Dates confirmed for key autism meetings

North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue (right) with his depute Paul Kelly who will chair the strategic meeting.
North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue (right) with his depute Paul Kelly who will chair the strategic meeting.

Two key meetings take place next week as North Lanarkshire Council looks to create comprehensive service provision for people with autism.

On Tuesday, officers from Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire will meet with service users from Scottish Autism’s One Stop Shop in Motherwell, which is due to close next Friday (June 3) after the Scottish Government withdrew its funding of £155,000 a year.

That meeting will attempt to identify gaps in service provision which will be left by the closure before a wider strategic meeting takes place next Friday.

That strategic meeting will be chaired by the council’s deputy leader Paul Kelly, who is also a member of the Health and Social Care Joint Integration Board (JIB).

Officials from the council and Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire will be in attendance, with invitations having also been extended to representatives of the Scottish Government, Scottish Autism and Airdrie-based HOPE for Autism.

The outcomes from the meeting will then be reported to the JIB.

A petition organised by service users to save the One Stop Shop has now attracted over 6,000 signatures and has the backing of the council’s opposition SNP group.

Group leader David Stocks contacted council leader Jim Logue to request a special meeting of the full council to be held to discuss the matter.

He said: “North Lanarkshire Council has to accept that a mistake has been made and end a situation where this family support centre will close.”

The call for a special meeting was ruled incompetent by North Lanarkshire provost Jim Robertson as it will be the JIB who decides on the provision of autism services, not the council.

Councillor Logue has called for an end to “politics” and the start of a “proper strategic examination”.

He said: “This issue has been the subject of some disgraceful politics over the last few weeks.

“Now that the Scottish Government has made the decision to withdraw funding for the One Stop Shop it’s essential the focus is on making sure the plan for autism in North Lanarkshire is robust.

“To do that, we have committed to a meeting with the service users and a proper strategic examination of the plans for future services.

“That is, rightly, my priority and not the easy politics of misguided protest against the council administration when it was the Scottish Government who withdrew the funding in the first place.”