A TOP council official has issued an apology to the local SNP group leader for an 'error of judgement' which publicly called him into question over the Ravenscraig Hospital housing development.

George Barbour, who is the Municipal Buildings' communications manager, wrote to Chris McEleny after an officially sanctioned statement issued declared he'd snubbed attending a briefing for elected members on the toxic land issue.

Mr McEleny had called in the Telegraph for senior council officers to explain a decision to approve a plan not to remove contaminants from the site — earmarked for social housing — and instead use capping layers as barriers between people and pollutants.

As part of the council's official response to this, a spokesman said: "Councillor McEleny was invited to a full briefing, which detailed the council's approach to dealing with contaminated land.

"He didn't attend."

The local authority has now acknowledged that this comment should never have been made or issued for publication because it was irrelevant to Mr McEleny's challenge to the officials to account for their decision.

In his apology to the councillor, Mr Barbour wrote: "Please accept my full and unreserved apology on behalf of the council.

"The comment issued about your attendance at an all member brief was not relevant to the enquiry and should not have been included.

"The only circumstances where attendance at a briefing or meeting should be referred to is where it is directly relevant to the enquiry received and in this case it was not.

"I have spoken with the individual officer involved who recognises this was an error of judgement and I can give you an assurance that this will not happen again."

Councillor McEleny — whose call last December for a 'full review' of the Ravenscraig matter was rejected — said: "I am content to accept the apology.

"I am raising the concerns of members of the public when it comes to the contamination issues at the Ravenscraig site.

"The council should be concentrating on addressing these concerns and I am pleased that the director of environment has now agreed to meet to discuss these concerns."

An SNP source at the council said: "The council apology explained that Councillor McEleny has been proactive on seeking information on the Ravenscraig contamination whereas Inverclyde Council issued a statement that aimed to undermine this fact."

Mr McEleny said: "I hope there is no repeat."