The SNP have hit out at the council leader, claiming he called three of its female councillors ‘cackling hyenas’ during a cabinet meeting.

However North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane denied the word ‘hyenas’ had anything to do with gender - and stated he actually said ‘chuckling’ rather than ‘cackling’.

The Labour leader later added he would happily apologise if any councillors were offended – and that he had possibly watched too many Disney cartoons.

This was after Cllr Robert Barr questioned pausing work on the B714 road, asking if the decision was anything to do with Labour having no councillors in the area – with SNP Councillors Davina McTiernan, Joy Brahim and Jean McClung then laughing.

Irvine East councillor and SNP group leader Marie Burns later blasted the Labour leader on Twitter regarding the meeting on Tuesday, November 14.

Cllr Marie Burns said: “Seriously Joe? Male Labour Council Leader refers to three SNP female councillors as ‘cackling hyenas’ in public meeting. Thought better of you.

Council leader Joe Cullinane said to Cllr Burns: “Check your facts. I said chuckling. And it wasn’t aimed at any one councillor, there were a number of councillors who all started laughing over a silly political point. I asked them to calm down so I could respond.”

The SNP group leader responded: “Someone in your position should be choosing your words more carefully. At the very least apologising for your behaviour and not making excuses.

The Council Leader responded saying: “If anyone was offended by my choice of words then I am happy to apologise to them and will do so.”

He added: “I absolutely refute any suggestion however that it had anything to do with gender.”