McCabe is still in charge

Council leader Jim McCabe (front, left) is pictured with new North Lanarkshire provost Jim Robertson, depute provost Jean Jones and the rest of the elected members.
Council leader Jim McCabe (front, left) is pictured with new North Lanarkshire provost Jim Robertson, depute provost Jean Jones and the rest of the elected members.

THORNIEWOOD councillor Jim McCabe admits he would like to spend more time with his family, but watching the Jeremy Kyle show persuaded him to stay on as North Lanarkshire Council leader.

The 72-year-old was unanimously returned as council leader having held the position since replacing Bellshill councillor Harry McGuigan in 1998.

He said: “Last year my wife and I were in Majorca and I came back with a very, very bad bout of food poisoning and I was trapped in the house.

“Any time I was able to sit on the settee Jeremy Kyle was on the television, so if it’s a choice between throwing stuff at the TV or being a councillor then I know what decision I’d make every time.

“I didn’t decide to be leader, other people chose me and I’m quite happy to continue to do it to the best of my ability.

“I think I’ll know when it’s time to say enough is enough, yes, I would like to spend more time with my family, but in the meantime I’m content to carry on, and if nothing else I’d miss the canteen staff.”

Labour were returned to power with a massive majority, but Councillor McCabe is steeling himself for a tough five years with no end to the current economic crisis in sight.

He said: “We have a mammoth task facing us, including savings in the region of £90-£100 million over the next three years, welfare reform and changes in the social work and health care system.

“If you go back two years ago, we had an extensive programme of growth and it was great, our only problem was deciding how best to spend the money. That position is now completely reversed.

“We are not any different to any other council but it’s how we achieve those cuts with minimum disruption.

“It’s a mammoth task and we have a group here that will be spending hours going through every line of every budget.

“We hope that it will not disrupt people’s lives but I can’t guarantee it.”

Councillor McCabe has stated his first priority is getting people back into work and is in discussion with a number of companies who he hopes will take on apprentices.

He said: “The people out of the workplace are the ones we need to look at first.

“They have unbelievable skills and I will do everything in my power to ensure that they will have full-time, paid employment.

“We have started an extensive apprenticeship programme which I would like to see move quicker. But that can’t happen overnight and we are talking to several companies in North Lanarkshire about taking apprentices on.”