Council hit by ‘debt’ claims

Bellshill Community Council members John Devlin, left, and Joe Gorman have raised concerns over finances with officials at North Lanarkshire Council
Bellshill Community Council members John Devlin, left, and Joe Gorman have raised concerns over finances with officials at North Lanarkshire Council

Bellshill Community Council is split over finances with two members claiming the organisation could be facing a debt crisis.

John Devlin and Joe Gorman have raised concerns with North Lanarkshire Council, but community council secretary Duncan McLeod insisted this week: “We have never been in debt.”

Mr Devlin and Mr Gorman say they have been unhappy with financial matters at the community council for some time. They are particularly worried about what they claim is a £2700 bill relating to Bellshill Street Fair, a tab Mr McLeod insists doesn’t exist.

Mr Devlin said: “This debt relates to a £900 annual payment. We have been told the council has not been billed for this for the last three years, but that doesn’t matter. At any time we could be asked to pay it so the money should have been set aside, ringfenced for this purpose.”

Mr Gorman, a former North Lanarkshire councillor, has been involved with the community council for more than 20 years. He said it’s in a “shambolic” state.

The pair questioned why two dance groups were each paid £200 to perform at this year’s street fair when the council is short of money.

Mr Devlin said: “These groups could have put buckets down for members of the public to make donations.”

Last year M&D’s, which has rides and amusements at the street fair, decided to stop a £2000 annual donation to the community council.

Mr McLeod said: “The last few years have been very hard and office-bearers have agreed not to take out of pocket expenses, but we are not in debt and M&D’s will be giving us money again this year.

“We do not have a £900 annual bill anymore in relation to the street fair so I don’t see how we can be liable to pay £2700.”

Mr McLeod also rejected claims that written financial reports are not presented at community council meetings.

North Lanarkshire Council administers and funds community councils, and a spokesman said: “Following a request, a meeting was held with representatives of Bellshill Community Council.

“We are writing to community councils in relation to a number of matters, and will include a reminder of their financial responsibilities.”