A WAR of words has broken out over the decision to close Paton Street Community Centre.

Councillors voted to close the centre by six votes to five at a recent meeting of the Education and Communities Committee.

Councillor Natasha Murphy, who had supported the campaign to keep it open, performed a last minute u-turn, voting in favour of closing it and sealing its fate.

She told the Telegraph: "It was not an easy decision and regardless of our choice, centres would have been lost.

"My colleagues, by voting to reopen Paton Street, were inadvertently voting to close Grieve Road, something that public consultation said was not wanted."

A campaign to save the the fire-damaged centre, which has been closed for more than 18 months, was launched by mum-of-two Jackie McPherson.

A petition was handed into the council and the three Ward 7 councillors, including Councillor Murphy, supported the move.

Fellow ward councillor Tommy McVey strongly fought to keep the centre open and says he us 'aghast' at Councillor Murphy's decision.

He also vehemently disputes that he and his ward colleague Councillor John Crowther voted to close Grieve Road.

Councillor McVey said: "I really have to take issue with Councillor Murphy’s comment that by voting 'to reopen Paton St I was inadvertently voting to close Grieve Rd.

"This is factually incorrect and for Councillor Murphy to infer that I did not know what I was voting for, I find that quite insulting.

"For the record there was no proposal to close Grieve Road Community Centre and, for the avoidance of doubt, had there been such a proposal, I would have voted against it."

Councillor Crowther added: "I was very disappointed by the decision to close Paton Street.

"The issue is what happens if Greive Road is developed and they can't get a management committee to run Grieve Road?

"Paton Street has its own management committee, which was one of the plus factors.

"Grieve Road is not fit for purpose, it only has one hall and a kitchen.

"It won't be able to provide the classes and facilities available at Paton Street.

"My concern is that if no management committee is found, money will be ploughed into a facility that will not reach its full potential."

There have been discussions about a future community asset transfer by Oak Tree Housing Association, but this is at an early stage.