Campaigners fighting to halt plans for a £8.5million link road in Elgin say a widespread poll amounts to “overwhelming” evidence that Moray Council are out of touch with the people.
The local authority has already invested £1.5million into the Western Link Road project despite fierce public opposition most notably from the Elgin Designing Streets Action Group.
Councillors will now discuss the proposals at a meeting of the Full Council this week against the backdrop of a survey carried out by the campaigners that shows 90% of those who responded are not in favour of the link road, while 91% insist that Moray Council is not listening to the views of the public.
Asked if they felt the road would benefit Elgin and Moray economically, a claim consistently made by the leader of Moray Council, Allan Wright, 87% said no while only 9% agreed with the views of the Heldon & Laich Councillor.
The campaign group has written to all 25 councillors ahead of the Wednesday’s meeting calling on them remove the controversial plan from the new Moray Local Plan.
However, Councillor Wright insists that a great number of changes have already been made to the plans and that proves that Moray Council has listened to the public concerns – but he added: “I remain convinced of the project’s value in economic terms.”
Almost 500 people returned survey forms with most of these from Elgin residents. They were also asked if the project represents good value for money in the current economic climate – only 5% agreed it was while 89% disagreed.
Moray Greens chairman James MacKessack-Leitch undertook an analysis of the result on behalf of the campaign group. He said: “There are serious concerns about the validity of evidence, or lack thereof, presented to expand upon the economic case for the proposals.
“There are also genuine fears as to the impact on the High Street and town centre, both of which need to be addressed fully and swiftly if the multi-million pound proposals are to gain any credibility.”
Councillor Wright has admitted to surprise at the outcome of the survey, saying: “The conclusions are in line, perhaps unexpectedly, with the views that have been expressed many times by that group.”
The Council Leader added that a figure of £12.7million stated in the survey as the cost of the project was, however, inaccurate – a point conceded by campaigners who said that its reduction to £8.5million was announced after the survey had begun.