Council told budget cuts risk closure of 'lifeline' community centre

The Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre could face 'devastating' consequences if North Lanarkshire Council approves plans to cut funding to charities.

A “lifeline” community centre is at risk of closure if North Lanarkshire Council goes ahead with huge cuts to its charity grant programme.

Proposals would see the highest amount of funding a third-sector organisation can apply for reduced from £50,000 to £10,000.

A protest was held on Thursday outside the council headquarters in Motherwell amid fears the cuts will have a “devastating” impact on the Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre.

The organisation provides a number of services for the community in Coatbridge, including low-cost childcare, a community fridge, a community cafe, cooking lessons, IT lessons and debt advice.

William McBride said the Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre could not operate without funding from the council.STV News

William McBride, project manager at the Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre, said changes to the funding scheme could have a “huge impact” on voluntary groups in the area.

“We just couldn’t operate,” he told STV News. “Down the line, we would be looking at this facility and this service being lost to the community which would be horrendous.”

He added: “We meet the needs of the community and go over and above. To lose this service, the impact financially for the council to replicate, it doesn’t bear thinking about the cost.

“I don’t understand their financial thinking.”

North Lanarkshire councillor Tracy Carragher said the proposals to change the funding scheme for third sector organisations are 'shocking'.STV News

Tracy Carragher, leader of the North Lanarkshire SNP group, said the Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre is a “lifeline” for the community.

“It’s quite shocking to see this on the agenda,” she told STV News. “The proposal is to reduce the grant they can apply for from £50,000 down to £10,000.

“That would have a devastating impact on the services they provide and I’m told it might result in them having to close up.

“This paper has to be rejected.”

She said SNP councillors would not vote for the proposal.

A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council said: “The review makes the grant awards programme fairer and will open up the opportunity for more community and voluntary sector organisations to receive funding.

“It is simply unfair that 9% of organisations receive more than 50% of the available funding. The review provides financial support for those organisations which are most severely affected.

“Ultimately, the review will help support the vital work of the sector across North Lanarkshire.”

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