Published: 15/02/2014 12:00 - Updated: 14/02/2014 15:46

Still a long way from final decision on Elgin link road plan

Sir, – The recent vote to keep Elgin’s proposed Western Link Road in the draft local plan is not nearly as significant as many people seem to think. This is not a final say on the draft local plan, and I fully expect a raft of objections to the idea when the plan comes out for consultation.

Neither is this in any way related to the forthcoming planning application – an entirely separate matter – so we are still a long way from any final decision on the proposals. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that councillors narrowly voted to keep it in, for the moment.

The voting was certainly interesting – the Tories in direct opposition, an SNP rebel; Councillor Morton seemingly unsure about the proposals but ultimately subscribing to that well-known old adage of “if in doubt, vote it through regardless”; and once again a lone Councillor Tuke being the only independent Independent.

That said, the most remarkable part of the whole debate was discovering Councillor Wright’s sense of humour. While not usually a fan of the leader’s speeches, I couldn’t help but chuckle at his deadpan quip, even quoted in the ‘Scot’, that the council has a “growing reputation as a council of ambition and a council that delivers”.

It’s rare enough that there’s any cause for levity in the council chambers these days, though it is refreshing to see a change of pace, if only for a moment.

There are, of course, some more serious matters to address, beginning with anonymous accusations of NIMBYism (Letters, January 24). That the opposition to the proposed Western Link Road is confined to Wittet Drive residents is daft as a minimum.

Indeed, as a regular commuter coming into Elgin from the west, I would be one of the main beneficiaries of proposals. It would undoubtedly shave a few seconds off my trips to that part of town, and a few pennies in fuel to boot, so why am I, and so many others, so dead against the proposals?

There are many reasons, but for me the simplest ones are: that as far as I’m concerned it’s not worth the cost to the public purse; it doesn’t solve any real problems (frankly, anyone complaining about congestion in Elgin clearly hasn’t been beyond the bounds of Moray); I’d still prefer to spend with the local businesses in the town centre, and wouldn’t use the route anyway; and as we should all know by now, a proper A96 bypass is on its way, and I’m happy enough to wait a few more years for a proper solution.

So having set out my stall, is there any chance that just one of the councillors who supported these proposals could actually provide the case for the road? For a start: what, or where, are the figures that prove the economic benefit? How many permanent (post-construction) jobs will be created? What will the impact be on the town centre, and its businesses? What impact will the A96 bypass have on the proposals?

As Councillor Cowe noted at the meeting on January 29, this should not be an issue about politics or personality, and I agree, it should be about facts. So with that in mind, please may we have answers to our questions? – Yours etc,

James MacKessack-Leitch



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