Labour refusal to accept vote on Union Terrace Gardens “an insult to democracy”


By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP Kevin Stewart has criticised Labour following Johann Lamont’s wish to scrap the City garden Project which the people of Aberdeen voted for in a referendum in March. 

Ms Lamont has said that the £140million regeneration project at Union Terrace Gardens is too divisive and too expensive.

The Scottish Labour leader gave her backing to local Labour councillors’ intention to axe the development if the party is elected to run the city council at next month’s local elections, despite the fact that local residents gave the plans their approval in a city-wide referendum last month.  Local Labour politicians had called on city residents to oppose the new development.

Aberdonians were asked if they wanted to keep the old gardens or back the City Garden Project redevelopment.  During the referendum more than 86,000 votes were cast online, by post and by telephone.  There were 45,301 votes in favour of the project, with 41,175 people opposed to the plans, giving those in favour a majority of over 4,000.

Labour has since questioned the validity of the referendum, although the party has been unable to present evidence of fraud.  Labour MSP Sarah Boyack put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament claiming that a referendum was the wrong way to decide the fate of the project, saying local councillors should have decided.   

Reacting to Ms Lamont’s comments on the development, Mr Stewart, the MSP for Aberdeen Central, said:

“It is astonishing that Ms Lamont refuses to accept the result of a fair and transparent vote on the Granite Web proposal.  Indeed, her position is an insult to democracy.

“It really is time Labour grew-up and accepted the result of the referendum.

“The people of Aberdeen want to enhance its standing as a vibrant modern European city, and not to follow Labour and their disregard for democracy back into the dark ages.

“Labour councillors face a choice – they can accept the result and play their part in what will be a great development for Aberdeen or they can follow their unpopular leader by digging their heels in.

“If they opt for the latter and continue with their unwavering negativity then hey will pay a heavy price for this at the ballot box.”