FACT-BASED criticisms are always best, but when it comes to local government finance the facts are murky. The shell trick has been going on for years, money is ring-fenced, then a smaller increase is applied to core services and then a different pot of money is ring-fenced and so on and so on. One side says the settlement has gone up and is more than that it’s adequate to support local services, the other side says it hasn’t.

Few members of the public will pore over the figures, they will rely on their own experience and what they see hear, however subjective that is. When school music lessons are being cancelled, when the £10,000 cost of providing Christmas trees is a cost my authority can no longer bear or when grass cutting in public spaces becomes an unaffordable luxury, surely that is evidence that all cuts that can be made have been made to "discretionary" expenditure and cuts are now being made to the core.

Local authorities like West Dunbartonshire, with lots of ground to make up in terms of educational attainment and ameliorating the impact of deprivation are struggling. In West Dunbartonshire the challenge is merely to tread water. The revenue base is low, any increase to the community charge will raise only a tiny fraction of what is required. We can’t shrug our shoulders, say it’s too hard and move on, or can we?

The Scottish Greens have done the right thing in agreeing a budget deal that also seeks to establish a better framework for local government finance. The SNP and Labour should recall that at various times in the past, they promised the same. Labour once had a manifesto promise that it would undo a widely criticised and gerrymandered Conservative reorganisation. The smaller, poorer local authorities who lost out in the 1990s re-organisation remain losers today. It’s time for all political parties to put their shoulders to the wheel and agree a solution. Annual hand-wringing and finger-pointing without positive action is worthless.

Florence Boyle,

3 Dalnottar Terrace, Old Kilpatrick.

THE proposed Workplace Parking Levy is just another backdoor tax for consideration by local authorities ("Tory: Parking tax will hit low-paid", The Herald, February 8). Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has stated that the NHS quite rightly is automatically exempt, but also that only other public service workers such as teachers be considered for exemption too. At what point does someone in office decide on any particular occupation to be prioritised over others? Is the tax to be based on the number of car parking spaces at a workplace whether lying used or vacant, and if only active spaces are in the equation, then the workers just park in the closest free space to their work and no tax is due. Perhaps non-exempt employers should just consider ploughing over their car parks and plant trees to boost our woodland percentage and at the same time avoid this tax

Why are governments not just honest enough to admit to this little wheeze to draw in more cash on the pretext of getting cars off the road and everyone on to our expensive and inefficient public transport system, which may not even service the many workplaces to be affected?

George Dale,

21 Oakwood Drive, Beith.

IT looks overwhelmingly likely that Derek Mackay was forced to make a number of last-minute (and therefore hasty) concessions to the Greens to secure passage for his budget. The workplace parking tax has all the appearance of one which was thought through badly, if at all.

Efforts to reduce car travel to work are sensible in themselves, but measures which penalise some workers, such as those in our health services, who are not all that well paid in the first place and who may have to work awkward and unsocial hours, do more damage than good.

This is a good example of a regressive tax; that is, one which most badly affects those least able to afford to pay it. As a fair compromise perhaps our government could ensure that, where health workers have to pay to park, the parking vultures are allowed to charge them only as much as they would otherwise have had to pay in additional tax had the parking been free. That might be a little complicated to design and implement, but if the SNP aims to be able to plan and operate a complete tax system following a vote for independence, this might provide some useful and much-needed practice at both.

Brian Chrystal,

55 Craiglockhart Road, Edinburgh.

SHOULD any council decide that charges be introduced then I assume, in the interests of fairness, that they also ensure that their own employees, from the provost downwards, are charged to park at work.

Brian A Bell,

15 Muirpark Road, Kinross.

ONE of those phrases which used to be commonplace on BBC/Radio Scotland was: “and xxxx in Scotland is being brought into line with England and Wales”, where a change was mooted in law or governance.

I think of this when we see the farce of a pro-independence party bringing Scotland “into line” with England and Wales on workplace parking, and being vehemently challenged by a Unionist party to keep Scotland different – though these self-same Tories did not like hospital parking charges being eliminated in Scotland, where possible. We also see Murdo Fraser explode with outrage when Scottish local government is given the power to raise local taxes by less than his Tory party are allowing in England ("Deputy leaders take wheel in head-on row over charge on drivers", The Herald, February 8).

Then we are informed that we Scots should be grateful that our legitimate share of UK taxation is being allowed to come to Scotland, apparently by the benificence of an altruistic Chancellor. We are also told we are not spending our tax receipts correctly, by not having fees (taxes?) on higher education, or charges (taxes?) for prescriptions and so on.

I think Scotland needs to be gone from this cant and hypocrisy, and have a relationship with England where no one is demeaned or feels obliged to bow and scrape like a Scottish Tory.

GR Weir,

17 Mill Street, Ochiltree.

SNP politicians were quickly off the mark in criticism of Theresa May's buying the votes of the DUP. We now witness the same SNP "buying off" the Green Party with its proposed workplace parking tax.

As for Ross Greer and his denigration of Winston Churchill, it now emerges that Mr Greer asserted that Imperial Britain was happy to live with Hitler. It's time for this young man to grow up and live in the real world.

I may add that my own MP has been campaigning to overturn the democratic 2016 referendum result.

Politicians? A plague on all their houses.

David Miller,

80 Prestonfield, Milngavie.

Read more: Tories claim GPs face £1.6m parking tax bill