Link road campaigners have their say over £8m plans

A leading surgeon at Dr Gray’s Hospital was amongst the dozens of people who gave passionate pleas to Moray Council that they scrap plans for the West Approach Road.

At a special meeting of the planning and regulatory services committee local people addressed councillors after being allowed a hearing over the controversial road plan.

Among them was Dr Milind Mehta, who insisted that if the road was allowed to go ahead it would “destroy his soul”.

Dr Mehta pointed out that throughout the process those promoting the new link road admitted under questioning that they did not actually know for certain what the benefits or adverse affects might be from its creation.

He likened that to his own job, saying: “If a child came to me with a broken bone and I told the parent ‘I have not researched this treatment but it might work’, would any member of this population be convinced by me?

“Would they be happy for me to treat their child? Can I knock down the doors of the officers who drafted this plan if my son gets bashed down and take them to court and sue them?

“This road poses a serious risk to the vulnerable communities of this population – it would destroy my soul to be at the receiving end of this.”

Among those making a plea at the meeting was local school pupil Kelsey Cameron who said: “I go to school past the new road that is going to be built so it will be really busy and dangerous.”

Local resident and Elgin shop owner Alistair Grant pointed out the “devastating” effect the road would have on Elgin Town Centre: “The town centre would be left slowly spiral down in both quality and quantity.”

During the meeting Mr Grant was challenged by Council Leader Alan Wright over his assertion that footfall in Elgin Town Centre was falling when the Elgin Bid had told councillors recently that it was increasing.

Mr Grant responded that Elgin Bid were in the business of “talking up” Elgin but his many years of experience as a local retailer meant he saw a very different story.

Chair of the meeting was Councillor Douglas Ross who said: “We did have the power to hold the meeting without representation from local people but we decided we wanted them here in the chamber to voice their opinions and allow us to question them.”

Decision Today

Plea after plea was made to councillors such that the process could not be completed in a day, resulting in an early decision that the hearing would continue into a second day.

A council spokesman said: “The first day of the hearing before Moray Council’s planning and regulatory services committee was taken up with presentations on behalf of the council – which is promoting the scheme – and from representatives of objectors.

“Having listened to representations from both sides, councillors will begin their deliberations when the hearing resumes tomorrow.”

The scheme would see Edgar Road extended to meet the southern end of Wittet Drive and the construction of a new road bridge over the Aberdeen-Inverness railway line, as well as a new signalled junction where Witter Drive meets the A96 trunk road at West Road.

However, the planning application has attracted 800 objections and only ten in support.

Moray Council insist that the new route would promote economic development in Elgin.

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