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COSLA REACTS TO FORSYTH'S COMMENTS

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Scottish local authority leaders have reacted angrily to Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth's latest criticism of l...
Scottish local authority leaders have reacted angrily to Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth's latest criticism of local government.

Cosla president Rosemary McKenna responded to Mr Forsyth's claims saying: 'This continuous sniping at local government by Mr Forsyth does no one any good at all.

'It is invidious of him to cite individual authorities as he has done - each of the new councils has the same range of responsibilities and it was the government who decided that management structures should be decided by the councils themselves.

'This far down the line in establishing the new councils. Michael Forsyth cannot now ride into the fray and start begin critical of management structures which are being carefully designed by councils to meet the needs of their individual areas.'

Cllr McKenna was also critical of Mr Forsyth's comments on staff salaries and councillors' allowances: 'His criticisms of salaries for officers is particularly offensive - he is talking about officers who are working full time for their authorities and often working evenings and weekends.

'Councillors' special responsibility allowances were recommended by Cosla - at the behest of the Scottish Office - to take account of the commitment made by senior councillors which takes them well beyond the normal 35 or 40 hour working week.

'Compare this to the secretary of state's appointees on quangos who receive vast sums of money each year for a few days' work each month.'

Cllr McKenna added: 'His comments, on staff in particular, do nothing for morale in local government when there is already so much uncertainty.

'Mr Forsyth could help us by showing some understanding of our difficulties at present, realising just how much reorganisation is costing - not just in cash terms but in human terms - and ceasing his continuous undermining of the work of what are, after all, democratically elected organisations fulfilling the democratic wishes of the people.'

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