ANGRY North Ayrshire Council leader Marie Burns has hit out at the leaking of confidential papers on next year’s budget.

The Times reported recently that charges could be brought in for garden waste collections, while funding could be slashed for North Ayrshire Women's Aid as major cuts could be needed to help balance the budget.

The council previously stated that nothing will be set in stone until the authority's annual budget meeting at the beginning of March.

Garnock Valley Councillor Margaret Johnson asked in a question at last week's full council meeting: “Does the leader agree with me that the leaking of confidential papers shows a complete lack of integrity and respect towards all North Ayrshire Council staff, fellow elected members and the voting public.”

READ MORE: North Ayrshire could charge for garden waste collection in bid to save funds

Councillor Burns replied: “Yes, I absolutely agree with her. Not only is it disrespectful but it undermines the trust of members and officers to work together for the benefit of our residents and our communities.

“I have seen this happen in other councils but never in the 10 years I have been a councillor has it happened in North Ayrshire.

“I don’t really know what leaking this information was meant to achieve but we now have staff heading into Christmas worried about their jobs, that is despicable.

“I don’t know how whoever leaked what is only a discussion at this stage and the same discussion with potential options that we have every year can look at themselves in the mirror.

“I would remind anybody watching this that no decisions will be made on the budget until March 1 and when they are made all options will be discussed and the final decision will be made by all members in this chamber.”

READ MORE: Shock budget cut plans could see North Ayrshire Women's Aid funding slashed