A ROW erupted last week after the Tories proposed dissolving North Ayrshire’s community councils.

Councillors were left stunned last Wednesday when it was proposed that North Ayrshire should ‘dissolve community councils and incorporate their role within appropriately constituted locality partnerships’.

The amendment, by Cllr Timothy Billings and seconded by Cllr Tom Marshall, was brought up during discussion on the Local Governance Review at last week’s council meeting.

Independent Cllr Donald L Reid said: “The community councils in North Ayrshire are going to be shocked this has even been proposed it’s a real slap in the face to them.”

Depute Provost Robert Barr told Cllr Billings he would have supported dissolving the Locality Partnerships instead, while SNP Cllr Alan Hill suggested they amend to dissolve Conservative group leader Cllr Marshall.

Cllr Billings added: “There has been discussion amongst some community councils regarding clarity about what their role actually is and a feeling of disempowerment. What I’m proposing would actually improve that.”

However, the amendment received only five votes.

After the meeting, Labour leader Cllr Joe Cullinane said: “Community councils are an important tier of local governance and it is astonishing that the Tories want to dissolve them. “North Ayrshire’s Labour administration are devolving powers and resources down to communities and community councils have an important role to play in that.”

SNP Cllr Alan Hill said: “It simply beggars belief that local Conservatives would make such a proposal. I am par ticularly surprised at Tom Marshall who seconded the motion.

“I know that Cllr Marshall has been either not turning up, or getting a rather hard time from some of our community councils recently but I have to say that I never thought he would try and sort this problem out by proposing their removal.”

The Conservatives have since complained that under the current system community councils have no specific powers, with Locality Partnerships ‘opaque’ in how they operate and that the two-tier system doesn’t truly represent the community.

Cllr Billings added: “This is an opportunity to recognise the dedication and commitment shown by those who sit on community councils and Locality Partnerships, by bringing them together in to one democratic, transparent and accountable body.

“By giving that body decisionmaking powers along with the money needed, it can take decisions that will make real differences.”