Congratulations on the re-launch of our important local paper. Let us hope its new image signals openness to modern ideas and discussions for the good of the people of Midlothian.
It is a mark of the total absence of policies and ideas, and the poverty of their political ambition, that the Leader of the Opposition in Midlothian cannot put on a hair shirt and apologise for the unimaginable financial mess left to Midlothian. We didn’t see this until Labour was defeated at the last election. When Labour signed up to the schools PPP contracts some years ago, they probably did not know, and we could never have imagined, what a legacy was being created. But it happened on their watch!
At Holyrood these highly onerous PPP contracts were adopted without as much as a peep of protest. Councils were ordered to use them – by Labour. The result, here and across Scotland, is that many Scottish Councils and Health Trusts are today staring bankruptcy in the face. Midlothian was no different from many others, so why can that not be acknowledged? At the time, nobody asked the right questions. Nobody analysed the consequences of these actions, which are now all too clear. In short, £60m worth of schools will cost us all in excess of £300M more than five times the amount borrowed over 30 years. It is almost impossible to comprehend. Today Midlothian spends just over 10% servicing these obnoxious contracts soon that will rise to 14% in three years’ time we will stair bankruptcy in the face!
It does astonish me that a career councillor can say “we are proud of what we did by bringing it in on time and under budget”. Even that’s wrong – the council didn’t do that; the contractors did. And good for them, but now we are all having to pay. And pay. And pay, for more than a generation. It cannot go on.
It would be a great step forward in this wonderful and progressive county if we could see a little humility across the council table. Why can Cllr Milligan not have the courage and decency to admit the errors of the past and stop and think constructively about how we can put some of this right and leave our people with a positive future.
Let them wake up! Why not cast off the ghostly shroud of the past, and work for the people we all serve, instead of themselves. Here we have a mammoth challenge we are all in together. We have to make cuts and balance the books. Let them show us how they could do it better. They should join us in doing what we were all elected to do: Support the People’s Choice.
Councillor Peter de Vink