Where Does Steve Stand On Union Street Pedestrianisation?

Aberdeen’s ruling Labour and Conservative councillors have pressed ahead with the next phase of their City Centre Masterplan in which they intend to commit up to £150m of public borrowing to deliver on their wish list.

The plans went before the City Growth & Resources Committee on 12th November 2012, rather than being tabled to all 45 councillors at a full council meeting as would be the norm for proposals of this magnitude.

Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney gives his views on the handling of this major proposal and, in particular, with respect to the pedestrianisation of Union Street from Bridge Street to Market Street which is effectively being imposed rather than returning to its former (fully open) state and then going through due process to allow everyone to have their say.

Steve said, “Decisions of this magnitude need to be taken by all councillors. That’s what used to happen at full council meetings, but instead, myself and indeed the majority of councillors of all parties were excluded from participating in this debate and from representing their constituents. Having said that, I value and fully support the contributions made to this debate by Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill in which he conveyed the agreed position of Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors.”

“In an ideal word the main shopping section of Union Street should be pedestrianised as we have seen done elsewhere. The main issue is that Aberdeen’s streets were not built in a grid-like fashion as was the case in Glasgow, which makes it difficult to divert traffic easily and creates significant hold ups for all, but in particular, public transport users, as we move towards a carbon neutral economy. In addition we need our city centre to be accessible to all our citizens and there is no possibility of maintaining accessibility to this area for disabled citizens, especially those with mobility issues, if we close it off to all traffic”.

“The closure of Union Street from Union Terrace to Market Street was a temporary measure which was needed on public health grounds and it should now be removed. These plans have been pushed through without full council scrutiny and without giving adequate time for consultation with the Disability Equity Partnership, many of whose users will be unable to access this space. In addition, the inconvenience caused to regular bus users who visit the city centre for reasons other than employment, is likely to make them think twice about future visits to our city centre once this pedestrianisation goes ahead. This is something that nobody would wish to see happen”.

“Splashing the cash to the tune of £150 million without the fullest consultation and maximum scrutiny just shouldn’t be happening. Not only does it burden the repayment of this debt on future generations, it also severely restricts the financial capacity of future councils to do what’s in the best interests of our city. And, though I wish Aberdeen Football Club well, I can see no circumstances under which council tax payers’ money should be used to build a football stadium. Public money must not be used to fund private businesses, no matter what business that is.”

“I remain disgusted by the manner in which Aberdeen’s Labour and Conservative councillors have mishandled a set of proposals which could and should have involved everyone, both within the chamber and in every home across the city. If the city is to invest this much money in its future, it needs to take its citizens with it.”