A north-east councillor was last night angered that a decision on whether or not Macduff retains its night watchmen could be taken out of his hands.
Councillor Hamish Partridge’s concerns come amid local skipper John Clark’s belief that if he cannot be guaranteed the safety of his vessel or crew he would sail another 10 minutes up the coast to berth at Fraserburgh.
Yesterday, Mr Clark met council officers and the harbour’s advisory board to discuss the future of the service in a behind closed-doors meeting.
Speaking afterwards, he said the authority’s scheme to replace the two men currently based at the port with CCTV would not keep people safe.
“Prevention is better than cure,” he said.
“And I would not like to be one of those councillors or council officers there who has to make a decision on that. I’m not sure I would be able to live with myself if someone ends up getting hurt or killed because I voted to remove the night watchmen.
“At the end of the day, the safety of the vessel and the crew is the most important thing. And if I feel like we aren’t safe, we sadly just won’t come to Macduff.”
Mr Partridge, who was not permitted to attend yesterday’s meeting despite being an elected official for the town, accused the council of “kicking the issue into long grass”.
Councillors are set to discuss the night watchmen proposals on June 1, at which time new councillors could be voted in with little understanding of the history of the situation.
“This is cutting the throat of Macduff,” he said.
“I’ve said this has been kicked into the long grass. I wasn’t invited to that meeting because the council knows I would have challenged them to deal with the matter now.”
Banff and Buchan area committee chairman John Cox added there was a “willingness” to find a solution locally.
Stephen Archer, the council’s director of infrastructure services, has said only two local councillors raised the matter through the “promoted issues” framework – an A4 questionnaire to highlight a particular issue worthy of discussion within a councillor’s ward.
He added: “Be assured we are fully aware of the health and safety responsibilities and implication both of ourselves regarding employees of this council and of the harbour facility.”