FORFAR QUESTIONS ABOUT LOCAL AUTHORITY FINANCES

COMPARISONS between spending in Forfar and other Angus burghs were made at last month's meeting of Forfar Community Council, with a call being made to the administration to explain why Forfar is losing out on public spending.

Chairman Mrs Isobel Ross referred to recent press reports detailing expenditure of over 300,000 in Brechin, Carnoustie and Montrose, and compared it to repairs being made to the Balmashanner War Memorial and the Peel monument in Forfar.

She added the repairs to the war memorial were to be made from the Forfar Common Good Fund, but the Peel monument work was having to wait as there was "no money."

She said: "Forfar elected alliance members in the administration are going to have to tell the people of Forfar why we are not getting anything because everything is going elsewhere."

Family silver

She questioned the selling off of the "family silver" - Chapelpark and Wellbraehead and asked "Is that because the money is needed elsewhere in the council pot?

"I think we will have to ask them to come and tell the people of Forfar and us why we are not getting what we should get. Everybody else is getting it."

Mrs Ross's comments about Montrose getting extra cash to instal leisure services in other venues whilst the new sports complex was being built were backed up by Angus Council SNP member Mrs Glennis Middleton.

She said there was an "urban myth" that Montrose was getting a 10m swimming pool.

"They are not; what they are getting is a fantoosh sports centre with a pool stuck on the end, which is not at all what the people of Montrose were looking for.

"It is no use for competitions, for diving for the sub-aqua club who have been told they have to go to Dundee or Aberdeen.

"It's wrong, and what is also wrong is that money, the capital budget, is now so greatly strained that money being spent on that complex in Montrose could have built them a new like for like pool and given us a new pool too.

"Our pool is coming to the end of its life after 100 years of service, and there won't be any money to do it."

Councillor Middleton added she felt it was essential the repairs to the Balmashanner War Memorial were carried out.

"If these repairs are not done then I do not want to see our first world war memorial ending up being fenced off because it is unsafe."

Angus Council has drawn up a 200,000 repair programme on the town's two historic monuments.

Angus councillors have approved in principle the two schemes which emerged as recommendations following an assessment of the state of the two landmarks by experts commissioned last summer by the authority.

Relatively minor "urgent" repairs totalling 120,000 have been identified at the impressive Peel monument in Forfar cemetery, whilst Balmashanner requires 90,000 worth of "necessary" or "desirable" work.

At Balmashanner the key work is around the bartisan, or "turret".

Through discussion with Historic Scotland the most cost-effective means of conserving the monument for the future has been identified as a single renovation in the spring summer of 2011/12.

Repetitive costs

Phasing the project would result in both repetitive costs of crane hire and scaffolding, as well as protracted negotiations with Historic Scotland.

The war memorial is a Forfar Common Good Fund property and therefore responsibility for these works rests with the fund.

However, gaining funds for the work on the Peel monument may prove less fruitful.

In a report to council, Angus corporate services director Colin McMahon states the council could not fully fund the estimated 120,000 for the works.

The B-listed monument was built in 1851 by the people of Forfar in memory of Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister and "in testimony of their gratitude for his exertions in obtaining the repeal of the Corn Laws".

Mr McMahon added: "A submission for additional specific one-off funding of 120,000 in 2011/12 is being considered as part of the budget setting process for 2011/12 or as soon as practical thereafter."