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Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

We are all still feel­ing the shock­waves af­ter the re­sult of last week’s Euro­pean Union ref­er­en­dum, and we will be for some time.

It was, as they say, a “game changer” – in so many ways.

Not only does Bri­tain now have to ne­go­ti­ate its de­par­ture from the EU, on as favourable terms as pos­si­ble, but there will soon be a new prime min­is­ter, and the wider longterm con­se­quences for our econ­omy and na­tional politics are far from clear.

There are par­tic­u­lar po­ten­tial reper­cus­sions in Scot­land, given that Scots – and in­deed a ma­jor­ity in South La­nark­shire – voted to re­main.

I for one hope no-one will use this to try to jus­tify a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum, but there is a threat to do so, and that will cause fur­ther un­cer­tainty.

But amid all the doubt that we face in the months ahead, I am pleased to say that your lo­cal coun­cil will con­tinue to be a source of cer­tainty and so­lid­ity. You can con­tinue to rely on the ser­vices we pro­vide, and be sure that we will con­tinue to pro­tect key front­line ser­vices as much as we can, what­ever the eco­nomic con­di­tions.

I re­cently met a lo­cal resident in a place which I think sym­bol­ises your coun­cil’s in­vest­ment in South La­nark­shire.

I en­joyed a cup of tea with Isa Rus­sell at her new home, a one-bed­room flat which is not just beau­ti­fully built and dec­o­rated, but it has a lovely modern kitchen and bath­room and is fit­ted with energy- ef­fi­cient cen­tral heat­ing.

Her new home means even more than that to Isa. It has taken her nearer to her family, and par­tic­u­larly her grand­kids, who now have a gar­den to play in when they visit her. She can now walk to shops and is closer to her friends and can take part in ac­tiv­i­ties at lo­cal centres.

It will prob­a­bly sur­prise some peo­ple that lo­cal author­i­ties are still build­ing coun­cil hous­ing. While for many years it was harder to do so, by care­fully man­ag­ing our fi­nances and care­fully de­vel­op­ing a long-term cap­i­tal in­vest­ment pro­gramme, we have been able to set out plans to build 600 new homes in the next few years.

This is im­por­tant for many reasons. Ob­vi­ously it is par­tic­u­larly good news for the lo­cal peo­ple who will now find them­selves, like Isa, in a nice new home. Too many res­i­dents and fam­i­lies are wait­ing for an af­ford­able place to live and I am de­lighted that the coun­cil is do­ing all it can to ad­dress that prob­lem, de­spite the fi­nan­cial re­straints we face.

Coun­cil hous­ing pro­vides wider ben­e­fits too. The homes we are build­ing are im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ties across South La­nark­shire, giv­ing peo­ple more pride in their neigh­bour­hoods and cre­at­ing smart modern build­ings, in some cases on land freed up by our in­spir­ing school re­build­ing pro­gramme.

Isa’s new home is part of a de­vel­op­ment in Fern­hill which by this au­tumn will have re­placed old ten­e­ment flats with 30 one and twobed­room flats, 36 two and three-bed­room semi-de­tached houses, and four wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble bun­ga­lows.

The Fern­hill project is the lat­est part of a ma­jor re­de­vel­op­ment project for the area, and it is one of three sites which are al­ready un­der con­struc­tion or com­pleted, pro­vid­ing a to­tal of 118 new homes, half of which are de­signed to meet par­tic­u­lar needs and all of them de­signed to meet high lev­els of energy ef­fi­ciency.

As well as Fern­hill, there are a num­ber of projects in East Kil­bride, Ud­dingston and Car­luke.

Our Glas­gow Re­gion City Deal plans in­clude hun­dreds of new homes in com­mu­nity growth ar­eas in Hamil­ton, New­ton and else­where.

Some read­ers will ben­e­fit di­rectly and per­son­ally from these projects. But I hope ev­ery­one will ap­pre­ci­ate that this sort of in­vest­ment by the coun­cil in the fab­ric of South La­nark­shire has ben­e­fits for us all. We will con­tinue to in­vest in our area’s fu­ture, what­ever the un­cer­tainty else­where.

I am pleased to say that your lo­cal coun­cil will con­tinue to be a source of cer­tainty and solidarity South La­nark­shire Coun­cil leader

New home Coun­cil­lor Ed­die McAvoy hands Isa Rus­sell the keys to her new coun­cil house

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