CAMPAIGNERS HAVE HIT back at comments attributed to Moray Council convener Allan Wright and called on clarity over the status of council plans to create a Western Link Road in Elgin.
Calls have been led by Moray Greens, who say that people need clarity over the purpose of the road following comments by Cllr Wright that suggested a broken-down lorry causing extensive congestion on Monday would likely have never happened had the new road been in place.
A spokesman for Moray Greens and a leading campaigner against plans to create the Western Link Road, James MacKessack-Leitch, said: “Up until now Council members and officials have been at pains to stress that the proposed Western Link Road is categorically not a final piece in a new city centre bypass.
“For Cllr Wright to hint that this was never the case – or indeed, let the cat out of the bag – and that heavy goods vehicles will be routed through the south of Elgin in the future is extremely worrying, and requires urgent clarification.”
Campaigners say that early plans had suggested an A96 city centre bypass along Reiket Lane, Thornhill Road, Sandy Road and Glen Moray Drive, rejoining the A96 via the proposed Western Link Road along an extended Edgar Road and Wittet Drive – but these were never officially pursued.
Mr MacKessack-Leitch added: “Separately, a Moray Greens freedom of information request has found that the cost of the proposals to date has risen to £3.28million – and that council officers have spent 5760 hours developing and managing the project. That does not include the amount of time spent by planning officers working on the project as their hours are not recorded.
“To put the figures into context, 5760 hours is what standard a full time employee would work in slightly more than three years – so while vital frontline posts like classroom assistants have been cut in recent budgets, the Western Link Road project has effectively had a dedicated officer since at least 2012.”
The Moray Greens also claimed that the ongoing costs of the project had risen by a further £200,000, saying that the time had come for supporters of the proposals to “answer the hard questions about the value for money and economic benefits of the road”.
Does Elgin need a Western Link Road? Have your say on our poll this week – it is on the right sidebar of all our pages.