Shutting community centres will be a “last resort”, the leader of West Dunbartonshire Council has insisted.

Councillor Jonathan McColl said facilities being used will not be axed even as opposition members warned of impending cuts and branded the council leader a “stranger to the truth”.

Residents gathered in Alexandria last week to grill councillors on what cost-cutting of £130,000 will mean for the future of their local centres.

The meeting, which was chaired by Margaret Wood of Unite and also attended by councillors David McBride and Jim Bollan, followed fears from some community groups the budgetary decision could lead to some centres being shut.

Cllr McColl, suggesting communities could take over ownership of facilities, said: “Community transfers, when you’ve got the right people that are committed and get the support, are a good thing.

“We’re not going to shut any centres that are being used and that doesn’t mean they have to be going like a fair seven days a week.

“If there are a few groups using these centres a few days a week then we’ll keep them open because we don’t want to disadvantage any group.We are not going to make savings on the back of doing groups or individuals out of access to a community centre.”

Cllr McColl conceded, however, his assurances do not necessarily mean all centres are safe.

He added: “If a centre simply isn’t being used then there is no point us paying to keep the lights on. What we’ll need to do is work out when the centres are being used and perhaps we need to look at shift rotas for the centres being open.

“Perhaps the centre managers that open the centre could work across a couple of them, if they are open at different times. There are all these different options. Shutting centres is an absolute last resort.”

Cllr McBride, however, argued any savings regarding the centres were unnecessary and pointed to a letter from Nicola Sturgeon, which suggested the SNP council’s cuts are out of step with the First Minister.

Cllr McBride said: “The SNP council chose to take £130,000 out of their budget hence it then becomes a review. It wasn’t a case of we need to review the services.

“There was no need for these savings this year. For the first time ever in my time as a councillor, this council was in surplus before this year’s budget. But the SNP council chose to make cuts.

“We have an SNP council leader telling us we need to live within our means and we need to ensure we don’t go into our overdraft and we also have a letter from Nicola Sturgeon written in March, which talks about the cuts in West Dunbartonshire in light of the increased funding of the Scottish Government.We do not accept the budget cuts you have described were at all necessary. Nicola Sturgeon tells us to go and speak to West Dunbartonshire Council and tell them that.”

Cllr McColl hit back, however, saying the council’s finance officer had confirmed the council wasn’t in surplus and there had been a deficit, before Cllr McBride retorted: “I don’t want to be rude Jonathan but yourself and the truth are strangers”.

Reviews were launched at 10 facilities throughout the area after the budget decision to cut spending at the centres, although it remains unclear which will be affected.

The Denny Civic Theatre, the Concord Centre and Alexandria and Bonhill’s community facilities, which are all run by the council’s leisures trust could all be affected.

The council’s decision to hold its consultation during the summer break was also slammed by Cllr McBride.