A new row over a secret nuclear weapons convoy which has travelled through Cumbernauld several times a year has taken a new twist at North Lanarkshire Council.
Last week, we told how Scottish Nationalist Councillor Paddy Hogg had raised a motion condeming the move, amidst fears that a catastrophe could result if the convoy had an accident.
He also slammed the fact that the council is trading on its nuclear free status while allowing the convoy to pass through.
The route involves not only the M80 but the M74 on its route to Coulport naval base.
Now the row has intensified after Councillor Hogg’s motion was defeated by 32 votes to 20 at a full meeting of the council on Thursday, March 27 but the matter has not ended there.
For it’s emerged that even in these times of austerity, council taxpayers’ money is being spent to belong to the nuclear-free group which incorprates local authorities across the UK.
Councillor Hogg said: “This is farcical.
“The council pays at least £2,332 each year to be a member council of the Nuclear Free Authorities organisation.
“Yet it refuses to express great concern about nuclear warheads regularly travelling on North Lanarkshire Council’s roads,’’ he added.
Councillor Hogg also believes that the Labour Party which so closely allied itself with anti-nuclear movements in times past is no longer willing to speak out against the convoy.
And this stems from the fact that Labour councillors voted down the motion.
However local Councillor Alan Graham said that there was more to the issue than Councillor Hogg had suggested.
The Labour man said:“There was broadly speaking a lot of sympathy for the point raised by Paddy but the truth is that this is an issue for the Scottish Goverment as the convoy doesn’t just travel down roads within North Lanarkshire Council.
He gave a firm ‘‘no comment’’ however to the controversial fee which is paid to Nuclear Free authorities.
Meanwhile, the council also refused to be drawn on the cash sum.
A spokesman for NLC said: “The position of the council towards nuclear weapons remains unchanged and we will continue to work with all other appropriate agencies to ensure the safety of the residents of North Lanarkshire.”
“Our position is clear, consistent and shared with many other local authorities throughout the UK.
“The Council also has no responsibility for the M74 or M80, both of which are managed by Transport Scotland through their operating companies.”