A GLASGOW councillor who racked up more than £17,500 of council tax debts has apologised.

Cecilia O’Lone, the Labour member for Calton, said sorry after paying more than a third of her wage to arrears since her election last year.

She has repaid upwards of £5,500 since May 2017, but still has £12,440 of outstanding council tax debt dating back to 1999.

The SNP’s Elaine McSporran and Elspeth Kerr are also on repayment plans, with both having owed in-excess of £12,000 when they were elected.

Speaking yesterday, Ms O’Lone said: “I would like to apologise to everybody for any embarrassment that this has caused.

“It was a mixture of circumstances, including unemployment and bereavement, but that’s no excuse.

“I’m paying everything back.”

Both SNP members were contacted for comment but failed to respond directly.

Between Ms O’Lone, Ms McSporran and Ms Kerr, the total debt stood at £42,030 during last May’s election.

But the trio’s arrears have now dropped to £26,610.

Ms McSporran owes £6,272, having paid back £6,000. And Ms Kerr has handed over £4,340, leaving her debt at £7,896.

A spokesman for the SNP City Government, said: “Both Councillor McSporran and Councillor Kerr are in a payment programme which is acceptable to the council.”

But government transparency campaigners, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, slammed the figures.

Chief executive, John O’Connell, said: “Some councillors may be in financial difficulty, in which case they should have the help and support afforded to others.

“But the rest should be leading by example and anyone who has failed to pay what’s due ought to have the guts to own up. The high numbers really are eye-watering.”

Under local government legislation, elected members cannot vote on certain budget matters if they are two or more months in arrears.

Councillors in that position are required to declare their arrears when attending meetings where council tax is discussed.

The Standards Commission has set out a code of conduct for all Scottish councillors.

It says: “Whilst you are a member of the community, you are also a representative of that community and of the council to which you are elected.

“As there is potential for public perception of abuse of position and poor leadership, you must seek to avoid being in debt to the council.”

If members of the public miss payments, they are sent reminders asking for money to be paid within seven days.

Those who fail to do so lose their right to pay in installments and must instead pay the full year’s balance.

If not paid within 28 days of its due date, the local authority can apply to the sheriff court for a summary warrant.

Residents who can’t reach a payment agreement with the council can face enforcement action including deductions from wages or benefits, or having goods seized by bailiffs.

For councillors in arrears, their debt is dealt with directly by council officers who set up payment plans to recoup the money.

Those who fail to pay can also be subject to enforcement action.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “Council tax supports a wide range of frontline services. It is important that everyone that can pay does pay.

“All members with arrears have a payment plan in place and the value of arrears has reduced significantly.”