Town twinning was slammed as an “unnecessary luxury” during a furious debate at West Dunbartonshire Council.

The area is linked to the French town of Argenteuil and village of Beauvoisin, which allows for pupil exchanges between high schools and enables community organisations to be invited to participate in local events.

However, Dumbarton’s Labour councillor David McBride called on the council’s chief executive to prove how the initiative can be achieved at “zero cost to the public purse,” while services such as grass cutting are being reduced.

The Labour councillor said at the recent full council meeting: “In times of austerity, this is not a priority for me and not to our constituents.

“If the council is to continue with this initiative, it should be carried out at zero cost to the council.”

His sentiment was echoed by Councillor Jim Bollan, of the West Dunbartonshire Community Party, who added: “I’ve got to say this is not a priority, given the cuts we are making to public services.

“I think many of our constituents will be shocked that we are even considering spending a pound of our money on this.”

But Baillie Denis Agnew, convener of communications, museums and cultural development, insisted it was “even more important” to keep ties with other countries “with Brexit imminent”.

He added: “We promote West Dunbartonshire and I’m very proud that we do that. It has been disabled people and disadvantaged people who have gained from that experience.”

The independent councillor emphasised the authority’s commitment to investing in twinning, revealing that the administration was also exploring links with Ireland.

Councillor Diane Docherty, of the SNP, reflected on how she had benefited from twinning when she said: “When I was a teenager, I travelled all over Europe by train, eating rolls and crisps in train stations.

“Visiting Europe and being part of that experience was one of the best times of my life.”

But Cllr McBride, insisted the council had to take account of what was happening “here and now”.

He told Bailie Agnew: “You are so proud of everything that’s happened. I was proud of when we cut the cemeteries’ grass.

“I was proud when Clydebank Musical Society could lease the town hall. It’s an unnecessary luxury.

“We don’t need to be funding people to have rolls and crisps in train stations. We have our own train stations to eat rolls and crisps in.”

Bailie Agnew’s amendment to continue exploring avenues of twinning was carried by 11 votes to nine.