Local SNP MSP Stuart McMillan has welcomed the news that Inverclyde Council are set to develop a ‘special business case’ for the area to receive additional funding from the Scottish Government.
This follows the latest publication of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) statistics, which now put a data zone covering Greenock town centre and east central as the most deprived in Scotland.
To Stuart’s dismay, Councillor Jim Clocherty responded to these figures by blaming, in his view, the unfair local government funding settlement from the Scottish Government. In doing so, the Deputy Leader of Inverclyde Council neglected to recognise the role Inverclyde Council, and even the UK Government, have in helping Inverclyde prosper.
Cllr Clocherty has now indicted to the Greenock Telegraph that a letter has been sent to Stuart, which at the time of publication he has not yet received, calling on Stuart and Derek Mackay MSP to work with Inverclyde Council.
Responding to Councillor Clocherty, Mr McMillan said:
“I am more than happy to meet with Councillor Clocherty.
“In October last year, I took the proactive step of writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance to request additional funding for Inverclyde via the local government settlement. I recognise that the Scottish Government has provided our area with tens of millions of pounds in recent years for a variety of projects; including investment in our local school estate, which Councillor Clocherty quite rightly thanked the Scottish Government for, on top of the yearly local government settlement.
“Every four years when the SIMD statistics are published, it is an undeniable fact that one of the near 7,000 data zones across Scotland will be labelled the most deprived and one local authority will have the biggest percentage of data zones classed as deprived. This means that every four years, the Scottish Government will be blamed no matter what. For one area to improve, another will inevitably drop down the rankings, assuming improvements are not made there too.
“National agencies funded, and steered, by policies set by the Scottish Government have a part to play but more importantly local authority policy makers and local issues are at the forefront of changes in our community. I see no mention of Labour-led Inverclyde Council’s part to play in these sobering stats. I think the phrase ‘asleep at the wheel’ is very apt here.
“To answer a few of the points he raised in his letter, I have attended some of the Inverclyde Alliance meetings and I apologise if I haven’t made myself known to Cllr Clocherty at these meetings, I will make a point of saying hello in the future. Regarding the Alliance, I meet with many of the organisations in attendance on a regular basis as part of my role as the local MSP.
“Secondly, the Letter from Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work was received a week before the UK Election was called and the Brexit saga continued. Due to that, the UK budget was delayed until this week. Other issues took precedence and now we return to the yearly war of words regarding the budget.
“I am happy to share the response I received from the Finance Secretary; however I was alarmed to learn that Councillor Clocherty had never even thought to ask the Scottish Government about how Inverclyde Council could attempt to gain additional funding. This is a strange revelation considering we constantly hear calls from Inverclyde Council’s Labour Councillors for the Scottish Government to provide more funding.
“However, I will agree with Councillor Clocherty that the tit for tat that he initiated serves no purpose other than to divert our focus from the job at hand. I find such politics extremely unhelpful and that is why I very rarely engage in it. When I meet with Councillor Clocherty in the near future, I very much hope we can agree to a more collegiate working relationship going forward.
“The most crucial thing we must remember is that we are dealing with people’s lives and the future of our community. The prize for us all is to help make Inverclyde a better place for everyone who lives, works, trades and visits the area. With that goal, we can make progress for Inverclyde’s present and future generations.”