Sturgeon launches SNP council election manifesto
Nicola Sturgeon has launched the SNP's campaign for the forthcoming council elections, characterising the contest as a "clear choice" between her party and the Tories.
Scotland goes to the polls for local authority elections on 4 May.
The first minister and SNP leader set out her party's manifesto for the vote at an event in Edinburgh.
She said every vote for her party in the poll would be "a vote against Tory austerity".
And she said SNP councillors would "always put their local communities first", saying they would work hard to invest in education, support local services, grow the economy and give "real power" to communities.
Policy pledges include more free childcare and new nurseries, £120m of direct funding for schools, more affordable housing and more funding going from councils to community groups.
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In the last set of council elections in 2012, the SNP took 32.3% of the vote, resulting in 425 seats across the country, just ahead of Labour.
However, the SNP ultimately ended up running fewer of Scotland's town halls than their rivals, a position they aim to change in May.
Ms Sturgeon said Labour and the Lib Dems would "sell out for even the slightest suggestion of power", saying voting for them "risks seeing the Tories take over our town halls".
She said: "These elections decide who is responsible for running your local services and will determine whether we invest in services or allow the Tories to extend their cuts agenda into the heart of local communities.
"Councils make key decisions about all of our communities and it is essential that we elect strong SNP councils across the country.
"There are real and dangerous consequences if our vital local services fall into Tory hands.
"Every vote for the SNP on May 4th is a vote against Tory austerity, and a vote to protect vital services and jobs. All of our candidates are working hard every day to earn the trust of the people they want to represent and after the election will continue to work every day to retain it."