The Cairngorms National Park Authority is investigating a formal complaint lodged by a Donside resident regarding one of their officers.
Simon Baker of Strathdon, claims that Bruce Luffman, formerly a Conservative Aberdeenshire Councillor for Donside, removed a sign promoting the Scottish National Party from his property on Wednesday, May 27.
Mr Baker said Mr Luffman, who is currently employed by Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) as a Planning Monitoring and Enforcement Officer, hand delivered a letter at around 7am on Thursday, May 21, embossed with a CNPA letterhead, advising him to remove the sign.
The letter cited legislation covering the signage for elections: -National, European and Local- in The Town & Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Scotland act 1984.
Part 4, section 12 (2) of the legislation states: “An advertisement of the description specified in paragraph 1 (a) above shall be removed within 14 days after the close of the poll in the election to which the advertisement relates.”
Mr Baker said: “The sign was not ‘fixed’ to the building, rather was attached to a pair of chains with spring clips (so therefore not liable for planning consent), and I had trimmed the bottom two (inches) of the sign, that referenced the general election.
“I spoke with Aberdeenshire planning department, and they said that I should remove the sign within a ‘reasonable length of time after the election’, but that it ‘was not a concern’. ”
Mr Luffman’s letter also stated: “There are protocols in place between Aberdeenshire Council and the Cairngorms National Park Authority which mean that in the first instance any action to remove the signage would be at the discretion of Aberdeenshire Council.”
Mr Baker subsequently contacted local councillor, Geva Blackett regarding the matter.
Councillor Blackett told Mr Baker that she intends to take this up with the National Park Authority and confirmed that Mr Luffman had similarly advised at least one other address to remove an SNP sign.
Cllr Blackett said: “I understand an official complaint has been made to the CNPA so I would not want to pre-empt their investigation...however I will await the outcome with interest and in particular to learning who authorised such a heavy-handed approach and why?”
Murray Ferguson, the CNPA’s Director of Planning & Rural Development said: “We have received a complaint in relation to the actions of a member of our planning team...and will take any appropriate action we feel is necessary once we have all the facts to hand.”