Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Earlier today (20/10) the Moray Council Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee referred the final decision on funding the controversial Elgin Western Link Road to an upcoming session of Full Council.
The discussion was heated, with a number of issues coming to a head, resulting in a lengthy adjournment to seek legal advice. Ultimately the referral to Full Council was made after Convenor John Cowe was forced to use his casting vote to break a 6-6 deadlock.
“While the outcome of this morning’s meeting is not in any way a surprise, the debate on this crucial issue was overshadowed by a succession of procedural and legal shenanigans, which I fear will only further undermine trust in the Council’s handling of this proposal,” stated James MacKessack-Leitch, Moray Greens Convenor.
“At one point the legal advice appeared to say that opposing the Western Link Road proposal would be “incompetent”, although that later changed. There was also great confusion over what could be discussed and what couldn’t, and ultimately many of the key questions around the impact of an A96 bypass, recurring future costs, and air and noise pollution, were either ignored or went unanswered.”
“However, the referral to Full Council gives all Councillors – and particularly Independent members – the opportunity to really consider whether the extra funding this proposal requires is in the best interest of their own Ward. I know many people from outwith Elgin will be watching their representatives closely when the decision is taken whether to spend yet more millions in Moray taxpayers cash on yet another exclusively Elgin project.”
“There are plenty of alternatives, as the meeting today heard of the need for substantial investment in new flood alleviation schemes across Moray, as well as other worthy projects like rationalising waste services and upgrading our harbours. We also know Elgin desperately needs two new Primary Schools, and with the budget so tight, I still find it very difficult to believe that an extra mile or so of road in Elgin can be a higher priority than many of these projects with much clearer benefits and need.”