IT’S that time of year again for Cosla’s perennial holding out the begging bowl claiming councils “need” a huge amount of money “just to stand still”; this year’s wheeze being “merely” £12 billion (Local authorities’ plea ahead of budget, Nov 16).

Cosla justifies its “money grasping” again by claiming this sum would reverse historic budget cuts that threaten pandemic recovery and, get this, give local leaders the chance to raise more taxes.

If Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes truly has public interest at heart, shouldn’t she be sending Cosla “hameward tae think again”? At a time when wages, pensions and benefits for many are being held below the rate of inflation – effectively going backwards – and inflation is rising, we, the public, need local authorities dipping further into our ever more shallow pockets like a hole in the head.

READ MORE: Scottish teachers' unions reject 'insulting' pay offer from Cosla​ 

We’re all having to cut our cloth according to diminishing resources; why shouldn’t councils be doing the same?

Rather that extending councils’ power to charge us to park at work (ground already taxed by business rates), inflict taxes on tourists who already pay through the nose to visit us (occupying rooms already heavily taxed through commercial taxes), shouldn’t councils be rationalising the “empires” they’ve built and modernising their structures in line with contemporary affordability and political common sense?

The fact is, it wouldn’t matter how much public money is flushed down council coffers, wouldn’t it simply go its usual way on pet council projects the public haven’t asked for yet are rammed through at great expense, while pleading poverty to fund the essential services we really need?

READ MORE: Should the council tax cap end? Here's how Scotland compares to the rest of the UK

We’ve all experienced poorer council services: reduced waste collection; charging for garden waste; teachers subsidising class materials from their own pockets; poorer care services; drains left uncleared that lead to flooding; abandoned weed control; inane, expensive and ineffectual traffic schemes; inadequate third-world-standard roads desperately needing competent repair etc. The list is endless.

There are unitary city councils in the world organising larger populations than Scotland’s. 32 Scottish local authorities playing local politics, all replicating the same policies and expensive corporate functions, is now a luxury we can’t afford.

Rather than pouring ever more money down councils’ clogged up drains, isn’t a root-and-branch review and rationalisation of our local authority structure is long overdue, to modernise it into a leaner structure fit for the 21st century that’s both effective and affordable?

When the SNP came to power all those years ago they signed a concordat with Cosla agreeing to effectively not interfere with it. Isn’t it now in the public interest to rip up that concordat and reform the local authority structure and responsibilities?

Jim Taylor

I WRITE to register my agreement with the views of Alastair McLeish of Edinburgh in Wednesday’s National. Cynicism and apathy are the deadly enemies of democracy.

His point about the permanent indy campaign is a very important one. I feel the “professional” politicians are treating the indy campaign like a normal election campaign, which from experience means do a little in between elections to keep your name in the frame, then “blitz” it in the run-up to polling day. We cannot afford to do this in indyref2.

The stumbling block, as I see it, is, LACK OF POSITIVE INFORMATION. Hopefully the efforts of Believe in Scotland and similar non-party-political organisations will remedy this. People are inured to politicians saying “Vote for us, we’re better than the other lot” and assume most are lying.

We MUST push the advantages of indy, not just keep telling folk how bad the Tories are. A PERMANENT indy campaign is necessary to counteract the never ending stream of lies and gross distortions in the Britnat media.

Barry Stewart

KEN Clarke voices what we have all known for a long time (Ken Clarke: UK close to becoming an ‘elected dictatorship’ under Boris Johnson,, Nov 18) on. The Tory party has steadily drifted towards the extreme right over a period of 20 years. In England the racist immigration card musters a lot of support, but they do not see or understand where it leads eventually.

Since Oswald Mosley, fascism has hidden in plain sight within the Tory party. It has now gained ascendency and will become more anti-democratic and fascist as long as it maintains power.

The Tory party is a lost cause in Scotland but in England it still thrives, nurtured by a Little Englander xenophobic, casual colonial racism. However hard it may be, and it will be hard at first, Scotland must have independence from an England bloated by corruption and right-wing propaganda.

Keith Oram