North Lanarkshire Council chief executive announces £73m of cuts

Hundreds of jobs will be axed and scores of services slashed – that’s the stark reality for embattled North Lanarkshire Council.

Chief executive Gavin Whitefield last week told the Wishaw Press last of the “unprecedented squeeze” being put on the local authority as he outlined a £105million list of “extremely unpalatable” savings options.

Tomorrow councillors will agree to begin a consultation with North Lanarkshire’s residents on the latest comprehensive package of cuts, as they once again attempt to balance the budget by saving more than £73million during the next three years.

As well as the hundreds of positions that will be lost throughout the already downsized organisation, there’s the very real prospect of essential services being slashed across every department.

Care homes could be closed, primary school breakfast clubs may be ended, crossing patrols stopped, bin collections curtailed and road repairs drastically reduced.

Additionally festive lights could be switched off, with the annual illuminations also among the hard-hitting list of almost 300 savings options.

Mr Whitefield admitted to the Wishaw Press: “The council is in an unprecedented situation of resource pressures on its services, such as increased social care pressures, and welfare reform which will have a massive impact on the council and its services.

“I recognise that many of the options are extremely unpalatable. None of us came into public service to make cuts, but we have a duty to manage resources and balance our budget.”

The chief executive spent last week briefing councillors and staff on the gravity of the situation.

He explained: “Councillors were understanding, but it’s fair to say there was quite a lot of shock across the organisation when people saw what £105.7 million of options looks like.

“We talked about the figures but there’s concern when that is then converted to the level of saving. However, we’re determined this isn’t going to overwhelm the organisation and equally determined to protect jobs and services as far as we possibly can.”

Mr Whitefield emphasised the importance of people engaging in the consultation process.

He added: “People have different priorities and that’s why we want to get as many opinions as possible. It’s important to help the final decisions that will be made.”