By Martin Kelly
Supporters of the Aberdeen City Garden Project have claimed that the decision to scrap the multi-million pound development has cost the local economy £122 million per year which would have created 6,500 jobs.
The claims follow news that an application for special funding for the city, which included the project, cannot now go ahead because the centrepiece project has been cancelled by the new Labour led administration.
Critics now claim that the scale of the economic damage resulting from the decision has been made clear following confirmation that a bid for TIF funding, that does not include the project, will not be considered.
Responding to a question in the Scottish Parliament by Kevin Stewart MSP, Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil confirmed that Aberdeen had been invited to apply for funding for a package which included the City Garden Project and as such it would not be possible for the funding application to simply be transferred to another project.
The Labour led group, headed by Councillor Barney Crockett, threw out plans for the project after the party were returned the largest group at last May’s local elections.
The decision went against the wishes of the people of Aberdeen who had voted in favour of the redevelopment project after a democratic referendum was held. A referendum of people in Aberdeen earlier this year on the City Garden Project returned 45,301 votes in favour of the plans compared to 41,175 opposed.
Supporters of the project have also pointed out that the city’s Labour-led administration has sabotaged funding for other Aberdeen projects which would have taken place.
As well as contributing to the City Garden Project, Aberdeen’s TIF package would also have secured funding for the Aberdeen Art Gallery, a pedestrian walking route around the city centre, the redevelopment of St Nicholas House, and the redevelopment of the Upper Denburn area.
The combined effect of all these projects would have been to create an additional £122 million GVA per annum for the city over the next 25 years and to create an estimate 6,500 additional jobs over the same period.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central Kevin Stewart said:
“It is quite clear that the Labour-led administration simply did not think things through before scrapping much needed Aberdeen projects, including the City Garden Project.
“As if ignoring the democratic will of the people of Aberdeen wasn’t bad enough, the Labour-led administration’s actions have dropped a bombshell on other city-centre projects.
“We clearly warned them of the extent of the damage they would do by sabotaging Aberdeen’s TIF business case.
“It is the people of Aberdeen who are the ones who will pay the price of Labour’s power trip. Their administration really does seem to have an inverse Midas-touch, where everything they stick their oar into turns to dust.
“Where on earth do they find the arrogance to believe they know better than the majority of voters in Aberdeen?
“Their attempts to come up with a high-risk fudge have come apart at the seams and left the Labour-led administration looking like a laughing stock.
“People in Aberdeen deserve far, far better than the half-baked plans they are getting.”