Figures from other parts of the UK where Labour has remained in power have revealed that Labour Aberdeen Donside by-election candidate Willie Young’s call for the power to increase council tax in Aberdeen is part of a pattern that has seen Labour increase such bills at every opportunity.
During Labour’s last period in government in Scotland, council tax in Aberdeen rose by 72%, leaving residents with the highest average bills in Scotland.
Although council tax in Scotland has since been frozen thanks to the SNP, it has continued to rise in other parts of the UK where Labour are in office.
In England, where the UK Labour Government continued making decisions until 2010, council tax rose by 109% on average between 1997 and 2010, while in Wales which is still run by a Labour administration, bills have risen by a staggering average of 147% since the party started governing in 1997. Between 1997-98 and 2013-14 the average band D council tax rate in Wales increased from £495.57 to £1,225.87 – an increase of 147.37%.
The largest rises in council tax in England have all occurred in Labour controlled local authorities, while in Wales four out of the five top increases have taken place in Labour run councils.
The SNP have to date surveyed the views of 8,487 residents of Aberdeen Donside, with 88% making clear that they disagree with Willie Young’s call to be able to increase Council Tax.
Labour’s first act on taking power in Aberdeen was to raise wages for councillors.
Commenting, SNP Aberdeen Donside by-election candidate Mark McDonald said:
“Willie Young’s call for the ability to hike up the Council Tax bills of people in Aberdeen Donside will have seemed incomprehensible to people living here whose budgets are already under significant pressure.
“However, what these figures show is that Willie Young’s Council Tax views are just part of Labour’s standard pattern of behaviour.
“While Council Tax has been frozen here thanks to the election of an SNP Government in 2007, it has continued to rise and rise where Labour remained in power.
“Putting up Council Tax bills is the last thing that people in Aberdeen Donside want or need, but a look around the rest of the UK shows that is exactly what they would get if Willie Young got his way.
“I will stand up for the people of this constituency who are overwhelmingly telling us that they want the Council Tax freeze to continue, and they should be in no doubt that a vote for the SNP will be a vote to ensure that Council Tax will not rise during this parliament.”
Meanwhile, with Labour’s announcement that the Shadow Cabinet is to hold a meeting in Aberdeen in an effort to boost the party’s profile locally, the SNP have pointed out that Labour politicians have consistently complained that the city benefits from Scottish Government spending at the expense of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
During the Glasgow North East byelection campaign in 2009, Labour candidate Willie Bain, now Labour’s shadow minister for food, complained that the Scottish Government had “given money to Aberdeen, but ignored Glasgow.”
The Glasgow Evening Times reported in 2009 that Labour’s then leader of Glasgow council Stephen Purcell, had written to Glasgow MSPs to express his “outrage” at Scottish Government plans to give extra money to councils in the North East. Mr Purcell, who would shortly resign amidst a scandal involving drug taking and allegations of inappropriate behaviour, decried the funding for Aberdeen as “a reward for failure”.
Mr Purcell’s successor, Gordon Mathieson, who has likewise been involved in a series of scandals, complained the same year that if Glasgow “had received the same percentage increase as SNP-controlled Aberdeen, we would have had a further £25 million to spend.”
Commenting, SNP MSP Maureen Watt said:
“The SNP campaign is focussed on building on our strong track record of ‘Delivering for Donside, Working for You’.
“It should not have taken a by-election for Labour’s shadow cabinet to follow the SNP Government’s lead by meeting in Aberdeen – and it is deeply embarrrassing for Labour that their central belt politicians have attacked the millions in extra funding delivered for Aberdeen by the SNP.
“As well as apologising for these Labour attacks on fair funding for Aberdeen, Johann Lamont and her education spokesperson should also have met with the parents in Donside campaigning to keep their local schools open – and explain why the Labour/Tory council coalition wants to shut their schools.”