A senior councillor in charge of education in North Lanarkshire has accused local SNP MSPs of “scaremongering” over the safety of two schools in Coatbridge.

Labour’s Frank McNally said Nationalists Alex Neil and Fulton MacGregor had contributed to a “staggering frenzy” based on unfounded fears that Buchanan High and St Ambrose High posed a risk.

The councillor, speaking two days after the schools were judged to be safe, said: “They should be considering whether they should be issuing an apology.”

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Buchanan and St Ambrose, located on land which had once been used for burying domestic and industrial waste, have been at the centre of a major health controversy in recent months.

Four serving and retired teachers at Buchanan had been diagnosed as having bladder cancer and claims were made that blue drinking water on the campus was linked to the ill-health.

North Lanarkshire council tried to address the concerns by informing parents that the blue tinge was caused by copper, which is not carcinogenic, but the fears led to parents taking their children out of school and a strike by some teachers.

An expert review declared that the site is safe, adding that there is no link between the schools and the health issues.

The report found that one cancer-causing chemical was detected in the outskirts of the site and recommended remedial works “on a strictly precautionary basis”.

McNally, the education convener at North Lanarkshire council, has criticised Neil and MacGregor for their comments during the row.

MacGregor, the MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, wanted to schools to close while the review was ongoing, and Neil, a former health secretary, described it as a “full-scale public health crisis”.

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McNally said: “Parents, pupils and staff were absolutely right to raise concerns, but certain local politicians sought to weaponise those concerns for political purposes. Far from taking a measured approach, they called into question the professionalism of the experts.

“They contributed to what has really become a staggering frenzy that engulfed the school community and the wider community.”

On Neil’s comments, he said: “That type of rhetoric, that type of scaremongering, from people with absolutely no expertise in these areas, is incredibly irresponsible.

“Alex Neil is a former health secretary, and to use that kind of rhetoric you are stoking up fears in a community. It’s just absolutely appalling.”

He added: “You had others, including Fulton MacGregor and local SNP councillors, calling on the schools to be closed. That type of behaviour just added fuel to the fire and damaged confidence in statutory health authorities and two very high-performing schools.”