Opposition councillors have sparked a furious war of words by again calling for a fresh vote on reopening Union Street.
Plans to permanently pedestrianise the stretch between Market Street and Bridge Street were approved by a handful of elected members in November.
Last month, angry SNP and Liberal Democrats demanded the debate be brought back to the table – to be discussed by all 45 councillors.
But the plea was denied, with Lord Provost Barney Crockett claiming the move did not fall within council guidelines.
The opposition members are now redoubling their efforts, calling for emergency talks within days.
However, council leader Jenny Laing has already rubbished the request.
And she accused her opponents of acting like “political dinosaurs in the pocket of First Bus Aberdeen” rather than “forward-thinking politicians”.
‘Outrage’ after talks on Union Street reopening were snubbed in December
The letter calling for the meeting was submitted on Hogmanay, meaning the crunch talks would have to take place by Friday, January 14.
The SNP and Liberal Democrats want taxis and buses to be allowed back onto the thoroughfare while the final vision for Union Street is drawn up.
Lib Dem group leader Ian Yuill said: “People are outraged that the decision to close central Union Street was made by just four councillors.
“The Liberal Democrats agree.
“Our view is that all 45 councillors should make that important decision – and a special council meeting is the way to ensure that that happens.”
Pedestrianisation tied to multi-million-pound grants
The SNP and Lib Dems argue that the prolonged closure of the central strip should be overturned because it was initially introduced as a temporary Covid measure.
In November, the growth and resources committee voted to progress the scheme on the casting ballot of finance boss Ryan Houghton when votes tied at four apiece.
But there was fierce debate over the 350-metre strip known as Union Street central.
The decision to leave the area pedestrianised came against the wishes of disability campaigners.
And it caused councillor Marie Boulton to quit her role as city centre masterplan lead in protest.
Call to ‘put political differences aside’
SNP group leader Alex Nicoll believes that controversial decision will be overturned if it goes before the full council.
He said: “It is clear from speaking with colleagues across the political spectrum the majority of councillors wish to reopen Union Street to buses and taxis.
“The good folk of Aberdeen have been clear that they want this to happen.
“Our job as councillors is to listen and deliver for everyone we represent.
“I genuinely hope that political differences will be set aside at the special council meeting to deliver a solution for Union Street that works for all Aberdonians.”
Fresh debate on Union Street reopening a ‘waste of time’?
Council leader Jenny Laing has accused the opposition members of being “unwilling to accept a democratic decision”.
She said: “It is disappointing that the SNP and Liberal Democrats are unwilling to accept a democratic decision, and are continually trying to undermine our hard-working council officers by introducing motions that they know will end in defeat.
“Councillor Nicol and Yuill are both on record as saying buses should be able to run the whole length of Union Street.
“But their recent antics to undermine the democratic process are sending mixed messages to the citizens of Aberdeen regarding the future of Union Street.
“I now think it is time for them to come clean and nail their colours to the mast.
“Are they forward-thinking politicians in favour of the pedestrianisation of Union Street Central or are they political dinosaurs in the pocket of First Bus Aberdeen who want the city to remain firmly stuck in the past?”
Councillor Laing added: “This motion is going nowhere as it is unlikely to receive the two-thirds majority required to even be debated.
“Once again, we are seeing the SNP/Liberal Democrats wasting public money by forcing council officers to arrange and attend a meeting to discuss a motion which has no chance of succeeding, merely to further their petty party-political agenda.”
Council finance convener, Ryan Houghton, also dismissed the latest move.
He added: “After successive votes supporting the plans at committee and securing £20 million in funding from the UK Government, it’ll seem pathetic to many folk that the opposition are going for a special meeting to try and delay investment the city desperately needs.
“There is already a full council meeting scheduled in February which will discuss the football stadium, beachfront and city centre.
“It’s time for the opposition to make clear where they stand on the big questions facing the city.”