NORTH Ayrshire political groups have clashed over the Scottish Parliament’s recent Budget Bill.

The budget has been praised by the SNP and Greens for providing an extra £4.2m for North Ayrshire Council.

But the Labour administration and Conservatives have accused the SNP and Greens of spin and claim the budget fails to protect public services.

Irvine MSP Ruth Maguire said: “The draft budget shows that where Scotland has the power, the SNP will take a different, fairer approach – and give Scots the best deal in the UK.

“Thanks to the decisions made by the Scottish Government, local government funding is increasing by inflation and North Ayrshire Council has today been given an extra £4.278 million to spend on local services.

“That’s a good deal for taxpayers and for public services in North Ayrshire – and is only possible because of the SNP’s progressive tax reforms, that are backed by the public by 2 to 1.

“In the face of massive Westminster cuts, the Scottish Government is using its powers progressively to invest in our schools and our hospitals – and in communities across North Ayrshire.”

West Scotland MSP Ross Greer described the deal as “a big win for North Ayrshire”, adding that proposed cuts to librarians and classroom assistants, as well as increases in class sizes, in North Ayrshire can be ditched.

But Labour Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “For the second year in a row the Greens have struck a deal which sells out local government. “This deal does not stop council cuts as is being spun.

It does not protect local services. It does not fund pay increases for council workers.

“What it does is leave a £15m gap in North Ayrshire Council’s budget and that puts our local services and jobs under severe threat.

“This is yet another austerity budget being imposed on the communities of North Ayrshire by the SNP and the Greens.

“Only Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow lost more in cash terms, meaning that the impact of the SNP’s error has had a disproportionate effect on North Ayrshire’s budget.

“The people of North Ayrshire should not lose out because Mr Mackay is a Finance Secretary who can’t get his sums right.

“However, rather than set aside five minutes to discuss his error with me, Mr Mackay has arrogantly refused to discuss it.

“Not only have the Greens done nothing to secure the restoration of this funding but our SNP MSPs Ruth Maguire and Kenny Gibson have said nothing about it.

“It is clear Ruth and Kenny will stand up for the SNP before they will stand up for North Ayrshire.” But North Ayrshire SNP leader Marie Burns said::

“This is a budget deal that invests in the NHS, ends the public sector pay cap and provides a real terms increase in local government spending.

“Under the progressive tax changes, Scotland will become the fairest taxed part of the UK, with higher earners facing a modest increase to fund investment in public services.

“I am pleased the budget will deliver an extra £4.3 million for North Ayrshire – in addition to the extra £4.4 million going directly to North Ayrshire Schools.

“This does not mean that we don’t face challenges.

“Only last week we saw the latest figures on the rise in child poverty, largely due to the Tory freeze in benefit payments”

Jamie Green, West Scotland Conservative MSP, added: “The revised budget is simply local council budget cuts and tax rises dressed up – figures confirm that North Ayrshire Council’s budget is still being cut.”

Stage three of the budget, when it becomes law, is at the end of February.