North Lanarkshire Council’s SNP group has branded closures of libraries and community facilities a “shambles” .
It’s calling for a more open relationship with arm’s length organisations such as Culture NL which run facilities on behalf of the authority.
Culture NL announced closures earlier this month, blaming a cut in funding. Mossend Senior Citizens’ Centre, Newarthill and Craigneuk Libraries and a pensioners’ meeting room in Watson Street, Motherwell, are among the facilities shutting.
Councillor David Stocks, leader of the opposition SNP group, said: “These closures hit the media before staff were informed. We heard of customers actually informing staff of cuts before employees were told officially.
“It is clear that local councillors no longer count with North Lanarkshire Council as cuts were announced without any input from ward councillors.
“This whole sad episode indicates the council is becoming dysfunctional. Its connection with arm’s length organisations has to be redefined.
“We were told some years ago that councillors who are directors on ALEO boards come under company law which prevents them from discussing, or challenging, board business beyond the confines of the boardroom. They cannot reveal proposed cuts to their fellow councillors. This is the root cause of the shambolic bombshell closures announcement.
“There has been a veil of secrecy over these cuts for months, with councillors and employees kept in the dark regarding the key details.
“Councillor Heather McVey, chair of Culture NL’s board, told us that detail of the full savings package was presented to the council’s budget core group back in September, but that was a tiny, exclusive cabal limited to senior Labour councillors. Just a privileged few were in on it. The council has to get its act together.”
Council leader Jim Logue has pledged more openness and a new ALEO monitoring committee met last week for the first time.