Today the Labour Group and others on Aberdeen City Council voted against the City Gardens Project by 22 votes to 20. Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader Steve Delaney, supported the proposals not just on the basis of a sound financial investment in the city for future generations but also on the basis that to disregard the outcome of the referendum would go against the main pillars of democracy.
He said, the message being sent out by this Labour led administration is that Aberdeen is closed for business and lacks the foresight to plan beyond the days of oil exploration and the prosperity it currently brings”.
The text of his speech in the Council Chamber follows:-
“I fully respect the diverse range of genuine views held by members of the public on what has become a divisive issue. However, I personally take the view that we cannot turn our backs on the economic benefits and inward investment this proposal offers.
Of course people are concerned about the cost, and rightly so, but that’s what the TIF business case is designed to address. This is a document which sets out a clear rationale as to why we need to progress this project and how it can be delivered financially.
Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow would have jumped at the chance, had such a generous private donation been offered to them. Instead Labour and their supporters are effectively saying “we cannae dae that”.
The decision we take today is not just about the City Gardens Project but also about the regeneration of the whole City Centre, much of which will fail to materialise without the TIF funding.
In opposition Labour fought tooth and nail against the Marischal College redevelopment, citing the Scottish Parliamemt building as reason why it would shoot over budget. As we know it came in £12 million under budget, clearly demonstrating that Aberdeen has the expertise to effectively project manage such a proposal.
In addition, Sir Ian Wood has agreed to effectively underwrite the project to the tune of an additional £35 million, should costs over-run. I suspect the Labour Group would still be opposing this project even if it was fully funded from private donations as their opposition is primarily ideological, rather than financial.
Make no mistake, our UK City of Culture bid is dead in the water if we support the motion today. I’ve visited Liverpool in recent years. I’ve seen how a city which was transformed as a result of a “City of Culture” title, awarded in 2008. This is what we are being asked to walk away from.
We need to approve this financially sound TIF business case in order to secure the City Of Culture title and the massive regeneration and inward investment that will bring. We need to look beyond the oil and make Aberdeen a desirable modern city which attracts people and major employers in the future. Otherwise this city will wither and die.
Today we are being asked by the Labour led administration to disregard the democratic process and cast aside the outcome of a public referendum just because it fails to fulfill their narrow minded political ideology. The last time that happened was 1979 when Margaret Thatcher choose to disregard the will of the Scottish people. The result of that ill considered decision has been the decimation of the Tories in Scotland. Perhaps Labour need to reflect on this before casting their votes.
The Labour Group were opposed to progress when in opposition and are, if nothing else, being consistent. Where the future of our city is at stake, we should all be working together to ensure the best possible outcome. Regrettably They have shown themselves to be lacking in vision and unable to portray a positive outlook for this city.
In conclusion members, when you cast your vote today, you do so in the full knowledge that you are being offered the opportunity to build a new future for this city after the oil has gone. This future will benefit generations to come. Whatever you decide, it’s your grandchildren and their children who will judge you for what you are about to do”.