THIS year’s Holyrood budget deal will in the long run dig council services out of the financial hole they have been in for decades.

Already the closure of Coalsnaughton and Fishcross Primary Schools have been cancelled as a result of this year’s budget deal between the Greens and SNP.

Once again Labour, Tory and LibDem MSPs have sat on their hands and delivered nothing but empty criticism.

However, this year’s Holyrood budget will still be challenging for councils, there is still a gap that needs to be closed and Clacks Council remains in a dire financial state compared to neighbouring Stirling.

That’s why I have written to the Finance Cabinet Secretary to call for cross party talks on the situation the council is in. There may be a need for a bespoke rescue package to be brought in to prevent further damage to services.

In light of cuts from the Tory Westminster Government and rising demand for services, councils in general need more powers to raise money to protect frontline services. We cannot afford to allow the funding crisis to repeat year after year, fundamental changes are needed.

As part of this year’s budget agreement the first steps will be taken to finally scrap the Council Tax and a new fairer system of local tax will be brought in, with a parliamentary bill lodged within this parliamentary session.

Greens have also secured a commitment to a stable funding settlement for councils, over three years, so they can plan ahead.

New powers are being put in place to set up a tourism levy, a tax on vacant and derelict land and a workplace car parking levy to give councils the tools and choices about how to raise more revenue locally.

An increase in the plastic bag tax and a levy on single use coffee cups are other powers that combined can raise significant sums to protect services while solving litter problems.

Straight after the budget, it was announced that The City of Edinburgh Council would be the first local authority to adopt the tourism levy because it will bring in millions of pounds every year to protect services and facilities that visitors and locals use.

A modest levy of £1-2 a night would be unnoticed by visitors and is now the norm across much of Europe. It would enable councils to invest in facilities like public toilets and restore some civic pride to communities.

It’s important that councils choose with local residents which powers are used and how. There has been much debate for example about powers to introduce a Workplace Parking Levy.

The levy maybe more applicable to congested cities with more pressure on car parking than Clackmannanshire. However, we need to recognise that financial support for bus services across the area have faced huge cuts, leaving the third of people who have no access to a car abandoned.

I’d like to see major employers with large car parks make more of a contribution to fund solutions for their own staff and the wider public.