Public to pay seven more councillors

The local authority's Motherwell offices will house more councillors.
The local authority's Motherwell offices will house more councillors.

North Lanarkshire is to get another seven councillors despite the local authority itself branding the move a waste of money.

Changes put forward by the Boundary Commission, which says it wants to tackle deprivation, have been accepted by the Scottish Government.

North Lanarkshire is one of Scotland’s most deprived areas, but the council believes simply having more councillors will “do nothing to address local levels of deprivation”.

In a formal response to the commission, the council said re-drawing boundaries of some wards and creating new councillors will be “an unnecessary expense to the public purse”.

It’s planned to increase the number of councillors from 70 to 77 and the authority stated: “There is too much uncertainty about the housing market to anticipate any increase in electorate that would justify such a significant change.”

Independent councillor Robert McKendrick said it’s “preposterous” and is prepared for a public backlash.

He warned: “In these times of severe cutbacks, the blame for this will be apportioned to the present 70 councillors.”

One of the most controversial changes involves taking the Shirrel area out of Bellshill into Thorniewood ward.

Thorniewood councillor Bob Burrows slammed the proposal, saying: “For many years, whether right or wrong, Bellshill and the wider Viewpark area (Thorniewood ward) have been clearly two separate communities.

“People in Bellshill do not see themselves linked to Thorniewood and vice versa. The proposal to move about 1400 voters from Shirrel is fundamentally flawed.

“The size of Thorniewood ward is large and if this proposal goes ahead it will be massive.”

Councillor Burrows said the move will inconvenience Shirrel residents who might have to travel two miles to see their councillor in Viewpark or Tannochside.

Another unpopular change is the splitting of Cleland into two wards.

Councillor Charles Cefferty warned this will cause “great confusion”, adding: “It doesn’t make sense that part of Cleland now must look at relationships and ties with other communities such as Shotts and Harthill where there is no natural community bond.”

Councillor McKendrick is “appalled” at the prospect of “splitting Cleland down the middle”. He said: “It is shocking and makes no sense.”