TORY councillors attempted to delay a local authority from discussing poverty in some of Scotland’s most deprived communities as a mark of respect to the Queen.

Neill Graham, the group leader of the Conservatives on Renfrewshire Council, said he felt it would be inappropriate for a key meeting to take place on Wednesday.

The Leadership Board – a committee of the party leaders on the council – went ahead despite the councillor’s objections.

Members discussed a report which recommended making essential payments to children who cannot afford school uniforms and for the creation of warm spaces amid fears people will be forced to choose between heating and eating this winter.

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Councillors also discussed the local authority’s work in resettling Ukrainian refugees and an annual report by Renfrewshire’s health and social care partnership into adult social care in the area.

'This is not the time' 

At the beginning of the meeting, Graham told councillors: “Due to the death of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a period of national mourning is now in place.

“Due to today being in that period of mourning and in line with other councils and parliament, that we here in Renfrewshire should respect this period.

“This is not the time for policy boards to continue and I’d like to move that this board is adjourned until after the period of national mourning is over.”

SNP councillor Andy Steel could be seen shaking his head as the Tory councillor for Ralston made his point.

Labour's Iain McMillan responded: "Whilst I totally understand where councillor Graham is coming from and have a great deal of sympathy for that point of view, I have thought myself long and hard about this situation and, as I say, I get where councillor Graham's coming from. 

"However, given the importance of at least one of the items on this [agenda] that requires action from us today and that's to get money out to the most vulnerable in our communities, so that's the reason why the Labour group is quite happy to continue with the meeting today. 

"Again, I emphasise I do have some sympathy with councillor Graham's motion."

The motion was defeated by 13 votes to two at which point the two Conservative members left the meeting.

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Eddie Devine, the former leader of the Renfrewshire Labour group, told The National business should “carry on as normal” despite the death of the monarch.

He added: “These things need to be done – people cannot wait for a week or two weeks.

“I get the fact and I sympathise that the Queen is dead, it goes without saying, but the fact is other people’s lives cannot be put on hold for this, it cannot be happening.”

Councils are continuing to operate as normal, with some restrictions on their communications, while parliaments across the UK are suspended to adhere to the period of national mourning.

Renfrewshire is home to some of Scotland’s most deprived communities, containing the towns of Paisley, Renfrew and Johnstone.

Ferguslie Park, in the west of Paisley, was ranked the most deprived area in Scotland for two years running. It improved in 2020 though remained in the top ten worst-off parts of the country.

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation carried out in 2020, still the most recent survey, ranked several areas in Renfrewshire as among the most deprived in Scotland including Gallowhill, the areas surrounding Paisley Canal and Paisley St James stations as well as some of the western areas of Renfrew and Johnstone.