Nearly 750 jobs are to go at North Lanarkshire Council over the next three years as part of a £60.2 million savings package.
This will bring the total number of council workers laid off in the last five years to almost 1,500 following savings of £55 million in the previous two years.
North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim McCabe says that a 5.8 per cent budget cut from the Scottish Government meant they didn’t set the budget, they just managed as best they could.
He said: “I remember when setting the budget was easy, all we had to do was put together a growth package and decide on the council tax level, but unfortunately those days are gone.
“The cuts passed onto us by the Scottish Government are horrendous and the UK Government’s welfare reforms have a significant impact.
“On deciding which options to take we have been able to avoid substantial cuts to frontline service, we held an extensive consultation exercise where the people of North Lanarkshire told us what they didn’t want cut - and we listened.
“However, no one should be congratulated for this budget, two Governments set this budget, we are just the unfortunate messengers.”
A total of 744 jobs are to go, but with just three compulsory redundancies required over the past two years, it is hoped most can be achieved through deletion of vacant posts, voluntary redundancies, early retirement and redeployment.
Councillor Bob Burrows, convener of finance and customer services, said: “Whilst we cannot guarantee there will be no compulsory redundancies, we have made it clear it will be an absolute last resort.”
Opposition group leader David Stocks refused to believe that the Scottish Government were to blame for North Lanarkshire’s current ills.
He said: “We are six years into an SNP Government and they are still high in the polls so must be doing something right and should be congratulated for continuing the funding they have.”
Among the rejected savings options were cleaning provision and arrangements, lunch time crossing patrols; changing to a three-weekly waste collection, externalising street sweeping and plant production.
There will be no charges introduced for pest control, community alarms or community support services; residential care homes at Chilterns and Belhaven will remain open, as will the Kilbowie outdoor centre in Oban, and all First Stop Shops.
No reduction will be made to the funding for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau or home support; while classroom and ASN assistants will be unaffected.
Christmas lights across towns in North Lanarkshire will also remain after residents told the council they liked them.
However there’s plenty being cut including residential accommodation at residential schools; the Christmas gift for the elderly; funding for New Lanarkshire Ltd; and a cut in the management fee for North Lanarkshire Leisure.
In schools secondaries will have to conform to a 33-period week; non-delegated teachers, early years teachers and support staff, technician support, support for learning, supply teachers, probationers, nursery centre management, and the Literacy base will all be affected.
The delivery of Prince’s Trust and Skillforce will cease and there will be a cessation of Determined to Succeed.
All the cuts can be viewed at www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk.
Prior to the budget meeting North Lanarkshire Trade Union Council (NLTUC) organised a rally outside Motherwell Civic Centre which heard from NLTUC’s John Milligan, Jim Baxter and Hugh Gaffney, along with Dave Moxham of the Scottish Trade Union Congress and John Corry of the Trade Union Unite.
NLTUC secretary Hugh Gaffney said: “These cuts are taking us closer to a privatised council.
“Your local council was about public jobs. Now every cut means another job loss, another service gone, less control of the public purse more profit the private profiteer.
“The blame game has to stop. Councils may blame the Scottish Government, the Scottish Government may blame Westminster, Westminster blame Europe and Europe will blame the Global Market.
“They all make excuses, but who are the ones who suffer. Where does it stop?”