Two SNP MSPs have both declined to debate the Labour council leader after being accused of making ‘misleading claims’ about North Ayrshire’s budget.

Council leader Joe Cullinane said despite facing a budget gap of £22.5million after a 2.3 per cent cut from Holyrood, Kenneth Gibson MSP claimed the council’s budget is increasing by 8.3 per cent.

Labour Cllr Cullinane offered to hold the public debate before NAC’s budget day on February 27, before extending his offer to MSP Ruth Maguire.

Cllr Joe Cullinane said: “This is the worst budget settlement NAC has received in recent years and yet Kenneth Gibson MSP is trying to tell his constituents that the council’s budgetis increasing by 8.3 per cent. Ruth Maguire is not much better when it comes to trying to pull the wool over local people’s eyes.

“If Ruth supports NAC’s financial settlement from the Scottish Government then let's debate it in public and be honest with local people about the impact it will have.

“The Scottish Parliament directly controls over 80 per cent of NAC’s revenue budget and effectively control the rest with their council tax cap. It is time MSPs were not only held accountable for the appalling underfunding of councils but also challenged to stop misleading voters.”

MSP Ruth Maguire said: “There will be three stages of thorough debate on the Budget at Holyrood and that is where I will be debating rather than responding to posturing from a Labour councillor with no grip over the figures.

“Despite Westminster cuts of almost £2billion in a decade, the SNP is proposing additional funding of almost £730m for health and care – including £25.1m for NHS Ayrshire and Arran. Plus it sees over £5bn of capital investment for affordable housing, hospitals, roads a nd infrastructure, including a new £50m Town Centre Fund.

“Our council leader would do well to encourage his Labour MSP colleagues to step up and vote to fund these essential local services.”

Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “Councillor Cullinane is a bit late; Stage 1 of the Scottish Budget Bill will be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, January 31.

"I debate such matters with Labour colleagues in the Scottish Parliament on a regular basis. However, Cllr Cullinane should seek to debate Cllr Marie Burns, Leader of the Opposition on NAC.

“The figures I quote are always accurate, precise and are provided independently by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre."