By Andrew Redmond Barr
North Lanarkshire Council is set to axe hundreds of more jobs and make significant cuts to services in order to save millions of pounds.
The Labour council plans to save over £70m over three years and has come up with a variety of different cuts and reductions for councillors decide upon.
The jobs lost from all the proposals combined could reach as high as 1,362.
Councillors are expected to reach a decision before Christmas on what cuts to make. Options include cutting school crossing patrols at lunchtimes, cutting Christmas lights and reducing bin collection services.
The council’s chief executive, Gavin Whitefield, said: “If approved by the policy and resources committee next week, the council will embark on a massive consultation exercise.
“The council’s management team have developed a package of savings options totalling more than £105m. Our financial forecasts indicate that we will be required to save £73.3m over the course of financial years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16.
“I would emphasise that the package of options does not represent decisions, proposals or plans. I recognise that many of the options are extremely unpalatable but we have a duty to balance our budget.
“When the consultation period begins at the start of October I would urge everyone to have their say on these options.
“The results of that consultation will inform the decisions the council will take in December to determine a savings package which best protects jobs and services.”
The secondary school famous for being the filming location of cult Scottish classic Gregory’s Girl could also be demolished by the council in order to save money. The setting of the 1981 romantic comedy, Abronhill High School, faces closure along with Cumbernauld High School.
Yesterday, North Lanarkshire’s new youth employment ambassador Councillor Harry Curran urged local businesses to enter partnerships with the Council in a bid to support 16 to 24-year-olds in finding jobs.
“We are working hard to develop a variety of programmes including modern apprenticeships. We are determined to get young people into work,” said Mr Curran.
However, young people in North Lanarkshire may find it difficult to enter employment after £70m worth of cuts in the area.
The Council has launched a public consultation on the cuts which could also include a merger of eight primary schools into four and the closure of six swimming pools.
North Lanarkshire Council SNP group leader Councillor David Stocks said the announcements of cuts did not come as a surprise.
“Sadly this is just the start of it,” he said.
“The consultation doesn’t make for pleasant reading now that we are into the serious matter of job losses.
“But there’s more to it than that and I believe they are talking to the staff today.”