A flagship Aberdeenshire Council policy has been branded “shambolic” and “undemocratic” – by members of the local authority.
Regenerating Fraserburgh, Peterhead Banff and Macduff was put at the top of the new leadership’s agenda when the SNP-led Partnership seized control at Woodhill House last year.
The new strategy was unveiled to members of the council’s Banff and Buchan area committee yesterday.
But while they welcomed the renewed regeneration drive, Partnership councillors joined opposition members in criticising the scheme.
And they raised serious concerns that they would be sidelined in the decision making process.
Three partnerships have been proposed by council co-leaders Richard Thomson and Martin Kitts-Hayes – Fraserburgh, Peterhead, and Banff and Macduff.
However, only two of the five councillors nominated to be on each partnership would be from local wards. The others would be chosen by the infrastructure committee.
SNP councillor and committee chairman John Cox said: “The idea that it is nine councillors from outside the area and only six from the wards undermines local members.
“I don’t get involved with matters in Banchory – I’m at a loss as to why this formula is in place. To me it’s not democratic.”
Fellow Partnership councillor Hamish Partridge – who said councillors who were not elected locally had “no right” to sit on such groups – said: “This paper has been put forward by two people – no one else. This whole thing is a shambles.”
But SNP councillor Brian Topping branded his colleague “childish” for singling out the co-leaders for criticism, and said the proposals were a way to move regeneration in the towns forwards.
Not all Partnership councillors dissented against the co-leader’s plans – Mr Topping as well as councillors Charles Buchan and Ross Cassie voted in favour of the plans.
However, they were defeated seven votes to three in a series of motions which challenged the strategy.
The committee rejected the membership formula for the new local partnerships, and also proposed creating a fourth partnership, dividing Banff and Macduff into two bodies.
The recommendations of the committee will now be discussed by the infrastructure services committee.