At both Stirling Council and at Holyrood, the SNP have completely failed to concentrate on the essential services we all rely on and for which they have responsibility. Unfortunately, this neglect is beginning to show in every part of our community and impact directly on lives and livelihoods.
We are seeing an escalating crisis in the Scottish Ambulance service with people sadly dying while waiting hours for help. The situation is so bad that the SNP Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, actually told people in Scotland to ‘think twice before calling an ambulance’. Last week, it was announced by Nicola Sturgeon that the British Army will be called in to help with this crisis. While there is no doubt that the Covid Pandemic has added to the pressures of the Scottish Ambulance service, the problems and under-staffing have been there years before the pandemic struck and were consistently ignored by the SNP Government.
In the Forth Valley Health Board Area, A&E waiting times are the worst in Scotland. Now nearly half of people attending are waiting more than the SNPs own target time of four hours. Child mental health waiting times are in crisis with the pressures bought by Covid adding to long-term problems not addressed by SNP ministers for years. The increase in drug related deaths continues to be a national scandal - with Scotland continuing to have the highest rates of drug deaths in Europe. Staff in frontline services and charities do incredible work but they are simply not able to cope, and they are being failed by this inept SNP administration.
Across the Stirling area our road network is in a terrible state. Potholes and damaged road surfaces are a blight that demands attention and is causing damage to vehicles. I am constantly getting contacted by constituents about this. The SNP Council administration still refuse to cancel the unnecessary and unwanted Viewforth link road. The cost of this vanity project is estimated at three to four million pounds, money that could and should be spent to improve our roads across the whole council area. Even worse is the SNP at Holyrood filling their coffers with nearly £50 million that came from the UK government to help with repairing roads - money they have failed to pass onto Councils for that purpose.
The SNP-led council administration will also be cutting our bin collections. This week will see the start of monthly-only collections for your grey and blue bins. These outrageous cuts were forced through by SNP and Labour Councillors acting together without any consultation. Petitions supported by thousands of people were ignored. Scottish Conservative councillors and I have campaigned to stop them, and we will continue to do so. Stirling Council’s waste services are, by far, the most expensive in Scotland but rather than do the hard work of fixing these bloated costs, the SNP are content with cutting your service.
I fully support the pledge by Scottish Conservative Councillors to reverse these cuts - yet another reason why we need a Scottish Conservative led Council administration in power after next Mays council elections
The residents of Stirling should expect their elected representatives to hold the Scottish Government and Stirling council to account for these and other issues - no matter what party they belong to. Instead, they get a wall of silence from SNP politicians that are incapable of criticising their own local and national administrations failings. I will always champion these issues - and fight against the 14 years of neglect that people have suffered at the hands of the SNP.
This article was originally published in the Stirling Observer on Wednesday 22nd September and Friday 24th September 2021