Committee opts to leave its historic Chambers

Councillor Charles Buchan.
Councillor Charles Buchan.

The Banff and Buchan Area Committee will leave its historcal meeting in the Fraserburgh’s Saltoun Square after a surprise move earlier this week.

A motion tabled by local councillor Michael Watt and supported by Troup councillor Hamish Partridge was not originally on the area committee’s agenda for the meeting.

It moved to discontinue meeting in Fraserburgh’s Council Chambers for at least six months. It is understood that council officers will now have to look to find alternative premises for future meetings.

The motion was carried by five votes to two, with Fraserburgh councillors Brian Topping and Ian Tait not present to cast their vote.

Fraserburgh and District councillor Charles Buchan, meanwhile, had been seconded by Councillor Mike Roy of Banff in an amendment to delay the debate until March, when a report by property services was due with regards to upgrading the current building.

Speaking afterwards, Councillor Buchan said: “I’m extremely disappointed at this hasty action, which was not tabled beforehand, and took place without two Fraserburgh members being allowed to contribute to the debate and to the vote.

“This casts doubt about whether the council will proceed with the building upgrade plans, and with the proposed £140,000 boost to the historic building and to the town. The Council Chambers and the adjoining old police station have been identified by consultants as being one of the centerpieces of the Town Centre Regeneration Plan and the area committee’s strange decision will certainly not help regeneration.

“The defects in the historic chambers are well recognised, with improvements in toilets and seating admittedly needed. Hence this is why we have fought for the proposed upgrade to encourage more comfort for the public, and to encourage the public to attend council events. To put this at risk does not make sense, just because there was a queue for the toilets on a particularly busy area committee day!”

Banff and Buchan area manager Margaret-Jane Cardno said: “It is extremely important that the public are able to take part in the democratic process and therefore essential that meetings take place in a venue that is both accessible and suitable for all that want to attend.

“Councillors have expressed the feeling that we should move to an alternative venue on a trial basis for the next six months.”