Memorandum by North Lanarkshire Council
North Lanarkshire Council was established on
1 April 1996 following the re-organisation of local government
in Scotland. North Lanarkshire is the successor unitary authority
to the former District Councils of:
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth;
Strathkelvin (in part).
North Lanarkshire Council also inherited responsibility
for delivering those services which had previously been under
the jurisdiction of the former Strathclyde Regional Councilfor
example: Education; Social Work; Roads and Transportation; Consumer
and Trading Standards; and Physical Planning.
The timing of the dissolution of Scotland's
new towns also coincided with this re-organisation and the five
New Town Development Corporations were ultimately dissolved by
the then Secretary of State for Scotland some 10 months after
North Lanarkshire Council became the successor
unitary authority for Cumbernauld New Town. The comments contained
within this response are therefore limited to our experiences
The dissolution of new towns in Scotland was
somewhat different from the procedure in England in that no statutory
residuary bodies were created. In the main, the new unitary authorities
inherited all functions of the former development corporations.
One exception to this is that industrial land was transferred
to Scottish Enterprise to market and develop. We would not appear
to have suffered the same problems as the English new towns have
experienced when dealing with English Partnerships in this regard.
Much of the response to the Urban Affairs Sub-Committee
made by the English New Towns Special Interest Group seems concerned
with the dissatisfactory arrangements surrounding the remit and
operation of English Partnerships. Given that we do not experience
problems of this nature, North Lanarkshire Council's comments
are more localised and service specific.
By statutory instrument made in 1996 the Secretary
of State for Scotland transferred certain specific assets (namely
land, mortgages and discount securities) to North Lanarkshire
Council as local authority. In 1997 a further statutory instrument
transferred all remaining "property, rights and liabilities"
of the Development Corporation to the Council. That statutory
instrument made no attempt to specify what those were and while
this mechanism was administratively convenient and provided for
legal certainty (in that there were no exclusions), the view has
been expressed within our own Council that this lack of specification
did create difficulties and uncertainties for the successor local
From a staff and operational perspective our
own experience of assimilating staff gave rise to a number of
difficulties. Firstly, from an operational perspective, during
the winding up process the Development Corporation had a steadily
decreasing number of staff and became increasingly less able to
supply information and background to North Lanarkshire Council
as the succeeding authority. Many of the Development Corporation's
staff retired or sought other employment in the public or private
sectors with the consequence that much detailed information was
lost to the Council as successor authority. Doubtless these problems
were significantly compounded by the fact that Scottish local
government was undertaking its own major re-organisation.
On a more general comment it was also necessary
to take account of the fact that the Development Corporation had
operated under very different statutory and financial requirements
from those of the Scottish local authorities.
Particular issues on staffing were:
(a) Whereas Sections 8 and 9 of the Local
Government (Scotland) Act 1994 provided a statutory basis for
the transfer of staff of the former local authorities to the new
Councilsand in particular protecting conditions of service
at the point of transferthis statutory requirement did
not apply to the Development Corporation staff.
(b) The statutory mechanism created by the
1994 Act and the Staff Commission with all its associated guidance
on staff matching procedures, much of which was further developed
by this Council itself, had no application to the Development
Corporation staff. The result was that the Development Corporation
staff were excluded from the formal matching process which took
place under the auspices of the Staff Commission.
(c) The application of the TUPE regulations
gave rise to somewhat different issues than those which arose
under the statutory transfer of local government staff. This authority
adopted the view that all the staff of the Development Corporation
would be treated as having TUPE transferred to the new Council,
in order to give a similar protection (broadly) to the transferred
conditions of local government staff.
(d) Local Government staff are used to the
negotiating mechanisms of the local government procedures at national
level involving the JNC, NJC etc which were fairly well understood
by managers and unions. These procedures and negotiating mechanisms
differed radically from the Whitley Council negotiating mechanisms
which operated for new town staff.
(e) In similar vein the salary scales operated
by the new towns were significantly different (as indeed were
salary levels in many cases) and we had to undertake a process
of assimilating these staff to our own local government pay scales.
(f) In addition there were some particular
conditions of service relating to specific issues which gave enhanced
conditions to new town staff such as those in relation to car
leasing terms, redundancy terms etc. Part of the purpose of negotiating
current conditions for APT&C staff was to resolve, through
that collective agreement, a number of these matters which has
achieved a rationalisation of those mechanisms, albeit not yet
for manual workers.
2. HOUSING ISSUES
As part of the process of winding-up Cumbernauld
Development Corporation (CDC) during 1996, landlords were sought
to acquire the Corporation's housing stock. Tenants were balloted
by area as to whether they wished to transfer to North Lanarkshire
Council or Scottish Homes (now Communities Scotland). Four of
these areas opted for North Lanarkshire Council and five for Scottish
Homes. The local transfer process was achieved by normal conveyancing
rather than by any statutory transfer process as was the case
under local government re-organisation. In the case of the five
Scottish Homes areas, only houses and their immediate curtilage
were transferred to Scottish Homes. The remaining landscaping
and open spaces were transferred to North Lanarkshire Council.
(This further compounds the Maintenance Issues referred to in
North Lanarkshire Council acquired
1,400 units from CDC on 1 October 1996.
Of the housing stock transferred
to Scottish Homes, 1,869 properties have subsequently transferred
to Cumbernauld Housing Partnership Ltd (CHP) on 13 November 2000.
The overall tenure profile for Cumbernauld
|Cumbernauld Housing Partnership||10
|North Lanarkshire Council||8
|Private Rented Sector||1
Housing conditions within central Cumbernauld have been on
the decline for a number of years. This has been due to a lack
of investment in the fabric of the buildings. The majority of
properties acquired by CHP are of a non-traditional or rationalised
traditional construction type (eg flat roof, mono-pitch roof,
split level housing, high rise flats, maisonettes and a block
of deck access properties). Housing condition issues include:
Water penetration within high rise flats.
Window and door replacement.
External roof and wall finishes.
Internal fixtures and fittings.
Both CHP and the Council are addressing the issues affecting
property conditions, however, activities are constrained by two
factors: Finance; and, the ability to influence owner-occupier
Stock transfer was achieved following an assessment of repair
and maintenance requirements and did not permit the inclusion
of improvements anticipated over a projected 30 year period within
the calculation of investment needs. This limits future investment
capacity in housing improvement programmes.
The problem of major capital investment to the housing stock
is further compounded by the high incidence of mixed tenure at
both estate level and indeed within individual blocks of high
rise flats. This presents difficulty in progressing capital works
that require all owners to contribute to the cost of works. The
Council has directed investment at items within flats, such as
windows and doors which can be isolated to individual properties
and also to terraced properties where rendering can be limited
to Council owned houses. Any desire for comprehensive regeneration
of housing within the town must overcome the difficulty of achieving
agreement of owners to participate and to find methods of making
capital investment affordable to low income owner-occupiers.
3. DEMOGRAPHIC ISSUES
The population of Cumbernauld accounts for 16 per cent of
the total North Lanarkshire population.
Whilst the total number of people living in North Lanarkshire
saw little change during the 1990's, this is not borne out in
Cumbernauld where the population has increased since 1991 by about
9 per cent.
Child Population (0-5)
When the child population (0-15) is considered in isolation
from the total population, it is estimated that the smallest population
decrease between 1999 and 2004 will occur in the Cumbernauld area
(-0.90). The total decrease in child population (0-15) for North
Lanarkshire for 2004 is estimated to be -4.30 per cent.
Adult Population (16-64)
When taking into account the adult population (16-64), it
is anticipated that the Cumbernauld area will have the greatest
increase between 1999 and 2004 (0.99 per cent). The total decrease
in the adult population (16-64) for North Lanarkshire between1999
and 2004 is estimated to be -0.17 per cent.
Elderly Population (65+)
It is anticipated that the total elderly population in North
Lanarkshire is set to increase by 4.8 per cent between 1999 and
2004. By far, the greatest increase will be in the Cumbernauld
area. Estimates for 2004 suggest that the elderly population
in Cumbernauld will increase by a staggering 15.8 per cent (in
all other areas the population increase between 1999 and 2004
ranges between 0.7 per cent for Motherwell to 5.3 per cent for
Airdrie). It should be noted however that whilst the number of
older person households in Cumbernauld is expected to increase
more rapidly than elsewhere in North Lanarkshire, the proportion
of older person households within the town itself remains lower
than in the rest of North Lanarkshire due to the expansion of
the town described in section 5 below.
Implications of Changes in Population
These projections have serious implications for the social
care needs of those living in Cumbernauld and this will have to
be considered in any future planning of resources and services.
Specifically, in conjunction with other departments in North Lanarkshire
Council and through joint working with its partners, it is crucial
that the Social Work Department ensures that all planning and
service development for the Cumbernauld area, for both residential
and non residential services, meets the needs of the ageing population
4. DESIGN ISSUES
The original concept which guided the design of central areas
of Cumbernauld was based on an attempt to move away from earlier
new town design schemes. The Town Centre and its immediate environs
were built to relatively high density with segregated pedestrian
and traffic routes. The housing was almost exclusively built for
rent. The roads network was also designed on the assumption that
in due course there would be a high level of car ownership.
In the Town Centre areas this has resulted in a very large
length of remote footways connecting housing areas to each other
and to the Town Centre. These remote footways are flanked by areas
of common open space. In addition, the high density of the residential
areas and the resulting reduction in private garden space was
compensated for by the provision of areas of public open space
located within the housing areas. This was generally done in
the form of courtyards or play areas, closely integrated with
the neighbouring housinga legacy of which is a significant
number of residents' complaints regarding ball games.
The cost of maintaining the extensive footpath network and
the open space is significantly higher than that incurred in more
"traditional" town centre locations. This is a reflection
of both the larger areas of road and footpath involved, the locations
being awkward to access and the disadvantage of roads and footpaths
not being sited adjacent to each other. The higher maintenance
costs are even further compounded by the nature of the landscaping.
Structural planting is close to properties and pedestrians which
places pressure on the Council to maintain these more intensively
than in other parts of North Lanarkshire. For example: Continual
pruning of shrubs to limit overhangs to pathways and interference
with buildings and windows.
Public perception of a decrease in both the quality and level
of service is also an issue in terms of open space maintenance
since the Council is unable to allocate revenue at a comparable
level to that of the former Development Corporation. This issue
was also highlighted by the English New Towns Special Interest
Group (paragraph 3.5).
5. SOCIAL INCLUSION
Incidences of deprivation exist within particular housing
areas in Cumbernauld, however, this is particularly localised
in comparison to many of the larger areas of North Lanarkshire
which suffer from multiple deprivation. The Council and its public
and voluntary sector partners address this deprivation through
the delivery of mainstream services and targeted initiatives.
The problems of deprivation and social inclusion in Cumbernauld
are further compounded however, by factors linked to new town
The major expansion of the north side of the town from the
1970's onwards was undertaken on more "traditional"
lines. Furthermore it was an expansion which was pursued on the
basis of the housing being provided, for sale, by private housebuilders.
The result has been that almost all the privately owned suburban
style estates are situated in one part of the town. The right
to buy provisions have seen a significant growth in private ownership
within the original core area of the new town but this has not
prevented the very stark contrasts in style and quality of housing
and a sharp social and economic contrast between the two parts
of the town. This division makes planning for the provision of
community and recreational facilities in a way that promotes social
inclusion more difficult.
Similarly, in the last two years North Lanarkshire Council
has had to close three primary schools in the south side of the
town due to over provision, whilst we are currently required to
build two new schools in the north area of the town.
The high level of owner occupied housing, including the volume
of houses purchased through the Right to Buy Scheme, has resulted
in a lower percentage of housing to rent. The Private Rented Sector
is increasing, whilst at the same time there are 15 applicants
on the Council's waiting list for every available property in
any single year.
6. ECONOMIC ISSUES
Cumbernauld has achieved steady growth and is now Lanarkshire's
second largest town and its third most important employment location.
The town's modern business locations are an important economic
asset both for central Scotland and the Council, and they have
proved successful in attracting new businesses. This attraction
will in part be a response to the greenfield development opportunities
which are available in the "new town", for incoming
investors. These are opportunities which will be particularly
attractive in an area which is more frequently characterised by
an emphasis on brownfield development. This may, in isolated occasions,
see development opportunities being taken up in a "new town"
location which might otherwise have been directed to a brownfield
or regeneration site. Nevertheless it would appear that the special
and contrasting development opportunities which the town can offer
are, in overall terms, a positive benefit to the area. On this
basis the role which the town plays in economic development is
one which is worthy of being pursued.
7. CUMBERNAULD TOWN
Cumbernauld Town Centre complex is a multi level megastructure
which was originally conceived as being a site which would house,
not only the town's shopping, but also its social, commercial
and civic functions. The building, due to its complicated layout
and structure, is not only expensive to maintain and manage, but
also one which is difficult to effectively integrate into new
developments. In addition, the structure is very inflexible and
has not proved capable of adapting to the changing needs of retailers.
The further development of the Centre is complicated by the
pattern of ownership which has developed. The properties were
originally built and owned by the Development Corporation. The
original megastructure, however, was sold to one institution whilst
the Corporation sold earlier extensions to different parties.
The planning and implementation of further extensions needed to
modernise the Centre's infrastructure are made more difficult
by having to accommodate the different and competing priorities
of each interest.
8. TRANSPORT ISSUES
The heavily car orientated design of Cumbernauld also makes
it difficult to develop alternatives to the car. The railway station
has been left relatively isolated from the town centre and the
high dependence on remote footpaths can discourage pedestrians
from accessing buses. Similarly, bus drop off points can be perceived
as remote from the residential areas they are intended to serve.
These are factors which present obstacles of both a practical
and financial nature when developing and seeking to implement
strategies for sustainable transport.
I appreciate that the nature and content of these comments
are very specific and do not perhaps answer the more strategic
questions posed by the Urban Affairs Sub Committee in their Terms
of Reference. I would wish to bring these matters to the Sub Committee's
attention however, in order that our experiences may be shared
and lessons learned.
I trust this information is helpful and may I wish the Urban
Affairs Sub Committee every success with its inquiry.