Row over council's £100,000 revamp

COUNCIL bosses are under fire for paying £100,000 on a revamp for their £17.5million HQ just four years after it opened.

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The Labour administration at Renfrewshire Council says the work to Renfrewshire House in Cotton Street, Paisley, is needed to help the customer service centre cope with an increase in benefits claimants.

But SNP councillors have rounded on part of the plan, which will see what they call a "members lounge" created as part of the £100,000 upgrade.

The SNP's Lorraine Cameron said: "When looking at these plans for the grandiose upgrade of Renfrewshire House I was furious Labour wants to bring back a members' lounge for councillors.

"This is not needed. Previously, there was a members' lounge area with a coffee machine, but it was not well used.

"The SNP, when in administration, cut back on a lot of needless extravagance, such as junkets and buffets at the public expense.

"We also stopped the ridiculous practice of stocking up fridges in councillors' offices with cans of juice, fruit and yoghurt and saved more than £1000 a year by taking their biscuits away.

"It is highly ironic that council leader Mark Macmillan is backing Labour's Cuts Commission with its attack on what they wrongly call the Something For Nothing Culture, while at the same time he and his Labour colleagues want to reintroduce a real something for nothing culture with a members' lounge".

But Mike Holmes, the council's depute leader said: "The 'members' area' is a space for staff and members to use and will have a small table and four chairs, which will not be new.

"Renfrewshire House will change so people are not expected to wait three hours to be seen and will have private space to give personal information.

"We do not think current arrangements work well for those that need to use them.

"Cuts to housing benefit and Disability Living Allowance will affect thousands of people in Renfrewshire and we expect to see many more people coming to the council for assistance. We want to provide them with proper facilities.

"Councillor Cameron should stop playing politics with vulnerable people and deliberately misrepresenting a change that will improve services to those in need."

The council offices were officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond in February 2008.

ewan.fergus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

LORRAINE CAMERON

Local government

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