HM Treasury generously finances local project judged low priority by Moray Council!

By stewartb

I note the UK Chancellor’s intervention today in local government prioritisation in Scotland! He has announced: ‘£1.5 million funding to repair the Cloddach Bridge. The bridge is located in Moray: the local MP is Tory leader in Scotland, Douglas Ross.

From 10 February this year, on. the Scottish Tory Party’s website we learned: Ross “disappointed” at Cloddach Bridge decision – but vows to explore new funding sources. Ross asserts that Moray Council do not have funding available for important local projects like this, is the fault of years of savage cuts to local authority budgets by the SNP-Green government.’   He adds that the Council: .. simply cannot commit to vital infrastructure projects like the Cloddach Bridge. (my emphasis) Keep in mind these value judgements: ‘important’ and ‘vital’!

See .

For background, the Cloddach Bridge carries a very minor road, itself off a B-road, over the River Lossie.  From the Moray Council website we learn of prior efforts to address problems with this ageing bridge. On 8 February, 2023 the Chair of the Council’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee is reported stating: “Unfortunately, the lack of compliance with the restrictive measures the council installed in 2001, 2019 and 2021 shortened the lifespan of the bridge further. Although, it was coming to the end of its expected shelf-life anyway. Combined with the low number of vehicles using the route, we cannot justify upgrading it to a priority route.

It’s worth looking at an assessment of Mr Ross’ ‘vital infrastructure’. It comes from a report by Council officials submitted to Elected Members as recently as 7 February 2023. The report states:

 ’It is recommended that Committee agree to either:

(i) keep Cloddach Bridge closed to vehicular traffic but open to pedestrians and cyclists with regular inspections to monitor the condition of the bridge; and

(ii) when bridge condition deteriorates further and it is not safe for any user, this route is closed permanently and the bridge is removed;


(iii) Investigate potential options to keep the bridge open to vehicular traffic up to 3 Tonnes in weight, at a cost of £30,370 for the investigation with a report back on the findings of this investigation, including estimated costs of options, to a future meeting of this committee, referring the proposed estimated expenditure on investigation to Corporate Committee for approval.’

The report includes this option assessment: Repair the bridge for vehicular use This option would require complete refurbishment of the bridge deck and parapet. There would also need to be extensive river bank repairs and repairs to the concrete substructure. It is estimated that this option could increase the service life by 50 years. Given the uncertainty with the condition of elements of the bridge that could not be accessed for inspection, the risk associated with this option is considered significant. The estimated cost of this option is £2,537,500. The economic benefit of this option is £74,000 per year.

And it goes on: ’Cloddach Bridge is not currently in the Capital Plan for expenditure on repair or replacement. Replacement of this bridge is considered low priority as it is not a critical route and the maximum diversion is 6 miles. To be classed as a critical route the bridge would need to carry more than 7,000 vehicles per day, provide sole access to more than 8 properties or provide access to critical infrastructure, such as a fire station or hospital. As this is considered low priority it is recommended that the do minimum option is progressed.  

The report, submitted by the Depute Chief Executive (Economy, Environment and Finance), advised: ‘The bridge cannot be reopened to vehicular traffic without significant repair work or replacement. This bridge is not considered strategically important for the reasons set out in paragraph 3.14 and has not been prioritised for capital expenditure on repair or replacement.

Also included in the official’s paper is this: “A petition was submitted to Moray Council on 21 June 2022, asking for the repair or replacement of Cloddach Bridge so that it can be re-opened to vehicular traffic. The petition has 769 signatures, of which 456 are residents in Moray. A total of 25 comments were made by the petitioners, most of which refer to the inconvenience of an increase in travel time caused by the closure of Cloddach Bridge. The diversion route is through Elgin and adds a distance of 3 miles from either side of the bridge, resulting in a maximum diversion of 6 miles. The additional journey time was assessed during different traffic conditions once at 08.15 hrs and again at 14.00 hrs and was found to be between 15 and 12 minutes respectively.

(The report also notes: ‘As the petition was an on-line petition, it only showed names and postcodes and no signatures and therefore did not strictly meet the requirements of the Councils petitions policy, when this report was first drafted for members consideration.’)

Source: Cloddach Bridge Structural Assessment: Report to the Economic Development and Infrastructure Services submitted by Depute Chief Executive (Economy, Environment and Finance).


End note

Moray Council has a minority administration formed of 9 Tory councillors. From the Council website on budgeting:

‘Moray Council has committed to £59.1m capital investment alongside its £260m revenue budget for the 2023/24 financial year.

‘The budget, which addresses the £21.6m funding gap facing the local authority, sees a 5% increase in council tax, which is expected to generate £49.6m.

‘Alongside the £193.4m grant from the Scottish Government, which accounts for around 80% of the total budget, Moray Council is looking to use £14.77m in covid reserves, and £1.6m from the transformation allocation to balance the books this year.’


And now today, the Council has issued a statement on the Chancellor’s announcement of funding for the Cloddach Bridge: ‘Moray Council has welcomed £1.5m in the UK Government budget on Wednesday 15 March 2023 for the Cloddach Bridge.’

‘Moray Council Leader, (Tory) Cllr Kathleen Robertson, responded to the news: Clearly any investment in Moray is welcome and as an authority we look forward to finding out more details from the UK Government on this particular funding for the Cloddach Bridge.

Well continue to work with the community to support efforts to identify further funding for the wider project to assure reinstatement of future vehicular access.

So no details available to the Council of what this funding means!  And there may be a requirement for still further funding? Looks as if Tory-led Moray Council had no prior contact with the Tory-led Westminster Government over this matter!  

Seems we have a quickly fixed deal by Mr Ross directly with the Treasury for a not ‘important’, a not ‘vital infrastructure’ project! But perhaps (just) important electorally? Perish the thought!


16 thoughts on “HM Treasury generously finances local project judged low priority by Moray Council!

    1. This remote, little used bridge is a Pork Barrel* bridge, strengthened by red herring bones and therefore has a peculiar fishy smell about it.

      * A noticeable element in this Tory government spending in Scotland is that it is funnelled directly into the constituencies of Tory politicians.
      “Connectivity” roads. Fantasy bridge/tunnels etc.

      In the USA this slewing of public moneys for political gain is referred to as “Pork Barrel” politics.
      It is considered CORRUPT.

      Liked by 5 people

  1. Another example , like PPE , of the exclusive Tory V I P strategy for delivering ”funding” to the most needy projects – ”Save DRoss’s arse ! ”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. O/T I’m working today but wondered if anyone had time to look up and post details of membership numbers for all Scottish political parties? Given all the nonsense and conspiracy theories flooding social media it would be good to be forearmed with comparisons. I had a quick look here and found the national figures but have run out of time now

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Are Westminster taking over direct control of spending in Moray or are they simply giving the council a bung (NI style)?
    If it is the latter then the bung should be deducted from the allocation by the Scottish government.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. This would be a perfect example of political cronyism over prioritised public investment but for one tiny detail – The 1 million shortfall to be funded by Moray Council for a project still carrying “significant risk”.

    Which priority project is Moray Council going to be sacrifice from it’s budget to accommodate Ross’s ego ?

    My take is that the 1.5 million is never intended to appear except as a headline, and perhaps soften the blow of the fully expected rout of Tory MPs at the next GE.

    The Moray electorate would do well to recall the Boris bridge to Ireland, which cost a million just to prove it was a stupid idea.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. DRoss will be all over this how his party is best for Scotland I just wonder what he will have to say about the inflation busting rise on duty for the whisky industry not a peep I suppose.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Maybe they could get Ross Kemp to reopen it. From what I have seen of his TV show “Bridge of Lies”, it makes as much sense as Douglas Ross.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The immunities in the area of the Cloddach Bridge are served from main roads on both sides of the River Lossie so the bridge is primarily for local use, it can not be described as an essential part of the road network.
    The estimate to repair it is around £2.5 millions Moray CC will still have to spend a million pounds that could be better spent elsewhere.
    Maybe they are lucky as Edinburgh CC got a Levelling up award of millions to renovate a derelict gas storage tank as a tourist attraction.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Off topic – I see that Morton’s Rolls company has been ‘rescued’ by a private buyer, HMRC and the Scottish Government. The buyer expressed thanks to the SG, because the current premises are ‘antiquated’ and need modernised and this will be funded by the SG.

    BBC Scotland, merely notes this in a single sentence midway through. The entire second half of the piece is devoted to Labour MSP Paul Sweeney, who ‘was involved in attempts to save the company’.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. So a vanity project to win votes, or so they hope. It’s a pittance really though anyway, their levelling up cash con is staying in England, while they continue to thieve Scotland’s massive resources and take Scotland’s revenues, sending crumbs back, now with added bribery to boot.

    Might one or two Tories occupy the land and therefore be delighted to have a bridge paid for from the public purse to save a few minutes on land rover travel time. Roads were only ever originally built in rural Scotland to serve the land thieves, Scotland was severely neglected re transport. The terrible legacy of English rule (and their rogue operatives in Scotland) won’t be repaired with a million and half quid, it’s an insult.

    Scotland has been CONNED, is still being conned and will continue to be conned unless independence is secured, and not in five or ten years time, it needs to happen in the next year, two at most.

    Liked by 3 people

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