North Lanarkshire Council has reversed plans to close 39 community facilities including swimming pools, libraries, and sport facilities. 

It comes after a public backlash to the closures, voted for by a committee last week in a bid to save the authority money — which the Labour-run council's own councillors revolted against. 

Announcing the U-turn on Tuesday (October 3), North Lanarkshire Labour leader councillor Jim Logue said: “We have taken the decision to protect these important community assets, despite a total lack of support from the Scottish Government to do so.

“The SNP has refused to offer a single penny more to support these facilities despite receiving  £6 million to support swimming pools from the UK Government.

“North Lanarkshire Labour will protect these important facilities for the duration of this council term."

The Herald:

He said: “However, our financial situation remains dire after more than a decade of cuts to our budget from the SNP in Holyrood, but Labour will always stand up for families here.

“It remains the case that North Lanarkshire Council will face difficult budget decisions as a result of failure of the SNP to properly resource local government.”

Why did North Lanarkshire council vote to close facilities?

North Lanarkshire council said it had made the "overwhelmingly difficult" decision to shut almost 40 community facilities last Thursday (September 28). 

Council leader Jim Logue said the "painful" move would save £4.7 million for the council, which needs to save £64 million over the next three years. 

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

Read more: The North Lanarkshire closures are shutters closing on my childhood

"The simple fact remains that the council just does not have the money to maintain all these facilities in a sustainable way."

The council leader said he had warned the Scottish Government that "insufficient funding" would see local authorities struggle to deliver services.  

He said: "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."

What was the reaction to the North Lanarkshire closures?

The announcement was met with a backlash of shock and anger from the public and local politicians. 

Anum Qaisar, SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts, described it as a "shocking betrayal" of local people who need the facilities for their wellbeing.

The SNP's Neil Gray MSP and Anum Qaisar MP said: "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."

The council temporarily suspended Twitter replies on Friday (September 29) after is said it received abuse and "comments of a party political nature" over the decision. 

Meanwhile, the North Lanarkshire SNP group tabled an emergency motion to be held at the full council meeting on Thursday (October 5), and is now calling for a vote of no confidence in council leader Jim Logue.

The North Lanarkshire facilities saved from closure

The 39 community facilities which had been earmarked for closure included 24 community centres (with some to be repurposed) , seven libraries, five swimming pools, and eight sports facilities. 

The libraries which were threatened with closure included: Abronhill, Viewpark, Moodiesburn, Stepps, Cleland, New Stevenston, and the mobile library services. 

Swimming pools which were put at risk included Aquatec at Motherwell, Kilsyth Pool, John Smith Pool in Airdrie, the Sir Matt Busby Sports Centre in Bellshill, and Shotts Leisure Centre.

While sports facilities which have been now spared include:

  • Old Daisy Park Centre in Motherwell
  • Keir Hardie Sports Centre in Holytown
  • Antonine Sports Hub
  • Iain Nicolson Centre in Chryston
  • Palacerigg Golf Course in Cumbernauld
  • Coatbridge Outdoor Sports Centre/Janet Hamilton Centre    
  • Lochview Golf Course, Coatbridge    
  • Birkenshaw Sports Barn, Uddingston

Read more: Every North Lanarkshire facility earmarked for closure - full list 

What has Anas Sarwar said about the North Lanarkshire council closures?

North Lanarkshire council's U-turn comes just days before the crucial Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election over the border in South Lanarkshire where Labour is pushing to win. 

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar denied claims he had given councillors a "bollocking" over the closure decision. 

He told journalists on Tuesday: "I don't blame Labour councils, I don't blame SNP councils.

"I think councils across the country are having to make really, really difficult decisions that they do not want to make because they don't have a fair funding settlement from an SNP Scottish Government.

The Herald: Anas Sarwar

"And so my call would be... let's work together to demand a fair funding deal for local authorities and local communities.

"Stand up for your local community first, not for an SNP Scottish Government that has lost its way, that is demonstrating financial mismanagement, that is completely economically illiterate, that is incompetent, and let's have a fair funding deal in North Lanarkshire, here in South Lanarkshire, also across the country."

Asked again if he had given his colleagues a row, he replied: "Look, I made my views very clear."

What has Humza Yousaf said about North Lanarkshire?

Humza Yousaf called the plans to close the community facilities "short sighted".

The First Minister posted on X, formerly Twitter: "Good on the SNP group in North Lanarkshire for tabling an Emergency Motion to reverse Labour's short-sighted proposal to close 39 community venues & facilities.

"Those in neighbouring South Lanarkshire, including Rutherglen & Hamilton West, will be watching closely."