A bid by North Ayrshire Labour to raid the council reserves to help struggling families at Christmas was resoundingly defeated.

Councillor Nairn McDonald put forward a motion condemning the “Scrooge-like’ SNP for having no Wrap, Run and Fun holiday meal for children over the October break and Christmas holidays.

A voucher replacement of £10 per week was offered to the mainland and £20 for the islands. This, the Labour councillor said, was a 50 per cent cut from what his administration gave during the pandemic.

He argued in a motion at last Wednesday’s full council meeting that earmarked reserves should be used to re-introduce the original sum provided.

Councillor McDonald said: “I’m gobsmacked we can’t agree on feeding weans this Christmas. Food prices are skyrocketing.

“In the last year vegetable oil and pasta have risen by 65 and 60 per cent respectively and bread is up by 25 per cent. This still pushes people into hunger and increases pressure on food larders and food banks.

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“I can’t fathom how the Tories and SNP opposition are unwilling to put their short sightedness to one side and use a relatively small proportion of their services to put some padding between families and devastation this Christmas.

“Under Labour kids were receiving £4 a day each, but now it is £2.

“The choice is whether, like Scrooge, we seek redemption and feed our kids, or we look to spend our time with the mugshots of Christmas past, present and future. I would rather feed the kids.”

Tory leader Tom Marshall put forward an amendment, saying that no action should be taken to use £145,000 in reserves.

He said: “The Labour group is wanting to plunder what reserves we have left. I don’t think it’s wise to pick and choose what we spend.”

Depute leader Shaun Macaulay said: “This isn’t a competition as to who knows the most people who are in poverty. We are all absolutely aware of the level of need out there.

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“Since we came into administration, we have looked to address that as fast as possible and also looking at the things we can do to stop people getting into this situation in the first place.

“The SNP administration approved a £4m package of support to help people most in need during this crisis.

“As part of that it was clear that families needed help and we topped up child bridging payments by £100 per eligible child. We extended it to low income families and children pre-school aged. That supported 5,700 children and 3.300 families.

“We committed to pay this in time for the summer holidays and October holidays.”

Labour, he said, should stop thinking about their next press release and focus on helping people.

The amendment was passed by 23 votes to eight.

Speaking after the debate Councillor McDonald said: “It was absolutely appalling to sit and watch the Tory group leader propose an amendment where he referred to the proposals to feed kids as ‘plundering money’ but what was even more disappointing was to watch every single SNP Councillor then vote with the Tories.

“While North Ayrshire Labour brought a motion in good faith, a motion which would have helped thousands of families, the SNP and the Tories joined forces yet again to vote down another progressive motion.”