COUNCILLORS in North Lanarkshire have approved plans to close 39 facilities across the local authority including the Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex in Bellshill.

The decision to close the sites is due to the local authority facing a £64 million budget gap over the next three years.

Labour council leader Jim Logue said this afternoon’s policy and strategy committee meeting faced an “unpalatable decision” and it was one that “no councillor would wish to take”.

The council leader blamed 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 no longer afford to fund them.

According to one person present at the policy and strategy committee, "I hope you lose your seat at the next election, you are absolutely disgraceful” could be heard from the public gallery towards the leader.

It is understood councillor Heather Brannan-McVey was the only Labour representative who voted against the plans, with the SNP group describing her as the "only one who took a principled stance and voted to represent her constituents and not her political group".

The group further added: "Today we saw the Labour and Tory administration vote to shut down 39 of North Lanarkshire’s Active and Creative Communities facilities with the help of an Independent councillor.

"As councillors, we all received hundreds of emails, phone calls, messages and have viewed your petitions. It is our duty to represent you, but today the above councillors chose not to listen to those who elected them."

Ahead of the meeting, local MPs and MSPs from all parties also said they received an influx of concerns from constituents about the loss of major facilities.

The SNP’s Neil Gray MSP and Anum Qaisar MP are campaigning for a stay of execution for centres in their Airdrie and Shotts constituency while Steven Bonnar MP in the neighbouring Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill constituency has joined calls.

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Gray and Qaisar called the plans “completely unacceptable” and said the two under-threat pools in their constituency are increasingly well used, adding: “We do not believe these cuts are necessary. They will leave people with poorer [physical] and mental 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 Pension Fund surplus to embark on a programme of repair and upgrade to bring facilities up to standard.”

Bonnar says his constituency of Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill faces 11 closures and that he had written to council chief executive Des Murray and to all committee members asking that the closures be reconsidered.

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."

Tory MSPs for Central Scotland Meghan Gallacher and Graham Simpson released a joint statement stating their concern and support for the clubs affected.