The reopening of the Bervie Braes road to vehicular traffic dominated discussion at Stonehaven Community Council last Tuesday, with member Allan Sutherland calling on Stonehaven’s four elected members to prepare their argument now, for when the issue comes to the area committee in February.
The matter had been raised at public question time at the area committee earlier that day but there had been no debate and Mr Sutherland accused council officials of stifling discussion on the issue.
“What I saw today was council officials out-manouvering elected members and shutting discussion down. Their attitute is the road is not going to be opened - end of story.
“Our councillors need to build up their argument now and not wait until the expected report comes before them.
“Aberdeenshire Council do not want to take on responsibility for the road and will put up any spurious argument to stop it happening. That was the impression everyone in the audience had today.”
Councillor Wendy Agnew said the matter was due to come to the area committe when they could make their recommendation. It would then go on to the Policy and Resources Committee for a decision.
Area manager William Munro had said it was not appropriate for councillors to say anything as they had to read the expected report first.
Member George Strang said it was clear that the council want to shut the road permanently.
Councillor Agnew said: “The council are afraid of people suing them. That is why they are running scared. I have lived here all my life and I think that is a knee-jerk reaction.”
Member David Fleming questioned whether Aberdeenshire Council have the right level of risk management expertise or whether they would bring other people in to do the analysis.
Mr Strang said: “They are going to have to spend money pehaps a barrier at the top and sensors (to give warning of slips). My guess is this will cost £200,000 to £300,000.
“Dunnottar Castle attracts 70,000 visitors a year. If 10,000 do not come to Stonehaven because the road is closed and they might have spent £10 each, that is £100,000 a year in lost income.”
Member Ian Balgowan said that if the risk of landslips was used to shut the Braes road, Shorehead in Stonehaven would have to be shut for the same reason.
Councillor Graeme Clark said the council was being ridiculous regarding risk. “A three tonne limit is the way forward and that is what we will push for. We know how important this is.”
Greenden Road is not a suitable alternative route as it is too narrow and chairman Michael Innes asked why planning gain money had been allocated to create a footpath down the road, yet nothing had been done. Councillor Agnew said this was because the developer did not have control of the required land.