Council U-turns on axing 39 community, sport and leisure facilities

North Lanarkshire Council has u-turned on plans to permanently close 39 venues in bid to save £64m over next three years.

A council has U-turned on its decision to close 39 community centres and leisure facilities.

The Labour-run local authority announced on Thursday that dozens of venues previously earmarked for closure would shut their doors permanently over the next two years.

Five of North Lanarkshire’s eight swimming pools were among the facilities due to shut.

Kilsyth Swimming Pool, the Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex in Bellshill, John Smith Pool in Airdrie, Shotts Leisure Centre and Aquatec in Motherwell were all affected by the cuts.

Local authority bosses said they were facing “tough decisions”, following the publication of a report into the condition of venues, usage, footfall, and the money expected to maintain them in the coming years.

But on Tuesday, a statement from council leader Jim Logue, issued by the Scottish Labour Party, said the local authority would rescind its previous decision and protect culture and leisure facilities.

Logue said: “We have taken the decision to protect these important community assets, despite a total lack of support from the Scottish Government to do so.

“The SNP has refused to offer a single penny more to support these facilities despite receiving £6 million to support swimming pools from the UK Government.

“North Lanarkshire Labour will protect these important facilities for the duration of this council term.

“However, our financial situation remains dire after more than a decade of cuts to our budget from the SNP in Holyrood, but Labour will always stand up for families here.

“It remains the case that North Lanarkshire Council will face difficult budget decisions as a result of failure of the SNP to properly resource local government.”

Previously, the Scottish Government said it was for “democratically-elected councils” to make decisions on the priorities for their local areas and consider how facilities are used.

“While Scotland is facing the most challenging budget settlement since devolution due to ongoing UK Government austerity, this year North Lanarkshire Council will receive £779.7m to fund local services – which equates to an extra £25.4m on last year,” a spokesperson said.

“Work is also ongoing with COSLA to establish a new fiscal framework for councils through the Verity House Agreement, a landmark agreement that is forging a stronger partnership between the Scottish Government and local councils through the spirit of collaboration and engagement.”

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