Donside: Council papers demolish Labour claims on Haudagain roundabout

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   By a Newsnet reporter

Labour candidate for Aberdeen Donside Willie Young has been left facing serious questions after an Aberdeen City Council paper to his own finance committee completely undermined his stance on the Haudagain roundabout.

The Labour candidate has repeatedly called for work at the traffic blackspot to begin immediately, but papers from Aberdeen Council make it clear that it will take three and a half years to rehouse local residents and perform the necessary preparatory work in order for the road improvement to commence.

Aberdeen City Council officials have made the analysis in a paper to be considered by the city’s Finance and Resources Committee this week.  Mr Young is chair of the committee.

The council officials also make it clear that closure of the notorious roundabout before completion of the new Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) would not alleviate traffic congestion in the area, and in fact may make the situation even worse. 

The SNP Government are delivering the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and have promised to deliver and pay for improvements to the Haudagain as part of the project, once the AWPR is in place, to alleviate congestion.

On Tuesday of this week, Mr Young repeated his call for work to begin immediately on the roundabout, and again claimed that there is no reason to wait until the completion of the APWR.

Speaking to STV news, Mr Young said that Labour was frustrated by the Scottish Government’s plan to wait until completion of the APWR, and added:

“We don’t have to wait until 2018.  It’s unacceptable to wait until 2018.  We can move forward on this quickly, and if I get elected that’s what I will do.”

However official documents published by the council make clear that the Labour candidate has pledged a timescale he almost certainly knows is impossible.

According to the documents:

  • Once the AWPR is complete in April 2018, works will commence on the Haudagain upgrade which means that all relocations, demolitions and new build need to be complete.
  • Appendix 3 details some of the key milestones and dates that need to be attained if we are to be in this position by 2018. Taking into account that the new build re-provision may take up to 3.5 years to complete, this leaves a very short lead in period for site assembly and other associated tasks.
  • In particular the decanting and demolition process needs to be phased and managed sensitively in advance in order to ensure minimal disruptions to our tenants.

Commenting, SNP candidate for Aberdeen Donside Mark McDonald said:

“The report going before the Finance & Resources Committee – the committee which Willie Young himself chairs – makes it crystal clear that it will take three-and-a-half years to move people in Middlefield out of their homes and into other properties.

“It is there in black and white in the papers he will be discussing, and there is simply no way for him to escape that fact. This dynamite revelation demolishes Labour’s bogus stance on the Haudagain roundabout.

“It means that every time Willie Young tries to claim it can be done more quickly, he is guilty of either wilfully misleading the people of Donside or simply not knowing what he is talking about as council finance convener.

“People in Aberdeen Donside deserve better than someone who wants to send the bulldozers through Middlefield before the people living there have new homes to move into.

“Trying to close the Haudagain to start work now would simply cause even more traffic chaos, and leave people living in the area without homes to live in.

“It is utterly dishonest to suggest otherwise – and Willie Young has some serious explaining to do to the people of Donside.

“Why has he continued to claim that work on the Haudagain could begin immediately when his own council officers are telling him that it can’t?

“The reality is that after decades of neglect by the other parties, the SNP are delivering the by-pass and will also deliver the improvements to Haudagain as part of our billion pound package of investment for Aberdeen.”

The gaffe prone Labour candidate blundered again on last night’s STV hustings programme when he admitted his party had misinformed voters during a previous by-election campaign when Labour claimed that it was Glasgow that was being ripped off.

Commenting after the debate on STV Scotland Tonight – in which Labour’s by-election candidate Willie Young said “they’re absolutely wrong” about his own party colleagues’ statements in the Glasgow North East by-election in 2009 that Glasgow had been ripped off by the SNP Government – SNP candidate Mark McDonald said:

“Willie Young’s remarks are hugely embarrassing for Labour – he has just admitted that Labour say things in by-election campaigns that are untrue.  The people of Aberdeen Donside will draw the obvious conclusion that they can’t believe a word Labour say in this by-election.

“Labour have been caught red-handed, saying one thing in Glasgow and the exact opposite in Aberdeen. While Labour peddle dishonesty, the reality is that the SNP Government has delivered more funding for Aberdeen, in the teeth of Labour opposition in the central belt, and the first thing Willie Young and other members of the Labour-Tory administration did was increase their own pay by 5%.

“The SNP are delivering a £1 billion package of investment for Aberdeen – 4 new schools in Donside, new council housing, a new emergency care centre at Foresterhill, and of course major transport projects such as the by-pass and improvements to the Haudagain roundabout.

“While Labour in this by-election descend into attacking each other, the SNP will get on with delivering for Donside.”