Councillor criticises office closure plans

Bellshill councillor Jordan Linden
Bellshill councillor Jordan Linden

Bellshill councillor Jordan Linden has criticised plans which could see the town’s First Stop Shop and social work office close.

This follows North lanarkshire Council’s decision at the recent budget meeting to close Bellshill registration office, along with the one in Coatbridge, to save £76,000.

A long-term plan to close 18 council offices in North Lanarkshire has now been approved by the council’s Policy and Strategy committee.

Last week it voted to continue developing plans to save £1.2m a year by shutting the majority of its 24 offices - which will range from selling them off to demolition.

James McKinstry, the council’s head of Asset and Procurement Solutions, said drastic changes to how the council uses its buildings will reduce the need for them and a more flexible approach to using space in public facilities such as libraries and leisure centres.

The ongoing DigitialNL modernisation programme is also expected to play a big role in how services are delivered in future, with new Digital Touch Bases available in town centres.

If these closures proceed just six offices will survive the axe – Fleming House in Cumbernauld, the Civic Centre and Dalziel Building in Motherwell, Coats House in Airdrie, the Buchanan Centre in Coatbridge and the Houldsworth Centre in Wishaw.

SNP group depute leader Tom Johnston tabling an amendment calling for continuation of the report to the next meeting of the committee to allow for greater consultation. 

Councillor Linden, who seconded the amendment, said: “I am concerned that these plans are set against a backdrop of the Labour and Conservative budget that sees the closure of the Bellshill Registration Office, and now these new plans include closing Bellshill First Stop Shop and Emma Jay Road social work office in Bellshill.

“Our amendment asked for clarification on key issues, more details about replacement community hubs, which plan to bring offices, schools and libraries on to one local spot, and vague ideas are simply not good enough.

“We need clearer plans about any proposed new hubs in Bellshill and other communities in North Lanarkshire – and crucially local people to be involved in the development of these plans.”

The amendment was defeated 14 votes to 10.