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Local government spats risk industry confidence in oil capital, warns report

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Arguments between Aberdeen’s Labour-led council administration and the Scottish Government are denting business confidence in the city, according to PwC.

The ruling coalition has become embroiled in repeated public spats with the SNP and First Minister Alex Salmond since the 2012 elections, culminating in a recent attempt to ban Cabinet ministers from local authority property.

PwC’s Northern Lights report says that the city “does not always inspire business confidence”.

“The ongoing sagas around city centre development and regeneration, as well as debilitating in-fights between the City and the Scottish Government are case in point,” it states.

The comments have been seized upon by the Nationalists.

SNP council group leader Callum McCaig said: “I think it is seriously alarming that PwC are raising such concerns.

“The recent saga at the council with Willie Young and Barney Crockett wreaking havoc has been debilitating for the authority, but to see that this has been identified as having a potentially negative effect on business confidence really should serve as a wake-up call that enough is enough.

“Rather than focusing on petty squabbles, the administration needs to start addressing the bread and butter issues affecting the city.”

But Labour councillor Mr Young, the city’s finance convener, said: “The big problem that we have is that we are a local authority and we have to keep fighting to make sure the city gets the recognition and the funding it deserves.

“The Scottish Government, however, is not minded to support us, because of the colour of the political administration.”

He added: “I would have thought that PwC would have made more mention of what would happen if Scotland was ever to leave the UK. That’s more of a problem for the oil and gas industry than a local authority and the Scottish Government having disputes.”

A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Aberdeen is a great city which is one of our nation’s economic powerhouses and promises to be a hugely important part of the economy of an independent Scotland.

“Unfortunately, the people of Aberdeen have been let down by the current Labour leadership of the local council.”

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