Greens issue statement on East Lothian Council Budget

The leading Green candidates for the East Lothian Council elections in May have issued a statement responding to the Budget approved by East Lothian Council (ELC).

The Scottish Greens comment:

The Council is to be commended for many aspects of the 2022-2023 budget, not least the rent freeze on council house rents and protection of frontline spending on social care and schools.

However, the across-the-board council tax increase of 3% and will take money from the pockets of low-income families across the county struggling in the face of a cost-of-living crisis.

Why not let the broadest shoulders carry the biggest burden in these uncertain times?

A wide-ranging reform of Council Tax is long overdue. But in the meantime, ELC could move to make Council Tax fairer by freezing the tax for lower bands and progressively increasing the tax for higher bands. East Lothian Greens favour a freeze of lower council tax bands A and B, to protect the most vulnerable, and progressive increases of subsequent council tax bands. This fairer council tax rise could be designed in a way that guaranteed to raise at least as much revenue as the current blanket increase.

To boost revenue still further, we also favour charging a 100% premium on second homes and properties vacant for more than 6 months unless they are actively marketed for sale or rent.

Together, these measures could raise the financing we need to protect frontline services while safeguarding the well-being of the poorest families in the county.

East Lothian is digging deep into its financial reserves this year. In the light of this, and in the face of a climate emergency, the decision to reduce seasonal car parking passes by £10 is particularly ill judged. The current charge amounts to just over £4 per month!

The Council should innovatively restructure seasonal passes, as Edinburgh City Council already does for parking permits, to encourage active travel and use of public transport and reduce vehicle emissions. Just like road tax, passes could be progressively more expensive, with cleaner vehicles paying the current rate and vehicles with high CO2 emissions paying more.

Green Councillors will bring these and many other ideas for fairer, greener local taxation and budgeting to East Lothian.

Jacq Cottrell, Mark James, and Shona McIntosh

Green party councillor candidates for North Berwick Coastal, Dunbar and East Linton and Musselburgh