Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell has challenged the Scottish Government to intervene over concerns from local business around the level of engagement and finical transparency from Dumfries and Galloway over how they are set to fund plans for the Whitesands in Dumfries. He accused the Council of “arrogance” and of “ignoring legitimate concerns” in order to railroad through their own unpopular plans.
Mr Mundell asked the local government minister in the Parliament chamber what engagements they have had with Dumfries and Galloway Council over the plans for regeneration of the Whitesands which have faced fierce opposition from businesses and people living in Dumfries.
Local Government minister Kevin Stewart MSP confirmed he was aware of concerns and urged all those who have objections to take part in the consultation process which has been extended until the 15th of March.
Commenting Oliver Mundell MSP said: “The costs of the Whitesands are spiralling out of control so that I was pressing the Scottish Government to explain how closely they are working with the council on this scheme.
“With the Scottish Government putting up £20 million, they have a duty to be transparent over a scheme which the council claim will define Dumfries’s future.
“The views of thousands of local people are currently being ignored by Dumfries and Galloway Council who seem to be spending more and more on railroading through a vanity project.
“Businesses in this area who have been here for decades are rightly hugely concerned that the council are set to spend millions on poorly thought out landscape gardening and streetscaping without proper engagement. Instead it is beginning to feel to some in the town that the Council are attempting to disguise public realm work as flood prevention measures.”
“There simply hasn’t been a proper consultation on the future of the Whitesands and the Scottish Government and the council have serious questions to answer. Simply telling people about your plans is not the same thing as taking their ideas, concerns and suggestions on board.
“With many infrastructure problems facing Dumfries town centre, we need to think again about how best to regenerate and protect the Whitesands.”
“I will be making my own objections known and I would urge all those with concerns to submit them to the Council ahead of the deadline.”