Council rejects landslip repairs

Residents of Mackenzie Crescent in Peterhead have blasted Aberdeenshire Council after it voted to close the street on a permanent basis instead of taking action to prevent further damage.

The decision comes despite the unanimous support given to the works back in June this year by councillors on the Buchan Area Committee.

But on Thursday, pleas from Peterhead South SNP councillors Stephen Smith and Stuart Pratt to act on the warnings in a report commissioned by the council which stated that the slope was unstable and there was a risk to the road went unheeded, with councillors voting 36-28 to close the road.

The report into the landslip commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council from Atkins surveyors states in its conclusions: “The numerous tension cracks evident across the slope and steep back scarps along the crest suggest that in its present condition the slope remains unstable and is unlikely to offer continued support to the carriageway of Mackenzie Crescent.”

Commenting after the meeting, Cllr Stephen Smith said: “Today’s outcome is disappointing and will be a shock to those residents who have been in contact with me on this issue.

“I think in the longer term, if the council doesn’t act now to deal with this, then there is every danger as the Atkins report suggests that we will see further landslips affecting Mackenzie Crescent, which is a public adopted road.

“Where that would leave the council, having failed to act in the face of a report saying that is exactly what would happen, and how the householders affected or their insurers would react, I can only imagine, but I believe this is the wrong decision.”

Cllr Stuart Pratt also spoke in the debate in favour of taking action to make the slope safe and re-open the road.

He said: “Members of the Buchan Area Committee agreed unanimously back in June that action needed to be taken. We were all aware back then of the cost but understood the reasons why works need to be carried out on the slope to safeguard the road and utilities such as the gas main.

“I’m very disappointed with this outcome, particularly as both myself and Cllr Smith had worked very hard to convince colleagues in our own party from other areas of Aberdeenshire of the need for these remedial works.

“Absolutely nothing has changed since that vote when every councillor in Buchan agreed this was necessary, but today, Tory and Independent councillors changed their minds and voted for the opposite of what they previously supported. Frankly, I’m baffled as to why they would do that but that’s for them to explain.”

Cllr Norman Smith said the increased cost of the repair work led to the decision: “When we voted at the Buchan Area Committee, it was at a cost of £200,000 but when the issue came to the Policy and Resources Committee, the cost had trebled to £610,000 with a strong possiblity of it increasing.

“It is difficult enough to decide to spend £200,000 but it is an impossible decision to spend £610,000.

“It is public money and we can’t be seen to spend on something that is not going to be a long-term solution.”

Residents of Mackenzie Crescent hit out at the decision and claimed the council should pay up.

One resident said: “They already closed a part of the road a while ago and it is a pain to get my car up the street.

“I still feel safe living here but I can’t understand why they haven’t opened up the road. We were never asked to object to the plans, we just knew the landslip had happened after they had already received permission to dig so it is their fault and they should repair it.”

Another angry resident claimed councillors made the “wrong decision” and added: “It shouldn’t be us who have to pay for it. It will affect the value of our houses - the digger driver shouldn’t have been digging so close to the area.”

When asked about the potential decrease in value of their property, the resident shrugged their shoulders and said: “What can you do? We were never consulted so why should we have to pay for it?”