North Lanarkshire Council approves £3m funding for coronavirus

North Lanarkshire Council has agreed to use additional funds from the Scottish Government to help mitigate the impact of coronavirus on local communities.

The meeting took place behind closed doors at Motherwell Civic Centre

At a special full council meeting held behind closed doors, the majority of councillors agreed this was the best way to use the available £3 million, which had been awarded to the council after it set its budget in February.

The council was originally awarded £6m but half of this has been used to replace funding reserves used in the budget process.

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The SNP group had demanded the meeting as they saw the funding as an opportunity to reverse some controversial aspects of the recent budget, such as the closure of Kilbowie Outdoor Centre in Oban and the imposition of car parking charges.

However, the SNP motion was opposed by council leader Jim Logue and Conservative group leader Meghan Gallagher, who jointly tabled an amendment.

It read: “COVID-19 represents the most significant public health and economic challenge in a generation; the impact on North Lanarkshire’s residents, workers and economy will be substantial.

“Understanding that the spread of COVID-19 is set to worsen in the coming weeks, it is proposed that £3.045m be allocated to fighting COVID-19 and the extensive challenges it continues to pose. This includes support for the elderly and vulnerable and the continued delivery of essential services.”

Councillor Logue said: “The council agreed to allocate an additional £3m to supporting our response to the current challenging circumstances we face in fighting COVID-19.

“Understandably, people are anxious, a significant number of businesses are affected and our services are impacted. “This is the most significant public health and economic challenge we have ever faced and we are working tirelessly to provide support to our people and communities.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only 48 out of 76 serving councillors were in attendance. Twenty-nine voted for the amendment and 19 for the motion with no abstentions.

Councillor Gallagher said: “I am pleased that the majority of councillors voted to use the additional Scottish Government funds to help and support our communities during this difficult and worrying time.

“I hope all council groups will support our chief executive, senior officers and our NHS experts as they implement instructions from both the UK and Scottish Governments.

“All parties and levels of government must work together in the best interests of the people we represent to tackle the Coronavirus.”

Neil McGrory - Local Democracy Reporting Service