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Kingswells News

Updated: 21 January 2003

Welcome to the latest news about people, places and all that's happening in Kingswells.
If you have a news story email it to: info@kingswells.com
Please note this is a very long web page, so remember to use your scroll bars.

DONS STADIUM DREAM FACES KO AS WE LOSE EURO 2008: Aberdeen FC's plans for a multi-million-pound stadium on the city outskirts have been plunged into uncertainty after Scotland lost out on the race to host Euro 2008.

A £1million joint "Celtic" bid with Ireland proved an embarrassing failure yesterday.

It did not even make it into the final four of the seven bids considered by UEFA.

The Scots-Irish bid had been second favourite to land the championships behind the eventual winner, a joint Austria-Switzerland bid.

Politicians and football chiefs reacted with disappointment.

First Minister Jack McConnell admitted that he was "absolutely gutted" by the decision of European football's governing body in Geneva.

It means the North-east will miss a possible £19million economic boost which could have come from staging group games in the tournament.

The Dons planned to build a £30million stadium in green-belt land at Kingswells.

But support from Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Executive for the scheme, which would involve a departure from normal planning regulations, had hinged on the stadium being part of Euro 2008.

Without the tournament, it is almost certain the Dons current planning application will fall.

The Executive and the council both said the club would now have to consider its position.

But Aberdeen FC stuck to its guns last night, with chief executive Keith Wyness saying the application will stand, meaning a public inquiry scheduled for next year by the Scottish Executive will go ahead as planned.

Mr Wyness said: "I'm really bitterly disappointed.

"In my previous job, I saw the impact that the Olympics had on Australia and I know how important it would be for the young kids in Scotland to grow up seeing that their country can achieve something."

Mr Wyness admitted the club will now take stock with its "partners and advisers" to plot the best way forward.

But it will face a financial headache to meet the £30million cost. The failure of the bid means that £70million of Executive funding to provide stadia for the tournament has gone.

Kingswells residents who vociferously opposed the stadium immediately called on the club to withdraw its application.

Derek Martin, of the Kingswells Infrastructure First Group, said: "This application should now fall on the terms of the city council planning condition. If it doesn't, if someone tries to renege on that, it will be very strange."

And Alan Stott, vice-chairman of Kingswells Community Council, called for the city council to clarify the matter.

He said: "It is now up to Aberdeen City Council to indicate to Aberdeen Football Club that as this condition has not been met, the willingness to approve their proposed stadium at Bellfield has now been withdrawn."

The Scottish bid team in Geneva were shocked to learn they were not among any of the four bids on the shortlist put to UEFA's executive committee.

Scotland's David Will, a FIFA vice-president and an observer on UEFA's executive committee, said: "We were astounded. The national teams committee recommended four bids and we were not included and we never recovered from that.

"I still cannot believe it and I am trying to find out why."

UEFA's national team committee recommended Austria-Switzerland, Greece-Turkey, Hungary and the four-nation Nordic bid. Bosnia-Croatia and Russia were eliminated with Scotland in the first vote.

In Edinburgh, Mr McConnell said: "Football would have had a great festival here in Scotland and Ireland in 2008 and the fans who have backed us so solidly in this campaign would have made this festival of football the best ever."

The First Minister added: "I think the evidence was in favour of the Scottish and Irish bid.

"I don't think we should have any regrets. We have put our two small footballing nations back on the European map."

Mr McConnell also refused to be drawn on the possibility of Scotland making a bid to host the European Championships in 2012, but said the experience of bidding for the 2008 event had left Scotland in a strong position for the future.

He also said that a substantial amount of the resources allocated in the current Scottish Budget for staging Euro 2008 will be committed to the development of youth sport.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was very disappointed.

"A tremendous amount of effort was made in Ireland and Scotland to secure the championships and great credit is due to all concerned," he said.

SFA chief executive David Taylor said last night: "I felt we had the best bid, but at the end of the day it was a decision for UEFA.

"We have not won and that's all I can say at this juncture."

Mr Taylor added: "We have learned a lot of lessons which will stand us in good stead if we were to go for another bid."

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Amanda Harvie said she hoped the decision will not scupper hopes of a top sporting venue for the region.

"Whatever the outcome of Aberdeen Football Club's planning application for a sports complex at Kingswells, we want to see the Aberdeen and Gram-pian community working together to deliver a world-class sporting facility," she said.

Aberdeen North Labour MP Malcolm Savidge said: "I am deeply disappointed that Scotland's joint bid has been unsuccessful but hope that the fact that the winning bid has also been a joint one might mean we have some hope for the future.

"I still believe that the Dons need a new or improved stadium whether at Pittodrie, Kingswells or somewhere else."

He suggested what happens in future may be linked to the construction of Aberdeen's western bypass, which he remained certain would have "a vital role in the future of travel in the North-east".

Gordon Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce said: "I am quite relieved that this has not gone ahead. It would have been a diversion of resources better spent elsewhere."

A new stadium "should only go ahead if the Dons have a business plan that can support it, not because they can attract public money for a tournament", he said.

"Whether they can is a planning decision up to others to decide, but there is logic to having it on the south side of the city rather than the north."

By SCOTT MACNAB http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk ( Posted 13.12.2002)

AFC Statement 12th December 2002

"We are obviously very disappointed that the Scotland/Ireland bid has been unsuccessful. The benefits which could have been derived for Scotland's economy as well as Scottish football were significant. It is a blow to all concerned.

"With regard to our plans for a world class sports and leisure complex at Bellfield, the planning application is now with the Scottish Executive which is undertaking a public inquiry.

"In the coming weeks we have meetings with our professional advisers to make a decision on our strategy for this inquiry. There is no timescale for the outcome of the inquiry at the moment &endash; the whole matter is in the hands of the Scottish Executive.

"We still believe that the proposals for a new stadium and world class sports and leisure facility at Bellfield present an outstanding opportunity for the North-east and we need to consider how we best move this forward."

BETTER TECHNOLOGY FOR KINGSWELLS: Resident from Kingswells are hoping Santa will bring them all faster internet connections this Christmas.

Local residents are being urged to register their interest in BT's internet Broadband technology to ensure the local exchange is upgraded to support the service.

The Broadband trigger levels on BT's website are 168 away from the Kingswells exchange qualifying for an upgrade. The level it is sitting at is 282 but it needs to reach 450.

What is broadband?

Broadband is a method of faster data delivery meaning your connection to the Internet is much quicker. There are two main methods of delivering broadband - ADSL and cable.

ADSL uses normal phone lines, but transmits computer data 'above' the area used for phone calls. Your normal phone conversation takes place on a specific band of frequencies. ADSL uses higher frequencies to send and receive information. (Definition of broadband from the BBC website)

For several months the website for the community of Kingswells has run a discussion on its bulletin board about broadband technology and some residents have sent in information about how to register for Broadband.

The website now has a page dedicated to the subject and is hoping for a last push from new and old residents to register for Broadband with BT to ensure the exchange is upgraded.

'Anyone wishing to find out more about Broadband and how to register can find information on the front page of the Kingswells website," said Claire Blurt, who co-ordinates the www.kingswells.com website. (Posted 8.12.2002)

COUNCIL INSIDERS BEWILDERED BY MAITLAND'S SHOCK RESIGNATION CLAIMS: A questionmark hangs over the validity of tomorrow's Aberdeen City Council by-election, following a sensational last minute claim that David Maitland never "formally" resigned as a councillor for Newhills.

Council bosses are adamant the by-election will go ahead as they have a legal duty to ensure that the voters in the area are represented.

Mr Maitland's lawyers have challenged the council to produce proof that he formally resigned.

Police are still investigating allegations that he tried to rig votes so that Aberdeen Football Club would be given planning permission for its controversial £30million stadium in Kingswells.

Liberal Democrat councillor Matthew Duncan claimed he had the evidence after he secretly taped Mr Maitland at a civic function.

When he was suspended from the council's ruling Labour group, Mr Maitland told the Press and Journal he had resigned. The council also issued a statement to that effect.

It is now claimed that the council only had in its possession a draft resignation letter used to prepare an e-mail.

Mr Maitland's solicitor, Alistair Drummond, said that the actual letter of resignation was delivered only last Friday to Crawford Langley, Aberdeen director of corporate and legal services.

Mr Drummond said: "The person who delivered it certainly did it without my client's permission and intimated the letter had been destroyed."

He added it was the duty of Mr Crawford, also deputy returning officer, to prove the "competence" of the election.

Mr Drummond said Mr Langley had failed to produce a competent letter or other documentation showing his client had resigned. But he has no plans to use the courts to block the by-election going ahead.

Mr Drummond said it was the council, not his client, who announced the resignation. When asked why Mr Maitland did not issue a denial, he said it was because of the intense pressure his client was under at the time.

Mr Langley insisted everything was above board and that the by-election would go ahead tomorrow as planned.

He said: "I have absolutely no doubt that we have a resignation that satisfies all the requirements. Mr Langley admitted he did not receive a signed resignation letter until last week, but added: "That simply underlines that the resignation we have was validly received on August 15.

"We received both e-mail and several telephone conversations from him that day. That was quite sufficient."

Labour and council insiders insist that Mr Maitland resigned and has told numerous people just that in the past months.

There is considerable bewilderment why Mr Maitland is following his current course of action.

One said: "Councils have pretty good lawyers. If he resigned, he resigned." (Posted 6.11.2002)

By TIM PAULING http://thisisnothscotland.co.uk

SYSTEM FOR OBJECTING TO LOCAL PLAN 'DIFFICULT AND UNDEMOCRATIC' : A system for registering objections to Aberdeen City Council's controversial local plan was branded undemocratic on Monday night (2 September 2002).

A meeting of Kingswells Community Council, concerns were raised that the forms supplied by the council make it very difficult for people to object to the document.

Last-minute amendments to the blueprint provoked controversy last year. Former Labour councillor David Maitland was behind a raft of changes, which meant that all long-term new housing was zoned for wards represented by opposition council colleagues.

The document includes plans for future housing development of up to 520 homes on greenbelt land north of Cults by 2011.

Jill MacKenzie, who has been campaigning to save the greenbelt area at Countesswells Woods, voiced her concerns at last night's meeting at Kingswells Community Centre.

She told members that it was proving "extremely difficult" for people to register their objections to the plans

She said: "I would say that these forms are non-user friendly to the point of being impossible. You have to have seen the map to include a grid reference on the form, and you are only allowed to object about specific things."

Council chairman Alec Carnie also pointed out that each form only allowed for one objection, and anyone wanting to object to more than one aspect of the plan would have to get extra forms.

He said: "If you want to make 10 different objections, then you need 10 of these forms, if you can get them. They just don't think - it is lunacy."

Vice-chairman Alan Stott added that he had gone to Dyce Library to get a form, but was told that they did not have any.

He said: "I thought this was supposed to be a democratic process. They have made it so difficult that no one is going to bother objecting."

Attempts were made to contact a council spokesman after the meeting last night, but he was not available for comment.

Copies of the local plan should be available at all libraries in Aberdeen.

Objectors to the plan have until October 1 to make representations to the council. If enough objections are received, the council will be forced to call in a Scottish Executive reporter to review the proposals.

Although not bound to follow any recommendations by the reporter, the council would be under massive political pressure to do so.

By DAVID MCKAY (Posted 3.9.2002) http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk

SHOW POKES FUN AT SPORTS STADIUM SCHEME

The descent into madness of an Aberdeen suburb after plans are lodged for a new football stadium is the basis of one of the sketches in a new comedy show.

Singing councillors, a new Lord Provost - and the controversial plans for Aberdeen Football Club's new stadium - will come under the spotlight when the Madness of Kingswells takes hold next month.

The comedy sketch show, written and performed by satirical theatre company Flying Pig Productions, takes a gentle poke at various Aberdeen issues, including the stadium plan.

It follows on the success of shows including Stanley Cooslick's Clockwork Sporran and Prime Cuts.

Described as a cross between The Fast Show and Scotland the What, Flying Pig's latest production features "stadium-sized laughs and a traffic-halting trail of sketches and songs".

Co-writer Andrew Brebner said that, although the title may suggest that the show is dedicated to issues affecting Kingswells, it covers a broad range of topics.

"We've got a couple of sketches about Kingswells and the stadium, because it's a topical issue right now, but that's an umbrella title," he said.

"We've got a sketch starring the new Lord Provost of Aberdeen. That's not the real provost but a returning character of ours.

We've also got a city council meeting which bursts into song and we are planning a local Doric version of Pop Idol."

Mr Brebner, who with his co-writer and six strong cast are all graduates of the Aberdeen Student Show, said he had not yet received much reaction to the show's title.

The Madness of Kingswells will be staged at Aberdeen Arts Centre from October 2 to 5.

Tickets, costing £8.50 or £6 concessions, are available from Aberdeen Arts Centre and Aberdeen Box Office.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the show should contact Mr Brebner on 07808 585 948.

By ANGELA TAYLOR http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/ (Posted 3.Spetember 2002)

POLICE TO INVESTIGATE STADIUM COUNCILLOR: Police in Aberdeen have launched an investigation into the conduct of a former councillor at the centre of political sleaze allegations.

News of the probe was revealed as councillors in the city voted in favour of Aberdeen FC's plans for a 30,000-seater stadium, which has been linked to allegations against former city councillor David Maitland.

This was despite opposition claims that the matter should be referred direct to the Scottish Executive because the process was now "tainted".

A North-east MSP is also now formally calling on the Scottish Executive to hold a public inquiry into the £30million stadium and leisure complex planning application.

City council legal chief Crawford Langley yesterday revealed further details of his investigation into Mr Maitland's activities at a meeting of the full council yesterday.

It emerged Mr Maitland had made approaches to at least eight councillors on the matter of the stadium application.

Mr Langley told the full council that one councillor had been told by Mr Maitland that his "business interests" might be affected if he opposed the stadium application.

He said: "Councillor Maitland had predicted unfortunate consequences in relation to certain personal interests outwith the council were he to vote against the proposal."

Mr Langley declined to reveal details yesterday as he said they referred to "personal business interests".

The potential consequences were of "a commercial nature".

Mr Langley maintained his previous position that he had found no evidence of "criminality".

However, he added: "I am not an expert in criminal investigation and I have referred the matter to Grampian Police."

It also emerged during the course of Mr Langley's statement that at least eight members of the council had been approached by Mr Maitland.

Mr Langley continued: "Councillor Maitland made a blatant, unjustified and unjustifiable attempt to interfere with the proper working of that committee."

However, he concluded that no committee members were influenced by Mr Maitland's approaches and the decision of the planning committee was "sound in both law and procedure".

He said he had disregarded the contents of a tape made secretly by Councillor Matthew Duncan, which allegedly contains evidence of the claims against Mr Maitland.

Mr Langley added: "In reaching this conclusion I did not rely on the tape recording obtained by Councillor Duncan as I have reservations as to the evidential value of such clandestine recordings."

SNP group leader Kevin Stewart's call for the matter to be referred immediately to the First Minister, as the public had lost confidence in the city council, was met with applause from the public gallery.

He said: "Whether we like it or not, the council has been tainted by these allegations that have been upheld.

"While I don't doubt the integrity of this council, there are people who will cry foul regardless of what is done today."

However, planning committee convener Brian Rutherford said that to make no decision would be a dereliction of duty.

Councillor Stewart's amendment to have the matter referred to the Scottish Executive without consideration was voted down by 33-5.

However, the vote on the stadium proved a closer affair, with the Liberal Democrats' group leader, Kate Dean, tabling an amendment opposing the application.

She objected on the grounds of the traffic implications for Kingswells, as well as the diminution of the Kingswells residential amenity and the location of the site beside the crematorium and garden of remembrance at Hazlehead.

The latter, she said, were "sited on the edge of the city so they could remain a place of peace and sanctuary".

Councillor Duncan told the meeting that the Bellfield Farm site, near Kingswells, had been hailed as "deliverable" because it was cheap - but it was only cheap because it was classed as green belt, which could not be built on.

"It's this paradox that a lot of my constituents find hard to understand."

The proposed stadium would form a central component of Scotland's Euro 2008 bid, but Mr Rutherford said there would be wider benefits for the city.

Traffic could be managed to satisfaction and the Scottish Executive had set up special circumstances to allow a stadium to be built on green belt for the purposes of Euro 2008.

Councillors eventually backed a motion to approve the stadium bid, but refer it to the Scottish Executive for final approval, by a margin of 23-16.

Meanwhile, Mike Rumbles, MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, is bringing a motion before the Scottish Parliament that the Executive hold a public inquiry into the football stadium application.

He said: "As far as I am concerned there is no need to condemn 120 acres of green belt at Kingswells when there are other much more appropriate sites that could be considered, particularly at Portlethen."

He added: "I feel the serious allegations of wrongdoing within the council that have emerged over the past few days have undermined the public's confidence in the openness and transparency of the planning process."

By SCOTT MACNAB http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/ (Posted 22 August 2002)

ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL REPORT by CRAWFORD J LANGLEY AS MONITORING OFFICER INTO THE ACTIONS OF DAVID MAITLAND: In terms of S 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 it is my statutory duty to report to the Council in the event that, in my opinion the actions or proposed actions of the Council may result in illegality or maladministration.

While I am not required to report on instances where I do not consider there to be a risk of illegality or maladministration, logic and openness both demand that I should report on a serious matter which I have investigated.

While my conclusion is that the Council's own actions are sound, there has been a clear breach of the Code of Conduct by one member and a potential breach (on a different issue) by another. I will address the issue of the action to be taken in relation to the Members concerned later in this report.

The facts are straightforward.

Immediately prior to the Planning Committee Meeting on Thursday 8th August 2002, Councillor Cassie approached Hazel Spalding seeking advice as to his position at the meeting since Councillor Maitland had contacted him seeking to ascertain his voting intentions on the Kingswells Stadium and indicating that in exchange for a favourable vote, the reservations which certain of his colleagues held about another proposed development in Councillor Cassie's Ward at Garthdee could be overcome. (There is a significant issue in relation to the implication of block voting in planning matters which I address later).

Councillor Cassie did not indicate his voting intention and in fact voted against the stadium development as had been his considered intention.

The advice given by Mrs Spalding, who consulted myself was that the meeting of the Planning Committee should proceed and that Coucillor Cassie should vote according to his views on the planning merits of the application. An investigation would be undertaken by myself as Monitoring Officer. I am aware that some people outside the Council have queried the propriety of proceeding with that meeting.

Such a decision is always a matter of balance but, given (a) that it was, at that stage an unsupported allegation by one Councillor against another (b) that to stop consideration of the matter might interfere with the investigation of the complaint and most importantly (c) if the investigation did reveal any impropriety, it would have been possible to take action to prevent implementation of the decision, I felt that the course of action which we adopted was the correct one.

As Councillor Cassie was about to go on holiday, it was agreed with him that the investigation would proceed on his return.

The fact that additional evidence became available the following day and that this would almost certainly not have been available had the meeting not proceeded, provides some retrospective justification for my thinking on point (b).

On Monday 12th August Councillor Matthew Duncan contacted Hazel Spalding to say that he had been at a civic function the previous Friday (i.e. the day after the Planning Committee) at which Councillor Maitland had been making comments about the consequences for Councillor Cassie and his Ward as a result of his decision to vote against the Stadium.

Councillor Duncan also indicated that having heard that Councillor Cassie had been approached, he had devised a means of recording such a conversation and put this into operation when occasion presented itself at the function.

I took further detailed statements from Councillors Cassie and Duncan and from Councillor Cassie's wife.

On the basis of these I came to the preliminary view that there had been a clear and substantial breach of the Code of Conduct by Councillor Maitland.

In reaching this conclusion I did not rely on the tape recording obtained by Counicllor Duncan as I have reservations as to the evidential value of such clandestine recordings. Irrespective of the legality of the recording, however, there is an ethical issue in relation to the Code of Conduct which touches on the ability of members of the Council to discuss business with each other without the fear or suspicion that the conversation may be being recorded.

It is my intention to submit a report on Councillor Duncan's actions to the Standards and Scrutiny Committee. My concerns over the tape do not however, affect the validity of the statement made by Councillor Duncan nor do they diminish the seriousness of what Councillor Maitland attempted to do. I have in fact heard the tape and there is nothing on it which I have not established by other means.

Having established this preliminary view, fairness required that I put these allegations to Councillor Maitland and give him an opportunity to respond.

I also regarded it as my duty to advise Councillor Ironside as Leader of the Labour Group, of my findings since irrespective of any action which the Council might take against Councillor Maitland he would be subject to discipline by the Labour Group/Labour Party.

At a meeting on 15th August 2002, during part of which Councillor Maitland was accompanied by Councillor Ironside, I put the allegations to Councillor Maitland who did not attempt to deny them, expressed remorse for what his actions might do to the reputation of the Labour Group and immediately intimated his intention to resign. He also gave me the names of a number Councillors he had approached as to their voting intentions. I have subsequently inquired of every member of the Council as to whether they received any approach from Councillor Maitland in relation to either the decision of the Planning Committee or the decision taken at this meeting.

No attempt had been made to influence the vast majority of members.

Members indicated that they had been approached by Counicllor Maitland prior to the Planning Committee, but only Councillor Cassie had been offered any sort of inducement to vote in a particular way. Of these members 8 were members present at the Planning Committee, of which 3 were contacted on procedural matters only, 2 indicated that they were favourably dispensed to the application, 4 that they were undecided and 2 that it was a planning matter which should not be the subject of prior discussion.

Of these approached subsequent to the meeting of the Planning Committee, only one (who had been approached at the civic function on the Friday evening) indicated that Councillor Maitland had predicted unfortunate consequences in relation to certain personal interests outwith the Council were he to vote against the proposal. While I have details of these interests, it would be improper for me to detail these in an open report as they refer to personal business interests. The potential consequences were of a commercial nature. The significance lies not in what the interests are but in the fact that in approaching Counillor Cassie and this other Councillor, Councillor Maitland sought to utilise enticements related to their particular circumstances.

The issue upon which I have primarily to report is whether any illegality or maladministration surrounds the decision of the Planning Committee.

From what I have said so far it should be clear that Councillor Maitland made a blatant, unjustified and unjustifiable attempt to interfere with the proper working of that Committee.

He did not, however, succeed, through the unwillingness of those approached to vote in a manner contrary to their conscience. Councillor Cassie who at that stage was under most pressure voted against the application. A number of those approched also had indicated a predisposition to vote the application .

There can, in my opinion, be no doubt therefore, that the decision of the Planning Committee is sound both in law and procedure.

While for the purposes of assessing the effect on the Committee decision, it is not necessary for me to inquire into Councillor Maitland's motives, I think that fairness demands that I reiterate what certain news editors have criticised me for saying, namely, that I have come across no evidence that his actions were in any way criminal or motivated by the prospect of personal financial gain, nor have any of those within the Council who are particularly critical of him suggested this.

My impression is that given his stated intention to secure a unanimous decision on the application, his actions were due to the "enthusiasm" or "an abundance of exuberance" for a project in which he passionately believed.

It was, however, over enthusiasm of gigantic, unprecedented and inexplicable proportions which took it way beyond the realms of acceptable conduct. To attribute it to over &endash; enthusiasm does not however, in any way diminish the seriousness of what he attempted to do and had he not chosen to resign the Standards and Scrutiny Committee would have required to decide what sanctions to impose.

Had I been asked for a recommendation on that aspect, I would almost certainly have suggested that the matter be referred to the Standards Commission recently established under the Ethical Standards in Public Life Etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 and which possesses powers of suspension and disqualification not open to the Council.

The fact that Councillor Maitland immediately chose to resign and that his political group suspended him in the event that he did not resign indicates that others share my view of the seriousness of the matter. By resigning Councillor Maitland has voluntarily accepted a penalty commensurate with the gravity of what he has done but of a severity which the Council under its existing powers could not have imposed.

While as indicated above, I am aware of no evidence of criminal activity on the part of Councillor Maitland, I am not an expert in criminal investigation and I have referred the matter to Grampian Police for such action as they wish to take.

As I have already indicated, the innuendo of Councillor Maitland's comments to Councillor Cassie and borne out by his subsequent remarks to Councillor Duncan was that he could deliver the votes of his colleagues in the Labour Group in relation to a planning application for leisure facilities in Garthdee.

If he or any other member were capable of doing so this would amount to a very serious breach of the rules for the consideration of planning applications.

As members will be aware, a similar allegation, not restricted to the Labour Group was made at the time of the Tesco planning application and was shown to be totally unfounded as can be demonstrated by an examination of the voting figures on virtually any planning application. In the course of my current investigation, not even Councillor Maitland's major critics have suggested that there is any substance in these allegations. It is also significant that two members of the Labour Group who had been approached by Councillor Maitland in relation to the stadium application have confirmed that they told him that their voting intentions were a personal matter.

I also must comment on the propriety of the Council proceeding to consider the planning application relating to the Stadium this afternoon. In my opinion as Monitoring officer, there is nothing to prevent such consideration. Indeed it could be argued to be dereliction of a statutory duty as planning authority not to do so.

As I have indicated there is no evidence that any member, of the Planning Committee whether approached by Councillor Maitland or not voted otherwise than in accordance with his/her view of the planning issues of the application.

The decision of the Planning Committee is, however, only one aspect of the material to be considered by members this afternoon. You have a duty to consider that decision, the reports and any points raised in debate and come to a considered decision on whether proper planning of the area requires the application to be granted or refused.

There is no obligation on any member of the Planning Committee to vote as he or she did at the Committee meeting provided that the change of opinion is governed by planning considerations.

It may also be helpful if I formally put on record the advice given informally at the Planning Committee, namely, that you cannot rewrite the planning application and grant part and refuse part.

On a number of occasions the Courts have held that it is the duty of the Planning Authority to consider and reach a decision on the application before it; that fairness both to the applicant to objections and particularly those who have not objected to the overall package but might object to one component if implemented alone, requires the application be granted or refused as a whole.

In conclusion I would wish to thank all Members of the Council who have given me full co-operation during my investigation.

DONS WELCOME COUNCIL'S GREEN LIGHT FOR STADIUM PLAN: Aberdeen Football Club today (Wednesday 21st August) welcomed the decision by the City Council to back its planning application for world class sport and leisure facilities at Bellfield as part of a successful Scottish-Irish bid for Euro 2008. The Council will now refer the planning application, that includes a new stadium for the Dons, to the Scottish Executive for final approval. The Council, as the local planning authority, will indicate to the Executive that it supports the application.

AFC chief executive, Keith Wyness said the decision marked a historic moment not only for the club but for the North-east as a whole.

He said: "The club is of course delighted at today's decision by the Council to endorse our significant plans for the Bellfield site. We are bitterly disappointed that the application has been tainted by recent internal political problems, but are happy that the council was able to put that aside today and focus on the relevant issues. We have invested huge amounts of time and effort in developing this proposal as a club and with our partners. We have listened to the debate that has surrounded this planning application and we believe that measures are in place to address all the major concerns that have emerged over the past year. I am very pleased that the Council has decided to back this bid and that it will now progress to the Scottish Executive, hopefully for final approval."

Mr Wyness said the proposed development also had wider social and economic benefits for Aberdeen and the North-east.

"The Bellfield development is not only central to the Scotland-Ireland bid to host Euro 2008 but would also have long-term economic benefits for the city and region. The quality and scope of the facilities would mean that other major sporting events could be hosted in Aberdeen with obvious financial spin-offs for the local economy. The communities of both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will also have access to world-class sport and leisure facilities as a result of the development," he said.

"The council has clearly carefully weighed all the relevant factors before reaching its historic decision today which indicates not only a willingness to back our development plans but also throws added weight behind the nation's bid to host Euro 2008. This is another major step towards the club, city and Scotland as a whole achieving its aspirations." (Posted 21.8.2002)

KINGSWELLS STADIUM BID 'MUST GO TO EXECUTIVE': Campaigners opposed to Aberdeen FC's Kingswells stadium plans yesterday urged the Scottish Executive to call in the application immediately following allegations against a former Labour councillor.

Kingswells Infrastructure First Group (KIFG) also called on Aberdeen City Council to make public details of the investigation into the complaint about David Maitland.

The Press and Journal revealed Mr Maitland was suspended by his party amid claims that he tried to persuade opposition colleagues on the planning committee to vote in favour of the club's stadium proposals.

A council spokesman said last night that an internal probe was expected to be completed today, and legal director Crawford Langley will present his findings to the full council meeting on Wednesday.

He said the council vote on the application will go ahead as planned.

KIFG chairman Derek Martin said: "The whole thing is tainted. We believe the Scottish Executive should call in the application immediately and instruct Aberdeen City Council to have nothing further to do with it.

"However, we do not expect for one minute that any of this will make the slightest difference. (The council) has ignored public opinion and very good planning arguments because it suits them to do so.

"Come hell or high water, these plans are going to be approved. We are asking, why?"

Following the departure of Mr Maitland, Labour is facing a crucial by-election in what is a marginal seat.

A defeat would result in a shift in the balance of power within the council, which is currently split at 21-21, although Lord Provost Margaret Smith is allowed a second, casting vote in the event of a tie.

Meanwhile, KIFG has also claimed there was a breach of legal procedure during the council's planning committee meeting at which the application was considered.

Convener Brian Rutherford was asked by councillors Jack Dempsey and David Clyne if the stadium aspect of the Dons' application could be considered separately.

Mr Martin said Mr Rutherford ruled that the committee would have to consider the application as a whole, without consulting legal officers.

KIFG claims to have uncovered case law which proves that the decision was legally wrong, and therefore a breach of procedure.

Mr Martin said: "Our planning agent has researched the matter and has found case law which establishes that the planning committee misdirected itself in law."

The council spokesman dismissed the claims, insisting that Mr Rutherford had followed correct procedure.

He said: "The planning committee had to determine the application before them, which was not just for a stadium, but for a centre of excellence and other additional facilities.

"If any member believed that the plans constituted over-development, then they could have voted against the application."

By DAVID MCKAY 19 August 2002 http//:www.thisisnorthscotland.co.u

COUNCILLOR SUSPENDED OVER CLAIMS OF OFFERING DEAL FOR DONS' STADIUM VOTES: An ABERDEEN city councillor has been suspended by his party amid allegations that he attempted to persuade opposition colleagues to vote in favour of Aberdeen FC's Kingswells stadium application.

But Labour's David Maitland last night claimed he had already resigned from the council because of "ongoing abuse" his family has received over his support for the stadium plans.

As a result, the council is split 21-21 and Labour faces a crucial by-election in a highly-marginal seat.

The Labour Party last night insisted that Mr Maitland quit after being told his position was "untenable" as a result of the allegations.

City council officials last night confirmed that an investigation had been carried out into the matter.

However, it concluded that no planning committee members had been "swayed" in their views on the Kingswells application over Mr Maitland's alleged actions.

Mr Maitland is understood to have been caught on tape offering an opposition councillor a deal on votes for Aberdeen FC's recent planning application at Kingswells.

It is understood that another fellow councillor Liberal Democrat Matthew Duncan approached the city council legal chiefs with the tape and an investigation was carried out.

The Labour Party carried out its own investigation into the matter, as a result of which Mr Maitland was "encouraged" to resign his seat at a meeting with group leader Len Ironside earlier this week.

Mr Ironside said yesterday: "I am very saddened and disappointed by the actions of David Maitland that led to his resignation.

"In the middle of this week it was brought to my attention that former councillor Maitland had been accused of behaviour totally unbefitting an elected representative in that he appeared to offer another councillor a deal on votes for planning applications.

"This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable in the Labour Party, indeed as it would be in any political party.

"It was made clear to former councillor Maitland that his position was untenable and he was encouraged to resign."

However, when contacted at his Kingswells home last night, Mr Maitland claimed to be wholly unaware of the allegations and said he had not received any notification from the Labour Party that he had been suspended.

He said: "I am going to look into that very seriously.

"I had hoped to put all of this nonsense behind me. The fact of the matter is that my family have been under a tremendous strain, and the situation has become untenable.

"The vicious, sordid and serious nature of some of the material that was being sent to us in various forms left me, as a responsible parent, with no alternative."

Councillor Duncan admitted he was aware of the allegations, but was reluctant to elaborate on his involvement.

However, he said: "We will be making a statement as soon as we are sure it will not prejudice any council investigation and will make available any evidence at that time."

A city council spokesman said the matter had been investigated and that this Wednesday's full council vote on Aberdeen FC's Kingswells stadium application will go ahead as planned.

He said: "A complaint was received alleging that Councillor Maitland had attempted to influence certain other members of the planning committee.

"This has been investigated and it appears that he was over-enthusiastic rather than any other intent.

"There is at present no evidence that the views of any member had been swayed by any conversation.

"The matter regarding the football club's stadium application will on Wednesday be decided by the entire council."

SNP group leader Kevin Stewart said he hoped the allegations would not smear the reputation of all councillors.

He said: "He has made an extremely silly mistake. The public may well be of a mind to tar everyone with the same brush, but that would be unfair."

Liberal Democrat group leader Kate Dean was also reluctant to comment.

She said: "I am aware of an alleged breach of the code of conduct of the city council."

Tory group leader John Porter said the timing was "horrendous" for Labour as it means they must now hold a by-election - in a seat with a majority of just 28.

He said: "It's a bombshell for Labour."

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen FC said: "The club don't want to make any comment on the politics of local government."

A Labour Party spokeswoman said the party's swift action showed they were keen to clamp down on any allegations of sleaze.

She added: "Allegations of this kind are treated extremely seriously by the Labour Party. Mr Maitland has been suspended, with immediate effect, from holding office in the party pending an inquiry."

The development means that Labour now have to rely on the casting vote of Lord Provost Margaret Smith in the event of any legislation that unites the opposition.

The current Labour administration have 21 seats, with the opposition also having 21 seats. In the event of a tied vote, Lord Provost Margaret Smith would then get a second "casting" vote to determine an outcome.

However, if Labour lose the forthcoming by-ele ction in Newhills, they lose the majority and overall power in the council.

By SCOTT MACNAB AND DAVE MCKAY http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/ (Posted 17 August 2002 )


If you can provide assistance or information with any of the above please contact me at: info@kingswells.com A credit will be given to anyone submitting articles and photos used on web site. Claire Burt Web mistress

 
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Bulletin Board

OLD NEWS

DONS WELCOME COUNCIL'S GREEN LIGHT FOR STADIUM PLAN: Aberdeen Football Club today (Wednesday 21st August) welcomed the decision by the City Council to back its planning application for world class sport and leisure facilities at Bellfield as part of a successful Scottish-Irish bid for Euro 2008. (Posted 21.8.2002)

KINGSWELLS STADIUM BID 'MUST GO TO EXECUTIVE': Campaigners opposed to Aberdeen FC's Kingswells stadium plans yesterday urged the Scottish Executive to call in the application immediately following allegations against a former Labour councillor.
(Posted 19.8.2002)

COUNCILLOR SUSPENDED OVER CLAIMS OF OFFERING DEAL FOR DONS' STADIUM VOTES: An ABERDEEN city councillor has been suspended by his party amid allegations that he attempted to persuade opposition colleagues to vote in favour of Aberdeen FC's Kingswells stadium application.
(Posted 17.8.2002)

VOTE BRINGS NEW DONS STADIUM A STEP CLOSER: Aberdeen FC's controversial proposals for a £30million stadium and sports development at Kingswells overcame a major hurdle on Thursday 8th August when the city council's planning committee backed the scheme by 10 votes to four.

REDS GO GREEN! AFC To Adopt Green Travel Measures if Bellfield Goes Ahead. The development of AFC's proposed stadium and sports complex at Bellfield could revolutionise how fans travel to home games, reduce traffic and help the environment.

Dons Welcome Planning Report Recommendation for Bellfield: AFC today welcomed a report from City Council planners recommending the approval of the club's application for outline planning consent to develop a world-class sports and leisure centre at Bellfield.

CREATION OF REGIONAL CENTRE FOR SPORTING AND LEISURE EXCELLENCE INCLUDING 30,000 SEAT FOOTBALL STADIUM

RECOMMENDATION TO INDICATE 'WILLINGNESS TO APPROVE' AND REFER TO SCOTTISH MINISTERS

OBJECTORS SET BATTLE LINES AS STADIUM APPLICATION GOES BEFORE PLANNING OFFICIALS: Objectors to plans for a multi-million-pound sports development in a suburb of Aberdeen are gearing up for the appearance of the plans before city planning officials.

ANGER OVER TIMING OF STADIUM BRIEFING: Aberdeen councillors have been invited to attend a briefing on Scotland's Euro 2008 bid just days before a public hearing into the proposed £30million stadium in Kingswells starts.

Pre-School/Primary provision in Kingswells
Draft consultation document - May 2002

Aberdeen City Council's Education Department is seeking views on a range of options - nine in total - for how pre-school and primary education might be provided in Kingswells in the future.

KINGSWELLS PUPIL IN FINAL LAP OF JUBILEE FESTIVITIES: The final major Golden Jubilee celebration took place in Aberdeen last night when the city welcomed the arrival of the Commonwealth Baton.

GALA DAY FOR COMMUNITIES AS MINIBUS IS HANDED OVER: Community groups in Westhill and Kingswells took to the road in their new minibus at the weekend.

CONSULTATION ON KINGSWELLS SCHOOL: Aberdeen City Council is offering the public an opportunity to consult on the options for the provision of primary schooling for the children of Kingswells.

EXTRA TIME REQUIRED OVER £12m SPORTS CENTRE PLANS: The Scottish Executive has asked for more time to determine a planning application for a £12 million sports and leisure centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

KINGSWELLS PUPILS TAKE TO THE STREETS: From today schools across Aberdeen will be taking part in Walk to School Week to encourage pupils and parents to take the healthy option when travelling to and from school.

MORE THAN 5,000 USE PARK AND RIDE: More than 5,000 passengers again used Aberdeen's park and ride services last week.

KINGSWELLS SCHOOL TACKLE VANDALISM HEAD ON: Kingswells Primary School is suffering an unprecedented amount of vandalism. In the past 10 months, the school has had 37 windows smashed, the guttering has been pulled off , security lights have been smashed and much more besides.

KINGSWELLS TO TAKE PART IN BROWN BIN PILOT SCHEME - TO BE LAUNCHED: Vegetable peelings, teabags and grass cuttings will be recycled and used to make compost as part of a pilot scheme which gets underway in Aberdeen


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