A SWATHE of libraries and community hubs are being shut by a cash-strapped council struggling to plug a £70 million black hole.

It is hoped the decision to close four libraries, seven community centres and two mobile book-lending services in North Lanarkshire will help save the local authority £400,000.

The move comes months after North Lanarkshire announced plans to axe 1,100 posts amid cuts and savings amounting to tens of millions in one of the starkest examples of the cuts impacting on local government.

The first of the closures will take place in three months.

The arms-length firm affected, Culture NL, manages entertainment venues, community arts, museums, libraries, play services and community facilities on behalf of the council and has seen its budget cuts by over £1million.

It is also facing additional cost pressures of around £450,000. The move will see a number of job losses, with the organisation saying it hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies.

The council has already shed around 1,500 full-time equivalent posts over the last five years as part of £110million in savings.

Culture NL chief executive Jillian Ferrie said the firm hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies but was faced with little option but to reduce the services they provide.

“We face cost pressures and a reduction in management fee from the council," he said.

READ MORE: Police investigate yet more corruption allegations at North Lanarkshire Council

"That means we have to make savings and the board has taken the difficult choice of closing facilities that are not as well used as others by our communities.

“A consultation has begun with staff and trade unions.

“The services we offer across our remaining libraries and community facilities will continue to be of the highest quality and we will be explaining to all our customers their options so that they can continue to access those services.”

Culture NL said that from August it would no longer provide a community facility service at Bargeddie Hall, Coshneuk Hall, Harthill Senior Citizens Centre, Springhill Community Centre, Mossend Senior Citizens Centre, Watson Street OAP Hut in Motherwell and Whifflet Community Centre.

In addition, Culture NL will cut its library service at Petersburn, Old Monkland, Craigneuk and Newarthill community libraries.

Meanwhile, the number of mobile libraries in operation within the authority area will reduce from five to three following the decision not to renew leases on two vehicles when these expire this year.

One resident, who declined to be identified, said the closures were a "disgrace".

"The local disabled and blind and toddlers groups who use the library services are going to be heavily disadvantaged, all to save around £120,000," they said.

"They want all the people to use more of the major libraries of Wishaw, Motherwell, Coatbridge and Airdrie. The libraries may be small but they're part of the communities and some people cannot get to these libraries because of transport and disability. People in rural areas who rely of the mobile services."

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said customer data suggested that the 11 under-threat centres were "little used".

It added that the council would make recommendations on the future use of the buildings, including community asset transfer.

Culture NL chair, Cllr Heather McVey, said: “It’s important to remember everyone from babies to older people will continue to have access to first-class library services.

“However, due to reductions in funding we have little choice but to look at closures.

“We realise that many of these facilities will be much-loved, however the reality is that they are little used."