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Councils can do it without 'help'

LOCAL Government Minister Derek Mackay has been criticised for effectively abolishing the Scottish Local Authorities Review Committee (SLARC) (Anger as council watchdog canned, News, February 3).

People quoted in the article describe the SLARC as a respected body. I do not agree with this appreciation.

I was present at a 2011 meeting of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, when the then president read out an SLARC recommendation about local authority allowances. Effectively, they were proposing that councillors should be awarded a 16% pay rise.

The response of delegates was an immediate and united rejection of the award. Indeed, we were all appalled that at a time when our staff were having a pay freeze anyone could make such a suggestion. In the light of that alone I am happy to see SLARC stood down until there is something material for the body to do.

Another article reports on a recommendation by former auditor general of Scotland Robert Black, for a "Treasury-type body to tackle wasteful spending and poor productivity in public services", which was rejected by the finance secretary John Swinney (Swinney: no to new finance watchdog, Business, February 3). I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Swinney's decision. I do not accept it is necessary to initiate, and pay for, another "inspectorate" for local government. We are already inspected up to our oxters. It is no part of any inspectorate's job to tell councils how they should spend money, rather than ensuring they have spent it responsibly and legally. It would effectively end local democratic responsibility for financial decisions and be a significant step towards abolishing local authorities.

Cllr Alan Grant

Deputy Leader

Perth and Kinross SNP Group

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