Councillors' Trump refusal causes outrage

Why would you turn down the potential of a £1 billion investment to create a prestigious development that would not only draw thousands of visitors to Aberdeen City and Shire, but also focus international attention on the quality of the environment and services here in the North East?

But turn it down our councillors did.

Here was an opportunity to put Aberdeen City and Shire – so often by-passed by visitors keen to do the Edinburgh-St Andrews-Highland circuit – on the map. Here was a development that would undoubtedly have the name of Aberdeen elevated to the top echelon of world destinations.

The spin-off benefits, not only for Aberdeen City and Shire but for the whole of Scotland, were immense.

The vote on Aberdeenshire Council's Infrastructure Services Committee was split. So Councillor Martin Ford (Liberal Democrat councillor for East Garioch) used his chairman's casting vote to refuse the application.

Trump Tower
"I think it sends out a devastating message to the world - if you want to do big business don't do it in the North East of Scotland," said Trump's representative after the decision.

I hope that the Trump organisation won't give up now. Nobody could blame them if they walked away and switched their efforts to a more enlightened authority in one of their alternative locations. (I believe Ireland were on the phone immediately the decision was announced.)

Clearly Aberdeenshire Council need to learn some very important lessons from this debacle.

  1. Is Councillor Ford - who appears not to be a fan of infrastructure projects like the AWPR or the Aberdeen Airport runway extension and now Trump International Golf Links Scotland – the right person to chair a committee on infrastructure issues?
  2. Cam it be right that just 13 councillors should have the ability to decided a multi-billion project?
  3. How can our elected representatives have become so clearly out of step with public opinion?

It appears that Aberdeenshire Council – apparently shocked into action by the volume of public outrage which jammed their switchboards and clogged their email systems – are planning to hold an emergency meeting to overturn the decision of the Infrastructure services committee.

But thanks to these councillors much damage has been done. We are now publicised around the world as 'the place NOT to do business'.

Is Councillor Ford repentant, considering the damage his decision has inflicted on our reputation as a region keen to embrace new and exciting opportunities?

Not a bit! On the contrary, Councillor Ford is reported as saying he doesn't see how his decision can be overturned and appears to be quite proud that on the basis of his vote the project is dead!

Let us hope he is wrong... again.

It seems that some of the seven who opposed the application now say they didn't intend to stop it. They only wanted to see if they could get Donald Trump to compromise. That suggests that – as sometimes seems the case – councillors deliberating on planning applications is a bit like school kids trying to score points.

That is deeply disturbing. Planning should be about errrrr.... planning. Deciding what is good and where it should go. Not about yah boo! We scored a point against the developer.
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