AN Independent councillor has defended his bid to unseat five councillors from the Hunterston site stakeholders group - saying there needs to be a 'improved scrutiny' from the panel.

Ian Murdoch's controversial motion was defeated by 18 votes to 11 and resulted in a number of frank exchanges before and during the meeting.

The News understands the proposal resulted in senior councillors threatening to quit their positions on other influential committees on North Ayrshire Council if the motion had gone ahead.

Mr Murdoch asked that councillors Robert Barr, Todd Ferguson, Tom Marshall, John Glover and Alex Gallagher be removed from the group, claiming they had failed to represent local people's concerns over the safe operation of the power station.

Cllr Murdoch said: "Hunterston B reactor has re-started for four months with a limit of 700 cracks - this is double the previous limit of 350.

"Many constituents are concerned that reactor four is running again and reactor three may run in future.

"I am looking for a more balanced reflection of views on the Hunterston liaison committee of councillors. There has been an obvious lack of questions and scrutiny of the industry at these meetings."

Largs Conservative councillor Tom Marshall asked for Cllr Murdoch to define examples for his 'no confidence motion', but Cllr Murdoch said it was' evident' from his opening speech that there had been a general lack of scrutiny.

Independent councillor Robert Barr said: "I said to Clr Murdoch two days ago that I would step down if he would replace me on the group and he said no. We have a no confidence vote in front of five councillors - yet he had the chance to come on board and he refused."

Cllr Marshall said: "The station has been passed as safe by world leading experts on nuclear safety - what qualifications does Cllr. Murdoch have?

"It was concluded that reactor 4 is safe and restarted. We are not going to question people who are experts in their field.

"We have to accept what nuclear experts say."

However Cllr.Hill said he was 'flabbergasted' by this statement and said: "The whole point of the liaison group is to scrutinise. Cllr Marshall has made Cllr Murdoch's case for him."

SNP Cllr Tony Gurney added: "If people are not on this committee to question the experts, then what is its point?". Labour councillor Alex Gallagher said: "We are not the experts. We review the expert information that is on on offer and I have seen the reports. "These people have solid experience in the nuclear industry but we are not experts.

"I don't see the point in this entire motion - we are sitting here and wasting time."

Cllr Murdoch hit back, saying: "I am surprised at Cllr. Gallagher's comments as although he attended one of their economic forums in May of this year, he hasn't actually attended the main Hunterston liaison meetings since 2016, according to the minutes."

Following the vote, Provost Ian Clarkson thanked the members for 'suffering each other' throughout the day as council business was brought to an end.

The News understands the motion resulted in senior councillors threatening to quit their positions on other committees on North Ayrshire Council if the motion had gone ahead.

The Hunterston site stakeholder group meets quarterly with reports from station managers and other industry watchdogs. It is open to the public.