FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf’s apparently cobbled-together announcement of a council tax freeze next year has rightly drawn anger across local government.

Council tax is a local tax and should be set by local councillors.

The FM would be livid if Westminster announced plans for devolved Scottish taxes, so he should understand why it is so disrespectful for him to bypass Scotland’s 1227 councillors like this.

There is no doubt that the announcement has undermined the already fragile trust between local and central government.

But it isn’t just how this was announced that rankles – it’s also bad policy.

Councillors are well aware of the pressures our communities are facing as a result of the Tory cost-of-living crisis, but the services we provide are just as important to tackling that as what our tax bills say.

Freezing council tax benefits the better-off at the expense of the less well-off, who rely more on local services.

Councillors who have been working to develop credible medium-term financial plans against a really challenging financial backdrop have now seen all that thrown up in the air.

We are told the freeze will be ‘fully funded’ but that can clearly be interpreted many different ways.

Councils were already anticipating a ‘flat cash’ settlement (ie a real-terms cut) and while decisions we could have made on council tax could have reduced the level of cuts, a freeze is unlikely to stop them.

I know that many of my constituents, faced with the evidence of their eyes and ears that local services are struggling, would not resent paying a little bit more in order to protect them.

This looks increasingly like a kneejerk reaction to a bad by-election defeat … and as kneejerk reactions go, reaching into your Greatest Hits collection and coming up with this is lacklustre to say the least.

There is clearly a need for fresh thinking to help people with the issues facing our communities. Greens in government are already providing those ideas – from free young people’s bus travel to scrapping peak rail fares.

We have consistently made the case for progressive land and property taxes to replace the outdated and regressive council tax.

If one positive can come from this announcement, which the FM has already says he regrets, it will be to finally get on with replacing council tax after more than a decade of dither and delay.

It is worth stating that Labour, in particular, have no credibility on this.

Having spent months telling people (falsely) that proposed, fairer council tax changes would have hit the least well-off, they are now forced into admitting that was nonsense, and in fact it is a freeze that is deeply regressive.

There’s so much more we can do to properly fund local services.

For instance, I am proposing that proceeds from national anti-litter levies, including a proposed coffee cup charge, should fund action to clean-up our local neighbourhoods.

Instead of reheating failed policies of the past, it’s Green ideas we need to help people and the planet.