Huge cuts to local community hall and library facilities have been postponed for a year.

At a meeting of North Ayrshire Council held in Irvine elected members agreed to "rephase" the Labour Executive proposals by a year as they trimmed £8.9 million, making for an overall budget of almost £440 million for the next financial year.

SNP councillors had threatened to halt the budget if the Executive pushed through hall and library cuts.

Labour Council Leader David O'Neill insisted that, despite a deficit of £64 million - later revised to £37 million over three years - change was "something we have embraced positively".

He stated: "We recognise that we have to change, but we know that we are going in the right direction. We must become more efficient in the delivery of our services." Among the most controversial cost-saving measures was a proposal for a four-day school week affecting pupils from primary school age, but this was branded "nonsensical" by outraged SNP councillors who slammed the "lack of preparation" which they believed to be evident in many proposals.

Proposals to remove free school milk, making for a saving of £129,000, were also rejected.

SNP group leader Councillor Matthew Brown even labelled the budget a "direct attack on families" as he accused Labour of attempting to ignore the impending cuts.

He added: "How on earth can councillors be expected to vote on a budget in February when the papers justifying that budget will not be presented until March?

Full report and comment in the Largs & Millport Weekly News of February 9