A trade union representing Aberdeen City Council workers has called on the local authority to reject the controversial City Garden Project.
In a letter sent to chief executive Valerie Watts, Unite have called on councillors to throw out the £140m plans to transform Union Terrace Gardens at a crucial vote set to be held on Wednesday.
Councillors agreed on Friday to defer a report on the £92m Tax Incremental Financing loan from the Scottish Government to fund five city centre regeneration projects, including the transformation of Union Terrace Gardens.
The money would also be used to fund redeveloping St Nicholas House, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the North Denburn Valley as well as the City Circle pedestrian route project.
The matter will now be discussed at Wednesday’s full council meeting.
In his letter to Ms Watts, Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said: “It is clear to Unite that the issue of city centre regeneration, especially the highly charged debate around Union Terrace Gardens, that there is growing concern about the idea of Aberdeen City Council borrowing more money at this time of severe cutbacks in staffing levels and provision of services.
“Our view is that the council should be prudent with its current expenditure and that given there is no guarantee that the loan could be paid for by rates generated then this is a project the council should not undertake at this time because of the potential huge impact on jobs and services if the whole TIF project fails to pay for itself.”
He added: “In sum total it is clear that the council can not afford to take such a risk with taxpayers’ money and should not be taking risks that can lead to more redundancies and cuts in council services to pay for city centre regeneration projects that we can do without.”
Speaking during Friday’s finance and resources committee meeting, Ms Watts suggested that the City Garden Project could play a key part in the Aberdeen’s 2017 City of Culture bid.
She said that Aberdeen would need to demonstrate that its bid was “distinctive, innovative and lead to lasting change in the area”.
Councillors have also deferred a decision on a pay rise for directors and heads of service.
The plans to “normalise” the wages of 24 senior staff who declined a national 2.5% salary increase in December 2009 had been recommended for approval.