South Lanarkshire Council freeze council tax despite community assets being at risk of closure

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
There has been a small reprieve over the amount of money due to be paid to South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, who, instead of a £1.5m loss, will now see a £750,000 cut in their funding. The board of that organisation are due to meet on the 28th to discuss further the proposals to cut services locally

However, the Carluke and Lanark Gazette has been told this will not be enough to save many halls and other community assets from being closed across Clydesdale.

Hollandbush Golf Club also saw a reprieve from being closed immediately with the council agreeing to run it for the next year to allow a possible community takeover.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Some “truly awful and painful” decisions had to be taken to balance South Lanarkshire Council’s budget this year said leader Jo Fagan.

The Council Leader said councillors had no option other than to accept a number of cuts put forward by officers because local authorities across Scotland have been hit by a squeeze on the funding they get from the government to deliver services.

A meeting of the full Council was told last week that South Lanarkshire’s funding gap for 2024-25 alone was more than £20.5 million, requiring savings across almost every part of the council’s work.

However, following agreement by a cross-party working group, the budget means:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I am also pleased that we were able to reject some of the most controversial options. This is because we listened to our residents, who told us very clearly that they wanted us to keep our roads in good condition. We also know how much people appreciate the work council staff do to keep our communities clean and tidy.

“We also rejected a number of proposed savings that would have impacted on schools and taken away 44 teaching jobs. But everybody needs to understand that this budget was only balanced because we were forced to take some truly awful and painful decisions.

“This is because the Scottish Government is not providing fair funding for councils – and every indication is that this situation will continue. So even more awful decisions are likely to be needed in the years ahead.”

Cllr Fagan added: “I want to thank councillors who put aside party politics to work together to agree this budget, however painful it is. Local government has to work together to get through this funding crisis and to secure a fairer funding deal for Scotland’s councils and communities.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A total of 38 proposed savings were agreed by the Council for financial year 2024-25, totalling £13.19m. Councillors were told accepting the Council Tax freeze was expected to add £7.869m to funding received from the Scottish Government.

That left a surplus of £489,000 and it was agreed that this money plus £1.676m from reserves should be used to provide some key investments in the area.

This will include £480,000 a year to finance loans that will pay for £7.2m of road maintenance improvements in the coming years. This will offset a £1.8m cut in revenue funding in that area over each of the next four years.

It will also deliver the new Community Fightback Fund, which will add £800,000 in new transitional funding to an existing £200,000 pot that will be used to support any facilities which are affected by budget decisions that have to be taken by South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture (SLLC).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A separate £150,000 Future Libraries Fund will similarly provide support to find alternative ways of delivering services in any SLLC rationalisation.

SLLC’s board will consider potential withdrawal of service from a number of community halls, libraries and other facilities on 28 February. Any groups considering taking over such facilities in a Community Asset Transfer can seek the council’s support to do so.

However, the Budget, which was moved by Cllr Fagan on behalf of the cross-party Budget Working Group, reduced the proposed cut in the management fee that will be paid to SLLC to provide leisure and cultural services. Instead of the £1.5m cut proposed originally, it was agreed the saving should be £750,000.

Cllr Fagan stressed that two consequences would be that Hollandbush’s future would be guaranteed for a year to allow them to consider their long-term future, and he added that Whitehall Neighbourhood Centre in Hamilton would be kept open.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There is also a year of transitional funding for Regen:fx and voluntary groups that will be supported to find alternative sources of income after they were included in the council’s savings package.

Finally, there will be investments in spend to save projects through a £500,000 additional contribution to the Central Energy Efficiency Fund, and another £150,000 through a Net Zero Innovation Fund.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.