The Scottish Conservatives have welcomed a decision by the Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee to write to the Economy Minister seeking clarity on an additional £254m funding commitment made by the SNP in January.
Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said at the time of the £250m City Region Deal agreement that the extra investment would be spent on rail improvements, housing sites and a new flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk.
At Holyrood yesterday, North East MSP Ross Thomson challenged the Minister on the governance arrangements for the additional funding and timescales for starting work.
Mr Brown said that upgrades to the Aberdeen-Dundee rail line and the A90 would happen within the next ten years. He also confirmed that the extra funding would not be subject to the same scrutiny and governance as the agreed City Region Deal financing.
Mr Thomson, who sits on the City Region Deal Joint Committee as a city councillor, said today’s decision by both councils and Opportunity North East (ONE) chairman Sir Ian Wood to press the case with the minister was a step in the right direction.
He said: “I informed the committee today of Mr Brown’s response in the Chamber yesterday, which was that these crucial projects may not be completed until 2026.
“People in the North East who were told in January of the need of urgency in delivering these improvements for the region will be disappointed to hear we are looking at a ten year time-frame for delivery.
“Indeed in terms of the rail improvements to speed up journey times to the Central Belt, the Scottish Government has been talking about this since 2008 but Network Rail have said they have not been instructed on any specific proposal.
“This is simply not good enough and I hope that by writing to the Minister with the weight of both councils and Sir Ian Wood, we will see some urgent action from the SNP on this.
“Given today’s Oil and Gas UK report revealing job losses are set to hit 120,000 this year, we simply cannot afford to wait any longer for these projects to help boost our local economy at this very challenging time.”
Notes to Editors:
Transcript of questions and answers in parliament yesterday here