Ousted councillor uses final casting vote to reject Tesco bid

Douglas Ross – to be removed a month earlier than expected

A proposed new Tesco Express store was rejected by Councillors on the casting vote of ousted planning committee chairman Douglas Ross.

In what looks likely to be his last act as chairman of the planning and regulatory services committee, Councillor Ross “reluctantly” moved that an application to establish the new Tesco Express store on the site of the Bonnie Earl pub in Bishopmill should be rejected.

Officers from the council’s transportation section had recommended refusal on the grounds that the lack of adequate parking would lead to an increase in on-street parking to the detriment of road safety.

Transportation officers also had safety concerns with delivery vehicles manoeuvring.

Councillor Ross said all members of the committee were generally supportive of the application but some had concerns over parking.

However, Councillor Ross said that he felt the issues could be resolved and hoped to see an application resubmitted “very quickly” and encouraged the firm to reapply.

He said: “Transportation officers have provided a solution to the issues highlighted with this application and I am hopeful we can have dialogue with the applicant and the council to quickly resolve this issue.

“I am in no doubt that a shop like this would be a beneficial addition to the local area. Adequate parking can be provided by a relatively simple solution offered by the council so we can have the shop with no concerns about where people are going to be able to stop or park their vehicles.”

Later at the meeting Councillor Ross made a passionate final speech after learning that moves to remove him from the ruling administration group were to be brought forward to a special meeting of the Full Council next week.

While the Fochabers/Lhanbryde member will chair a hearing today on the future of the West Approach Road in Elgin, his post as chair of the planning committee looks set to be passed to his current deputy, Heldon & Laich Councillor Chris Tuke.

Following Tuesday’s meeting Councillor Tuke told the P&J: “Under Douglas our committee has improved its performance. As he said during the meeting, officers and staff are working well together.

“If I’m appointed I hope to follow in the same way – it is nothing personal against Douglas but it will be the Council’s decision whether or not I get the appointment.”

Councillor Ross said that he had only just learned the administration wished to remove him a month sooner than he had expected, adding: “I will be a bit sad to leave the chairman’s seat because I think I have been removed for reasons unrelated to my ability to chair the meetings.

“Hopefully I can look back on my time as chairman of the committee and consider it a successful one.”

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