MOTHERWELL South East and Ravenscraig councillor Gary O’Rorke was elected to office only seven months ago and admits he is finding it hard to reconcile having to put hundreds of people out of work.
Last week councillors agreed to hold a special meeting of the policy and resources to decide of £73.3 million of cuts for the next three years with up to 1,300 council employees facing an uncertain future.
As hundreds of council workers belonging to the Unison trade union demonstrated outside Motherwell Civic Centre, Councillor O’Rorke admitted they have every right to be angry, but hopes they understand the situation councillors find themselves in.
He said: “Any cuts to local public services to ‘balance the books’ of our council’s budget is a terrible situation to face, one which is no fault of elected members or the hard working, decent people of North Lanarkshire.
“The first reaction from many people I have spoken to is, ‘Why should you bother about making the council budget balance?’ and it’s easy to find a certain logic in this view.
“But the hard facts are that there is a legally binding duty to do so and if the elected members of the council do not fulfil this duty then an outside body will be appointed to do it.
“This would be an even more undesirable situation as cuts would then be imposed without any regard to the social or economic wellbeing of our people.
“I, along with many of my colleagues, have individually gone over every item on every page of this proposed cuts document and submitted individual recommendations.
“I and every single one of my colleagues have put the highest importance on safeguarding as many jobs for the long term as is possible and prioritised vital services for the youngest and oldest members of our society.
“During recent months I have had numerous letters, e-mails and people turning up at my surgeries, some of whom are working with North Lanarkshire Council. They are very concerned for both their jobs and their families’ future and security.
“This is heartbreaking to read and listen to, a very, very undesirable situation for these people to say the least.
“However, until central government stops cuts in our funding and ends the austerity agenda we can’t get our people working and back on the road to social and economic recovery.”