A furious Angus businessman is lodging a Standards Commission complaint against a local councillor after a public meeting clash over a controversial village housing project.
Housebuilder Mark Guild branded Bill Duff “not fit for office” after comments the Montrose member made during a debate on the redevelopment of Edzell’s former Inglis Court sheltered housing complex.
He has called on the Angus SNP group’s deputy leader to resign after another councillor also raised concerns Mr Duff had shown a “genuine lack of respect”.
It is the latest brush with controversy for the councillor who previously offended Forfar bridie fans with a damning description of the famous food as a “low quality processed meat product”.
The authority is to demolish 25 homes at Inglis Court, replacing them with 21 new houses.
Mr Guild previously tried to save what he has said are perfectly good properties by offering the council £250,000 to buy them.
He also personally conducted a local survey on the issue which delivered a 95% response in favour of retaining the housing.
But its veracity was questioned by Mr Duff.
The councillor said he suspected it was “completely invalid unless it was carried out by a competent company.
“I could carry out a survey…and skew that any time I like,” he said.
The Forfar-based developer told Mr Duff: “I’m interested to see that your mind works like that in terms of surveys.
“That’s a very unusual line of thought, not a very healthy line of thought.
“We are happy we have been honest in our survey.
“If you wish to go round the people of Edzell I will happily give you all the forms to ask people if that is their comments, I’d welcome you to do so.”
He added: “To watch money being spent on demolishing fit for purpose buildings is heart-breaking and, in a commercial sense, complete madness.”
Mr Duff stressed the committee was only considering the planning merits of the proposal.
“If Angus Council want to waste their money that is not a matter for this committee,” he added.
Lack of respect
Carnoustie Independent David Cheape said he was a “bit concerned” Mr Duff’s comments showed a “genuine lack of respect for people”.
“I saw the survey, it was very clear,” he said.
“It’s weird to have brought that up.
“I’m questioning the amount of respect here.”
“There is huge opposition locally to this.
“I’ve always been an advocate of getting best value for money and it’s something we seem to do poorly – perfectly good assets for some whim being demolished regardless of value or condition.
“I can’t agree to that,” said Mr Cheape.
Mr Duff said: “For me it’s a simple planning application. I know the area well, all we can do is approve it.”
The demolition and re-development was given the go-ahead, but Mr Guild said he was “disgusted” by the Montrose councillor’s comments.
“He basically accused us of making up the survey – of lying if you like,” he said.
“That is a disgraceful thing to do in a public meeting and shows a complete lack of respect.
Mr Guild, who last year won a lengthy Court of Session fight to stop the demolition of Forfar’s Lochside leisure centre, said: “He is not fit for office and should consider his position.
“I thought his comment about it being up to the council whether or not they wanted to waste money was outrageous.
“It is not council money, it is money from the taxpayers’ of Angus.
“To say something like that is unbelievable.”
Mr Duff said “I have no comment to make about Mr Guild’s comments or any course of action he chooses to pursue.”
In 2018, the Montrose member found himself at the centre of a storm after labelling the Forfar Bridie a “low quality processed meat product”.
He said it wasn’t fit to feature in a proposed Angus food culture hub, prompting a furious backlash from fans of the famous savoury.