The main contractor trusted to transform Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen has apologised for granite from the Victorian park being stored at an “unapproved location”.
Balfour Beatty, in charge of the £28 million refurbishment of UTG, has broken a days-long silence on a scandal which has unfurled in the Granite City in recent days.
Images of masonry from the city centre park, including stone steps, coping and one of the park’s globe streetlamps, appeared online last week.
The location of the rock and how it got there remained a closely guarded secret until yesterday, when Aberdeen Journals traced it to the driveway of prominent bar boss Mike Wilson in Cults.
When rumours first circulated, Aberdeen City Council officials were quick to give assurances all the granite from UTG would be reused in the revamp – in line with legal requirements set out by planners.
However, after Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Yuill pushed on the matter, Town House leaders launched an investigation – soon confirming the photographed granite – out in the wild – was from the gardens.
Council bosses called a summit with Balfour Beatty earlier this week, warning the lapse in security could amount to a breach of contract.
They have also reported the matter to the police.
Balfour Beatty apology over granite being stored in an ‘unapproved location’
Now, a Balfour Beatty spokeswoman said: “We are currently in discussions with one of our subcontractors to understand the reason for the materials being stored at an unapproved location.
“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience or concern caused and can confirm that the granite will be relocated to a secure and appropriate site as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, we continue to assist Police Scotland and Aberdeen City Council with their investigations.”
The local authority has ordered a full audit of granite removed from UTG.
Balfour Beatty’s sub-contractor Graeme Cheyne Builders confirmed they had left it at Mr Wilson’s home, without prior warning, a fortnight ago as he had run out of room at his yard.
Having built the £2m house, Mr Cheyne told us: “I didn’t even ask Mike if I could store it there, I just knew there was a bit of spare land there doing nothing.
“At 4.30pm on a Friday, things are closing in on you and you are in a race against time.
“I thought I would get it off the lorry, put it there and deal with the consequences later.”
He added that the scandal had “nothing to do” with Mr Wilson his building firm for £1m in a dispute about alleged toxic waste left in his garden.