Millions allocated to transforming transport links in Arbroath should be spent on maintaining the county’s road network instead, it has been argued.
Carnoustie councillor David Cheape, Independent, has branded the £13m A Place For Everyone scheme “no more than a vanity project” as he called for the millions to be reinvested in poor quality roads across Angus.
He said: “Throughout this winter, we are seeing further evidence of the appalling condition of many of our roads throughout the entirety of Angus.
“Rather than spend millions such as this in Arbroath, the money should be directed away from such an unnecessary capital project and used to support the repair and improvement of a legacy of lack of maintenance of our roads infrastructure.
“In doing so the money spent would benefit far greater numbers from within our communities.”
Truly a place for everyone?
The council is still consulting on the exact shape of the A Place for Everyone scheme which will see new active travel paths and changes to the A92.
Arbroath became the first town in Scotland to win Scottish Government funding channelled through active travel charity Sustrans.
The council has been awarded more than £9m of the total cost of around £13m. Angus Council has committed £3m from its capital budget with a contingency for a further £1m investment.
The potential council investment in the plan is roughly equal to a fifth of the local authority’s annual roads and transportation budget for 2020/21 – £19,702,000.
The plans have received a mixed welcome locally with many concerned about the effect the A92 changes will have to traffic flow through the town.
Others have welcomed the scheme with its potential to provide alternatives to car use and attract more tourists.
Roads cracking and pavements untreated
Mr Cheape said he is “continually told” there is insufficient council funds to tackle many issues that his constituents would like addressed.
He said: “Despite best efforts we have seen communities failed by not having their roads and pavements gritted at a time when people are encouraged to exercise during this pandemic.
“This cold snap will pay havoc with our roads where water that has seeped into cracks in the road will freeze and cause further damage breaking up the tarmac.
“It is irrelevant that these funds for the dual carriageway changes in Arbroath are deemed from the Capital Fund.
“To members of the public it is all the same – council money.”
Peak time delay fears ‘a lot of nonsense’
Arbroath councillor Derek Wann, a Conservative member of the council’s administration, said: “a lot of nonsense has been spoken” around “delays at peak times.”
He acknowledged many remained split about the proposals, but called for people to keep “an open mind.”
“This project is more than a cycle path. It is the upgrading of all junctions, pavements and crossings which will ultimately make these more safe for all users,” he said.
“If I thought for one minute we were spending millions on a cycle path I would not be looking to offer my support for this fantastic project.
“The aim is to look at the whole stretch of road and pavements to link the town better. An assessment has taken place on the use of the road and it was found to be underutilised by traffic even at peak times.”
He said he “couldn’t agree more” with councillor Cheape about the condition of the roads.
“We should be taking the Scottish Government to task on the funding being issued to local authorities and asking for more to cover these works,” he added.
The Scottish Government has maintained it treats local government fairly when setting its annual budget.