Administration repeats support for Brechin railway group

Angus council’s administration said that it has not reached “the end of the line” in its support for the Caledonian Railway’s bid to expand its operation.
The council administration has said that funding can be pursued by other means.The council administration has said that funding can be pursued by other means.
The council administration has said that funding can be pursued by other means.

It follows last week’s meeting of Angus Council when the heritage railway group failed in its second attempt to persuade the local authority to apply for a grant from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

At the end of last month councillors narrowly voted not to support the Brechin-based charity’s submission for £18m from the latest LUF round after council officers warned there was a financial risk to the council if the project did not meet targets.

The bid sought funding for 15 capital projects including a heritage centre, new event spaces, infrastructure repairs, active travel projects, and an extension to the line the line connecting Brechin to the mainline rail service at Montrose.

The railway hoped that, if successful, Angus tourism spending could be boosted by as much as £20m in just five years.

At last week's special council meeting, however, chairman Jon Gill did not get the chance to state the case for a revised bid of £9.6m for a smaller number of projects.

Provost Brian Boyd ruled there was no significant change in the material circumstances which led to last month’s decision.

The administration group has subsequently reiterated its acknowledgement of the organisation’s contribution to the economy and that support could still be provided by different means.

Brechin and Edzell councillor Chris Beattie, said: “We appreciate the efforts that went into the changes they made to their original LUF bid in order to mitigate the financial risk to Angus Council.

“If the debate had gone ahead, and the motion approved, we would have been happy to continue to support their proposals to explore alternative funding routes in parallel with that process in case the bid fell through.

‘We are clear that this c ouncil will continue to support CRB to realise their ambitions by assisting them to access alternative funding sources.

“Mr Gill has invited us to a site visit where elected members and officers can further discuss opportunities for expansion and we are in the process of arranging that.”