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ATTEMPT TO REMOVE £3MILLION FROM ROAD REPAIRS BUDGET BRANDED 'LUNATIC'

>> 16 February 2010

Peterhead SNP councillors have branded as "lunatic" an attempt by Councillor Sam Coull and the Democratic Independent Group on Aberdeenshire Council to remove £3million from the council's budget for road repairs.

The move came at the budget-setting meeting of Aberdeenshire Council when the Democratic Independent Group (DIG) – consisting of Cllr Coull and well-known anti-roads campaigners councillors Martin Ford and Debra Storr – proposed stripping out £3million from the council's budget for road repairs. DIG members later claimed that they would fund road repairs by borrowing £3million – conveniently forgetting that this "cost saving" measure would attract interest charges and end up costing more.

DIG councillors also attempted to scrap the scheme introduced last year following pressure from SNP councillors for the maintenance of unadopted roads, where the council contributes 50% of the cost of upgrades.

Commenting, Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stuart Pratt said:

“At a time when the road network is suffering from the after effects of one of the most severe winters for many years, and with thousands of potholes awaiting repair, it simply beggars belief that any Aberdeenshire councillor could seriously propose taking over £3million out of the roads budget. This is, quite simply, a lunatic idea.

“Even with the explanation from the Democratic Independents that they wished to borrow money to do this instead, thereby racking up interest charges for the council, it shows a complete lack of awareness of the priorities of the people of the North-east and no understanding whatsoever of basic economics.”

Fellow Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith added:

"I was shocked at these proposals. I cannot see how taking £3million away from road repairs and then borrowing £3million to fund it would have saved any money. It quite clearly would have cost the council more because of borrowing charges and interest.

"In addition, the scheme for contributing towards the upgrade of unadopted roads – mostly in country areas where car use is essential – was also targeted by Councillor Coull. SNP councillors have fought for years for such a scheme and concerns about the condition of these roads was one of the most common complaints I used to get. This just illustrates the anti-roads agenda of the Democratic Independent Group, whose priorities do not reflect the people of Aberdeenshire."

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