£10 mil­lion set to safe­guard ser­vices

But coun­cil warn that tough calls still to be made

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE - Ross Thom­son

North La­nark­shire Coun­cil have been given a pre-bud­get boost with an ex­tra £10 mil­lion put into the coun­cil kitty.

The coun­cil has been al­lo­cated an ad­di­tional £10.2 mil­lion for the year ahead fol­low­ing last week’s re­vi­sion to the Scot­tish bud­get.

It takes the author­ity’s Holy­rood fund­ing for 20182019 to 603.4 mil­lion; with the money be­ing part of an over­all im­prove­ment of £159.5 mil­lion in the gov­ern­ment set­tle­ment for coun­cils, after a deal was reached be­tween the SNP and Greens.

Coun­cil leader Jim Logue wel­comed the in­crease but warned that “dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions” on cuts would still be re­quired to bal­ance North La­nark­shire’s books.

He said: “I wel­come the ad­di­tional £10 mil­lion. This will al­low the coun­cil to re­view some of the more chal­leng­ing and un­pop­u­lar op­tions in the con­sul­ta­tion. How­ever, it still leaves the coun­cil with a sig­nif­i­cant bud­get gap.

“It is crit­i­cally im­por­tant that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment clar­i­fies whether or not the £10 mil­lion will be con­sol­i­dated in the bud­get for fu­ture years, as most of the ad­di­tional monies given to coun­cils has come from one-off un­der­spends in the cur­rent gov­ern­ment bud­get.

“I will be writ­ing to the fi­nance sec­re­tary to seek this clar­ity. I would urge all lo­cal MSPs to seek that con­fir­ma­tion and to con­tinue ad­vo­cat­ing for a fair deal for coun­cils.”

SNP Group leader David Stocks de­scribed the new of­fer as “a good set­tle­ment”.

He added: “It’s good that there will be ex­tra money to help with pay rises.

“The money al­lo­cated makes it easier to bal­ance the books than it would have been be­fore; we have to look to see if there’s still a short­fall, and also what we’d like to do as we have pri­or­i­ties we’d like to spend money on.

“It’s some­thing we’re look­ing at and the ques­tion is might we dip into the pro­pos­als to put money into things we’re in­ter­ested in do­ing – but some of the pro­pos­als are hor­rific and we wouldn’t con­sider them un­der any cir­cum­stances.

“We’ve got our own ideas and we’ll be go­ing through these things at our bud­get meet­ings over the next cou­ple of weeks.”

Rose­mary McGowan of the North La­nark­shire Greens hailed the Holy­rood bud­get deal.

“Now that the Greens have de­liv­ered more than £10 mil­lion of ex­tra fund­ing Jim Logue and his Labour col­leagues at the Civic Cen­tre must act to scrap the worst of the pro­posed cuts to jobs and pub­lic ser­vices,” she said.

“This mon­u­men­tal bud­get deal de­liv­ered by the Scot­tish Green MSPs se­cured £10.2 mil­lion for the coun­cil.

“It also means those on the low­est in­comes in North La­nark­shire will get an in­come tax cut, and those that work in the pub­lic sec­tor will get a wage rise.

“The deal also in­cludes fund­ing to sup­port fam­i­lies strug­gling in fuel poverty and di­rects funds to­ward bet­ter buses, as well as walk­ing and cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture.”

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