Councillors last night backed repairs to a historic north-east beach front – despite concerns over the cost.
Harsh weather in 2013 tore down a section of sea wall at Scotstown, near Banff, and exposed a gas main, leaving the site vulnerable to further wear and tear.
Councillors have now approved a rolling programme of strengthening work at the village and given Aberdeenshire Council’s landscape team the power to approve tenders for the project from private firms.
Members of the Banff and Buchan area committee also gave permission to spend 25% more than the wall’s estimate repair cost of £445,000.
The council’s infrastructure boss, Stephen Archer, had strongly advised councillors to back the proposals to avoid risking further damage from delays.
However, some members expressed fears that allowing officers to approve works without their input was setting a dangerous precedent.
Fraserburgh councillor Ian Tait told colleagues: “I’m quite concerned.
“If I’ve understood the recommendation correctly, the committee won’t really be agreeing a tender, it’s agreeing a blank cheque. To ask for approval to spend £100,000 more than the estimated price is excessive.
“The project is worthy of support,” he added.
“The principle here, however, is public accountability of public money. I can see no delay – tenders for other companies come to this committee, what is the difference here?”
Banff councillor Ian Gray suggested the allowance for extra money was justified.
“Surely it needs that bit of leeway, nobody knows the extent of the damage,” he said.
Is it estimated that the local authority could have to spend more than £3,300 to rebuild every foot of the wall.
Tenders for the work will now be invited through Public Contracts Scotland.
As part of yesterday’s approval, £390,000 of work to strengthen the intact sections of the sea wall will also be completed over the next three years.