Angus Council leader defends authority over funding losses

ANGUS Council leader Bob Myles has welcomed the Scottish Government’s release of another £100,000 from the town centre regeneration fund (TCRF), for expenditure committed by the council by the December 25 2010 deadline.

“This means that almost £1 million of the £1.8 million allocated is being invested in Brechin,” said councillor Myles.

Speaking to “The Brechiner” about the loss of the remaining funds councillor Myles said: “There is no-one more disappointed than I am that, despite the very best efforts of everyone involved, the owner of Flicks, having verbally agreed to sell the premises as far back as September, ultimately failed to complete the sale of the property - that cost us the remaining grant.

“I appreciate that everyone is disappointed but frankly some of the comments being bandied about regarding the council’s handling of the project are well off the mark. Our plans, the progress we’ve made and the decisions taken have been openly reported on and scrutinised by elected members and the Scottish Government.

“If any MSP or prospective candidate wants to actually talk to us about it, rather than speculating about it elsewhere, I’m more than happy to do so.”

Commenting on the tight criteria of the TCRF councillor Myles said: “We have to remember that the Brechin regeneration bid was the only one of the four Angus town centre bids approved by the government. It was accepted because it met the strict criteria of the fund and focused on practical and sustainable economic regeneration measures.

“We knew the proposals were ambitious given the time scales and that they involved a number of properties and owners, but we believed, then and now, that it was where the fund could most productively help stimulate the Brechin economy in the long term, and the government clearly agreed with us.”

Opposition Councillor for Brechin Mairi Evans argued that a far reaching and full investigation of how the matter had been handled was required

She said: “I agree completely with Jim Millar, who last week called for an investigation into how Brechin had come to lose out on £800,000 of regeneration funding.

“It’s okay for Councillor Myles to say that investigations cost money.

“How much money has been spent already for Brechin to miss out on almost £1 million of funding?

“There will have been costs and the people of Brechin have been left with far more questions than answers by what has gone on here in the last couple of weeks.

“If we want to ensure that we are getting value for money, we should ensure projects are carried out to the benefit of the burghs they are supposed to support.

“Once again Brechin is the loser and little wonder local people want answers.”