OPPOSITION councillors have hit out at the 10 per cent council tax rise in Argyll and Bute – with one saying he is “ashamed” to have been part of the process.

Argyll and Bute is run by a coalition of LibDem, Conservative and Independent councillors.

Members of the authority’s Strategic Opposition Partnership, made up of SNP, Labour and some independent councillors, tabled a budget amendment last week which would have seen no increase in council tax.

But the proposal, which would have aligned with First Minister Humza Yousaf’s pledge that the tax would not increase, failed by two votes.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Council Unionists make 'grubby deal' amid council tax freeze

The council set its budget at its full meeting on Thursday, February 22, with Lomond North Independent councillor Mark Irvine immediately registering his disapproval.

Councillor Irvine said: “I am ashamed to have been part of a process where political point scoring took priority over the real needs of the residents of Argyll and Bute.

“The administration just want to blame the Scottish Government and hide behind that while they ram another 10 per cent increase down our throats.

“The administration coalition (TALIG – The Argyll, Lomond and Islands Group) simply don’t care that people are struggling with rent increases, rising fuel costs, high-interest rates and high inflation. Many families are living in poverty and relying on food banks to make ends meet. It’s scandalous and shameful to ask them to find hundreds of pounds more in council tax.

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“I voted for the total freeze which was proposed by the opposition group and by prudent use of reserves we would maintain our services and manage to help ease the burden on the hardworking folk of Helensburgh and Lomond.

“​It is scandalous to heap more misery on the residents of our area when the council has more than enough cash reserves to ease the budget pressures.”

Helensburgh Central Labour councillor Fiona Howard also slammed the decision, but her ward colleague, Conservative councillor Gary Mulvaney, policy lead for financial services, said he “would not take any lessons” from the pair.

Councillor Howard added: “I am totally disgusted by the imposition of any council tax rise when there was a viable option which would have saved the people of Argyll and Bute a huge amount of pain, but advocating a rise of 10 per cent is something I consider utterly despicable.

“The members of the Argyll and Bute administration have shown themselves to be without any humanity and to actually admit that there was plenty of money in the reserves and then to still go ahead with that rise is beyond the understanding of anyone with a conscience.

“I am proud of the balanced and fair budget proposed by the opposition members and truly disappointed that common sense and compassion lost the day.”

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Tory councillor Mulvaney responded: “We had gaps of £10 million on the revenue budget and £30 million on capital when we started the budget process.

“With the persistent underfunding of councils by the Scottish Government, we needed to protect services, jobs and future investment. No one lightly takes these decisions and our budget reduces future revenue gaps by £3 million every year through that council tax increase. That in turns protects service and jobs in the future.

“The opposition budget raided most of the reserves with no plan for next year. Unbelievably, their plan swiped £3million of a £6million pot for social care.

“So I will take no lessons on politicking and compassion from an elected independent and Labour councillor that work hand in glove with the SNP.”