Leader expresses fears for the future

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North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue has expressed his concerns about the future of local authorities.

Councillor Logue believes the Scottish Government has too much influence over councils, which he says are demonstrated by the setting of recycling targets and ring fencing of the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF).

This has led to the council deciding to change its bin schedules from the autumn, including general waste being collected once every three weeks, and the redeployment of 198 classroom assistants into early years and additional support needs.

Councillor Logue said: “There is a broader question to be asked and that question is what is going to happen to local government?

“We have two examples here where the Scottish Government and its agencies are bypassing local authorities, we have Education Scotland going direct to head teachers with PEF and we have Zero Waste Scotland going to waste management groups on a consortia basis. “What is the ongoing function of local governments? There needs to be a serious discussion between local councils and the Scottish Government as to what they want from local councils because if they keep bypassing, diluting and compromising the role of them then I’m sorry the future of local government is seriously questioned.” Councillor Logue’s predecessor as council leader, Jim McCabe, was also on the opinion that Holyrood exerted too much influence. However, Councillor McCabe says it has got even worse in the last few years.

He said: “I think a critical discussion needs to take place because it is getting worse even from the time Jim McCabe was leader. “It is all about ministerial control and part of the move to centralisation, which leaves me becoming despondent about the future of local authorities as they are being used at present for others to project and deflect the responsibility and the blame for a lack of resources.” Councillor Logue has been a politician since the days of the regional and district councils, but says there was a far heathier relationship back then. He said: “There were times when difficult decisions had to be made of course, but I do think there was a genuine willingness by the Scottish Office to see the district and regional councils work together in a much more collegiate way, there is nothing collegiate nowadays, it is just dictatorial!”