Man who vetoed Donald Trumps golf course in Scotland loses his job

December 13th, 2007 - 4:36 pm ICT by admin  

Edinburgh, Dec.13 (ANI): The man who used his casting vote to reject Donald Trump’s plans for a one billion pound golf resort, has lost his job after being told he had acted with dignity and integrity.
Martin Ford was dumped as the chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee (ISC), reports The Scotsman.
Ford said the decision to axe him would send out the “wrong message” about the integrity of the planning system.
Some 26 councillors voted for Ford’s removal, with ten backing him and 29 abstaining - one protester in the public benches shouted: “Shame on you.”
The full council gave its backing to the controversial application, which will now be determined by the Scottish Government after it was “called in”.
The authority also agreed to change its procedures so that the full council, not a committee, will in future, decide large-scale plans of regional or national importance.
The Trump organisation’s plans for two championship golf courses and 1,500 homes at the Menie Estate, near Balmedie, had been approved 7-4 by the council’s Formartine area planning committee on November 20. But the matter then went to the ISC on November 29 and, after a 7-7 tie, Ford used his casting vote to veto the application.
While environmental groups, who said the project would harm the sensitive sand dunes at Balmedie, hailed the decision, there was a huge political and commercial backlash, with claims the council had lost a golden economic opportunity.
On December 4, the Scottish Government called in the application and the decision now rests with John Swinney, the finance secretary, with the council only an “enhanced consultee”.
Written submissions, a public hearing or public inquiry will decide the plan, although the council wants a “hybrid” process of written evidence and hearings on contentious issues, to save the time and expense of a full-blown inquiry.
Yesterday it emerged more than 14,000 people have signed a petition on the Downing Street website to urge Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, to support Trump’s proposals.
But 14 of Scotland’s leading environmental groups, including the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland, yesterday sent a joint letter to Mr Swinney insisting a public inquiry makes the final decision, not politicians.
After yesterday’s meeting, it was agreed to tell the government that the council supported the scheme.
John Cox, an independent councillor, proposed removing Ford, a Liberal Democrat, as ISC chairman.
He said the decision to reject the Trump plan had “ruined years of hard work and made the council look incompetent”.
Joanna Strathdee, an SNP councillor, said she had the “utmost respect” for Ford, but added: “This motion is about whether the present chair of ISC can positively represent the policies of this council.”
But Debra Storr, a Lib Dem councillor who backs Ford and was assaulted at her home after the plan was rejected, said: “I didn’t think I would ever see the day when a colleague would propose the removal of a chair of a committee for doing his job the way we are all expected to. When you have a councillor who has behaved with dignity and integrity faced with a motion to remove him, that is a disgrace.”
Mr Ford said he had acted properly and in accordance with normal constitutional practice.
As chairman of a leading committee on the council, Ford received 27,041 pounds in allowances, but a return to a regular councillor will mean he gets the standard allowance of 15,452 pounds. (ANI)

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