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Tory Town Hall plans branded a "waste of time and money” after application withdrawal

>> 31 March 2022

Cllr Neil Baillie and Archie Peebles, the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidates for Inverurie and District in the upcoming Aberdeenshire Council election have hit out at the Conservative-led Local Authority after its Inverurie Town Hall planning applications were withdrawn.

The previous SNP-led Council administration had plans ready to go in 2017 to consolidate publicly owned office space across the local authority and move the Council headquarters from its current location Woodhill House in the centre of Aberdeen to a new building in Inverurie.

However, the Conservative group who took power, backed by the Liberal Democrats and aligned independents, shelved the SNP scheme – despite it having garnered support among the local community.

Instead, the conservatives decided to pursue controversial plans to continue renting Woodhill House and bolt-on office space to the back of Inverurie Town Hall.

Five years on, and after sinking tax-payer money into their scheme, the Council have now pulled planning applications for the Town Hall alterations in the face of massive public objections.

It is thought the decision to demolish Market Place school was taken in part to facilitate car parking in an already jammed town centre to serve the mooted Town Hall offices.

A community group had been pursuing a community asset transfer of the old school to serve as a community support hub. A hub that could have provided vital aid to people as the cost of living crisis worsens.

The only Councillor in Inverurie and District to oppose the Conservative-led administration's plans was the SNP’s Cllr Neil Baillie.

Commenting, Cllr Neil Baillie said,

“The decision to withdraw the planning applications is welcome. But the current Conservative-led administration's decision to proceed with this hugely unpopular scheme has lost Inverurie 5 years. It’s been a massive waste of time and money.

“Plenty of people in the community raised concerns about the project to me which I fully agreed with. But the administration, and unfortunately the non-SNP councillors in the town, ploughed ahead.

“The SNP had a plan in 2017, we’re working to convince the people of Inverurie to let us clear up the Conservatives and Lib Dem's mess.”

Commenting, Archie Peebles, a member of the local community council and SNP candidate, said:

“I welcome the decision to withdraw the current application and look forward to helping to shape future proposals.

“In the meantime, I’m focussed on earning the votes of the people of Inverurie and District, to make sure that it’s an SNP-led administration taking things forward."

At the time of the application, Mr Peebles was also a member of the community council that sent a letter of objection regarding the scheme.

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