A QUESTION in the Scottish Parliament raised by Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone has, once again, cast question marks over Angus Council’s policy in finding suitable projects to spend Towncentre Regeneration cash.
And, even more relevantly it poses questions over the position adopted by the ruling administration that the Brechin City Hall did not qualify for the cash, which was put down at the time by council Leader Bob Myles to the City Hall “not meeting the criteria.”
Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland MSP) moved: “To ask the Scottish Executive how much of the Town Centre Regeneration Fund was unspent, broken down by local authority.
Mr Alex Neil MSP replied that of their respective total TCRF awards from the Scottish Government, Aberdeenshire Council did not draw down £88,342 and Angus Council did not draw down £812,620.
Figures produced showed a breakdown by local authority area of the amount of TCRF committed but not yet spent at the last formal report in November 2010.
The monies were committed but not allocated on each occasion as follows:-
Aberdeen City Council: Retail Rocks! Aberdeen, £562,155; Aberdeenshire Council -Eyesores Remedy Project - Fraserburgh, £60,199; Laurencekirk Railway Station Environs Development - £125,417; Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar - Stornoway Town Centre Regeneration Project - £45,000;.
Dundee City Council: The Lochee Project, £120,689.
East Ayrshire Council: Cumnock , Creating Civic Space - £97,000; Kilmarnock - Connecting Places - £590,660.27.
East Dumbartonshire Council: Kirkintilloch Town Centre Regeneration - £110,077
East Lothian Council: Prestonpans & Tranent Town Centres Support Project - £69,495.
East Renfrewshire Council: Better Barrhead: Town Centre Regeneration -£161,000.
Edinburgh City: Creating a new heart (town centre) for Craigmillar -£776,101.
Falkirk Council - Falkirk Town Centres: Regeneration -£636,786.
Fife Council: Kirkcaldy – bringing new life £1,247,500;.
Glasgow City Council -Maryhill Burgh Halls - £1,800,000.
Highland Council - Accessible and Attractive Dingwall - £24,627; Nairn High Street Streetscape Project -£2,446;
Inverclyde Council: Greenock town centre - £72,113; Port Glasgow Town Centre - £424,800; Gourock Town Centre Regeneration £9,870;
Midlothian Council: Dalkeith -£774,472.06.
North Ayrshire Council - Millport Town Centre Regeneration – Business, Arts & Culture -£99,575.91; Saltcoats Key Building Regeneration Scheme -£7,372.
North Lanarkshire Council: Revitalising North Lanarkshire’s Town Centres - £991, 824.
Orkney Islands Council: The Stromness Town Centre Linkages Project - £378,222.09.
Perth & Kinross Council: Ericht Project -£1,060,600; The Birks Cinema - £46,210.38.
Shetland Island Council: Lerwick Old Town Centre Regeneration - £199,927.86; - Stirling Council - Non Food Retail Park - £761,081; Dunblane High Street Gap Site -£493,173.
West Dumbartonshire Council: Clydebank - £359,375; Dumbarton -£335,000.
West Lothian Council -West Lothian Towns Regeneration - £479,791.
However, the inclusion of almost £2 million for the upgrading of a City Hall in Glasgow isn’t the only question posed by the figures, which amount to £12,922,559.57, with other local authorities being allowed to re-allocate large sums of money to other projects.
The answer to Alex Johnstone’s question continues: “In addition, West Lothian Council has recently been given permission to re-allocate £40,000 of their Bathgate TCRF award towards technical CCTV infrastructure, following the recommendations of a feasibility study which ruled out the sustainability of a wi-fi system in the town centre.
“The Moray Council has been given permission to re-allocate £60,000 under spend towards public realm improvements.
“And Glasgow City Council has been given permission to re-allocate £30,000 of underspend towards cleaning the fascia of Govan underground station.
“We are carrying out an update exercise over the course of this month and will continue to monitor project progress until all the remaining committed TCRF monies are spent.”
Angus Council leader Bob Myles agreed there appeared to be a lack of consistency on adherence to the criteria, depending on which particular part of the country you lived in.
He said: “Its a very interesting list, with almost £13 or £14 million underspent.
“The question I will be asking is why other councils have been given the latitude to move from project to project and we weren’t. There appears to be a bit of ‘unevenhandedness’ here.
“There must have been something wrong with the guidance provided.
“I put it personally to Alex Neill that if we couldn’t allocate to projects like Woolworths or Flicks, could we reallocate to the City Hall or two or three other projects.
“We couldn’t do that when other projects were still on the table.
“It seems rather odd that we couldn’t deliver another project at the last minute when others have done.”