A ROW has broken out over a council review on provision for travellers visiting Inverclyde.

Councillor David Wilson raised the issue in the Telegraph last week, fearing that a briefing that had been arranged for elected members on the subject could end up paving the way for a permanent transit site to be established in the area.

The meeting was postponed, with the council saying this was due to clash with other business while Mr Wilson claimed it was because he had 'raised a red flag' by vowing to oppose the development of any site.

But his comments have sparked a strong response from council leader Stephen McCabe, who says in a reply to him he wants to 'set the record straight'.

Councillor McCabe said: "Let me be 100 per cent clear - there is no intention to revisit the previous proposal for a formal transit site in Inverclyde and I simply do not know where you got that idea from.

"The briefing on how the council manages unauthorised gypsy traveller encampments was requested by myself last year following the first visit of travellers to Inverclyde for a number of years.

"I felt it was important that all members, and in particular members first elected in 2017, had an up to date understanding of the legislation and Scottish Government guidance that governs how the council manages such encampments."

Mr McCabe confirmed that the date for the briefing had been set several times and held back due to more 'pressing business'.

He said: "On the latest occasion it is because a special meeting of the environment and regeneration committee has been called for the time it was planned to hold the briefing.

"This was an unfortunate oversight on the part of officers.

"A new date will be arranged as soon as possible."

Mr McCabe says the Depute Provost was also wide of the mark by saying a previous 2012 proposal for a travellers site at Kelburn Park was a Labour administration proposal.

He said: "In fact it was a proposal brought forward by council officers, which the council - not the [then] minority Labour administration - agreed would go out for consultation.

"Following the consultation the council decided not to proceed with the project."

Cllr McCabe says he is still suffering from the abuse he encountered in 2012 over the proposal, which was fiercely opposed locally.

He said: "As the council leader in 2012 I still bear the emotional scars from the significant levels of abuse, intimidation and threats I experienced at the time, which resulted in me having to seek the support of Police Scotland."

Mr McCabe says he hopes that Cllr Wilson's remarks do not lead to a repeat.

Mr Wilson says he has 'noted' the local authority leader's comments.

He said: "In my time as a councillor I have been against legal and illegal gypsy traveller sites in Inverclyde, the Greenock Telegraph article specifies my reasons.

"The briefing advisory introduction, mentions gypsy travellers and 'provision'.

"The latter can be interpreted in several ways, is not specific and could mean a static camp.

"The briefing was cancelled twice, the second in deference to a single issue, a Tree Preservation Order dispute."

Mr Wilson added he was 'really pleased' that both he and Mr McCabe are 'singing from the same song sheet with regard to a static gypsy traveller site in Inverclyde'.