CASH strapped Inverclyde Council has handed out tens of thousands of pounds in grants without proper scrutiny, says a senior elected member.

Questions have been asked about why substantial payments have been awarded to local groups without specific checks and agreements setting out what is expected of them.

Independent councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld raised the issue at a meeting of the policy and resources committee this week.

He demanded to know why money had been allocated to a whole host of local groups without 'Service Level Agreements' (SLA) being in place with the organisations.

Mr Ahlfeld says it is vital that there is accountability for every singlt penny of public money paid out in grants.

He said: "The report to the committee shows that CVS Inverclyde received a grant for £78,000 without a SLA.

"So I'm saying to myself, why is there not any service level agreement?

"Greenock Morton Community Trust received £34,000, and that has never been reported to a committee.

"Again it's a grant without a SLA.

"If you look at Branchton Community Centre and Gibshill Community Centre, they are also receiving grants without SLAs.

"I have a real problem that grants have been given without any service level agreement.

"Could someone explain to me why we do it?"

But senior local authority officials Ruth Binks defended the grants process.

She stated that proper governance checks had been carried out and that formal agreements are being finalised with the organisations receiving money.

She said: "Meetings are being set up with all of the people you mention to look at heads of terms."

Council leader Stephen McCabe has now asked officials to prepare a detailed report about how the money is being spent.

He said: "Not everything is going to be reported to committee, but I think there's merit in looking at some of these organisations to get an oversight into how that money is being used."