The first minister has apologised for not “being aware” of an application for funding city council bosses made for the Aberdeen Art Gallery project.
It comes after Aberdeen City Council’s co-leader Douglas Lumsden demanded the first minister apologise to city residents as a row intensifies over the funding of the £34.6 million refurbishment project.
At First Minister’s Questions last week Nicola Sturgeon said Aberdeen City Council had “never” asked ministers for funding.
It later emerged, through documents produced by Mr Lumsden, that an application was submitted to Creative Scotland in 2013 but this was rejected.
In the Scottish Parliament, in response to a question by north-east MSP Tom Mason yesterday calling for an apology, Ms Sturgeon said: “I have already written to Tom Mason and the presiding officer.
“It is the case that no approach was made to the Scottish Government or Historic Environment Scotland in the planning or business case phase stages.
“An application was made to Creative Scotland in 2013, which was not successful.
“I was not aware of that application when I answered the question last week and I apologise for that.
“The allegation that was made last week in Aberdeen that somehow there was a political motivation for funding the V&A in Dundee but not the Aberdeen Art Gallery is absolutely not true and I would hope nobody would repeat that accusation again,” she said.
City leaders had complained they received no Scottish Government support for the venture despite the significant Holyrood funding afforded to Dundee’s V&A museum.
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George Street/Harbour councillor Ryan Houghton branded Ms Sturgeon’s “tardy apology” as “tortuous”. He added: “You’d get blood from a stone faster.
“Her lack of knowledge about Aberdeen was obvious last week.
“But everyone involved with the art gallery project, past and present, were shocked by just how little she knew.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to start putting their hands in their pocket for Aberdeen.”
The Aberdeen Art Gallery opened its doors to the public at the weekend following a multi-million-pound revamp, which was funded by the local authority, the National Lottery and via an ongoing public fundraising campaign.
Oil firm BP and the UK Government have also contributed to aspects of the project.