A Scottish Government minister says he has proof a council decision not to give financial support to a Cumbernauld-based group which fights poverty was politically motivated.
Jamie Hepburn, the MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, and MP Stuart McDonald wrote to the council in April regarding the decision not to give funding to Cumbernauld Poverty Action while at the same time finding funds for Tannochside Information and Advice Centre.
Mr Hepburn said: “Previously both groups lost all funding through the council’s tendering process for the provision of advice services.
“The council’s u-turn for Tannochside is welcome but they have failed to consider doing the same for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.
“An email I’ve received from a senior council official admits that this was a political decision led by the Labour administration.”
The email states: “Thank you for your email regarding the award of funding in the council’s budget to Tannochside Information and Advice Centre.
“While I understand your comparison with Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Unemployed Workers Centre, the fact is that the political administration of the council proposed funding for Tannochside Information and Advice Centre as part of the successful budget motion agreed by the council.”
Mr Hepburn added: “Many constituents will rightly be concerned that whilst they pay the same council tax to North Lanarkshire Council the administration will provide ad hoc funding for one part of the local authority but not for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.”
In response to Mr Hepburn’s comments, North Lanarkshire council depute leader Paul Kelly said: “Jamie Hepburn is all too aware that it is his vote and the votes of his SNP colleagues every year for catastrophic cuts to North Lanarkshire’s budget that mean we no longer have the ability to fund all community organisations.
“We have been working with Cumbernauld Poverty Action Group for some time on securing funding for their vital work and our Labour councillors in Cumbernauld will continue to work with them to support and advise on their efforts to raise the funds needed.
“It’s very regrettable that the SNP in Cumbernauld are seeking to play the politics of grievance with this. Particularly at a time when we are facing significant budget cuts from their own Government in Holyrood.
“They should be doing what my Labour colleagues and I have been doing – working with organisations like CPAG for the benefit of the local community – rather than trying to score cheap political points.”