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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Ross Hunter

'My voice went unheard': Labour councillor speaks out over North Lanarkshire closures

A LABOUR councillor has spoken out against her own party after North Lanarkshire Council announced it would be closing 39 facilities across the local authority.

Jim Logue, the leader of the Labour-run council, admitted that the facilities – which include libraries, swimming pools, sports facilities and community centres – were valued by locals.

However, he defended the decision taken by a committee on Thursday to close them down, claiming that the council could no longer afford to run them.

He said councillors were forced into the “unpalatable decision” by straitened economic circumstances, blaming years of council tax freezes and shrinking funding from central government.

But Ayeshah Khan, the Labour councillor for Motherwell North, condemned her own party’s decision.

In a statement posted on Facebook she said her opposition to the plans went “unheard” and vowed to keep fighting for the facilities to remain open.

“Thursday was a sad day for me,” she said.

“The decision made at the committee (which I wasn’t part of) was the wrong decision and up to the point of this decision being made I opposed it, but my voice has went unheard.

“While local people in North Lanarkshire continue to face some of the greatest challenges in terms of health and social inequalities in Scotland, it would be wrong an damaging to close 39 libraries, pools, community and sports centres.

“The detrimental impact on children, young people, the elderly and others who these facilities will affect physical and mental health and wellbeing, which will further exacerbate health inequalities.

“These closures must be looked at again.

“A period of pausing and full public consultations must take place.

“The voices of ALL residents affected by these closures must be heard. I stand by you, not against you on this and I will keep fighting, I promise!”

It is understood just one Labour councillor on the committee - Heather-Brannan McVey – voted against the proposals.

The rest of the Labour councillors on the committee voted with the Tories and one independent to close the facilities.

Protests by sports clubs against the closures are already planned.

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