‘Council tax is in the hands of the people of Falkirk’

Falkirk Council face some tough times ahead
Falkirk Council face some tough times ahead

The leader of Falkirk Council said he will look into how to raise council tax if that is what local residents want.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive committee last week, members discussed the provisional local government finance settlement for 2015/16.

They agreed to await findings from the recent online budget consultation, which came to an end earlier this month, to see if they would go ahead and accept the £274 million settlement or write to the Scottish Government about the possibility of raising council tax to offset inevitable service cuts the settlement will bring.

Council leader Craig Martin said: “If the majority of people in Falkirk say they would want to look at a council tax increase it’s probably right for me to write to the Scottish Government.

“However, if we don’t comply with the council tax freeze we get additional penalties which would mean making further cuts to council services.”

Members heard the council, which already has to find £40 million of savings over the next three years, would at the moment take a £1.8 million hit in the pocket if it decided to go against the Scottish Government’s wishes and raise council tax.

Councillor Gerry Goldie urged the council leader to ask the Scottish Government to remove the sanctions that come with a council tax increase.

Councillor Linda Gow said: “The Scottish Government is cutting budgets to local authorities and asking them to deliver more and more services.

“If they want us to carry out their policies they need to start giving us funding.”