CLYDEBANK’S newly-elected MSP has dismissed claims that an attempt to change the time of West Dunbartonshire Council meetings was done to fit in with her schedule.

Marie McNair hit out at the allegation from members of the council’s Labour opposition group – and said she believed her opponents were still bitter at her victory in May’s Holyrood election.

Councillors were asked last week to approve a programme of meetings running from November until June 2022 in which most full council meetings will start at 10am.

Most full West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) meetings have started at 2pm since early 2018.

Before then, they were mostly held in the evenings and in some cases finished close to midnight.

But Labour opposition councillor David McBride accused the SNP of changing the start time to fit in with Ms McNair’s diary.

Ms McNair has been a Clydebank councillor since 2003 – first as a Labour member, then an independent, and since 2014 as a member of the SNP group.

Since being elected to Holyrood in May, she has remained a councillor, for the Clydebank Waterfront ward – as she is entitled to do.

Tabling an amendment to the SNP group’s motion at last week’s full council, Cllr McBride said: “Meetings should be set to suit the needs of the council, and not to suit the needs for the MSP for Clydebank.

“10am meetings for this council are simply unacceptable for the members of the public to witness activities.

“The SNP made a huge play of this in opposition, and 6pm meetings were changed to 2pm in this council.

“What is the change in the SNP’s view here?”

Cllr McBride said Ms McNair’s availability for council meetings would be “extremely limited” in view of the business timetable at the Scottish Parliament, and added: “This is unacceptable for us and unacceptable for the public.”

His Labour colleague, Cllr Lawrence O’Neill, said: “We were often accused by the [SNP] administration of being part-time councillors.

“We worked the council round about our schedules and I don’t think that was proven to be the case in any shape or form.

“We now have a new administration. Over the years they have made a great play of consultation. A 10am start for a council is unacceptable.

“The public need to have access to the council. A 10 o’clock start may or may not suit many, and if it’s to work round one particular person’s part-time role elsewhere, it’s unacceptable.”

Cllr McNair replied: “I am not shocked by the comments. This change has nothing to do with me. Clearly what my team inflicted on you at the Scottish Parliament elections still stings.

“You should really show appreciation that this is the best use of officers’ time. I think we are in line with other councils.”

Supporters of the SNP group’s motion said they hoped the move would encourage more women to get involved in politics.

They said the move to a 10am start would be safer for women since meetings held in person were no longer likely to finish after dark during the winter.

Clydebank SNP councillor Diane Docherty added: “I don’t feel that I should have to make my way home at 12 o’clock at night. I’m lucky I have a car and don’t have to try and book a taxi or public transport.

“Times have changed. Members don’t have to hold me accountable by coming to a 6pm meeting.”

Eleven councillors backed the SNP administration’ motion and 11 voted for the Labour amendment, with Provost William Hendrie using his casting vote to back the SNP proposal.

Cllr McNair is one of 19 ‘dual mandate’ MSPs at Holyrood who also hold elected office elsewhere.

Twelve of the 19 are MSPs and councillors for the SNP, while four from the Conservatives and two from Labour hold the same two roles.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is an MSP for the Highlands and Islands region as well as being the MP for Moray.