Moray Council votes to scrap Western Link Road scheme

Moray roadAn £8.5 million scheme to build a new link road in Elgin has been scrapped by Moray Council.

Councillors voted 13 to 11 in favour of abandoning plans for the Western Link Road during a Full Council debate on the council’s capital expenditure programme, which senior officers described in a report as unsustainable.

The local authority is facing a £6m funding gap in its budget over the next financial year, partly due to a drop in its government grant.

The project was due to come before the planning and regulatory service committee later this year. If approved it would have helped provide access for 200 affordable homes and a further 250 private housing in the pipeline.

The new crossing was designed to cope with the projected growth in traffic numbers over the next ten years.

As a result of the decision, if it can’t provide alternative access to the affordable homes site Moray Council will have to repay £2.7m plus interest to Grampian Housing Association for land sold to the council for that purpose. There will also be developer contributions of £652,000 that may have to be reimbursed to house builders who may not now be able to develop areas that would have been serviced by the new road and crossing.

Leader of Moray Council, Cllr Stewart Cree, who voted to keep the project in the plan, said it would be a grave error to abandon the project that had been approved as a council priority.

He was supported by Cllr John Cowe, who said the existing crossing over the Inverness-Aberdeen railway was already at 103 per cent capacity, and that the new crossing would have had major benefits.

“The road would have generated an estimated £6m in council tax revenues, and a potential boost to the local economy of £100m,” Cllr Cowe said.

He added that a new crossing would have to built at some stage, it will now simply cost more.

The motion to scrap the project was tabled by Cllr Douglas Ross, who said that opponents of the link road felt it could not be a priority over other projects while the capital plan was unsustainable.

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