Donside: Tenants facing evictions threat after joint Labour/Tory vote over Haudagain

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
Residents living on land close to a notorious roundabout in Aberdeen are today facing the threat of evictions after the council’s Labour group were joined by the sole Conservative councillor in a vote to fast track upgrade work.
 
In heated exchanges, the Labour and Conservative alliance outvoted the SNP and Lib Dem groups by eight votes to seven to pass a motion calling for work on the Haudagain roundabout to be started ahead of schedule. 

There are now fears that tenants living in properties in the Middlefield area will be forced out of their homes in order to allow for work to begin earlier than planned. 

The local issue is among several that have dominated the by-election in the Donside constituency with candidates clashing over the timescale for the upgrade.  The Labour candidate Willie Young, who is also the council’s finance convenor, has ignored advice from his own council officials who have said that up to three and a half years is required before preparatory can begin.

Speaking to STV earlier this week, he said: “We can move forward on this quickly, and if I get elected that’s what I will do.”

However, in an official document council officers wrote: “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.”

The document added: “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.”

Over 2000 people are housed in the 900 odd homes, 70% of which are rented from the council.

The Scottish government has pledged to fund the upgrade work, which has been delayed they say because of legal hold-ups over the Aberdeen bypass.  It has been argued that any decision to start the roundabout upgrade before the bypass has been completed will exacerbate traffic problems.

The decision is potentially damaging for Labour’s candidate Willie Young who, as a councillor, took part in the vote which saw his party rely on the support of the Conservative councillor.

The Labour candidate has struggled in the campaign with his SNP opponent attacking his stance on tuition fees and council tax freeze agreement, which Mr Young has insisted should end in order to give local authorities the power to increase if they wish.

The Labour candidate has also come under fire for claiming Aberdeen was being “ripped off” by the Scottish Government after it emerged his party used the same slogan in 2009 during another by-election in Glasgow when their candidate Willie Bain attacked the SNP saying they gave too much money to Aberdeen.

The by-election follows the untimely death of SNP MSP Brian Adam who had been suffering from cancer.  The vote will take place this Thursday 20th June.