Plans by Moray Council to push ahead with a £8.5m link road in Elgin were placed in doubt this week when a committee voted to remove the item from the new Moray Local Plan.
The controversial link road has remains on the council agenda despite drastic cuts having to be made over a number of key services to meet a £30m cut in the Moray Council budget.
Fierce opposition from residents and opposition groups has so far failed to move the council administration from pressing ahead with the road plans. However, on Tuesday members of the council’s planning and regulatory services committee voted to remove the road from the key Moray Local Plan.
The decision has created a conflict within the council in that the road plans had already been supported by the economic and infrastructure services committee – and that will result in the matter now being referred back to the next Full Council meeting in January.
Welcoming the decision was Buckie councillor Gordon McDonald, who is the SNP opposition spokesman on the committee. Councillor McDonald said: “The SNP has been consistent on this issue and the Council’s administration and the Tory Leader’s own party are clearly split.
“We do not believe this is an effective use of council money. Notwithstanding the separate planning process that the current Western Link Road proposal is going through there is an obvious concern that if it were refused planning consent it would then still be hanging over the heads of people for many years to come.”
Mr McDonald added that there was “clear opposition” to the administration spending £8.5m on the project at a time when other key services such as libraries were being cut.
He said: “It is time that the Independent/Tory Administration stopped spending money on unnecessary aspects of traffic management. People understand the need to invest in a new school access and to provide access to housing sites but they struggle to understand the money being committed to the railway crossing part of the project.”
Tuesday’s meeting saw a clash between Tory councillor’s when the committee chairman, Councillor Douglas Ross, proposed the removal of the road from the Local Plan, saying that it “would not interfere with current planning applications” for the road. That statement was described as a “smokescreen” by his Tory colleague and leader of the council, Councillor Allan Wright.
The committee, consisting of seven Tory/Independent administration councillors and six from the SNP and Labour opposition, voted 8-5 in favour of the proposal.