Mixed views on how city fared in budget

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Brechin has been short changed again in this year’s Angus Council budget claims opposition councillor Mairi Evans.

Angus Council held its annual budget meeting last Thursday (see page 11) - one which delivers £6.3 million of savings but includes investments such as £15.4 million in roads and £12 million for a new swimming pool and sports facility in Forfar (future years capital plan) but excludes the inclusion any investment to Brechin City Hall.

Commenting on the budget Mairi said: “I am extremely disappointed that, at a time when we are continually told that there is no money available for major capital projects, from nowhere, suddenly, the money magically becomes available for a new swimming pool and leisure facility in Forfar in this year’s budget.

“As an Angus councillor I am, of course, pleased that the people of Forfar will benefit from this much needed facility, but as a Brechin councillor I am disappointed.

“I simply would have hoped that if there had been money available, which clearly there must be, that this could have been put towards the refurbishment of the city hall in Brechin.

“This would have been a fraction of the cost of the new facility in Forfar. But I think it is safe to say now that the City Hall is completely off the council agenda.

“The new facility in Forfar has been shoe-horned into the budget with dates already given for its construction while the city hall has fallen completely off the radar.

“For a ward that has two councillors with the most senior positions in the Council I would have hoped that more would have been forthcoming for the area as a whole.

“Instead, it appears Brechin and Edzell have suffered for the sake of trade-offs to other burghs in an attempt to keep a ramshackle alliance in power.

“The only investment in Brechin has been the new High School which, even then, only came about as a result of a Scottish Government decision.

“We have lost a council tax and benefits service which was relocated to Montrose, we have lost a million pounds in funding for our town centre, Edzell lost its historic library and we have a city hall left to ruin in the heart of the city.

“We are being told there is no money left and budgets are tight, when money can apparently be found instantly for other burghs.

“People deserve to be told the true intentions of the council with regard to the City Hall, rather than continually being led to believe something might be done when absolutely nothing is on the agenda now or in the future.”

Focusing on the positives of the budget was Brechin councillor and council leader Bob Myles who said: “The money [for the new Forfar pool and leisure facilities] is set aside in future years. There is money in future years for the City Hall as well but it is difficult to say how much it is going to take.

“However, what we are doing more constructively and more immediately is supporting the local community and volunteer led events like the Caledonian Railway and the Glenesk Retreat’s museum. These are all local events that are run by volunteers that we can help to keep them on a footing that will help bring people into the area.

“At the moment we need to focus on these things for the short term. It would be rather foolish of us to pre-empt that is going to happen [with the City Hall].

“We have had consultations about what is going to happen in the new Brechin High School community Campus but until that all settles down and we know what is going in there it is only then that we can decide the future of all the other buildings.

“I think all the buildings have a future but what that future is depends on how things develop.

“People need to be more pro-active and constructive with their suggestions. It is easy to be negative but people need to be constructive.

“The biggest problem we have with the city hall is the access.

“We would have to spend a fortune on the hall just to do that.

“I want the city hall to remain but I want to see it retained for the right purpose.

“The budget is a very positive budget for Angus and all the burghs.

“I was very disappointed in the opposition budget that only focused on Arbroath and Carnoustie. There was nothing for Brechin highlighted there at all.”