No answer yet over Bervie Braes funding

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A MULTI-million pound project to shore up dangerous cliffs in Stonehaven is still on hold after quotes for the work came in significantly over-budget.

The Scottish Government has not yet replied to Aberdeenshire Council’s request for additional funding, after tenders for the stabilisation work at the Bervie Braes came back more than £2 million over budget. Work had been due to start in April.

The project on the braes had been estimated to cost £3 million, after Finance Secretary John Swinney assigned Transport Scotland engineers to assess the situation. However, contractors quoted figures in excess of £5 million for the work, the Leader understands.

The local authority had been due to commit £1 million, with grant funding of £2 million coming from the Scottish Government, but the council has said there is “no budget” to meet the latest shortfall.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “We are awaiting a response from the Scottish Government and are considering options should no additional funding be available. ”A report will be submitted to the policy and resources committee later in the year to provide an update.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said the Government had received Aberdeenshire Council’s letter requesting more funding and will “respond in due course.”

Newly elected MSP Nigel Don MSP has written to John Swinney about the issue: “I understand that it is now believed that the necessary work in Stonehaven will cost around £5 million rather than the £3 million previously suggested – the figure on which a contribution from the Scottish Government was agreed.

“This has obvious and serious implications for Aberdeenshire Council’s capital budget. I would be grateful for your advice on the steps currently being taken by your officials and the council to find the necessary funds please, as it remains a matter of urgency for the community that the work is carried out.”

Mr Don commented: “I took a great interest in the situation at Bervie Braes during the campaign and made a commitment to do whatever I could to help see the work done as early as possible.

“It is important to let my constituents know that I am on the case already and I will keep them informed of any progress.”

Councillor Graeme Clark added: “Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government must work together to fund this work. The residents below the braes need to know that the work will start soon, before the winter weather.”

Councillors had been due to take a decision on whether the project would go ahead at this month’s meeting of the policy and resources committee, but discussions have again been postponed.

There was already a question mark over the future of the work, as some of the residents underneath the braes had refused to sign liability waivers required by the council.