Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Trump rejection councillor sacked

Martin Ford [Pic: Aberdeenshire Council]
Martin Ford's casting vote saw the Trump plans rejected

The councillor whose casting vote saw Donald Trump's plans for a 1bn golf resort rejected has been sacked as the committee's chairman.

Aberdeenshire councillors voted 26 to 10 to unseat Councillor Martin Ford as chairman of the infrastructure services committee at an emergency meeting.

He said it sent out the "wrong message" on the planning system's integrity.

Councillors gave overwhelming support to the Trump plans, though the decision now rests with the Scottish Government.

A total of 29 councillors abstained from voting on Mr Ford's position as chairman.

As well as backing the development plans on Wednesday, it was also decided that future planning applications of regional or national significance will go to the full council for a final decision.

'Naturally disappointed'

The controversial planning application was "called in" by the Scottish Government after being rejected by the council committee.

Mr Trump said afterwards he was extremely encouraged by the support shown, and very grateful.

Mr Trump's spokesman George Sorial had warned failure by Aberdeenshire Council to endorse 1bn golf resort plans on Wednesday would put the entire project in jeopardy.

Donald Trump swinging a golf club
Mr Trump had the option of appealing against the decision

Mr Sorial said the show of support was a "very big step in the right direction" and reflected the views of the people of Aberdeenshire.

He denied there was any pressure from the Trump Organisation and he said the pressure had come from the people of Aberdeenshire themselves.

Mr Ford reacted afterwards: "I am naturally disappointed it's ended up like this.

"It sends out absolutely the wrong message about the integrity of the planning system."

'Untenable position'

Leader of the SNP group on Aberdeenshire Council, Joanna Strathdee, said: "Aberdeenshire Council needs to restore the confidence of the business and wider community in the planning process and show the world that North East Scotland really is open for business and serious about inward investment.

"I have worked with Cllr Ford for over eight years now and he has my utmost respect.

"However, as chair of one of the most important and powerful committees in the council charged with the economic development of the North East, it was clear that Cllr Ford's position was untenable."

Balmedie beach area
The plans for the Balmedie area have caused controversy

Mr Trump's plans have been criticised by some environmental groups and local campaigners.

A spokesman for resort opponents Sustainable Aberdeenshire said he felt sorry for Mr Ford - adding that the council decisions sent out a very poor message to the world.

An RSPB spokesman expressed disappointment at the Aberdeenshire Council decisions - saying the planning decision taken by Mr Ford and the committee was entirely consistent with the adopted local Aberdeenshire environmental plan.

The full meeting did not have the power to reconsider or overturn the controversial decision to refuse US tycoon Mr Trump's application to build a golf course and luxury homes at the Menie Estate near Balmedie.

Mr Ford's casting ballot - after a tied area committee vote - led to an angry reaction from many business and tourism leaders.

He told BBC Scotland last week that he had no intention of stepping down as chairman of the committee.

A new chair is expected to be appointed at the next full council meeting on 17 January.

The Scottish Government called in the golf resort application as it said it was of national significance and should therefore not be decided by a local council.

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Councillor Martin Ford reacts to his sacking

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