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Valentine’s Day Council vote could see North Lanarkshire care homes closed in £72m cuts

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There won’t be much love in the air at the council’s headquarters on Valentine’s Day – as trade unionists mount a protest against £73million of cuts.

The final decision on what will be slashed from the local authority’s budget is being made this Thursday and activists will be gathering at Motherwell Civic Centre ahead of the crunch vote by councillors.

Hundreds of positions could be lost and there is the very real prospect of essential services being slashed in every department as North Lanarkshire Council attempt to balance the budget for the next three years.

North Lanarkshire Trade Union Council will be holding a rally prior to the meeting. Secretary Hugh Gaffney said: “NLTUC call upon the councillors to stand up and reject these cuts. Stop the blame game where local councils blame the Scottish Parliament, who in turn blame Westminster, who blame Europe, who put it down to global economy. Now is the time for accountability, with protection of services and jobs.”

Care homes could be closed, primary school breakfast clubs may be ended, crossing patrols stopped, bin collections curtailed and repairs drastically reduced. Festive lights could be switched off, with the annual illuminations amongst almost 300 savings options that total £105million and must be whittled down to £73million.

Amongst options is the closure of Belhaven Care Home in Dryburgh Road which, along with the closure of a similar facility in Chryston, would save £1.8million. Shutting Shotts social work office and transferring services to the First Stop Shop could save £87,000. Introducing a weekly £5 charge for the community alarm service would be equivalent to a saving of over £2.5million. Changing secondary school timetables from a 30-period week to a 33-period week would save £1.9million over three years. Scrapping classroom assistants and additinbal support needs assistants for a generic school support system could save £1.7million. Extending the one-mile limit for transporting primary pupils to school to two miles would save £1.1million.

NLC chief executive Gavin Whitefield has said: “The council are in an unprecdented situation of resource pressures on services such as increased social care pressures and welfare reform which will have a massive impact.”

Council leader Jim McCabe said: “We did not create this problem – that is down to the UK and Scottish Governments – but we have to deal with it and deal with it properly.

“People trust us to make the right decisions and we have to strike a balance between preserving vital front-line services and saving money.”

The STUC’s assistant secretary Dave Moxham will address the rally outside Motherwell Civic Centre while unions represented at the rally will include members of Unite, GMB, EIS and PCS.

Source: Wishaw Press

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