Arbroath’s £13 million active travel scheme was at the centre of a major budget day row after an SNP opposition plan to put the brakes on the idea.
Sustrans is putting up £9m of the costs around a scheme to re-draw the A92, which ‘divides’ the centre of the town to create greater cycling and walking opportunities.
But its merits have also split the community since the announcement of the funding windfall three years ago.
The opposition budget proposed bumping back a £4m council commitment in favour of directing a seven-figure sum to keep the £50m Monifieth High School replacement programme on a five-year track.
Angus communities convener Mark Salmond said he was “totally shocked” with the SNP proposal to delay the legally-committed expenditure.
He said SNP members had been part of a meeting with consultants over the £13m scheme in recent days. during which no indication of the possible U-turn was given.
“I have never seen such a collective display of disrespect towards council officers and external consultants,” said Montrose Independent Mr Salmond.
“I now have real concerns about Sustrans ever funding anything to do with Angus Council after this SNP stunt.
“Many of Angus Council’s future active travel projects were to be funded by Sustrans – what trust can Sustrans have in Angus Council?”
SNP finance spokesman, Montrose councillor Bill Duff accused Mr Salmond of being “out of order” with his criticism.
“I would remind him that there is a confidentiality impact on all budgets, and if the SNP members were aware I would not expect them to have revealed the details to a sub-committee meeting,” he said.
Mr Duff said the “huge and necessary” Monifieth High replacement project left no room for “nice-to-haves” like the Arbroath scheme.
He added: “There would appear to be a considerable amount of unhappiness within Arbroath.
“Our elected members are not in favour and they are articulating the views of their constituents, as we should all do.
“In the current climate, this is a want not a need and we have therefore delayed it in the current budget.
“We feel further consultation is essential.
“We’re supportive of active travel but any scheme must be proportionate and benefit the whole of Angus.
“Constituents are telling us they want us to address the current roads infrastructure and coastal erosion.
“I would suggest those are needs, not wants,” said Mr Duff.
“Our concern is about the £4m. It’s a good project, we don’t doubt it, but feel it is too much spend on one location.”
The scheme was branded “unnecessarily expensive” by Carnoustie Independent David Cheape, but defended by authority leader and Arbroath Independent for the “stunning” difference it would make to the community.
The Arbroath commitment remains on the Angus capital plan after the administration saw its £288m spending plans safely voted through.