A FED-UP councillor has accused Renfrewshire’s housing convener of “anti-Johnstone bias” following a dispute over a proposed heritage project in the town.

Andy Doig hit out at Marie McGurk after she spoke against his proposed amendment to approach Historic Environment Scotland about providing funding to remediate the former Quarrelton School building, in Beith Road, at the latest meeting of the communities, housing and planning board.

He wants the listed building to become an historic attraction similar to the Weaver’s Cottage, in Kilbarchan, and the Sma’ Shot Cottages, in Paisley.

Councillor Doig, who represents Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch, told The Gazette: “There are no Johnstone South councillors on the board, which the old schoolhouse is in, and I am aware the SNP elected member for Johnstone South, Andy Steel, has tried to promote a new use for the building, so I decided to float the idea of an approach to Historic Environment Scotland.

“I’m grateful to my ward colleague Councillor Emma Rodden, who saw the sense in what I was trying to achieve for Johnstone and seconded my motion.”

The amendment was then criticised by Councillor McGurk, who said the council’s Listed Buildings and Built Heritage report had already taken into consideration the issues raised by Councillor Doig.

She said during the meeting: “The sentiment you are raising in this amendment is exactly what this report is trying to start off with for the whole of Renfrewshire, so that each area will have the same strength and impetus from members and any access to funding out there.

“So really what you’re asking for is to put this one [the old Quarrelton School building] first, whereas what we’re trying to do is do it across the sector of Renfrewshire.”

The amendment failed by eight votes to six.

Councillor Doig said: “All Labour councillors supported it, as did the SNP’s Councillor Rodden and Tory councillor Bill Binks, yet both the SNP and Tories split badly, with one Tory and most SNP councillors supporting Councillor McGurk.

“This has sad echoes of Councillor McGurk trying last September to stop me persuading the council to erect a plaque to 1820 Johnstone radical John Fraser.”

Councillor McGurk did not respond to a request for comment from The Gazette.