Moray MP Douglas Ross says SNP councillors should “hang their heads in shame” after voting to stop work progressing on re-opening the Cloddach Bridge.
Douglas says it is “absolutely disgraceful” that SNP councillors and one Labour councillor joined forces in backing plans to stop any further funding being used to re-open the bridge near Elgin.
The Moray MP says it is “utterly scandalous” that SNP members ignored the wishes of Heldon Community Council who had agreed to allocate £120,000 worth of windfarm funding to help re-open the bridge.
Douglas says the attitude of SNP members was “totally insulting” to Heldon Community Council and the local community who have been crying out to have this bridge re-opened.
The motion by Conservative councillors to progress a business case to re-open the bridge won by 14 votes to 12.
Douglas has already secured £1.5 million worth of funding from UK Government Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and met with Transport Secretary Mark Harper last week to reaffirm this commitment.
He added that today’s meeting of Moray Council showed that it is local Conservative representatives who will always stand up for local communities and their funding priorities.
Douglas says he will continue to work closely with local communities and the UK Government to ensure that the business case is progressed as quickly as possible and that the bridge is ultimately re-opened.
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “SNP councillors in Moray should be embarrassed by their appalling attempt to stop work progressing on the re-opening of Cloddach Bridge.
“It is absolutely disgraceful that they wanted to stop a business case from being completed, when funding is in place from the UK Government and now from Heldon Community Council.
“Their position was a total insult to the community council who had worked tirelessly to find a solution to help re-open the bridge. Yet SNP members saw fit to ignore the wishes of the community council who had allocated a six-figure sum.
“I was astonished to hear the SNP member for the ward say he wanted to ‘nip the issue in the bud’ and voted to do nothing further to open this bridge.
“Thankfully with the Conservative motion winning, local residents know that it is local Conservative representatives who are standing up for their priorities, such as getting this bridge re-opened as soon as possible.
“The need for Cloddach bridge to be re-opened has been repeatedly raised with me by local people and businesses. When the council said they couldn’t afford to do it, I secured £1.5 million pounds of funding from the UK Government. When the council said they didn’t have time to do all the work needed for a business case, we secured an extension from UK Ministers.
“Now the community have stepped up with a huge financial contribution, there was no good reason not to give the project the much-needed green light.
“Communities who have been impacted by the closure of Cloddach bridge for far too long will not forget the way councillors voted on this issue.
“It has also been clear that council officers did not support re-opening this bridge and have repeatedly tried to frustrate the project. It is completely wrong and unacceptable for non-elected officers to act in this way and I will be raising this with the Chief Executive at my next meeting with him.
“I’m pleased that despite the actions of some council officers and councillors, the right decision was taken to progress with the re-opening of Cloddach bridge. I will do everything I can to see this route opened as quickly as possible because it is the very least local people should expect having endured this closure for far too long.”