A LEADING councillor is up in arms after fellow representatives refused to guarantee funding for a “vital” family support service.

Last week, The Gazette told how Families First services in Johnstone, Foxbar and Gallowhill were under threat after being told their funding will not continue past March, subject to any further budget decisions by Renfrewshire Council.

The council-run service, which supports disadvantaged families who struggle to cope on their own, also has bases in Linwood and Ferguslie Park, which will not be affected.

Last week, at a meeting of the council’s leadership board, Councillor Derek Bibby, who represents Johnstone and is depute leader of Renfrewshire’s Labour group, asked the administration to guarantee funding would continue – but his request was turned down.

Council chiefs have said the site in Johnstone, together with the two Paisley bases in Foxbar and Gallowhill, were only established on a temporary funding basis and a decision on future support is due in February.

However, Cllr Bibby is unhappy that service users are facing an uncertain future.

He said: “The decision by the SNP administration goes against all the facts that commend the project and is a slap in the face to those who rely on the service.

“The service provides vital practical, financial and social support to disadvantaged people across Renfrewshire.

“The loss will mean that families will not have access to counselling and advocacy services and will lose money, meaning there will be less for them to spend on their children.

“In the current financial climate and with Christmas upon us, that is an appalling prospect.”

Cllr Bibby added: “Let there be no doubt that, unless this decision is reversed and funding secured, the service will fold at the end of March.

“This SNP administration is misleading the public in trying to claim that the decision to cut the service has not yet been made.

“I will continue to fight for the families affected.”

Families First is there for those who are struggling emotionally, financially and physically, offering help in areas such as budgeting, school, eating well, keeping fit and childcare.

Cllr Iain Nicolson, leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “Councillor Bibby is fully aware no decision has been made to close Families First.

“The funding for all the tackling poverty projects was on a year-to-year basis. He knows any decisions on the continuation of funding occur at the council budget meeting which usually takes place in February.

“We are fully aware this project is held in high regard. This will be acknowledged in our decisions.”