A TORY MSP has accused the wrong council of potentially making 80 people redundant – sparking fears that roads would not be gritted in Edinburgh.

Jeremy Balfour, Conservative list MSP for the Lothians, has been asked to apologise for writing a newspaper column in which he slated Edinburgh City Council.

He wrote in the Edinburgh Evening News: “Budget cuts to the council are not just impractical, they’re unsafe. A saving of £1.3 million each year in council spending has been imposed and our public services are being attacked. The gritters are the latest victim.

“It is proposed that, in order to make a saving of £100,000, gritting the city’s pavements should take place from 8am instead of 5am. Indeed, it is also estimated that up to 80 jobs could disappear from roads and environment crews.”

His rant continued: “This is unacceptable. Not only are peoples’ livelihoods at stake, but potentially their lives. Gritting the pavements from 8am means that commuters across the city will be heading out on ungritted icy or snowy pavements, significantly increasing their likelihood of slipping and causing injury.”

The only problem for Balfour was that the council proposing the cuts was West Lothian Council, run by Labour with supposedly no support from the Conservatives, who nevertheless voted in the Labour administration.

His words eerily echo a report in another newspaper which stated that West Lothian Council crews “currently grit pavements from 5am, but councillors have been told that £100,000 could be saved by not starting gritting until 8am.”

The item added: “The budget cuts will see staff doing more with less in five years. Around 80 jobs could disappear from roads and environment crews along with overtime bans and shift changes and a reduction in the number of vehicles.”

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After Balfour’s column appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News, council bosses were inundated with calls from bewildered staff and residents asking about “the cuts”.

The matter was raised at an Edinburgh Council meeting by leader Adam McVey, who said despite the success of the city, Balfour – a former councillor – “was so desperate to do us down that he confused the city of Edinburgh with West Lothian Council in trying to score political points”.

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McVey, pictured above, who is also SNP group leader in the SNP-Labour capital coalition, added: “I know that caused a great deal of concern among people in the city in terms of our winter weather preparedness.

“I know it caused concern among the staff who knew nothing about those proposals because they didn’t relate to our council.”

The councillor asked Tory group leader Cllr Iain Whyte to apologise on behalf of his party, but he said Balfour would respond to any questions.

Transport convener Lesley Mcinnes said: “I was appalled when I saw the careless nature of Mr Balfour’s article in the Edinburgh Evening News. He clearly confused two local authorities and their different approaches to delivering winter weather treatments.

“In Edinburgh we have a well-prepared plan to deal with difficult winter conditions which devotes considerable resources and people to keeping the city moving as safely as possible.

“His article blows right through that, handing a message of fear to our crews about their jobs and to our residents that they will not be well-supported through bad weather.

“His approach shows a real lack of responsibility and care towards the very people he represents. But can we expect anything more from the party who has delivered the horrors of Brexit and austerity?”

The National contacted Jeremy Balfour’s office and the office of the Scottish Conservatives. Neither had replied by the time we went to press yesterday evening.