SNP seeks independent probe into dispute over £200k works to Aberdeen wall

Councillor Willie Young.
Councillor Willie Young.

The SNP has called for an independent investigation into a row over £200,000 worth of work to a wall – which it says is owned by a councillor’s family.

After denials by council finance convener Willie Young and the city council that he owned the land alongside a £200,000 improvement project, the SNP instructed their lawyers to study fresh legal documents.

The SNP today claimed the legal analysis showed the owner of the land at Wellington Brae, Ferryhill, appears to be Mr Young’s father.

The opposition group said this proved that an independent inquiry was now essential.

Meanwhile, Mr Young obtained legal advice from a city council legal officer that there had not been any “conflict of interest”, based on the evidence seen so far.

Today Sustrans, the public body funding the repairs, revealed they would be withholding the funds until the investigation had been concluded.

Earlier this week, it was revealed the work to repair the wall and surrounding area at Wellington Brae – near to Mr Young’s home – had been allocated more than £200,000 funding without ever being presented to a council committee for scrutiny.

Council officers approached Mr Young in the belief he was the landowner several times, and in e-mails state he “verbally approved” the project.

After the allegations came to light, and the local authority launched an investigation, the Bridge of Don councillor denied being the landowner – though accepted he had owned it in the early 1990s.

He said he was just an “innocent bystander” and denied any wrongdoing.

The council – which has admitted there have been “serious failings” in handling the project – later confirmed the land was not in Mr Young’s name, and refused to reveal who it belonged to for “data protection”.

But Ferryhill SNP councillor Graham Dickson said he now had doubts the council could conduct an independent probe, and called for outside experts to be called in.

He said: “Aberdeen has been given the run around by Councillor Young over the last few days, having moved between being unsure whether he owned the land to outright denying any connection to the land.”

He added that the situation “totally undermines the trust that the public can place in the internal investigation”.

Mr Young could not be contacted for comment but released a statement from the local authority’s head of legal Fraser Bell.

Mr Bell told Mr Young: “I do not think you had a conflict of interest to declare.”

A council spokesman said a full review into the circumstances was being carried out instructed by interim infrastructure director Bernadette Marjoram, and declined to comment further on the scope of the probe.