Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.
Published at 19:17 on 11 November 2015
MEMBERS of the new pro-independence political party, RISE, in Cumbernauld have criticised proposals by North Lanarkshire Council to find additional savings from their 2015-16 budget.
Andy Locke, a spokesman for the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth branch of the Respect Independence Socialism Environmentalism (RISE) party has criticised the local authority’s proposals to make savings totalling nearly £46million from their upcoming budget.
Mr Locke says that the council’s “intention” to cut “a further £45.6 million from its budget for jobs and services over the next two years” is disproportionately affecting the “most advantaged in our society.”
He said: “This is on top of cuts to essential services of over £115 million we have had to suffer in the last 5 years. These cuts must be opposed.
“We all rely on council services like having our bins emptied, roads and street lights looked after, our nurseries, schools and libraries, our care of children, the elderly, and the vulnerable in our community.
“Let’s be clear, these cuts will affect us all, and in particular it will affect the already most disadvantaged in our society,” he added.
The local Scottish Socialist activist’s comments come after an announcement by North Lanarkshire Council earlier this year that a consultation into further proposed budget savings would be launched this month.
Councillor Jim McCabe, the council’s Leader explained that around £45million will have to be cut from the council’s budget for the forthcoming year.
Estimates from the local RISE party branch suggest that if these cuts go through then up to 1,400 jobs will be lost at North Lanarkshire Council – a figure which has been supported by council sources.
Mr Locke added: “1,400 households losing their income will have a dramatic impact on an already struggling local economy. Inevitably we will see the blame game being played with the Labour controlled council blaming the SNP Scottish Government who in turn will blame the UK Government.
“Instead all concerned about these cuts should be saying that enough is enough. If we are serious about refusing to accept austerity, we must stand together; workers, unions and communities joining forces to oppose these savage attacks.
“I ask people to contact their councillor, MSP and MP to let your opposition be known, and RISE will aim to work with others to resist these savage cuts that will once again tear at the fabric of our communities and the services we rely on.”
Labour stalwart, Jim McCabe, the Leader of North Lanarkshire Council cited a funding cut from the Scottish Government as the main reason for the savings exercise.
“The Scottish Government directly provides more than 80% of our funding. This funding has been cut - and continues to be cut - in real terms. And the council tax, which accounts for just more than 15% of our income, has been frozen by the Scottish Government for eight years,” McCabe said.
He added: “The total amount the Scottish Government has to spend has also been cut by the UK Government. But the Scottish Government has choices, and they have chosen to cut the funding available to councils by more than their own funding has been cut.”
The Labour councillor explained he was “outraged” by the cuts, explaining further that the cuts already come on the back of £110million that the council, he said, were “forced to save over the last five years”.
McCabe accepted that the cuts “will have an impact on the vital services we provide,” but claimed: “We have no choice in balancing our budget: it's the law. And we are not alone: every council in Scotland is now having to face the same challenge.”
A consultation has been launched via the North Lanarkshire Council website, to gauge public opinion towards specific savings proposals.
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