Anger mounts over council cuts

Council workers gather outside Motherwell Civic centre to protest the cuts
Council workers gather outside Motherwell Civic centre to protest the cuts

NORTH Lanarkshire Council leader Jim McCabe was accused of wasting members’ time after refusing to allow them to discuss planned cuts of £73 million.

At last week’s meeting of the policy and resources committee it was expected that councillors would make a decision regarding the cuts it needs to make to balance the budget for the next three years.

However, Councillor McCabe instead declared that a special meeting will be held later to discuss the matter and refused to accept any questions or comments about the contents of a report on the issue.

After the chair refused to recognise several councillors, Mossend and Holytown councillor David Baird questioned why they had even bothered to attend the meeting if no contributions were being heard.

He said: “Is there any point in the cuts being part of the agenda if we’re not going to speak about them? I have questions and I’m sure other people do too.

“If the contents are just going to be discussed at a special meeting then maybe they should only have been included on the agenda for it.

“If it’s not for discussion then what are we even doing here?”

However Councillor McCabe hit back, saying: “I will decide what is on the agenda! At the moment the report is purely to provide members with information. There are thousands of responses so will give people time to go through them.

“A special meeting will be convened at which each and every aspect of the savings will be discussed in great detail and everyone will have their opportunity to ask whichever questions they like.”

Meanwhile, outside Motherwell Civic Centre hundreds of council workers braved icy rain for a demonstration organised by the North Lanarkshire branch of the Unison trade union demanding no cuts to jobs or services.

Those assembled heard from John Mooney, Marie Quigley and Mike Kirby of UNISON, Scottish Trades Union Congress deputy general secretary Dave Moxham and North Lanarkshire Trade Union Council secretary John Milligan.

Some dressed as the Grim Reaper to symbolise the ‘deadly’ cuts.

Mike Kirby, the Scottish secretary of Unison, said: “This is an illustration of the determination of trade union members and supporters from the local community who understand what a devastating impact these cuts could have.

“Hopefully, we can work with the council, but if they move towards compulsory redundancy we will look at balloting for industrial action.

“As Scottish councils focus on budgets for next year, people are saying they have had enough.”