Police have found no criminal activity in their probe into the whereabouts of granite from Union Terrace Gardens – after stone was left unattended at the end of a Cults driveway.
Officers were called to investigate how the protected rock had come to be left piled up in a private garden in the leafy suburbs of Aberdeen, without sign-off from project bosses.
Aberdeen City Council is spending £28 million refurbishing the Victorian park in the middle of the city, with an expectation that all granite from the previous layout would be used in the new look space.
Concerns for security of UTG granite after masonry left in private garden
But last month, it emerged sub-contractor Graeme Cheyne Builders had left stacked of granite steps from Union Terrace Gardens (UTG) at the end of a prominent businessman’s driveway.
Pub boss Mike Wilson raised concerns for the safety of the heritage rock, claiming he came home one Friday afternoon to find the pile in his garden.
Graeme Cheyne later admitted it had been left there in the rush to get finished that day, when his yard was already full.
Mr Wilson also told of his fears some of the stone had already been taken to an Aberdeenshire quarry to be chipped – though that suggestion appears to have been quashed by the city council today.
Project leaders Balfour Beatty have apologised for the granite, and a globe streetlight from the stairs entering from Rosemount Viaduct, being left in an “unapproved location”.
Council ‘Granite-gate’ audit still to come
Councillors have ordered a full audit of all masonry from the project, also including heraldic shields from the pocket park in Rosemount Viaduct, which is to be brought before the audit committee at the end of September.
The whole affair, known as Granite-gate among our readers, has led to widespread public concern.
Earlier this week, online commenters hit out at a woman selling balustrades that looked similar in style to those surrounding UTG – though council sources sounded confident that they were not sourced from the park.
But a spokeswoman confirmed Balfour Beatty had accounted for all the stone and it was now being stored securely.
She told us: “Police Scotland has confirmed no crime has been established or committed by any person in the circumstances pending any new information.
“The main contractor at the site Balfour Beatty has confirmed that all of the granite has now been recovered and stored in a secure site and it is working with subcontractors to ensure it does not happen again.
“Council officers will bring a report to the next meeting of audit, risk and scrutiny committee with a full audit of all the downtakings from Union Terrace Gardens as previously instructed by a meeting of full council.”