Litter (West Scotland)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government how it will fund local authorities in the West Scotland region to help ensure that communities are kept clean and tidy. (S5O-02665)

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

Under section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities have a duty to keep roads clean and land within their authority clear of litter. That is funded as part of the 2018-19 local government finance settlement of £10.7 billion. It is then for local authorities to decide their own spending priorities, taking account of their statutory obligations.

Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

Between 2007 and 2011, when the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work was leader of Renfrewshire Council, he cut more than 300 staff in environmental services. From 2011 until March this year, an additional 80 members of staff who cleaned the communities of Renfrewshire were axed. Does the minister agree that if those cuts of around one in six staff had not been made, it would not be down to volunteers, who selflessly give up their time, to clean up after Scottish National Party cuts?

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

This year, the Scottish Government has protected local government budgets by reversing the real-terms reductions to Scotland’s resource budget and by providing a real-terms increase in both capital and revenue funding for local government. I imagine that the leader of Renfrewshire Council had a long and difficult job in cleaning up the previous administration’s mess.

The Scottish Government does not just leave it up to local government to tackle littering. We have published our litter-free Scotland strategy, which is a five-year plan for how to reduce litter. We have other policies, such as the introduction of charging for single-use carrier bags—plastic bags are a highly visible form of litter—to support local authorities to deal with the blight of littering.