A Banff businessman is urging Aberdeenshire Council to “come clean” and reveal the mystery objector to plans for an Aldi in Macduff.
Spotty Bag Shop owner Des Cheyne pushed for more clarity on the matter after people on social media accused him of being the anonymous opponent stalling the project.
Proposals to bring the discount chain to Macduff were taken off the table in September due to a last-minute letter of disagreement – just hours before it was set to be approved.
It was yet another blow for those eager to see the highly anticipated Aldi store come to fruition after more than a year of delays.
Council should be ‘open and transparent’ about objector
The Press and Journal has repeatedly asked the local authority for answers.
Despite several queries, the council refused to reveal the identity of the objector due to complex planning red tape.
And Mr Cheyne believes it is this “lack of transparency” that has prompted the false accusations in Banff and Macduff.
Stressing that any speculation suggesting he is said objector are “totally untrue”, he accused the local authority of “shrouding everything in secrecy”.
‘Silly allegations’ risk local luminary’s ‘good name’
Mr Cheyne said: “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into helping the two towns thrive, and now all my hard work has been overturned over night with such silly allegations.
“The council doesn’t seem to be taking any accountability for not coming forward with the objector’s name, and this has come to the detriment of myself and my business.
“It seems to me that all of this has been shrouded in secrecy, which is pretty poor given it’s such an important application for the community.”
‘I’m all for Aldi coming – it wasn’t me’
Aldi had been given permission to build the store on Duff Street last year but the plans came tumbling down after rivals Tesco launched a legal challenge.
This was, however, unsuccessful and the discount retailer submitted fresh proposals involving a housing scheme with 22 homes and a potential future GP practice.
Councillors have now been urged to approve the project again when they meet tomorrow, as there is a “retail deficiency” in the area.
So who IS the mystery objector?
And Mr Cheyne “fully agrees” with that, saying the new store can “only be seen as a positive” because it will bring more people to the area.
He has “always been open” about his support for the project.
Tesco, which stands to lose millions if a rival Aldi is built, has not replied to any Press and Journal emails asking if they had any involvement with the last-minute objection.
“I haven’t had a clue where that [rumour] even came from,” Mr Cheyne told The P&J.
“I’ve never given any inclination that I’m against it – because I’m genuinely not. I think it would be great for the two towns, as well as for local businesses.
“In fact, we even extended our restaurant on the back of a new supermarket potentially coming to the area.”
The revived plans for a new Aldi store in Macduff were approved on Tuesday, November 28: