Councillors have criticised plans to rank north-east communities by how badly they are expected to be hit by Brexit and Covid pressures.
Within the document – still being updated – are details of a “vulnerability” scale to highlight the Banff and Buchan areas most “at risk” of suffering harm from a variety of factors, including Brexit and Covid.
Contained within Aberdeenshire Council’s draft update of the Communities Plan 2020-2022, it draws on factors such as people’s age, health, the economy, coronavirus and accessibility.
And they have been used to identify Fraserburgh as the community facing the greatest challenges, followed by Banff and Troup.
But the labelling of wards in such a way was deemed “dangerous” by some councillors who also dismissed the plan as “not robust enough”.
They criticised the assessments for having the potential to “scatter-gun” suggestions of risk and problems without proper assessment.
Some said the plan appeared to look at the challenges faced by the business community without any evidence the sector had been spoken to.
And they also questioned some of the assertions made in the plan – such as the description of Fraserburgh as a “tourism hotspot”.
The draft plan states: “Covid-19 will negatively impact sectors that account for a relatively large proportion of the workforce, especially accommodation and food services, transport and retail, which taken together account for a large proportion of the area’s employee count.
“These types of sectors are particularly vulnerable given the unprecedented ‘lockdown’ measures implemented by national governments throughout the world.
“The effects are likely to be felt for some time yet and statistics detailing the extent of the impact will not be published for some time.
“Banff and Fraserburgh are more vulnerable to Brexit than other areas in Banff and
Banff councillor John Cox, however, said: “The fact that you’ve made the comment that particular areas are more vulnerable when it comes to Brexit makes a number of assumptions that some would agree with and some won’t.
“You need to be delicate when referring to these things and I think there’s a danger of scatter-gunning risks without examining them.”
He was echoing earlier criticism from fellow ward representative Glen Reynolds who called for “truly open and transparent public participation and inclusion of the business community” to be at the forefront of plans.
“There are a number of partnership and engagement activities stated, none of which refer to any business community aspect,” Mr Reynolds said.
“It just seems to be that here we have a community plan and the businesses or any aspect of the business community are not indicated in it.”
Chairwoman Doreen Mair also criticised the categorisation of her own hometown of Fraserburgh as a tourism hotspot, instead saying it was more correctly described as an industrial town.
She added: “What has come across very clearly is that we are not that impressed by this report and before and finalisation we want it to come back to committee and for all the points that we have addressed to be put into the new report and for it to be much more robust.”
In a new move, the documents which form the plan will be made available to the public and those behind the progress held to account by communities.