WEST Dunbartonshire's SNP leaders are warning residents there will be cuts to services because the last Labour administration didn't raise taxes.

The SNP said "services are going to suffer" including some priorities at the "heart of what we do" and condemned Labour for "unforgivable financial mismanagement".

But Labour laughed at the suggestion and said the administration could hand the reins back to them if the job was too big for the SNP.

Council leader Jonathan McColl and Audit Scotland signed off on the accounts last week ahead of the audit committee but Cllr McColl said he wasn't happy with them.

In a weekend press release, the SNP said Labour shouldn't have added £500,000 in savings to their final budget and that it was a pre-election "con".

They added: "Following the end of government funding for the council tax freeze, Labour’s refusal to increase council tax rates immediately prior to the local government elections in May has increased the projected shortfall by more than £1m.

"In a final betrayal of the public, Labour used £2.2m of one-off reserves to plug their financial hole, adding to the ongoing deficit, bringing the total budget gap for the next two years to nearly £11m."

Kilpatrick Labour Councillor and former provost Douglas McAllister said he initially laughed at the SNP press release, and he noted Cllr McColl was chairman of the audit and performance review committee.

He branded the SNP "incapable, incompetitent and incoherent".

Cllr McAllister told the Post: "Cllr McColl knows full well WDC is one of the best-run councils in Scotland. There is no black hole - quite the opposite. We left the council with millions in reserves.

"The deficit is coming from the Scottish Government - they're creating this mess, not Labour. The SNP realise they're going to have to move a budget with an enormous council tax rise. This is the SNP trying to deflect blame.

"It sounds as though they're panicking, realising the budget is beyond their capabilities. The budget is given to them by the Scottish Government - it's their SNP government."

Finance convener Cllr Ian Dickson said he was "warned" by colleagues when the SNP took office there would be "issues with the finances". He said the use of reserves to balance the books in February had been "scandalous politicking".

The convener of the corporate services committee said in a statement: "It is far worse than I had feared. I am appalled by Labour’s disregard for local services; putting vital services at risk in an attempt to steal an election is inexcusable.

"We only have so much money to spend and, thanks to Labour, services are going to suffer. Not just things on the periphery of what the council provides, but some things that cut through the very heart of what we do."

The SNP has promised to publish draft proposals for a budget for consultation with the public and staff.

Labour's financial choices in the past year have been politically contentious. Last October, they added £460,000 in new spending and dared the SNP to vote it down in the February budget.

After promising a "no-cuts budget" in December, they walked into February's council budget meeting and announced a shock council tax freeze, paid for from their reserves.

Audit Scotland concluded WDC had a "good track record of delivering services within its budgets and over the last three years has consistently contained its expenditure within annual budgets".

But it criticised "slippage" on capital programmes, including funds for the the new Balloch campus, Levengrove park, the new Dumbarton council offices and Queens Quay in Clydebank - all of them backed by both political parties.

The annual audit also said the council recognised tapping their reserves was not sustainable. The total budget gap from 2017-2020 is £11.397m.