WHEN the leader of the Tory Party in Scotland tells us that a vote for his party is our ‘best shot’ at securing UK government funding, it tells us a lot about him – and about the way in which the Tories view the allocation of public funds. Firstly, they want to spend it where they choose, by-passing the Scottish government and the people who were actually elected by the Scottish people. And, secondly, they think that community funding payouts should be used as an election bribe.

The fact is, of course, that the UK Government has already said that Clackmannanshire isn’t a priority for these so called ‘levelling up’ funds and instead of allocating funds based on need, the Tories have concocted a priority list which appeared to cynically reward some areas ahead of others based on who votes Tory. Why else would the Borders with 10% deprivation levels be classed as a category one priority while Clackmannanshire with 40% deprivation levels be considered a category two in the Treasury rankings?

Anyway, we’ve heard it all before from the Tories when it comes to Levelling Up funding. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove led a Brexit campaign that promised £1.5 billion a year for Scottish devolved services when the UK left the EU.

Instead all we have heard announced is £172 million. To put that in context, for every £1 they promised they’ve given 11 pence – Scotland has been short-changed by 89%!

This Westminster Tory Government has presided over a series of power grabs and attacks on devolution – seeking to bypass the devolved Governments and dictate spending over devolved areas.

These local elections are, however, extremely important and are about deciding who, for the next five years, will be in charge of delivering a range of key local services. Who do you want making those decisions – the Tory party who cut Universal Credit just as we are heading into a cost of living crisis, or the SNP who introduced, and have now doubled, the Scottish Child Payment?

Having ballooned the national debt to £2.2 trillion, imposed the highest tax burden since 1948, depressed living standards and now stalled the economy through a Brexit we didn't vote for and economic mismanagement – the Tories are the last people we want to run our Councils.

I’ve been a Council official and I’ve been an elected Councillor, serving as Leader of Clackmannanshire Council from 1999 – 2003, so I know first hand the challenges Councillors face day in, day out, in what can often be a thankless role - particularly following years of Tory Westminster austerity.

Local government, like every other area of the public sector and our economy, has faced its most significant challenges over the past two years. Whether it’s been through administering Covid business support funding, supporting communities during the pandemic, or working with our NHS to deliver testing and vaccinations centres across the area, local government has been front and centre of protecting people from harm and keeping us all as safe as possible.

Here in Clackmannanshire, if you are looking for leadership on your local council that stands up for public services, invests in our communities, and supports people when they need it, please consider giving your first and second preferences to the SNP candidates on your ballot paper in May.