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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 13:10 GMT
Council leaders defend tax freeze
Pat Watters
Mr Watters said voluntary organisations would not lose out
Local authority leaders have dismissed claims that a council tax freeze will lead to cuts to voluntary bodies.

Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander warned of a "swathe of cuts" to organisations across Scotland.

But Pat Watters, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), said voluntary bodies need not suffer unduly.

He said the financial settlement was tight but stressed that services were not being cut.

Many Scottish councils are due to set their council tax levels on Thursday.

A BBC poll earlier this month suggested that the majority would freeze bills after a deal was struck with the Scottish Government.

Mr Watters told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I think the opposition in parliament has a job to do, and that's to oppose government as they see fit."

He added: "My job in local government is a bit different, it's to get the best deal possible for our local communities, and I believe that's what we have done."

Local level

On a visit to a city farm in Edinburgh earlier this week Ms Alexander said: "This catalogue of council cuts is unacceptable and puts paid to any notion that the SNP in government genuinely care about social justice, tackling poverty and allowing our senior citizens to grow old with dignity and respect."

Following her comments a local SNP councillor accused her of scaremongering.

Councillor Steve Cardownie said: "For her to cause fear and unrest among staff and the local community is calculated and irresponsible."

Mr Watters entered the row on Wednesday when he said the ending of ring-fencing freed up local government to use finances better at a local level.

"To say that I as a local councillor cannot deal with voluntary organisations in my area because I have more control over the finances available to us is absolutely wrong", he said.

He said he had been dealing with local communities and local voluntary organisations long before there was a Scottish Parliament and that he had met the leaders of voluntary organisations to discuss how they took things forward.

Asked if Holyrood politicians were "scaremongering" he said: "I think people are anticipating the worst-case scenario when that might not be the case."

SEE ALSO
Glasgow council tax rate frozen
12 Feb 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Council tax freeze for Highlands
08 Feb 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Council pledges 2008 tax freeze
07 Feb 08 |  Tayside and Central
'Most' councils want tax freeze
03 Feb 08 |  Scotland

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