BUDGET plans put forward by Renfrewshire Council’s administration are on a knife-edge after it emerged rival councillors could rally behind an alternative proposal.

The SNP administration, led by Iain Nicolson, hopes to rubber-stamp an investment of almost £400million for local services over the next financial year at a full council meeting tomorrow.

This represents a £5m increase on last year’s budget.

READ MORE: Families set for council tax rise

But Labour councillor Jim Harte has told The Gazette his group will put forward an alternative budget that includes a council tax freeze.

And it is thought the Conservatives and other opposition members could get behind it.

Cllr James MacLaren, Tory group leader, has confirmed his members will consider backing Labour.

He told The Gazette: “We will consider supporting it [the alternative budget]. We will have to have a word with them before making a decision.

“The council tax freeze sounds unrealistic, so we would need to find out how they are proposing to manage that.

“At this stage, I don’t think we will be proposing our own budget. We would hope to amend one.

The Gazette: Cllr John Shaw will present the administration's budget Cllr John Shaw will present the administration's budget

“The problem we have is we do not think the Scottish Government is doing enough to support councils and it’s left them having to make very tough decisions.”

Renfrewshire has 43 councillors in total, with 19 SNP members set to back the administration’s plans in tomorrow’s vote.

It is expected all 13 Labour councillors will vote for the alternative budget.

If they gain the support of the eight Tory members, they would only need one other vote from either of the two Independent councillors or the sole Liberal Democrat member to defeat the administration. 

Alternatively, if two of the three side with administration and the other abstains, then there will be a tie - and Provost Lorraine Cameron will have the casting vote. 

If all three back the administration, the budget passes. 

Independent councillor Andy Doig has vowed he will back whichever budget invests most into Johnstone and Renfrew town centres, as well as the villages.

He said: “I will be looking for serious investment into Johnstone and Renfrew town centre and village amenities. That will decide where my vote will be cast.

“If the Tories do vote with Labour, the administration’s budget is really on a knife-edge.”

Cllr Harte said Labour would prioritise “the most vulnerable in society” and is proposing to put cash into expanding breakfast clubs to more schools and early intervention for children with mental health problems.

Labour will also propose putting £2.25m into helping communities upgrade green spaces.

The Gazette: Cllr Andy Doig could play a crucial role in deciding the budgetCllr Andy Doig could play a crucial role in deciding the budget

Cllr Harte said: “This is a budget that will help people in poverty and the people who need it most.”

The SNP administration could propose to increase council tax by as much as 4.79 per cent at tomorrow’s meeting. Well over half of their proposed budget is reserved for children and adult services, with £176m and £64m set aside respectively for each.

The administration is also proposing to pump almost £90m into its housing capital investment programme, which would see more than 400 new council homes developed over the next three years.

Two new-build sites are currently being developed at Johnstone Castle, which will have 95 new homes, and Bishopton, which will have 80.

Almost 300 council homes are planned for Ferguslie Park, Gallowhill, Foxbar and south-west Johnstone.

Cash has also been earmarked to replace and upgrade kitchens and bathrooms and roll-out new standards relating to smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors.

The Gazette: Cllr Emma Rodden Cllr Emma Rodden

If the SNP’s proposed budget is approved, villages would benefit from a £2.33m fund to upgrade community halls, including the McKillop Institute, in Lochwinnoch, and Steeple Hall, in Kilbarchan.

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Councillor Emma Rodden, who represents both villages, said: “I am delighted our proposals will give a cash injection to these buildings.”

SNP councillor John Shaw, Renfrewshire’s finance convener, will make his budget statement tomorrow, before opposition members can put forward any amendments.

Councillors will then get the chance to vote on the administration’s proposals or back Labour’s alternative plans.