COUNCILLORS voiced their anger at being left in the dark over the progress of negotiations with Exxon Mobil about their Bowling site.

The oil giant agreed to bring a more than £30 million industrial and commercial development to the town, on the same site as their former fuel terminal - which was decommissioned in 1997.

The proposal is part of the Glasgow City Region Deal, a more than £1 billion investment which is intended to boost the economy of west central Scotland.

According to the business case, which was passed by the council in November last year, the new site will bring in 690 jobs to the area once it is complete.

At a meeting of the council last week, members were given an update to the city region deal, where it was made clear by officers that progress had somewhat stalled, due to the oil firm’s inability to procure items they needed for work to the site.

A report to councillors said: “ExxonMobil has informed the council that they are not in a position at present to conclude their procurement approach to deliver the remediation strategy.

“It is hoped that clarity on the length of delay this issue will cause to our discussions will be known shortly.”

Community Party councillor Jim Bollan asked why there was a delay and was told there was a non-disclosure agreement which had been signed, and there was little which could be said on the matter.

He said: “It’s outrageous that this confidentiality agreement is preventing us from asking questions.

“We warned of this right at the beginning.

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“Not only is the agreement undemocratic, in stopping us from asking questions, the agreement itself is confidential so we can’t even see the document that’s stymying democracy around this table.

“It’s absolutely outrageous.

“This company is playing this council like a fiddle.

“They’re one of the biggest international companies in the world, and because we’re asking why they’re not in a position to get procurement services in place, we’re not allowed to ask it?

“It’s absolutely disgraceful we can’t get any kind of explanation.”

Council leader Jonathan McColl told the meeting: “I’m limited in what I’ve been told.

“As far as I know they have not decided yet how they are going to procure the items that they need for the site.”

To which Mr Bollan responded: “We were talking earlier tonight about cuts, and we’ve paid £5 million to a multi-national company that made £13 billion in profit last year.

“It’s an absolute disgrace.”

Councillor Daniel Lennie agreed with the Community Party representative, saying: “We’re elected members, it’s ridiculous that we can’t ask a straight question and get a straight answer.”

The council’s head of regeneration and economic development Jim McAloon told the meeting: “Through a non-disclosure agreement I’ve signed with Exxon, I can’t share that. I just can’t.

“That was the commitment that this council made, and as an officer I’ve got to abide by that.”

The council has pledged £5 million of public money to the project.