A FIERY row erupted during an all members meeting of Inverclyde Council as the local authority’s leader gave a passionate speech about EE’s decision to move 450 jobs out of the district.

Councillor Stephen McCabe accused the council’s SNP group of attempting to ‘dilute’ a motion which was put forward by his Labour party colleague, Martin McCluskey, regarding plans to close the company's call centre building in Greenock.

Shock plans to shut the contact centre in Greenock by the end of November and move 450 jobs out of the area were revealed earlier this month.

READ MORE: EE reveals plans to leave Greenock and move to Glasgow

Councillor McCluskey’s motion asked the local authority to note the closure and asked the council leader to communicate their opposition to the job cuts to BT Group, the Scottish Government and the UK Government.

It also asked the council leader to write to the Scottish Government and express the local authority’s ‘frustration’ that Holyrood had not come forward with any funding for a £70m package of projects that its socio-economic task force had drawn up.

A contribution from SNP group leader Elizabeth Robertson about ensuring that workers were not given ‘false hope’ drew an angry response from the council leader.

Greenock Telegraph: Councillor Stephen McCabe and Councillor Natasha Murphy. Invercyde Council..

Mr McCabe said: “Nobody but nobody is giving anybody false hope. We’re taking on one of the biggest companies in the United Kingdom, an economic giant, and we’re not under any illusions about being up against.

“We’re not under any illusions about the size of the challenge here, but if we can have the support of the Scottish Government and perhaps the UK Government working with us, perhaps we can come up with a credible package that might convince them to at least look again.

“There are two options, you keep your workforce in Greenock, you refurbish the building, and that becomes more economically viable than transferring to Glasgow and all the costs of paying the extra travel.

“Where we’re heading is Inverclyde being a dormitory town for Glasgow."

Speaking on her group’s amendments, councillor Robertson felt they were necessary to ensure the chamber had a ‘really robust coverage’ of the issue.

Greenock Telegraph: Councillor Elizabeth Robertson

She said: “I think it’s right that we do continue to engage with the governments in terms of this particular context.

“That’s why we’re asking for things to be added, rather than those particular elements be taken away from this motion.

“But I also think, given that we have a responsibility to try and retain as many jobs here in Inverclyde as we can, we also have a couple of other obligations that we should bear in mind as well.

“One of which is to really strike the balance carefully of not providing false hope in any way shape or form to the workforce.

“That’s why we’ve added the elements to this.”

The ward four councillor also explained her group’s decision to request the removal of the text relating to the socio-economic task force.

Councillor Robertson said: “It’s not because we don’t want to deal with them, but because we think they’re so crucial to be dealt with and that the points that have been made about the task force are so significant that they shouldn’t be tagged on at the end of a motion regarding EE.

“I’m not sure that Glasgow City Region is currently working for Inverclyde, I’m not sure that us being a strategic priority for Scottish Enterprise is working for Inverclyde.

“I actually think that the context we set when we set up the task force, where we asked our governments to look at the pots of funding that were already available in Scotland, we’re kind of beyond that.

“We’re at a stage of saying it’s not just about the money that’s already there, we’ve had over 1,000 jobs leave the area in the course of the year.

“We go round in a circle of these types of context being before us and we do need to say it’s a special case for Inverclyde.”

While the SNP group’s amendments were accepted, Councillor McCluskey dismissed their attempt to take out mention of the task force, saying it was an attempt to ‘spare the blushes’ of the SNP and the Scottish Government.

Greenock Telegraph: Martin McCluskey has been elected as a councillor for Gourock

The motion with the amendments relating to support for staff was passed unanimously by the council at the conclusion of the meeting.

The text of the original motion can be found at https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/2631.