“You would have thought the Aberdeenshire Council leadership would have realised before now that a bill for £75 million was going to be a problem for the Council, and preferably before they committed the Council to paying it.”
That is the reaction of Green councillor Martin Ford and Democratic Independent councillor Paul Johnston to the belated admission by Council leader Jim Gifford that Aberdeenshire Council’s £75 million share of the cost of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) ‘is difficult to budget for’. In an interview this week, Mr Gifford also admitted that, of the money Aberdeenshire Council has to find for the AWPR, he doesn’t know where ‘£65 million will come from’. (See attached press report, Press & Journal, 15 October)
Commenting, Democratic Independent councillor Paul Johnston said, “The Council leadership have been warned repeatedly that they were committing the council to a colossal bill way beyond the Council’s means. Having agreed to pay, they are now admitting those warnings were justified.”
Green councillor Martin Ford said, “With the Council budget for 2014/15 due to be set early next year, the concern has to be that this is the Council leadership preparing to justify cutting public services to pay for the AWPR.”
The Green Party has consistently opposed building the AWPR on the grounds that money would be better spent on improving public transport, the AWPR will be ineffective at reducing congestion and will increase greenhouse gas emissions and the huge cost will require damaging cuts to essential public services.