NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Email said councillor owned land at centre of work investigation

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Media captionAberdeen councillor avoids questions on land ownership

A senior engineer at Aberdeen City Council said in an email as recently as last month that a councillor owned land affected by work to repair a cycle path wall now at the centre of a probe.

The council earlier admitted a "serious failing" after repairs worth £200,000 were ordered without proper approval.

An "urgent review" was launched.

The council has since accepted that Councillor Willie Young was not the registered title holder of the land in question.

An email seen by BBC Scotland said Mr Young had "confirmed he was in ownership of the affected works" at Wellington Brae.

Council finance convener Mr Young had said on Wednesday evening that he and his family had owned the land in the past, but not currently.

The email, sent by Kevin Pert, of the authority's communities, housing and infrastructure department on 29 March, said that while title deeds were not available from the Land Registry, Mr Young had confirmed ownership.

However, on Thursday night, a spokesman for Aberdeen City Council said: "Further to earlier statements in relation to the repairs of the cycleway at Wellington Brae, we can confirm that the records we have seen in respect of land ownership show that the registered title holder of the land in question is not Councillor Willie Young.

"We are not in a position to confirm who the owner is due to data protection requirements.

"The fact that Councillor Young was contacted by council officers as landowner forms part of the ongoing review into the circumstances of the project. Until that review is concluded it would not be appropriate to comment further."

'Given consent'

Mr Young, a Labour councillor, said: "My solicitor Keith Allan, Raeburn Christie Clark and Wallace, yesterday confirmed that I did not own the land at Wellington Brae. I have now been notified by the council that they too are satisfied I do not own title in respect of Wellington Brae."

In a separate Freedom of Information response to a local resident, Aberdeen City Council said "the landowner has given consent for these works".

BBC Scotland has also seen an email from October last year when Mr Pert suggested Mr Young gave verbal instruction to proceed with the works on Wellington Brae.

It stated: "Following your conversation with our Ken Neil yesterday (27th October) re your verbal instruction to proceed with the works at Wellington Brae, please accept this email as written confirmation of the instruction.

"Once funding has been confirmed (hopefully in the next week or two) we will be in a position to put this scheme out to tender with a view to completion by the end of March 2017."

The project was to be fully funded by cycling charity Sustrans, which awarded just over £21,000 for preliminary work, with the full funding to be paid when the work was completed.

Asked by BBC Scotland if Mr Young had her full support, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "This is very clearly a matter for Aberdeen City Council, and I know that the council are investigating and exploring this issue just now and there is nothing really more relevant for me to add in that regard.

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