Councillor “disgusted” after braes funding refused

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A LOCAL councillor has called for Scotland’s First Minister to visit Stonehaven and face worried residents after the Scottish Government refused a cash plea to fund the stabilisation of the Bervie Braes.

Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor Wendy Agnew has said she is “disgusted” after it was revealed that the request for extra funding had been rejected earlier this week.

Aberdeenshire Council had been seeking funds from Holyrood after the estimated bill for the remedial works soared to £5.5 million - £2.5 million more than the figure estimated by Transport Scotland.

The local authority has committed £1 million to the project, while the government has agreed to put up £2 million, but the tenders for the contract came in much higher.

Cllr Agnew said that the Scottish Government had been warned that Tranport Scotland’s estimation was too ambitious. She said: “The council told John Swinney that it would cost closer to £5.5 million, and he said that Transport Scotland thought it would be cheaper. We knew it would cost more than £3 million. If Transport Scotland think it will cost that, let them do it.

“It is very remiss of the Scottish Government to ignore the problems that the people of Stonehaven have. They have cut the council grant too, so where do they think we will find the money?

“I think that John Swinney and Alex Salmond should come up to Stonehaven and exlain their decision to the people. I would love to see them try.

“What happens if we have another landslip and it’s a much worse one? People’s lives and properties are at risk.”

The announcement could mean that the extent of the repair work may have to be scaled back.

A council spokeswoman said: “Aberdeenshire Council has been advised that the government is unable to provide additional funding over their initial £2 million contribution to help meet the costs of slope stabilisation works at Bervie Braes.

“While this is disappointing news, council officials are arranging to meet engineers from Transport Scotland at the earliest opportunity to discuss options for the project.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: “While Transport Scotland engineering experts commented on this work to stabilise the slopes at Bervie Braes, it was ultimately taken forward by Aberdeenshire Council employing a specification and cost estimate determined by the Council’s consultants.

“The Scottish Government’s contribution of £2 million to assist with engineering works necessary was a one-off special contribution, in a tight financial climate, with any shortfall made up by Aberdeenshire Council.”

Heavy rain caused landslips at the braes in February of last year, forcing hundreds of residents living beneath the slopes to be evacuated.