Row breaks out over £250,000 response to Storm Babet

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Councillors unanimously agreed the allocation of the cash. (Google Maps)Councillors unanimously agreed the allocation of the cash. (Google Maps)
Councillors unanimously agreed the allocation of the cash. (Google Maps)

Councillors have agreed to release £250,000 to pay for emergency costs associated with Storm Babet, but clashed over the sum.

The bid was unanimously agreed by councillors during an Angus Council meeting on Thursday.

The storm earlier this month wreaked havoc in Angus and led to hundreds of Brechin residents being evacuated due to flooding.

Three people died in the storm, two from Angus and one from Perthshire.

Councillors clashed during Thursday’s debate, with some saying the amount agreed is not enough.

It was acknowledged this is only an initial sum for the cost of hotels, food and the emergency centre needed for evacuated residents, and will not cover repairs.

However this did not prevent a row breaking out with calls for more to be released.

Independent councillor Tommy Stewart said: “While I welcome these additional funds, they are quite shallow.

“I think £250,000 probably wouldn’t even be enough to look at the devastation in Montrose seafront, never mind what happened with the situation in Brechin.

“We are now two weeks down the line and the tenants are still waiting on answers.

“I’ve got tenants who’ve contacted me in Montrose, and they’ve heard nothing.

“It a bit of a shame that we’re two weeks down the line and nothing appears to be happening for them yet.”

However, other councillors rebuked these criticisms, stressing that councillors should be focused on helping residents.

SNP Councillor Mark McDonald said: “I’m just really disappointed with the narrative and the tone here.

“This idea that this is a political thing is nonsense – we should be supporting our constituents as best we can, trying to get the help and support to the people that have got the biggest issues.

“I would just ask everyone around this chamber take a look and think about what we can do – because it’s really disappointing the tone of this chat.”

With the bid approved, the council’s chief executive, Mrs Margo Williamson, will spearhead use of the cash, taken from an uncommitted general fund.

Director of finance Ian Lorimer said: “We know the cost of recovery and repair following the storm is going to be significant, we are still assessing the full financial implications.

“So the ask really is to provide an initial sum of money, and it very much is an initial sum of money, it will not be enough by any stretch of the imagination.

“But it will help in terms of the immediate needs.”

How much will a full recovery cost?

When asked if the council had any idea of what the cost of recovery would be, Mr Lorimer said: “The short answer is no, but that is information we are working very hard to gather and assess – even to get an outline of what it may potentially cost.

“I think we will be bringing details of that back as soon as we possibly can.

“As part of that we would have to have a discussion about what do we think the cost is, how are we going to fund that, is there additional support available from other sources.

“And what does that then mean in terms of both the current years financial position and the position into future years.

Calls for councillors to work together

Councillors urged each other not to “politicise” the issue and come together to help support residents across Angus.

Independent Councillor David Cheape said: “In seven years of being a councillor on Angus Council this is the one event that I would suggest that would bring the whole of this council together for the benefit of the communities that are ravaged by the storms

“Whether that’s in Brechin, whether that’s in Monifieth, Montrose, Carnoustie, wherever.

“We have a collective responsibility and duty to all constituents in this matter, it’s not for this chamber to politicise this debate, we are here to help everybody.”