Topping takes vice-chair role on area committee

Brian Topping
Brian Topping

On Tuesday, May 22, Councillor Brian Topping took on the role of vice-chair of the Banff and Buchan Area Committee, giving the Scottish National Party both roles on the committee, Councillor John Cox taking the chair, after a casting vote on tied matters.

Councillor Topping had contested the role of vice-chair against fellow Fraserburgh and District councillor Michael Watt, the former nominated by Troup councillor Hamish Partridge and seconded by Banff and District councillor Ian Gray, both SNP.

Councillor Watt had received a nomination from Troup councillor John Duncan, Conservative, and was seconded by independent Councillor Mark Findlater, also of Troup.

After a tie of five votes each, the councillors cut a deck of cards to decide who would act as vice-chair, with Cllr Topping cutting the higher card to take the role.

Councillor Watt had also contested for the role of chair after being nominated by Conservative councillor Mike Roy, who found a seconder in Cllr Duncan.

Councillor Cox, meanwhile, was nominated by Cllr Topping, finding a seconder in fellow SNP member Cllr Partridge.

A tie meant that a deck of playing cards had to be cut again, with Cllr Cox finding an ace to take on the role over Cllr Watt.

First on the agenda for Cllr Cox was to ask councillors for their say on changing the running order, pushing back planning applications to 10.30am.

Councillor Gray spoke in favour of the suggestion, commenting: “We shouldn’t assume that everyone has transport,” adding that pushing it back to 10.30am would allow everyone the chance to attend.

Cllr Topping said of the suggestion: “We should give it a try for two or three cycles.”

Councillor Cox then asked the committee to vote on the motion to trial the new running order for two cycles or for the amendment to return the running order to its original format, with planning applications discussed from 9.30am.

After the councillors had voted, the result was tied 5-5, resulting in Cllr Cox using his deciding vote in favour of the motion.

The committee then heard from Aberdeenshire Council environment planner Hamish Robertson on the conservation area appraisal of Portsoy, in which it was suggested that the committee endorse and agree to propose revisions of the boundary of the conservation area.

Councillor Topping commented: “I think this is a splendid document . . . I think enforcement is important and it really disappoints me no end when people are buying properties in conservation areas and think they can do whatever they like.

“Folk come in and change the whole character of an area,” he added.

The committee agreed to the recommendations of the appraisal and the revision of the boundary.

Also approved on Tuesday was the revenue budget for four Banff and Buchan harbours.

The total allocation to Banff harbour marina, Macduff harbour, Portsoy harbour and Roserhearty harbour will be £148,000.