Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



Lochhead: "There must be no repeat of failure to consult with Tomintoul community"

Moray MSP, Richard Lochhead, has urged Aberdeenshire Council to uphold a previously agreed protocol in order to ensure the economy of Tomintoul is protected during closures of the A939 Tomintoul - Braemar/Ballater road.

After being alterted by constituents that the road was to close just days before the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, the SNP MSP contacted Aberdeenshire Council urging them to postpone the works until the event is over arguing that any road closures will have a detrimental impact on the economy.

It has now been confirmed that the works will not start until 14th May.  The works will take 3 weeks and have been described as essential.

In February 2017 Richard Lochhead convened a meeting of stakeholders from the local community, businesses in the village and officers from Aberdeenshire and Moray Council following concerns for the local economy during a previous road closure.  That meeting agreed that consultation would take place between the two councils as well as with the local community prior to any road closures.

Commenting, Mr Lochhead said:

"It is unacceptable that Aberdeenshire Council can close a major route to Tomintoul and Upper Speyside without firstly discussing the matter with the local community or Moray Council given the potential damage to local trading and inconvenience for the wider population.

"To make matters worse, the closure was scheduled to clash with the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival but thankfully, after I alerted them to the fact, roads officials have agreed to avoid this important event for local tourism and the economy.

"This whole situation was exactly what was meant to be avoided by the agreement reached between Aberdeenshire Council over a year ago when I brought everyone together for a meeting in the village. It was agreed that the community would be consulted prior to any decisions over such closures but I’m told that due to staff changes there was an oversight. It’s important that the agreement is now resurrected and followed to help minimise disruption and take into account the impact on Tomintoul.

"This whole saga is also a reminder that we need both Moray Council and Aberdeenshire Council to discuss what can be done to find an urgent and temporary solution to the problems caused by 18th century bridges on the A939 that keeping having to be closed due to being unsuitable for the 21st century. For instance, we can’t wait for four years for a new Gairnshiel Bridge to be built for these issues to be tackled."