A COUNCILLOR in Inverclyde has described the meeting in which a council tax hike was agreed as a “misogynistic and hostile” environment.

Lynne Quinn, who serves as an independent for Inverclyde West, described the behaviour at Thursday's meeting as “appalling”.

The Labour-run local authority confirmed that council tax would rise by more than 8% despite a Scottish Government freeze.

Speaking to The National, Quinn said: “To me, it didn’t become a collective budget, it became a political budget.

​READ MORE: Council tax Inverclyde: See how much your bills are going up by

“It was a Labour group budget proposal, which they were entitled to do and we formed an opinion, but I was out because it was a party’s budget, it wasn’t a collective one.”

The council’s leader Stephen McCabe was accused of advocating for “direct rule” from Westminster after writing to Tory ministers urging them to intervene and stop the Scottish Government from pausing the levy.

‘Misogynistic and hostile’ environment

Specifically, Quinn hit out at the behaviour of some of those in the meeting, saying that it “did nothing to encourage females to put themselves forward for the council”.

She pointed to one incident in which she was told she could “sit down” by Labour Councillor Jim Clocherty.

Provost Drew McKenzie told the councillor she did not need to sit down, but Quinn told The National how Labour spent most of their time trying to control the meeting.

In a separate incident, McCabe is heard shouting “full stop, full stop,” at SNP Councillor Pam Armstrong, who hit back and said: “Is he allowed to just shout like that?”

Quinn added: “It didn’t do anything to encourage females to put themselves forward for the council.

“Going into a hostile, misogynistic environment was just awful. They seemed to have an issue that it was female councillors daring to disagree more than they did with men.”

The National has approached Clocherty for comment.

Council tax hike

Quinn had put forward an amendment to the budget in which she called for a postponement on the vote until there was confirmation that the freeze would be fully funded after the Spring Budget.

Scottish Finance Secretary Shona Robison had offered £147 million in funding to keep council tax at current levels, with an additional £45m incoming from the UK Government’s Budget in the coming weeks.

Quinn explained that had her amendment passed and extra funding from the UK Government not been granted, then she would have voted to raise council tax.

READ MORE: Poll: SNP set for clear majority of Scottish seats at General Election

The councillor added: “I was actually disgusted that political party game-playing was going on.

“It was more about making a political statement about the Scottish Government, that’s what I felt, it was a political desire to go with an increase.

"It was more about making a political statement about the SNP government and it was getting too political. ”

She continued: “People are looking in here, it’s a cost of living crisis, people are struggling. They look at the council and they don’t have a clue what we’re all arguing about.

“I could not agree to tax a community to make a party political point and I understand why they might be annoyed at the Scottish Government and we need to tell them to stop ring-fencing our grant because the argument is the best choices are made when it’s nearer the people it needs to help. Let us make our own choice.”  

During the same meeting, McCabe also boasted that he had told his party’s higher-ups that he would make the decisions, “not them”.

“I stand up to my party,” he said.

“I got phone calls saying we shouldn’t be raising council tax, but I told my party leadership we will make the decisions, not them.”

We previously told how SNP MSP Stuart McMillan wrote to the Scottish Government regarding Inverclyde’s plans to defy the freeze, asking about what the impact of this hike could be on the local authority’s settlement.

The National: Deputy First Minister Shona Robison has called for transparency (Jane Barlow/PA)

In her response, Robison (above) indicated Inverclyde’s share of additional money “would be around £2.9m” if it implements the freeze.

The 8.2% increase meanwhile is projected to raise an additional £2.87m by comparison.

The Finance Secretary said: “As such, it is clear that Inverclyde Council is being offered funding for a council tax freeze that is approximate equivalent value to the 8.2% council tax increase that has been proposed by the Labour group.”

Stephen McCabe response

Responding to the allegations of misogyny, McCabe said he "refutes the entirely malicious allegation in the strongest possible terms".

"I do not have a misogynistic bone in my body. It is also too easy for people to make these types of hurtful allegations for purely political reasons," he said. 

He added that it is "common knowledge Councillor Quinn" is not his biggest fan. 

McCabe continued: "The meeting descended into chaos when Councillor Quinn sought to make an amendment that she hadn’t prepared in advance of the meeting. She had clearly held discussions with the SNP Group in advance however because several of their Councillors indicated they would support her amendment without even hearing the wording.

"We then had a lengthy adjournment while Councillor Quinn and one of the SNP councillors tried to agree the wording of an amendment with the help of the council’s head of legal.

"After the meeting resumed Councillor Quinn moved her amendment and it was seconded by the SNP Councillor.

"The movers of the SNP motion – Councillors Christopher Curley and Pam Armstrong – were asked in turn to confirm they were withdrawing the SNP budget in favour of Councillor Quinn’s amendment.

"Rather than both simply say yes, they tried to make speeches and I interjected on both occasions to the effect that all that was needed were yes or no answers. They had already spoken at length when moving the SNP amendment."