Angus Council chiefs will push ahead with key infrastructure projects to boost the local economy as businesses and communities plot life after lockdown.
Administration group leaders want to accelerate work to extend the A90 into Montrose, establish a railhead in the town and bring forward school improvement projects.
Controversial parking charges will also remain on hold as the council’s leading group tries to support local businesses reeling from the effects of lockdown.
The county’s opposition SNP group has attacked the administration for formulating its economic revival plan at a meeting to which non-administration councillors and council officials were not invited.
Council leader David Fairweather, an Independent, said traditional council finances and priorities had been “turned on their head.”
Finance convener, Conservative councillor, Angus MacMillan Douglas said extra funding meant “councils will have a small amount of leeway to stimulate growth.”
“We have an opportunity and the will to make sure Angus not only stays open for business, but is as vibrant and welcoming as ever,” he added.
As the group of administration councillors held the first virtual meeting of its Economic Recovery Group, they promised “all options are on the table” to safeguard Angus, including prioritising local suppliers, investing in rural broadband and stimulating business growth.
Lynne Devine, SNP group leader, said it was not an official council group and was not supported by any council officials.
“In our communities partnership and co-operation are the watchwords, so it is concerning and baffling that the administration hasn’t followed suit and invited non-administration councillors,” she said.
She said the administration should wait until it had agreed figures on the economic cost of lockdown before making key decisions.
Montrose councillor Bill Duff, SNP, echoed her concerns while welcoming progress on the Montrose plans.
He said: “I am pleased that the next stage of the A90 Link road will be presented to local elected members at the end of this month following the work carried out by consultants examining the potential routes.
“The way ahead should now be much clearer. This project offers benefits to Montrose and Brechin and will encourage economic activity in North Angus and provide suitable roads to carry heavy trucks north and south.”
He said discussions were continuing between the council and Network Rail about the potential for “a railhead in Montrose.”
“This project offers significant commercial opportunities to Montrose and Angus as well as removing haulage from roads and reducing our carbon footprint,” he added.
Councillor Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrats, said he looked forward to working with colleagues on the Economic Recovery Group.
“The public deserve swift and united action from their elected representatives to soften the blow to their livelihoods,” he said.
Councillor Brian Boyd, Independent, a long-term opponent of parking charges in the county, said: “It is good to see the administration considering how they will move forward with the car parking fiasco implemented by themselves two years ago.”