Aberdeen has emerged as the front runner in a competition to find the ugliest town in Scotland – just days after picking up Britain in Bloom’s top accolade.
The Granite City has been shortlisted for the annual Carbuncle Awards and heads the nominees for the Plook on a Plinth category, which seeks Scotland’s most dismal town.
Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch, Leven, Lochgelly and Maddiston join it on the roll of dishonour.
The awards are run by Scottish architecture and planning magazine Urban Realm, whose editor John Glenday accused Aberdeen’s civic leaders of squandering the city’s oil wealth.
He highlighted the decline of Union Street and said the decision to build one of Britain’s largest shopping malls beside Aberdeen’s train station had exacerbated the city centre’s deterioration.
He added: “Many cities would kill for the advantages that Aberdeen has, but it has squandered that opportunity.”
Yesterday, news that Europe’s oil capital was a contender in the competition no city wants to win was met with both surprise and derision.
The leader of Aberdeen Civic Society, Dominic Fairlie, said Aberdeen did not deserve a place on the list.
He added: “There are lots of parts of Aberdeen that are very, very beautiful but I suppose the point they are making is that there is a lot of money in the city and perhaps it doesn’t always get spent on deserving projects.
“I know that there are decisions that have been taken that many people are not happy with but I don’t think Aberdeen deserves this nomination.
“I would hope it wouldn’t actually become the carbuncle of the year.”
The city council’s finance convener Willie Young said it was “simply untrue” that civic leaders had squandered Aberdeen’s oil wealth.
He said: “It should be remembered that Aberdeen City Council receives not one penny from the oil companies, with all the money going directly to either Edinburgh or London.”
He added: “Nobody in the world can say that Marischal College is a carbuncle of a building.
“Its historic architecture lends itself to its own beauty and it reflects Aberdeen well.
“Aberdeen has been voted within several polls as the happiest city in the UK and having just again won the Britain in Bloom award for 2014, Aberdeen has a lot going for it.”
John Reynolds, the city’s deputy lord provost, accused the “Glasgow-based judges” of being woefully misinformed about Aberdeen.
He added: “The fact of the matter is that everything to do with oil goes straight down to London and we get the scraps when they are sent back.
“In fact, we have not squandered anything and there is not a great deal we can do to bring that money back to Aberdeen.
“We are an affluent city, but we get the lowest settlement of any local authority in Scotland.”
John O’ Groats won the unwelcome accolade in 2010 and Inverness was also in the running the same year.
And despite being set among stunning lochs and mountains, Fort William has been nominated three times in the past 13 years.
Aberdeen’s nomination emerged just days after the city grabbed gold at the 50th Britain in Bloom awards.
Returning to form, the Granite City scooped the top prize in the city category of the UK-wide horticultural competition, for the 11th time – its first triumph since 2006.