Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed the SNP Government's 4.8% rise in funding for Highland Council whilst managing to freeze the council tax.
News of the record rate of funding came following the Governments Finance Secretary John Swinney announcement to Parliament on the local government settlement. It showed that Highland Council is to receive £425,168 million.
Mr Gibson said the figures and new concordat between the Scottish Government and local authorities in Scotland signalled a new era for the nation in which devolution of power would really begin.
"Council tax will not rise, yet there will be increased funding for Highland Council – in this announcement everyone wins. Against the back ground of the tightest ever budget, John Swinney has played a master stroke."
In particular, Rob welcomed the commitment that was given to the third sector:
"The Secretary gave recognition about the important role that the third sector plays in society and economy. Funding will increase to £93 million and of that £30 million will go to social enterprises. This amounts to a firm commitment to those organizations and enterprises that make up the third sector."
He went on…
"No doubt we will hear the clarion calls of our rivals as they decry our budget and what it means for the region. However these calls should have a health warning with them as they will contain excessive hot air. Indeed the Labour and Lib Dem's will be intensely negative. They will scaremonger until the cows come home, however their claims will ring hollow as they have had 8 years to improve the Highlands and Islands and have failed."
"What is not in doubt is that this marks a new chapter for relations between the Government and Council. I see it as localism and increased democracy as well as benefiting people in the pocket. It a positive step into the future. Our opponents have nothing new to offer and their incessant scaremongering is typical of their doom and gloom outlook and collective lack of political imagination."