COUNCIL meetings in East Renfrewshire have been suspended with emergency decisions to be made by senior officers – despite claims of a "coup d'état".

Members agreed to suspend all meetings and delegate decisions to chief executive Lorraine McMillan and senior officers during the coronavirus pandemic.

An emergency committee, made up of the council leader Tony Buchanan, depute leader Paul O'Kane and the leader of the main opposition group, Conservative Stewart Miller, has been set up to make decisions requiring political approval.

The changes will be kept under review and revoked "at the appropriate time".

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Ms McMillan said the measures were introduced to "allow the council to act quickly to protect the health of our residents".

"We operate many services which are essential, especially so in these circumstances," she added, listing care at home, registrar, cemeteries, homeless and refuse services.

She said: "We need to do everything within our power to support the fantastic work of the NHS.

"Life for everyone has changed unbelievably over the past few weeks."

Mr Buchanan added: "Such decisions have only been taken so we can help those most in need."

However some councillors felt there should be a time limit on the alterations.

Indepedent councillor David Macdonald put forward an amendment, asking for a time cap.

Paul Aitken, also independent, said: "It's not enough to just tug on the heartstrings and say it's very difficult times so we should therefore approve anything that comes in front of us.

"All committees are being suspended indefinitely, not until Boris or anybody else says so. Basically until three councillors says so."

He added: "This is an indefinite coup d'état by three councillors. I've got very serious concerns."

Conservative councillor Jim Swift asked why the council couldn't use technology to have meetings.

But SNP elected member Colm Merrick said: "I think to use the expression pulling on the heartstrings when 13,500 people have died is terrible.

"If someone can tell me when the coronavirus will depart this planet we can put that date down."

Six councillors supported the changes, with two voting for Mr Macdonald's amendment and one abstaining.