Cosla resources spokeswoman Katie Hagmann said that “tough choices” could mean essential services they provide “will cease”.
She added: “Our reality right now is an extremely challenging financial climate coupled with years of real-terms cuts to council budgets, while additional policy commitments are continually being introduced.
She said Cosla had been “clear that cutting frontline staff isn’t the answer” and without funding councils would not be able to provide “sustainable public services”.
Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson, Liz Smith MSP, said Cosla’s warning was a “damning indictment on years of brutal SNP cuts”.
She added “Scotland’s local authorities have been struggling to provide core services for years now and it appears they may finally be nearing breaking point.”
The Scottish government said it was facing “the most challenging budget settlement since devolution” as a result of high inflation and a UK government autumn statement that “failed to deliver the investment needed” in Scotland.
A spokesperson said:
“ The Scottish Government has increased the resources available to local government in 2023-24 by more than £793m, a real-terms increase of £376m or 3%, compared to the 2022-23 Budget figures.
“Decisions on local government budget allocations for future years are subject to the outcome of negotiations with Cosla, the results of which will be confirmed in future Scottish budgets.”
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.2: 2023: By Philip Sim: BBC Scotland political correspondent: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
The former first minister is believed to be seeking damages and loss of earnings of £3m.
It relates to the botched handling of an investigation into harassment claims made against him.
Throw in a criminal trial in which Mr Salmond was cleared of sexual assault charges and you have a story that goes to the heart of how Scotland is run.
So, what is the background?
This runs all the way back to 2018. The Scottish government had just set up a new procedure for investigating harassment complaints against ministers and former ministers.
The very first use of it was for two internal complaints against Alex Salmond.
But he immediately complained that the process was unfair.
And before the outcome of the investigation was announced – which we now know was to uphold the complaints – he launched a judicial review in the courts.
That concluded with the government admitting defeat and that the application of the new process had been unlawful.
It had been “tainted with apparent bias”, because the official who carried out the investigation had had contact with the complainers prior to the probe.
The government had to apologise to Alex Salmond, and to the women who had made complaints.
It was a huge embarrassment, ultimately leading to a parliamentary inquiry – which dominated the run-up to the Holyrood election in 2021.
That came a separate criminal trial, which saw Alex Salmond cleared of charges of sexual assault – on the day the country went into lockdown in 2020.
The inquiry saw people like Mr Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon give hours of evidence, and laid bare the problems in the government’s attempts to defend the judicial review after legal advice was published.
Mr Salmond was very critical of people in Ms Sturgeon’s government and at the top of the SNP – he said there was a malicious plot against him – and he said his successor had misled parliament in what she had said about it all.
Ms Sturgeon denied that there was any conspiracy against Mr Salmond, and while the committee was critical of her she was ultimately cleared of breaking the ministerial code by her independent adviser.
Mr Salmond accepted the outcomes of the inquiries, but he has long talked of going back to court.
Now, he says he is suing for misfeasance – which means the wrongful exercise of lawful authority.
What is misfeasance, anyway?
It’s a civil law term which is basically a way for Alex Salmond to claim damages for injury to him.
In this case it’s not about physical injury, but how he feels he lost out due to his treatment by government officials.
His lawyer Gordon Dangerfield – known previously for representing former MSP Tommy Sheridan – says government officials acted “improperly, in bad faith and beyond their powers with the intention of injuring Mr Salmond”.
He says they decided at an early stage of the harassment investigation that he was guilty, and that in pursuit of proving this the situation “snowballed” into a whole range of other problems – all specifically aimed at “injuring” his client.
While the government did concede that its investigation was mishandled, ministers have never accepted this version of events. They have always described the failings in the probe as being more technical and bureaucratic.
Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs repeatedly that there was no grand plot against Mr Salmond, nor was there any evidence of one.
It’s that sort of evidence which her predecessor is aiming to be able to bring out via this case.
Hasn’t Alex Salmond already won a payout?
The government had already been ordered to pay Mr Salmond half a million pounds.
That was for legal costs incurred during the judicial review – the cost of hiring lawyers and going to court, despite the fact the case collapsed relatively quickly when the government gave in.
But very quickly after the inquiry there was a suggestion that he could sue for damages too.
Now that is in part a question of money – the Herald newspaper is talking about a claim of £3m for damages and lost income, his team say they don’t recognise that but that it would be “significant”.
But this is about a lot more than money. It’s about accountability.
Mr Salmond was very critical that nobody from the Scottish government took the fall for the botched investigation.
He had specifically called for the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans – the top civil servant who had a big role in drawing up the complaints process, and who was singled out for criticism by the inquiry – to lose her job.
Rather, she had her contract extended, and left office in 2022. She is named in this legal action, as is Ms Sturgeon.
So there is clearly some unfinished business there for Mr Salmond.
He was also frustrated that he couldn’t put certain evidence on the record which he believed supported his position, because there were legal barriers. He talked about his submission being “censored” during the inquiry.
Those legal barriers still exist – which makes some of this quite difficult to talk about – but he seems determined to bring this to the fore again.
What happens next?
There has been an initial hearing at the Court of Session, essentially to lay the groundwork for a future case.
It seems likely there will be a case, because Humza Yousaf has pledged to defend the action “robustly”.
But we are a long way from it actually coming to court as it stands.
It’s been put on hold for now while a couple of other investigations take place – into complaints Alex Salmond has made about events around the original case, about leaks to the media and claims of perjury.
On the latter, the Crown says they are considering correspondence from Mr Salmond’s lawyers and are going to respond in due course. It’s understood the matter is being looked at by independent counsel.
That means it’s hard to say when this case might see the light of day again.
But Mr Salmond says that a “day of reckoning” is coming for the government.
What is the political impact?
Ultimately this litigation is a legal matter – it’ll be decided in court, where judges will weigh up the merits of the arguments.
But the people involved are politicians – and prominent ones – so there is a political impact too.
The last case, and the inquiry, was intensely difficult for the government – it threatened the position of Nicola Sturgeon as first minister.
Her successor Humza Yousaf can of course say it was all before his time, but a big court case like this is still the last thing his government needs.
It’s also interesting for Mr Salmond, whose new-ish Alba Party has been pushing for a “Scotland United” deal with the SNP.
The idea is to put the infighting behind them and unite the independence movement .
But if he is to resume his criticism of senior figures in the party and government – while chasing them through the courts – any hopes of a political rapprochement seem remote.
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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.17: 2023: By Angus Cochrane: BBC Scotland News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
Health Secretary Michael Matheson has admitted an £11,000 data roaming charge on his iPad was caused by his sons watching football.
The bill was incurred during a family trip to Morocco last year.
The expense was initially picked up by the Scottish Parliament, which was told by Mr Matheson that the iPad was only used for work.
He has since paid the money back and said he had referred himself to the parliament for further investigation.
Mr Matheson – who was visibly emotional during a statement to parliament – told MSPs he was not aware that other family members had used the device until last Thursday, after the first media reports about the charges emerged.
He said the iPad itself had not been used by his children but had been used as a hotspot to allow internet access for other devices.
The health secretary said he did not mention this in his statement on Friday, in which he announced he would pay the bill himself, because he wanted to protect his children.
He apologised unreservedly to the parliament and said the responsibility for the data usage and iPad was his.
Mr Matheson went on holiday with his wife and two sons shortly after Christmas last year.
First Minister Humza Yousaf has previously said there was no reason for Mr Matheson to pay the £11,000 bill himself
“As a parent, I wanted to protect them from being part of the political and media scrutiny associated with this, something I believe any parent would want to do,” he told MSPs.
He said he was “a father first and foremost”, adding that it was wrong not to reference his sons using the iPad data.
“That was a mistake and I am sorry,” he continued.
“I can see now that it just isn’t possible to explain the data usage without explaining their role.”
He added: “The simple truth is they watched football matches.”
Mr Matheson said he did not watch the football, nor did he know it was being watched by his sons.
He told MSPs he had been advised that he could use the iPad as a mobile hotspot and that his son helped to set it up.
The Scottish Parliament confirmed that Mr Matheson had contacted officials on 28 December about his phone not working in Morocco, but said its records did not “show any discussion of his iPad”.
On Monday, the health secretary denied that there had been any personal use of his iPad.
In his statement to MSPs on Thursday, he said he would refer himself for investigation to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, but would not stand down as health secretary.
The minister said when he was initially informed about the bill in January, he could not understand why it was so high.
In the absence of a “clear explanation”, he said he thought it was appropriate when he agreed in March that he would contribute £3,000 from his office expenses, with the rest to be paid by parliament.
The data charges, including more than £7,000 on 2 January – when Celtic were playing Rangers – were incurred for using more than 6GB of data on the parliamentary device between 28 December 2022 and 3 January 2023.
A Sim card in the device should have been changed after parliament officials switched a mobile contract from EE to Vodafone in December 2021.
But Mr Matheson failed to replace the Sim despite being told to do so almost a year before his holiday.
The Scottish Conservatives have called for the health secretary to be sacked, and are expected to call a motion of no confidence. The government would be expected to defeat it due to an SNP-Green majority in parliament.
Tory leader Douglas Ross said parliament had been misled by Mr Matheson, who initially told Holyrood officials that his expense claim for the iPad data usage was for legitimate parliamentary work.
Mr Ross told BBC Scotland News: “So if it was a legitimate expense, yet he was also saying he didn’t know how that data had been accrued, then he misled parliament.”
He added: “If Michael Matheson is a man of integrity, as he says he is, he will resign.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said parents of teenagers would understand the scenario, but “what people will not understand is the cover-up”.
She said Mr Matheson had been “wholly negligent” not to replace his device’s Sim card, and not to keep it secure from being used by others.
“It is simply unfathomable that Michael Matheson thinks he can keep his job after deceiving the public and parliament over his actions,” she added.
It was an emotional statement from Michael Matheson revealing that his sons were using his iPad as a hotspot to stream football.
That explains how he was able to run up £11,000 in data roaming charges on his family holiday to Morocco over New Year.
It does not explain the security arrangements for his Holyrood iPad.
Nor does it explain how he convinced himself he could have done that volume of constituency work in order to claim it as a legitimate parliamentary expense.
Mr Matheson has told us his family only fessed up last Thursday which is why he offered to pay back the full amount the following day.
However, he was still denying there had been “personal” use of the iPad to reporters on Monday.
Mr Matheson has made clear he was trying to protect his family – an instinct many of his MSP colleagues will understand.
The problem is he has now admitted concealing the truth because he thought that was justified and that could undermine trust in a politician who is supposed to lead the NHS through a difficult winter.
At First Minister’s Questions earlier on Thursday, Humza Yousaf said he had “absolute confidence” in Mr Matheson, who he described as a man of “honesty and integrity”.
The health secretary cancelled a planned visit to a Glasgow health centre after parliament published a breakdown of the data usage. A spokesperson said it would be rescheduled for a future date.
Tory MSPs had pointed out that the day Mr Matheson was billed £7,346 – on 2 January for using 3.18GB – coincided with an Old Firm football match.
A further £1,320 charge was listed as a separate entry for 2 January. It is not yet known if the fee could relate to a previous day due to a lag effect in the billing system but there is no figure listed for 1 January.
The next largest fee was on 28 December 2022, when the minster was charged £2,249 for using 1.26GB. A match between Hibernian and Celtic was played that day.
According to Netflix, 6GB of data can be used to watch about 36 hours of streaming while on a data-saving mode.
On the highest possible streaming quality, 6GB would only provide about 120 minutes of streaming, depending on the device and network speed.
The parliament said that after the bill was received earlier in the year, IT officials checked the iPad to see if it was working. They also examined the mobile data usage, but were only presented with a cumulative total and did not see the browsing history.
The presiding officer confirmed parliament had ordered a review into its data roaming and mobile devices rules to “ensure the present situation cannot happen again”.
AceWeatherDesk – Hundreds of people in Brechin are being evacuated as exceptional rainfall from Storm Babet threatens to breach flood defences in the town.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Oct.20: 2023: MET Office & BBC Weather News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
Angus Council said residents in about 400 homes are being told to leave: The Met Office issues a rare red warning for rain: Michael Hunter, BBC Scotland News producer in Brechin
It comes as a red alert for rain and wind has been extended to a wider area of Scotland.
The warning came into effect at 18:00 and now covers an area from southern Aberdeenshire and Angus to the outskirts of Dundee and Perth.
Amber and yellow warnings are also in place in other areas of the UK: Live updates as red warning comes into force …..The Met Office red weather warning runs from 18:00 on Thursday until noon on Friday, with the storm predicted to bring about 220mm (8.5in) of rain in some areas of eastern Scotland, an amount close to the highest ever 24-hour total for a “rainfall day”.
Residents have been warned of a danger to life from fast flowing or deep floodwater, with extensive flooding to homes and businesses and landslips also possible.
There have also been reports of high winds bringing down trees on several roads.
Angus Council said that as well as about 335 properties in Brechin, an additional 87 households in the nearby villages of Tannadice and Finavon had been told to evacuate “for their own safety”.
Rest centres were opened from 15:00 at Montrose Sports Centre and Brechin and Forfar community campuses.
People were asked to bring their own sleeping bags and any supplies and medications they will need.
Police Scotland’s advice is to avoid any form of travel in the areas covered by the red warning.
Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Houston said: “Driving conditions will be extremely dangerous with disruption expected.
“It’s important that everyone considers the amber warnings that still remain in place for rain and wind. This will present a particular challenge to high-sided vehicles – so please consider whether these journeys are essential.”
Waves have been crashing over Stonehaven Harbour, where the pier has been closed
It said it was working to identify vulnerable residents who will need additional support.
SSEN, which provides electricity to homes in the north of Scotland, reported widespread power outages on Thursday afternoon.
Train and bus services in the affected areas have been cancelled and driving conditions are likely to be treacherous because of spray and flooded roads.
Gas, water and mobile phone services could also be affected, with some communities potentially being completely cut off for several days.
The rain and wind is heavy and persistent and the town’s river is already getting very high. But there’s no sense of panic just yet in the area of the town where many homes are set to receive evacuation orders from Angus Council.
We’ve spoken to a handful of residents still in their homes in and around River Street. They say they’re awaiting orders from the authorities.
Locals who’ve seen this area alongside the River South Esk flooded many times over they years told us they expect the banks to burst at about 17:00.
There’s still plenty of traffic on the roads. And even a few hardy souls out walking. Though things could look very different here come 18:00, when that rare red weather warning comes into force.
The areas at the centre of the storm were already heavily saturated after heavy flooding earlier this month.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency flood unit manager Pascal Lardet said there was a specific focus on the Brechin area, which has suffered bad flooding in the past.
He said the water level around the Angus town, which has a population of about 7,000 people, was expected to be “close to the top” of the flood defences, with a significant risk that water going over the top would lead to a “rapid inundation” to surrounding areas.
Mr Lardet said he was particularly concerned this could happen overnight into Friday.
He added: “Take action now to protect yourself and your property.
“Hazards can be hidden, so please don’t walk or drive into flood water.
“Remember that not only is flood water likely to be dirty, 30cm of fast flowing water can move an average family sized car, and just 15cm of fast flowing water could be enough to knock you off your feet.”
Christopher McGuire feared his home would be flooded during the storm
Christopher McGuire was among the many Brechin residents in the town doing what they could to safeguard their homes as heavy rain fell on the town on Thursday afternoon.
He said his back garden was badly flooded just two weeks ago, and he now fears the water could come over his back wall.
Mr McGuire added: “If it’s up river and comes down to the catchment area, that’s the problem. We’ve got plenty of ground still fairly wet from two weeks ago and I think it’ll come over.”
What is a red weather warning?
John Stewart with his flood defence outside his home on River Street, Brechin
Red is the most severe of the Met Office’s three coloured weather warnings.
It means that dangerous weather is expected and, if you have not already done so, you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the severe weather.
It is very likely that there will be a risk to life, with substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies and possibly widespread damage to property and infrastructure.
You should avoid travelling, where possible, and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.
You can read more about the weather warning system here.
A Met Office spokesperson said affected areas could see more than a month’s worth of average rainfall within 24 hours.
Some 238mm of rain was measured at Sloy Main Adit in Argyll and Bute between 09:00 on 17 January 1974 and 09:00 the following day – the highest total on record in Scotland for what the Met Office calls a “rainfall day”.