Council due to lose more cash than expected

Kilbowie Outdoor Centre accomodates up to 120 pupils every week to take part in a range of activities

A budget blunder by the Scottish Government is set to cost North Lanarkshire Council an extra £700,000.

The Scottish Government has admitted it double counted elements of justice spending in its draft settlement and after the figures were recalculated 10 local authorities are to get less then they thought, including North Lanarkshire.

This comes after the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution Derek Mackay refused to meet council leader Jim Logue to discuss the budget impact on frontline services in North Lanarkshire.

Councillor Logue said: “This budget blunder by the Cabinet Secretary means North Lanarkshire has to find a further £700,000 worth of savings on top of the £22m cut already handed to us by the Scottish Government.

“To put this in context, a similar amount of money could protect council services such as the Kilbowie Outdoor Centre, which is so beloved by parents, children and our wider school community.

“This Scottish Government has shown over the last decade the contempt they have for local councils. A Finance Secretary that can’t appear to count is the ultimate proof.”

The council already has plans in place to save £9.7 million from its forthcoming budget, but savings of more than £8 million still need to be found.

The closure of Kilbowie Outdoor Centre in Oban is included in a range of saving options drawn up by council officials to the value of £14.7 million.

The centre accommodates up to 120 pupils every week of the academic year for activities including gorge walking, rock climbing, skiing, hill walking, environmental awareness, orienteering, mountain biking, bushcraft, sailing, canoeing and coasteering.

It employs approximately 30 staff directly and supports around another 15 jobs in contracted support roles in the centre for catering and cleaning.

Council officials visited the centre last month to advise staff it was under threat.

One staff member said: “It would be a great shame to lose a centre and hopefully the thousands of previous visiting pupils and their parents will rally support to save the centre as they have done in the past.

“We continue to have excellent feedback from teachers who accompany the children and they really appreciate the developments the children make during their time at the centre and beyond.

“North Lanarkshire have a historically strong backing for outdoor education and we hope this is not the end of that commitment to our youth.”

All the council’s saving options can be viewed online or picking up an information leaflet from libraries.

Drop-in sessions for the public to meet with community engagement teams and talk through the options will take place at:

Motherwell Library on January 26 from noon-2pm; Holdsworth Centre in Wishaw on January 30 from 5-7pm; Kilsyth Library, Shotts Community Centre and Buchanan Centre in Coatbridge all on January 31 from noon-2pm; Bellshill Cultural Centre on February 2 from noon-2pm; Cumbernauld Library on February 5 from noon-2pm; Airdrie Library on February 5 from 5-7pm; and Stepps Cultural Centre on February 7 from noon-2pm.

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