Opposition politicians have voiced their doubts over a proposed £150 million investment to regenerate Aberdeen’s city centre and beach area.
The ruling Conservative and Labour administration on the city council want to use two UK Government funds to help with the multi-million-pound project.
Under the proposed investment, a number of projects would be undertaken around Union Street and the beachfront to refresh the area, including the creation of better walking and cycling routes linking the two areas.
The Evening Express previously revealed the council wants to build a new stadium for Aberdeen FC at the site occupied by the closed Doubletree Hotel.
Now council chiefs want to use the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and the Levelling Up Fund to make their vision a reality.
But opposition councillors have raised doubts about the proposals to regenerate Aberdeen’s city centre with SNP group leader councillor Alex Nicoll keen to get more details.
And they fear the council will have to borrow a lot of cash to pay for the revamp.
He said: “The ruling administration needs to clarify to the people of Aberdeen how exactly they plan to spend this £150m of borrowed money – including how much they plan to spend on a football stadium.
“Back in 2017, the SNP group proposed a beach masterplan be brought forward and this was something that was voted down by the ruling administration later that year.
“Whilst imitation is the greatest form of flattery, we have the current situation whereby no report or plans have been published and we certainly haven’t seen any consultation with the public to date so we really do need to know what they are planning to spend the money on.”
Liberal Democrat leader Ian Yuill fears any potential investment could pull funds away from other services.
He said: “The Liberal Democrats are very concerned by this Conservative/Labour proposal for the council to borrow another £150 million.
“This would mean the council making further multi-million-pound interest and debt repayments every year – millions of pounds that would then not be available to pay for vital services such as educating Aberdeen’s children.
“We also do not believe the council should be borrowing money to build a new football stadium at the beach.”
Meanwhile, Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart claims the cash that local leaders want to spend to regenerate Aberdeen’s city centre has already been earmarked for elsewhere leaving the city with nothing.
He said that the levelling up fund has been allocated for other local authorities in a pot with Aberdeen in a second pot yet to receive anything.
Kevin said: “It’s clear for all to see that the UK Government doesn’t consider Aberdeen to be a priority for these funds and, even if they did, the reality is that it would only provide a tiny fraction of the money needed.
“Douglas Lumsden is keen to promote funds that bypass the Scottish Parliament and undermine devolution – but seems totally out of the loop given the Tories dumped Aberdeen behind 123 other councils in the race to access cash.
“If the council is about to splash another £150m of taxpayers money then they need to be honest about where it is coming from because, at present, not a single penny is confirmed as coming from Westminster.”
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said the investment to regenerate Aberdeen’s city centre is a “real opportunity” for the authority.
He said: “I believe there is now a real opportunity for the council to work with Aberdeen Football Club, Sport Aberdeen, the Beach Ballroom and other stakeholders in and around the beach to develop 21st Century plans for Aberdeen’s renowned beach area.
“This unprecedented injection of £150m will help to ensure Aberdeen remains a vibrant, creative and ambitious city.”