Wave of anger over Hydro trip

DISGUSTED volunteers from Cumbernauld are boycotting an all-expenses-paid event which which will see tenants’ groups put up in one of Scotland’s top hotels for the weekend.

It’s claimed that North Lanarkshire Council is footing the bill for organisations to attend the Scotland-wide Tenants Information Service Annual Conference in the plush Dunblane Hydro in June.

We understand that this will cost around £300 per head - and that the council will pay for 10 places in total.

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As the council tells taxpayers that cuts must be made across its capital budget, prospective attendees have been informed: ‘‘This year we are going to the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.

“Set within ten acres of private landscaped grounds, the Dunblane Hydro Hotel is amongst the finest Scottish Hotel destinations, offering breathtaking views of the Trossachs.’’

The invitation states that delegates will be given FREE use of newly refurbished multi-million pound leisure facilities in the Trossachs-based hotel. Breakfast lunch dinner at a restaurant owned by Trossachs-based celebrity chef Nick Nairn are also included in this generous package.

The News has learned Condorrat Tenants & Residents Association will NOT be sending delegates to Dunblane as they want no part in what they see as lavish overspending.

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Vice Chair John Burke said “I think this is just a talking shop and you just cannot justify spending this sort of cash in this day and age. It is an absolute disgrace that money is being spent on this sort of thing where the council is shutting schools and public buildings.

“There’s St Francis of Assisi closed now and the land has been sold by the council off to build 127 new houses just 250 metres away from the premises. Our Lomond Community Rooms are also being shut too,” he said.

Meanwhile it emerges that Central Scotland List MSP Jamie Hepburn has written to NLC, after being approached by outraged constituents about the conference.

The Scottish Nationalist said: “I have no doubt that the Tenants Information Service provides valuable advice and support to tenants groups and it is important that tenants are able to benefit from its services.

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“Neverless we live in difficult economic times and NLC has just passed a budget cutting local services and introducing these new charges such as parking fees at railways and town centre,” he added.

“All bodies receiving public funding in the current economic climate should be considering how best to use these funds to get maximum value for them.”

When the News contacted NLC with these claims, a spokesman said that the choice of venue had been beyond its control - and that this use of cash could be entirely justified.

He said:“North Lanarkshire Council is Scotland’s biggest local authority landlord with more than 36,000 tenants and we have a statutory duty to promote and develop tenant participation in our area.

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“The cost of sending 10 tenant delegates to this national conference is funded through our Tenant Participation budget and amounts to less than £300 per person.

“This is the only housing conference we assist with and tenants find it a valuable forum to gain knowledge about housing issues which enables them, as tenant representatives to influence and develop housing services in North Lanarkshire for the benefit of all tenants.

“The delegates are selected from tenant and resident groups throughout North Lanarkshire and without our assistance it is unlikely anyone from the area would be able to attend.

The spokesperson stressed that the event was for tenants only and that council officials would not be attending.