A row has broken out over the future of a former school site in the Mearns.
Aberdeenshire Council’s ruling administration announced last week it was delaying the sale of the former Mearns Academy site in Laurencekirk.
The decision was taken to allow the Laurencekirk Development Trust (LDT) the chance to develop a business case for the site, which has lain unused since the new £28million community campus opened last August.
But now local opposition councillors have called for the future of the site to be considered in two parts – as the community is clear what it wants to do with the playing fields.
They called for a debate at the end of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee on Tuesday.
It prompted Councillor Alison Evison, from the ruling Partnership administration, to accuse the opposition group of refusing to support the extension for party political reasons.
The former teacher said: “The Partnership Administration wants to support entrepreneurial communities in developing solutions to meet their local needs.
“We therefore decided to give the community in Laurencekirk time to develop a robust business plan and to identify funding streams to support its aspirations.”
“It was very disappointing that the local Tory and Lib-Dem councillors could not put aside political differences and see the good news and opportunity which the policy and resources committee decision delivered to Laurencekirk.”
But Tory councillor George Carr dismissed her claims last night, and insisted he and his fellow Mearns councillors were simply keen to see the plans move forward.
He said: “Opposition councillors are supportive of the additional time, however we wish to separate the playing fields from the former academy buildings.
“The community has been clear all along on the importance of the playing fields, so we wanted to make our position clear that we wanted no further delay.
“We were also looking for clarity that this will be coming back to area committee in the future.”
Meanwhile, LDT plans to hold a charette – a public exhibition – at a future date to outline the potential future options for the site, and ask for the community’s feedback.