North Ayrshire and Arran's MSP has declined to debate the council leader after being accused of making ‘misleading claims’ about North Ayrshire’s budget.

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

Cllr Cullinane offered to hold the public debate in the constituency before the council’s budget day on February 27, proposing an independent chair from the Local Government trade unions in North Ayrshire.

However Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson said his figures are ‘always accurate’ and ‘precise’ and referred him to SNP opposition leader Cllr Marie Burns.

Cllr Cullinane said: “This is the worst budget settlement that North Ayrshire Council has received in recent years and yet Kenneth Gibson MSP is trying to tell his constituents that the council’s budget is increasing by 8.3 per cent.

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

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.

“Incidentally, I wonder who the ‘independent trade unionist’ is that he had in mind to chair? Has he found a Lib Dem somewhere?”