ABERDEEN City Council’s ruling rainbow coalition today swept aside their political differences over the site for a new bridge across the River Don by announcing their commitment to the early start of construction on the controversial crossing scheme.
• Controversial River Don crossing gets green light as early construction plans announced
• Bridge will link the Parkway to St Machar Drive in Aberdeen
Last March - before the new administration was formed - the Scottish Government gave the go-ahead for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to buy the land needed to create the crossing, linking the Parkway to St Machar Drive to ease the gridlock facing thousands of motorists heading into the city on the A90 from the Ellon, Peterhead and Fraserburgh areas.
Progress on the scheme has stalled until now because of a bitter division on the site for the new £14 million bridge within the new Labour-Conservative-Independent coalition. The administration remained split at a council meeting in December when the Conservatives successfully passed a motion to “reaffirm” the local authority’s position to push ahead with the bridge, with the aid of the opposition SNP and Liberal Democrats groups and one Independent.
But today the administration announced its commitment to bring forward details of how it intends to deliver the Third Don Crossing at the earliest opportunity, when it presents its capital plan at the budget meeting on 14 February.
Councillor Barney Crockett, the Labour leader of the council, said: “The location for the bridge is not Labour’s first choice, however we recognise that we do not have a majority to alter the decision of council. I lead a coalition administration and we promised a free vote on the Third Don Crossing as part of the coalition agreement so we must honour that.
“As part of our capital budget plans I will be announcing major infrastructure commitments for the next five years - one of which will be the Third Don Crossing.”
He added: “I am absolutely committed to ensuring the council accepts that Tillydrone requires special measures of support to ensure the community does not suffer unnecessarily as a result of the new bridge being built. I am determined to deliver a full package of infrastructure projects that will enhance Aberdeen’s reputation for being the Smarter City and secure its strong economic future.”
Councillor Marie Boulton, the Independent Depute Council leader, said: “I brought forward proposals for alternatives to the location of the bridge, but these were rejected by council. It is now time to move on and move forward and the only way to do this is for the administration to work together to bring about the Third Don Crossing, which a majority of members voted in favour of.”
Councillor Ross Thomson, who leads on transport for the Conservatives, welcomed the decision. He said: “Today’s announcement proves we have delivered on our long-held commitment to build the Third Don Crossing. This announcement ends all speculation about the bridge and its future, fuelled by the opposition for party-political point scoring.
“Through it all Conservatives have never wavered from our position and, by working constructively with our coalition partners, we will deliver the Third Don Crossing for the benefit of communities businesses and motorists across Aberdeen. Improvements to the city’s traffic infrastructure are essential to ensure that Aberdeen can continue to thrive and attract further economic investment.”