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Cash doubt over £13m Arbroath dual-carriageway scheme

The Arbroath sustainable transport scheme timetable has been hit by the pandemic.
The Arbroath sustainable transport scheme timetable has been hit by the pandemic.

A divide over Arbroath active travel proposals to transform the town-splitting A92 dual carriageway has seen a bid to halt the multi-million pound scheme blocked.

Alongside Perth, the town was a big winner in a July Sustrans funding announcement, bagging almost £7m for a scheme to improve pedestrian and cycle links with the aim of rejoining the two sides of Arbroath separated by the key road.

But as councillors considered the timetable for the ambitious scheme, long-serving town representative Alex King said the project would cost the authority millions of pounds it does not have.

An illustration of how the area around Queens Drive and Gayfield park could look.

Supports of the scheme accused the Arbroath West and Letham SNP member of lacking vision over the “once-in-a-lifetime” concept.

In a full council information report, finance chiefs said they expect the authority’s contribution to the final project to be “significantly less” than a £5.4  million shortfall for the £13.2m total cost.

Funding requirements will have to be factored into the 2020 council budget and two-year construction works are due to commence in 2021.

Mr King said: “All of the people I have spoken to are totally opposed to it.

“At the community council there has been nothing but a hostile reaction.

“This is money that we should not have applied for because we are going to have to find other money for this to go ahead.”

Mr King was told that because the item was an information report only there was no procedure available to force a vote on it.

An impression of Burnside Drive looking south.

Arbroath Independent Lois Speed said: “I’m not sure how representative your comments are of the 20-odd thousand people in Arbroath and the surrounding area.

“I have spoken to lots of constituents who are supportive and excited about winning this funding.

“This whole idea of the A92 severing the town came through public participation and a public voice, it wasn’t a council idea.

“I think this project is visionary and it is a once-in-a-lifetime idea.

“I appreciate we already have financial challenges and there will be a shortfall in funding that may have to be found, but we have to be ambitious and strive to create a sustainable environment for generations to come,” she said.

Town Conservative councillor Derek Wann said: “We’re only speaking about four or five voices at community council that have been critical and there is still some way to go before coming up with full and final plans.

Council leader and Arbroath Independent David Fairweather said: “A lot of people have got into their heads that the plans put forward are the finished article – they are not.

“This is the time we should be looking to have a vision for the future of Arbroath.”

Arbroath RNLI chief Alex Smith previously branded the proposal “ridiculous”, saying vital time could be lost by crewmen trying to negotiate their way to the lifeboat station if the changes go ahead.

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