Deputy First Minister John Swinney has hit out over delays to a Perthshire town’s multi-million-pound leisure complex.
The SNP MSP has warned holding up construction on the planned Blairgowrie recreation centre could put the project in jeopardy.
Ambitious plans for the new sports hub were first announced during Perth and Kinross Council budget talks two years ago.
It was originally hoped the new centre would be in place by 2020, following consultation led by PMR Consultancy.
However, the town’s community council has been told completion of design and construction is now more likely to be in 2021 or 2022.
Mr Swinney said: “This idea was rightly welcomed by the local community, and was seen as an important investment for the area.
“Any steps taken by the Tory-led administration at Perth and Kinross Council to delay this project will justifiably provoke anger amongst residents of Blairgowrie and the Glens, together with the wider Strathmore and Strathtay communities.
“News of a delay, thought, should be no surprise – this is a Tory council who would rather make cuts to vital bus services, breakfast clubs and teaching budgets than invest in local communities.”
He urged the administration to “publicly confirm that construction will start on the new Blairgowrie leisure centre next year, and that the allocated £18 million will remain in place.”
Local SNP councillor Tom McEwan added: “I am worried at the growing sense that this vital project is now sliding in either its timing or its ambition.
“It’s a huge mistake to think this project is an issue only for Blairgowrie and Rattray. The recreation centre is a valued asset for the whole of east Perthshire and therefore its redevelopment must be delivered on time and must match the SNP’s original ambition of improvements.”
Councillor Grant Laing said: “As one of the councillors who fought hard in the last term to secure this investment, I and the rest of the SNP group on the council will campaign to make sure those in charge keep their promises to the people of Blairgowrie and beyond.”
A council spokesman said: “The strategic investment group has asked for further information on the plans for Blairgowrie Recreation Centre.
“The design and build of the new centre is likely to take up to four years to be completed.”