THE leader of East Renfrewshire Council has vigorously defended a controversial consultation which showed a majority of Eastwood residents in favour of building a leisure centre at Shawwood Park.

Since its publication in September, the council’s survey has been heavily criticised by those opposed to the building of a new centre on greenbelt land, including East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton and Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw.

At last month’s meeting of the full council, Conservative councillor Jim Swift branded the consultation “quite blatantly biased.”

He asked: “Can the leader of the council please advise why the council constructed a biased consultation?”

However, council leader Tony Buchanan said he did not believe the consultation was biased.

Cllr Swift then asked: “Does Councillor Buchanan agree with me that we need to restore faith in this council and that we should consider whether we have the right people at the head of this council?

“I mean both the leader of the council and the chief executive.”

Cllr Buchanan replied: “Your comments are, quite frankly, atrocious in terms of the points you seem to be trying to make, simply because you didn’t like the outcome of a consultation which quite clearly was not biased nor flawed.

“I find your comments absolutely deplorable in relation to the staff who serve us particularly well.”

Cllr Swift went on to ask the council leader about the methodology used in the survey.

He asked: “What concerns does the leader have with the report that was provided by Turner and Townsend?”

Cllr Buchanan said he had no concerns.

The meeting coincided with a peaceful protest at the council’s headquarters, organised by the Save Shawwood Greenspace campaign and attended by more than 150 people.

The council’s six-week public consultation, undertaken by Turner & Townsend, showed 54 per cent of residents in favour of building a replacement centre on a new site, with Shawwood Park and Broomburn Park the preferred options.

Council chiefs have repeatedly stressed that no decision has been taken regarding the location of a new leisure centre.