Motion calls for centres to stay open full-time

Councillor Mark Kerr
Councillor Mark Kerr

A decision to close 26 North Lanarkshire community venues outside school term times came under scrutiny at a recent council meeting.

Last month CultureNL announced it would be slashing the opening hours of 26 venues across the local authority area to save £400,000.

Earlier this month the ALEO agreed that eight of these centres – Auchinloch, Burngreen, Westfield, Pollock, The Village, Salsburgh, Harthill and Holytown – will open occasionally for lunch clubs and pensioner groups during the Easter and Summer holidays.

At last week’s full council meeting Kilsyth councillor Mark Kerr submitted a motion calling for a complete reversal of this decision.

He said: “This cut will strike at the heart of our communities. As the sole shareholder we have to put our most vulnerable constituents’ need ahead of corporate decisions.”

Mr Kerr was supported by Cumbernauld East councillor Claire Barclay, who spoke of some of the groups impacted by his decision including church groups, lunch clubs and pensioner groups.

The SNP motion was opposed with an amendment from the minority Labour administration, which stated: “As a result of continued Local Government funding cuts by the Scottish Government Culture NL took the hard decision to reduce 26 centre to term time opening, whilst being sympathetic to those community groups affected by arranging alternative accommodation.”

Frank McNally, who convenes the council’s Education and Education, Youth and Communities committees, added: “This council receives 85 per cent of its budget from central government and over the last decade that budget has been cut by £200 million.

“Had the SNP’s alternative budget proposals been adopted by this council that would have reduced the management fee paid to Culture NL and we would be looking at the closure of these venues instead of a reduction in their operating hours.”

The debate ended with Councillor Kerr calling on the council to take a more positive approach to its venues and actively promote them to local groups to increase usage rather than cutting down their availability.