Councillors had their first chance to publicly discuss the temporary “Spaces for People” changes made to road layouts in the city centre and elsewhere at a council committee meeting on Wednesday 28th October.
These temporary changes are part of a Scotland-wide initiative funded by the Scottish Government via the charity Sustrans. The objective of Spaces for People is to make it safer for people to walk, cycle and wheel during the pandemic. Aberdeen City Council was awarded £1.76 million of Spaces for People funding.
As these temporary changes were made as part of the emergency response to the pandemic, decisions were made by council managers and not by councillors.
The initial changes in the city centre were made without any consultation with residents and businesses. There has been consultation with residents and businesses about the more recent changes – but until the meeting Wednesday 28th October decisions were still being made by managers and not councillors.
The committee meeting instructed council staff to review the impact and effectiveness of the various changes made and report this back to the committee’s next meeting. The committee also agreed to remove most of the temporary changes made at the Beach Esplanade.
Better communication needed
My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I support the objectives of Spaces for People (protecting health and lives) but have made it clear to council managers that we have concerns about some of the specific changes made. We have also repeatedly said that we believe the council needs to improve consultation and communication about these changes.