READERS’ LETTERS

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What our reasers have been writing about this week.

Sir, – Recently I’ve noticed that NLC have had crews in to cut back bushes and trees in our area of South Carbrain and probably other areas of Cumbernauld. You usually hear them before you see them with the chain saws and strimmers buzzing away like angry bees. I’m not knocking these guys as they must cut the bushes etc back or they would just take over the area.

My point is that once the bushes are cut back it exposes the rubbish and litter that folk are too lazy to take home or put into litter bins provided. So where’s the logic as NLC don’t send in another crew to rake up the mess that’s been exposed. What a waste of time and money. Come on NLC get a grip of the litter and bin it. – Yours etc.,

BILL HENRY

South Carbrain

Astonished by Labour

Sir, – I have followed the debate over the Cumbernauld treatment rooms with interest, and I have been astonished by Labour.

Their council leader is part of the board which made these cuts, and made the cuts to our X ray service. Now the Labour party is trying to join a campaign to reverse them.

This is political schizophrenia.

Why did they make them to begin with? Has Jim McCabe apologised, and promised not to do it again? Does Cumbernauld Labour oppose their own Leader? Will they stand as separate party, like Glasgow Labour?

Labour has been in power non stop since the creation of North Lanarkshire, and clearly it is time for a change.

We need new leadership in North Lanarkshire council, people who will fight for services instead of blithely waving through cuts. We need councillors who will always stand up for Cumbernauld , not just when there is an election in the offing.

I will vote for the SNP in May, and after this debacle, I urge your readers to do likewise. – Yours etc.,

John N. Duffy

Kilbowie Road

Cumbernauld

We are not all stupid

Sir, – Re your coverage last week of NLC’s budget. North Lanarkshire Council have increased charges for swimming, hall lets and anything else that they could over the last years.

I for one am glad that we are at least getting a break from something, rather than them increasing the council tax too.

I would ask Mr McCabe how much extra would he like to charge each family in North Lanarkshire if he had his way, since he seems to be so unhappy with the freeze? I was also somewhat taken aback by his comments, since it was my understanding that Labour’s policy was to freeze the tax anyway. Ian Gray said that he would do it for two years, so does Mr McCabe not agree with his own party?

A letter writer said that councillor Carrigan shouted “vote Labour” in the council chambers during the budget meeting. Was that so the Labour councillors did not do a Glasgow and vote against themselves?

Mr McCabe announced £1.7 million for 5000 jobs over three years. My calculator works that out at £340 a job over three years. I remember the YOPPERS (Youth Opportunities) when no real jobs were created and youngsters were taken advantage of just to make it look like something was being done. I would urge NLC to please give us real services and jobs and not just try to bribe us for our votes. I think I speak for many people in the area when I say we can see right through your “now you see them, now you don’t” charges for car parking as well. We are not all stupid. – Yours etc.,

KENNY SMITH

Millcroft Road

South Carbrain

Jobs squandered

Sir, – Contrary to Council Leader Jim McCabe’s claims, the SNP, both nationally and locally, hugely influenced last week’s council budget. We maintained the council tax freeze. We specifically ensured that NLC maintain its contribution for the extra 1000 police on our streets. We worked with teaching unions to guarantee 51,131 Scottish teaching posts. This safeguards jobs, helps new teachers and supports pupils.

Last May’s SNP success in Lanarkshire has forced Labour to drop their plans for car parking charges, swimming fees for children and for ending free school transport for secondary pupils under three miles from schools.

And what has Councillor McCabe got to say about the current, staggering £2.62 million projected underspend in the 2011-12 learning and leisure salaries budget? This translates as 80-100 jobs squandered: money which should have been in the pockets of needy local families. - Yours etc.,

Cllr TOM JOHNSTON (SNP)

Ward 4 – Abronhill,Kildrum and Village

I hope new job scheme works well

Sir, – I would like to respond as follows to Councillor McCabe’s letter last week.

I hope for the sake of the young people in this area, who are struggling to secure employment, that the new job scheme works well, and is not destined to remain good election headlines only. As far as I know there has been no consultation with the Holyrood and Westminster governments, whose participation is vital to the success of this project. However, it would be churlish not to wish them every success with it.

With regard to Councillor McCabe’s comments regarding jobs, the SNP government in Holyrood has already indicated its concern by appointing Angela Constance MSP as a dedicated Minister for Youth Employment. Should the SNP group take power in North Lanarkshire, we look forward to working closely with her to address the shameful youth unemployment figures in this area which have persisted under successive Westminster governments.

Regarding his criticism of the SNP’s budget, it is nonsense to suggest that all we wanted to do was concentrate on the provision of football and play facilities. As part of the Health and Wellbeing Agenda, we decided that we would allocate enough money to build two new 3G facilities, and funds to assist in the provision of new play areas. This was because, despite Councillor McCabe’s comments, some areas don’t have such facilities and others have suffered badly through lack of sufficient maintenance.

Furthermore, as part of the same agenda, we decided to allocate a one-off payment of £750,000 into the worthwhile community sports hubs (which are at the moment in different stages of completion at, or near, half of the secondary schools in North Lanarkshire). This additional funding would have accelerated the programme. Despite Labour Councillors’ attempts to rubbish our costings, these facts were confirmed in advance of submission by two senior Learning and Leisure managers.

Following recent severe winters, we also thought it would be prudent to allocate £1m into the roads maintenance budget, to facilitate repairs to the road network towards a standard we would all wish to see.

Another element to our budget addressed the Equal Pay Provision which has caused a major headache for local authorities up and down the country. North Lanarkshire Council have already set aside funding in regard to the first two elements of this provision. However, as the SNP group recognise that the magnitude of the third element remains an unknown quantity, we propose to allocate a one-off payment of £1m as an initial contingency.

Councillor McCabe speaks of Labour’s priorities being about looking after the most vulnerable people in our society. Why, therefore, does this Labour administration still preside over draconian charges to a number of our elderly people who live in sheltered housing complexes – a practice which will be stopped if the SNP takes power in North Lanarkshire in May? The SNP group will not take lectures from a Labour administration which, a year ago, contained in their budget the implementation of carparking charges, charges for secondary school transport, funding cuts to Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, and others. It is interesting that these punitive measures will not now be implemented ... at least until after the local elections in May, and only if the Labour Party is returned to power in North Lanarkshire.

As I said on budget day, I am very disappointed at Councillor McCabe’s constant criticism of the Scottish Government. For the last six years, this government has introduced a raft of measures which have proved popular with the Scottish people, as last year’s election results show. These have included a council tax freeze – to Councillor McCabe and others who yearn for a return of council tax rises, I ask how much would he have increased it this year? – Yours etc.,

Cllr DAVID STOCKS

Leaders of SNP group

North Lanarkshire Council

Support for ice rink

Sir, – A big thank you to you and your staff at the News for the great article re the ice rink we used to have in Cumbernauld.

The comments by the young boy featured are, I know, held by many people in Cumbernauld and, in fact, around Britain, where he intimated the huge discrepancies practiced by the powers that be between football facilities and many other sports, like ice skating, tennis and basketball, to name a few.

Only this morning on Nicky Campbell’s radio programme on BBC5 Live, a Marie Cheski was making the very same complaint, and she lives in England.

I was again amazed at NLC’s response that it would cost millions to BUILD an ice rink. Aren’t the buildings, and more, already there, three of them in actual fact, all next door to each other, and all lying empty, i.e. earning no rent?

Also their comments about the ice rink that was at Coatbridge? The recreation club at Broadwood? We do hope and pray that the Coatbridge facility will be open this year. As for Broadwood, are there ice skating facilities there, roller skating or tennis?

There is at least a train service to the Time Capsule. What public transport facilities are there to Broadwood Stadium? Not every family in Cumbernauld, or even Britain, has a car. Again, this was also the very point raised by Ms Cheski – it is obvious sporting facilities in this country appear to be available only for the rich. – Yours etc.,

Ms FLANAGAN

Cumbernauld.

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