Funding dispute resurfaces over new Aberdeen centre

Plans to build a major new conference and exhibition centre in Scotland could be scrapped if it does not get at least £30m in government funding.

Leaders at Aberdeen city council are demanding financial backing from the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise for the project in their city.

A decision on whether to go ahead with the £200m development near the city’s airport is due to be taken in March.

The project was put on the back burner last year after officials asked for more time to examine the risks involved.

Property developer Henry Boot is the council’s partner for the public/private project which includes a four-star hotel as well as conference and exhibition space.

Aberdeen city council’s finance convener Willie Young said Scottish Enterprise, a public body arm of the Scottish government that encourages economic development, enterprise and innovation, must give the project at least £30m. He said Scottish Enterprise had backed the SSE Hydro in Glasgow to the tune of £25m and had also helped Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre.

Councillor Young told CN: “We are not competing with Edinburgh. We are competing on the global stage with the likes of Houston. The AECC is 30 years old and is not fit for purpose. If you want to attract oil executives you have to give them the facilities they expect. The council wants to enter into a 35-year lease of the new centre at Bucksburn and we will knock down the AECC.”

A Scottish Enterprise spokeswoman said: “We are currently undertaking a detailed Economic Impact Assessment. Once this has been completed we will consider how we can support the project.”

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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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