Tories putting Eastwood first?

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AN SNP councillor has slammed the Conservatives in East Renfrewshire for “abandoning Barrhead”.

Douglas Yates says he is tired of the Tories “putting Barrhead down”, and complained there has been an unsettling dynamic since the 2007 election.

He told The Extra: “They oppose things for the sake of opposing them. As a council, we should be working together for the betterment of all areas.

“There is a lot of inequality as Barrhead is a more deprived area. We want to raise standards, make health and education better and improve the area as a whole.

“The conservatives do not seem interested in doing that”.

The war of words was sparked by recent debate about the collapse of proposals for an East Renfrewshire college situated in Barrhead.

Councillor Yates believes the demise of plans for the higher learning facility “are a matter for regret and not one for snide remarks and smirking by certain Tory elected members.

“When discussions between the heads of Reid Kerr, Langside, Cardonald and James Watt colleges agree there is a need for a college as proposed tells me that the Conservatives were isolated in their thinking”.

However, Netherlee, Stamperland and Williamwood councillor Gordon McCaskill says Conservative complaints about the proposal were “simply, because economically, the plans did not stack up”.

“When the previous Tory group backed the plan, it was during a boom period which we are no longer in.

“It is not feasible to fund something entirely on debt”.

Opposition leader, Newton Mearns south councillor Jim Swift, believes his side has “won the argument”.

“If it was a good idea, it would have received appropriate backing and it would be going ahead.

“We are in fact acting in Barrhead’s best interests because the last thing the area needs is yet another empty building a couple of years down the line”.

Plans to develop a dedicated college facility for East Renfrewshire came to an end last month when partners Reid Kerr college confirmed they would not be able to commit long term to the ambitious project.

Councillor Yates has assured local people that other options are being considered.

He added: “Contrary to a previous allegation made by councillor Swift, contingency plans are in place and always have been as part of good forward planning.

“This will become evident soon”.