A row has erupted over a long awaited £15.2million recreational centre in Blairgowrie after officials said the project could be delayed until late 2022.
John Swinney, SNP MSP, hit out at Conservative-led Perth and Kinross Council, claiming they had “mismanaged” the project since they took office in 2017 and “squandered” the good will of the people.
Nearly £18m was budgeted for the east Perthshire sports hub in June 2016 under the SNP administration, with a completion date mooted for around 2020.
In 2018 £3m was removed from the project’s budget before £400,000 was added back on in February following a consultation with the people of Blairgowrie.
Work has yet to begin on the new facility and at a property sub-committee on Monday council officers said the opening would likely be delayed until at least late 2022.
SNP councillors raised fears that the setback would cost the project’s budget an extra £1.5m and that the people of Blairgowrie would lose faith in the development.
Councillor Dave Doogan said: “My concern is that the people of east Perthshire will begin to think that this will never happen.”
Following the meeting Depute First Minister and Perthshire North MSP, Mr Swinney, blamed the council for holding up the project.
Mr Swinney said: “This project has been mismanaged since the Tories came to power in 2017.
“Indeed, the people of Blairgowrie have been let down not just by the Tories’ obsession with spending cuts, but by their inability to properly deliver this important infrastructure project.
“A significant amount of local good will towards this project has now been squandered as a result of Tory incompetence.
“It is now vital that the administration proactively engage with the local community and take steps to address the very legitimate concerns expressed regarding both the scope and timescale of this project.”
Conservative council leader Murray Lyle hit back at Mr Swinney’s claims, saying the former SNP administration put a budget in place without holding a proper consultation with the community.
Councillor Lyle said: “This administration consulted with the town’s people of Blairgowrie and put together a properly funded recreational centre.
“Out of the consultation we are actually delivering what the people of Blairgowrie want including a football pitch.
“The all weather pitch was highlighted as part of this consultation.”
The council leader added his administration is now working with partner organisations, including the Scottish Football Association, to deliver the recreational centre.