A council has made the "overwhelmingly difficult" decision to shut nearly 40 community facilities including libraries and swimming pools as part of budget balancing.

North Lanarkshire Council's policy and strategy committee meeting voted this evening to axe 39 swimming pools, libraries, community and sport centres across the local authority area.

Council leader Jim Logue said the "painful" move would save £4.7 million as his Labour council faces a £64m budget gap over the next three years.

As the vote was settled, Mr Logue said: "Making decisions on the future of community facilities has been overwhelmingly difficult.

"After considering the comprehensive review which recognised usage and condition, as well as the amount of money which would be needed to modernise older facilities, the simple fact remains that the council just does not have the money to maintain all these facilities in a sustainable way.

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"Our immediate priority is to engage with users of facilities to identify suitable alternative venues for activities and bookings where possible, while a phased closure is carried out.

"This will take some time, and we will update users of facilities throughout."

The council leader placed the blame for the loss of the leisure facilities with the straitened circumstances of local authorities following years of council tax freezes and dwindled central funding.

He admitted the facilities that will shut are "highly valued" by communities but said the council could not longer afford to fund them.

Mr Logue added: "For years we have warned that insufficient funding from the Scottish Government will see local councils struggle to deliver services that are hugely valued by local people.

"The council needs to save £64m over the next three years and that means having to make quite painful decisions about community facilities in order to protect services in the face of the most pressing budget cuts.

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“Although the council is continuing with a hugely ambitious investment programme, which will see some community, leisure and library facilities replaced within new community hubs, the reality is that we need to meet the needs of people across North Lanarkshire in a way that sees services delivered through an overall reduced estate."

Local MPs and MSPs said they had been overwhelmed by emails from constituents furious at the loss of major facilities such as the John Smith pool in Airdrie and Shotts leisure centre.

Neil Gray MSP and Anum Qaisar MP had said in a joint statement: "We do not believe these cuts are necessary and will leave people with poorer health, which will cost the council more in the long run.

"We have been working with SNP group leader Tracy Carragher to find a way for these Labour cuts to be stopped; North Lanarkshire should use the tens of millions due to them over the coming years from the Strathclyde Region Pension fund surplus to embark on a programme of repair and upgrade to bring facilities up to standard."

The Motherwell and Wishaw constituency will lose the Aquatec, Cleland library and three Wishaw community centres.

Steven Bonnar MP says his constituent face 11 closures in his Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill constituency.

He said: “Closures should not proceed without proper and detailed community consultation – the move to close these facilities with no prior engagement is deeply troubling and it’s time for elected members to do the right thing for the people we all serve.

"I have grave concerns about the impact these decisions would have on the communities we serve; these closures represent a significant loss for our community, affecting access to essential services, employment opportunities for staff [and] vital opportunities for social interaction and engagement."

Bonnar's colleague Fulton MacGregor MSP said: “If these proposals go ahead they will not only impact on health and wellbeing opportunities but ultimately also on many people’s jobs and income during already difficult times.”

Anum Qaisar, SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts since 2021, told The Herald: “This is a shocking betrayal of local people who need these facilities for their wellbeing - both physical and mental. My inbox has been inundated with emails from people outlining why the leisure facilities are so important to them.

"I am particularly concerned by the absence of a Labour councillor representing Shotts whose vote could have seen this stopped.

"From the fire and rehire practices imposed upon Early Years staff to the decision taken on leisure facilities, Labour have shown themselves to be heartless when it comes to selling out our future generations as a direct result of their mismanagement of finances and services.

"As the SNP councillors demonstrated this was an unnecessary decision and we will work with local communities to fight it.”

Scottish Conservative deputy leader and local MSP Meghan Gallacher said: “These closures are a hammer blow for parents, children and communities across North Lanarkshire reliant on the leisure centres.

“The blame can squarely be pinned on the SNP who have repeatedly failed to give councils the funding they need to keep these facilities open.”

Neil Gray, MSP for Airdrie and Shotts and Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, added: “People across Airdrie & Shotts will be appalled by this unnecessary and damaging decision. We will work with local people to see these potential closures stopped. The campaign to save our leisure facilities is on.”

Petitions against the closures have been set up locally and residents have been sharing their outrage on social media in a bid to drum up signatories.