A decision to dump a multi-million pound project to transform a north-east gardens could be “railroaded through” according to a top SNP councillor.
The leader of Aberdeen City Council’s opposition SNP group says around a tenth of councillors could miss a crucial vote on the future of Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens next month.
Councillor Callum McCaig said it “beggars belief” that a vote on the project – which won public backing in a referendum earlier this year – had been scheduled for next month when at least four councillors will be out the country.
He said: “There will be three members of the SNP group who, not expecting there to be a council meeting that day, will not be in the country and at least one member of the Liberal Democrat group, so that means there is going to be four folk excluded from this key vote. That could have been easily avoided if there had been a degree of consideration for the other groups and a modicum of consultation.”
Mr McCaig said of the four missing councillor one was expected to vote against the project with the other three poised to back it.
“If those three people aren’t there that vote is lost and the city garden will not go ahead which will be a sad day for democracy because it will be overturning the will of the people that was expressed in a referendum and it will also be railroaded through when a tenth of the council is not there,” he added.
Sir Ian Wood has pledged £50m towards the project and a further £20m is expected to be generated from the private sector.
Aberdeen City Council is proposing to borrow a £92m tax incremental financing loan (TIF) to cover the remaining cost of the project along with four other regeneration schemes.
Mr McCaig added that the councils finance and resources committee should be allowed to examine the TIF proposal before councillors make a final decision.
“It beggars belief and has the hallmarks of an appalling, appalling error of judgement,” he said.
Aberdeen City Council leader Barney Crockett defended the date however, saying a decision should be made as soon as possible.
Mr Crockett said: “I think we have made it clear to the people of Aberdeen that we would be trying to deal with it at the easiest possible juncture and I think we are in a good position to do that now.”
He said he was surprised that so many councillors looked set to miss out on the vote and it would be a “slight disappointment” if there was not a full turnout.
“We have given an undertaking to the people of Aberdeen to try and deal with this problem that has been hanging over us for so long and we need to deal with it in as expedient a way as possible and we’ve always been confident we would have the votes to do that,” he said.
“[It] allows the whole city to move forward in a unified way and try and bind some of these wounds that have been opened in recent times and I’m very much hoping we can do that."
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