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The member will be aware that local authorities have a duty under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 to manage and maintain local roads in their area and duties under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of traffic. However, in the aftermath of the flooding, my officials contacted Aberdeenshire Council, to make an offer of mutual aid. I advise the member that, although the offer was acknowledged, it was not taken up by Aberdeenshire Council.
I thank the cabinet secretary for his answer, which was slightly surprising. Will the cabinet secretary join me in praising local companies such as Volker infrastructure and Benzies, which, among other businesses in the area, co-ordinated efforts to provide access via private roads and worked with Aberdeenshire Council officials, which minimised the disruption from the flooding? Will he continue to work with the council on infrastructure issues arising from flooding?
I join the member in thanking those local businesses and the community for the response that was initiated in the aftermath of the recent flooding.
I confirm that we activated the Bellwin scheme on 4 October, following a request from Aberdeenshire Council. That discretionary scheme exists to give special financial assistance to local authorities that would otherwise face undue financial burden as a result of providing relief for carrying out immediate works due to large-scale emergencies such as flooding.
As part of our continuing engagement with Aberdeenshire Council on the matter, I assure the member that any claim that is received from the council under the Bellwin scheme will be processed as timeously as possible in order to support the council in progressing the work.