A Labour controlled local authority is at the centre of what a rival councillor has described as a “scandal” after £200,000 of public cash was inappropriately earmarked for work on storm damaged land said to be owned by a Labour councillor.
SNP Councillor Graham Dickson has called for a full investigation after work on the land was approved by the Labour controlled local authority despite not having gone through the proper scrutiny process. The land in question, which borders a public cycle path, is said to be owned by Labour councillor Willie Young.
Mr Dickson, who represents the Ferryhill area, said: “This scandal is a total outrage for the taxpayer as millionaire Cllr Willie Young is allegedly the beneficiary of public money to maintain his own land.
“This revelation needs to be fully investigated to ensure there has been no misuse of public funds.”
Work on the land, which borders a cycle path and was damaged in 2016 after a storm, was halted when it emerged the local authority had failed to adhere to strict rules over scrutiny prior to approval.
The SNP councillor said: “This decision appears to have bypassed all public scrutiny and we need to know who authorised what and why, we also need to know if at any point funds were sought from councillor Young personally and, if not, why not.
“The people of Aberdeen will be outraged it turns out that public money is being used to the financial gain of politicians.”
The Labour councillor at the centre of the issue has denied any impropriety. Willie Young, who is also the finance convener at the local authority, insisted his personal integrity was “not in question”. The councillor has also claimed he doesn’t know who owns the land.
Insisting the issue was the responsibility of council officers, Young said: “Council officers asked me about getting on with the work but I said yes because they told me it was my land, but it isn’t up to me to check land titles – it’s up to them.”
According to the Press and Journal the land is currently owned by Mr Young and his wife Hazel. The couple bought it from the Labour councillor’s mother in 1991. The newspaper has reported seeing legal advice which stated that the deed has not transferred ownership since Mr Young and his wife bought it.
Bernadette Marjoram, the council’s interim director of infrastructure, said: “Aberdeen City Council acknowledges the project did not subsequently follow the required governance procedures and was not presented for committee approval at any stage in the process. This is a serious failing by Council officers and therefore an urgent review is under way. In light of this, work has been suspended.”