Co-leader Douglas Lumsden is facing calls to “come clean” on how a £150 million revamp of Aberdeen city centre and beach will be paid for.
The proposals – expected to be include in the capital budget to be agreed this afternoon – include potentially putting public money into a new football stadium for Aberdeen FC, a replacement Beach Leisure Centre, improvements to the Beach Ballroom and new walking and cycling routes between the city centre and the seafront.
Yesterday, Conservative council co-leader Mr Lumsden pointed to two new UK schemes – the Shared Prosperity Fund and the Levelling Up Fund – as means of bankrolling it all, as well as capital grant funding from the Scottish Government and increased borrowing.
SNP Torry and Ferryhill councillor Audrey Nicoll told The P&J: “Douglas Lumsden left an entire city confused as to how we will fund a £150m bill – and he needs to come clean and be honest with folk by setting out how much this will cost tax payers in Aberdeen.
“The fact he has been forced to admit that the council will borrow even more cash to fund his spending spree raises some very worrying questions about the competency of the council leadership.”
But the council co-leader hit back last night: “I am confident that when I present the administration’s Covid recovery budget, all will be revealed as to how we intend to pay for our proposals.
“The SNP needs to explain their plans for city centre masterplan upgrade as managing the decline is certainly not an option.
“Of course if they are suggesting the Scottish Government pay for it then we will all be in agreement, however I suspect the citizens of Aberdeen are not holding their breath to that possibility.”
Aberdeen FC fought hard for planning permission for its joint training ground and stadium at Kingsford, on the city’s outskirts.
While players have trained at Cormack Park since 2019, the future of the £50m, 20,000-seat stadium was thrown into doubt by the financial toll of Covid.
Council sources have since revealed they would be willing to bear some of the cost of a replacement on the site of the former Hilton Double Tree hotel to entice the club to remain near the city centre.
Aberdeen’s club commercial director, Rob Wicks, said: “This is good news for the city centre and surrounding area as businesses and organisations, like ourselves, seek to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“The club has been heartened by the council’s recognition of our major role within the community and our contribution to the local economy.
“We are keen to see how the club, along with Sport Aberdeen and other stakeholders, could play our part in these plans for the regeneration of the beachfront.
“It’s obviously early days but we are certainly open to exploring this further.”