OPPOSITION councillors have hit out at East Renfrewshire Council’s decision “to heap misery” with a council tax rise.

Tory party members tabled an amendment to ERC’s budget plan at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.

The budget proposed by the council called for a three per cent increase in council tax levels across all tax bands in the authority.

However, Tory leader Stewart Miller proposed an amendment calling for a six per cent cut in council tax in an effort to “give a little back”.

He said: “When it came to the budget, Cllr Robertson asked for a very fair 15 minutes recess to read the Administration’s budget amendment.

“That was refused. They didn’t want to give us time to see and react to their changes.

“So we had no idea as to how they were going to spend the extra £2.546m from Holyrood.

“I thought they either would have put most of it back into reserves as they had raided reserves by £2m to prop up their budget or to help hard pressed families by trying to ease the CT burden.

“But no, they decided to tax everyone by as much as they were allowed and then spent the lot.”

Other opposition councillors also tore in to the decision, with Newton Mearns South councillor Jim Swift quoting residents who didn’t know “whether to sell our house or kill ourselves”.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Swift said: “If you are going to put council tax levels up then you need to give something back.

“Our argument is that council tax contributes such a small proportion of our budget that we could take the marginal hit and relieve some of the pressure of local people.

“Whether you are young or old, there are plenty of people in the area who are living on fixed income – this three per cent rise on top of the seventeen and a half per cent rise already heaped on by the Scottish Government will hit people hard.

“We know that pensions aren’t going up, certainly not by 20 per cent.

“The best arbiter on how to spend your money is you, we simply proposed giving some of your money back.”

However, Cllr Swift conceded that much of the budget was actually agreeable for all sides.

He continued: “Ninety-nine per cent of what was in that budget we agreed with, it was the details such as the council tax which will have an immediate and detrimental effect on people that we did not agree with.”

The opposition also grilled the administration over car parking charges and the future of Bonnyton House Care Home, with the possible closure of the care home being revealed (detailed on page six).

As well as proposing a six per cent cut in council tax, the Tory amendment also called on more to be spent on roads in East Renfrewshire, over and above the additional £1 million announced by ERC and for the council’s senior management team to be reduced.

This would have meant the removal of one member of the management team, which includes heads of accounting, environment and education.

However when pressed on the matter, they would not say which one they would prefer to lose their position in ERC.