WHEN talking about cuts to council services, Glasgow Councillor Matt Kerr has rightly said: “Local democracy, local government, its workers, and everyone who relies on its services don’t need more administration, they need leadership willing to put up a fight.”

The problem is that there is little sign of that fighting leadership coming from local politicians of any party.

We have long been facing a democratic deficit, with administrations passing on Tory cuts amid crocodile tears. None of the main political parties at local level are prepared to defy the Scottish and British governments and say they will not implement cuts budgets which are destroying communities and local democracy itself.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar: Holyrood 'too focused on social justice, not economy'

The opposition to the corporate-bought-and-sold parties clearly will need to come from the trade unions and the communities.

Councillors will need to be compelled by action led by the organised working class. If elected members continue to be self-serving they will need to be removed and replaced by class-conscious representatives supported by the trade unions and the people.

For that to happen, a class and political consciousness needs to be built on the ground, in the trade unions themselves and the communities.

But where will these class fighters come from? Outside the main parties there are the 57 varieties of the left, with more new parties seemingly being formed every other week.

READ MORE: SNP demand clarity on free tuition fee stance from Scottish Tories

Tony Benn famously said there are too many socialist parties and not enough socialists.

West Dunbartonshire Morning Star Readers and Supporters Group will be meeting to discuss Benn’s statement and crucially, how do we create socialists?

We will be meeting on Monday, February 19 at 7pm in Clydebank Town Hall and Councillor Matt Kerr himself will be at the top table along with Lilian Macer, the Scottish Secretary of Unison, the biggest union in local government.

If you are in the neighbourhood and are interested in discussing strategy and putting it into action come along and join in.

Tom Morrison
Secretary, Clydebank TUC

I REFER to Lucy Jackson’s article “Scotland’s party leaders face internal pressure on local taxation reform” (Feb 8).

While one cannot argue with the urgent need for a change to local government finance, the lack of ambition of all the signatories is chilling and anything but urgent.

They cite the need for an immediate revaluation of properties to better reflect the current value of individual domestic properties. That would not be quick. The process of revaluing every house in Scotland is a huge task, even if some algorithms may be used to obviate the need for individual visits to every property.

READ MORE: MSPs approve council tax freeze amid Westminster funding crunch

Hundreds of thousands of disgruntled owners will lodge appeals, which involve expensive costs to the public purse and considerable delays in coming to conclusions, many of which will end up in arbitration. In a General Election year, no serious political party will take up that challenge.

Instead, the Scottish Parliament under existing the devolution settlement could introduce changes to the finance bill which would change council tax and non-domestic rates from a valuation basis to a ground-owned basis and charge a rate per square metre on the land and space of the buildings on that ground. A calculation of space is an arithmetical fact, unlike a valuation which is an opinion. Opinions give rise to dispute. Space calculation does not.

Vacant land, dilapidated property and the pipes and cables of energy distribution companies could also be charged rates for the first time.

Owners could be obliged to make the calculation. As the register is public and open to scrutiny, any attempt to under-calculate would incur significant penalties.

READ MORE: Slashing public investment during a downturn is the worst thing to do

While my preference is a model of annual ground rent to replace all taxation, the above suggestion could be introduced for the next financial year. I’m told by apologists for the current public services that these things take time. I reject that. If the political will is there, it can be done. The state of our local public services demand it.

I’ll leave your readers with this illustration, and hopefully they will demand that our politicians at least engage with us. All we are doing is trying to help, with no ulterior motive to benefit ourselves.

Glasgow City Council’s proposed budget for 2024/25 is £3 billion. If it is increased by 20% to £3.6 billion then divided by the space in the city (land and floors and energy distribution pipes), the cost to an average modern semi-detached house with garden would be around £2565. This compares to a current council tax liability of £1500. However, as the grant from the Scottish Government to council finance currently amounts to 66% of total funding, that would reduce the council tax for the average domestic property to around £875.

Graeme McCormick
Arden, by Loch Lomond