MORE than doubling sports club prices in South Lanarkshire during the cost of living crisis has been branded “reckless” by the SNP’s Westminster by-election candidate.

Katy Loudon, an SNP councillor on the authority, hit out at the Labour minority administration for the huge hike to local youth clubs which she decried as part of a “pattern of neglect”.

Loudon is standing as the party’s candidate for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat in what is widely seen as a two-horse race against Scottish Labour’s Michael Shanks.

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We previously told how the local authority was “inundated” with angry emails and phone calls after some fees more than doubled.

UTD Sports Football Academy, based in Cambuslang, will see their pitch costs rise by 114% for their affiliated junior teams.

A petition against the move on, which also called for it to be reversed, reached over 8000 signatures.

In response, the local Labour council leader accused Loudon (below) and the SNP of “jaw-dropping hypocrisy”.

The National: Stephen Flynn and Katy Loudon

The SNP hit back, claiming Labour are out of touch with local communities for introducing the hikes and suggested Keir Starmer’s party do not recognise the value of investing in young people.

“Whether it be our Labour-led council inflicting huge hikes to our youth sports clubs or Keir Starmer U-turning on free tuition and refusing to scrap the two-child cap and lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty, we are seeing a pattern of reckless behaviour and neglect from the Tory-lite Labour party during a cost of living crisis,” Loudon said.

“The pro-Brexit Labour either don’t understand or don’t care about the value of investing in our young people.

“It's not just about doing right by families and children - although that should be reason enough - but supporting our young people has countless benefits for them and for the wider community.

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“While both Westminster parties are engaged in a race to the right and failing our young people, the SNP is investing in families and young people with policies such as free tuition, the Baby Box, and the Scottish Child payment.

"And all of these are unique to Scotland.

“On October 5, a vote for the SNP is a vote for an MP who will always stand up for families and young people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West."

The changes to sports club fees were made earlier this year by a vote of 34 to 27, with the Labour and LibDem administration, backed by the Tories and the Independent Group, while the SNP opposed the move.

At the time, a spokesperson for UTD Sports Football Academy said the “astronomical increase” would put “extreme stress” on grassroots clubs' ability to afford training and match day facilities.

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“If this is to continue then it is likely several clubs will cease to exist leaving countless children and young people without access to weekly football,” they said.

“This will have a negative effect on both the social and mental wellbeing of our children and young people.”

In response, South Lanarkshire council leader and Labour councillor Joe Fagan (above) said “This is jaw-dropping hypocrisy from the SNP, who have cut £370 million from South Lanarkshire Council budgets in recent years.

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“Services are at breaking point because of the brutal cuts the SNP has inflicted on our community, but Katy Loudon has refused to stand up for people in the area and condemn these cuts.

“South Lanarkshire Labour will use every power at our disposal to protect local services and communities from the damage the SNP is doing.”

Fagan was previously suspended from his role after he was found to have leaked information to the press for “political gain”.