Council Backs Unaffordable Housing Initiative

Town HouseAberdeen City Council today further progressed its plans to build 2430 new homes over the next 5 years. Of the eight sites, identified six are wholly owned by the Council and will form the basis of the Council’s contribution this project by way of land value, with external organisations being asked to bid for the new build housing contract. The initiative is being trumpeted as “affordable” housing, but is it really affordable for people on our Council waiting lists?

The Council aims to deliver across these sites a mix of 20% of homes at social rent (Council or Housing Association rent levels) with the remaining 80% split between Low Cost Home Ownership (where the purchaser pays a percentage of the market value based on their income but never owns outright), Mid Market Rent (set at approximately half way between social rent and private rent) and homes for outright sale.

Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesman Steve Delaney proposed the split be 60% at social rent and 40% between low cost home ownership and Mid Market Rent with no outright sales. He said, “Whilst I agree a split is needed, we need to redress the balance towards social rent. Mid Market Rent and Low Cost Home Ownership are indeed required to address the shortage of housing for key workers who cannot afford a full mortgage or private rent. These include doctors, nurses and teachers amongst other professions where it is becoming harder to attract people to Aberdeen due to inflated house prices”.

“However these tenures do nothing to help the thousands of low paid hard working families on our waiting lists, most of whom could not afford the higher rents or the mortgage payments. This proposal does not seek to build homes for those in greatest housing need”.

Steve continued, “The Lib Dem Group are entirely on board for delivering 2430 affordable homes but what was proposed is not affordable to those who need them most. The Council is not just selling off the family silver, but rather giving it away! When public land is earmarked for housing it should be used primarily for the provision of social housing. As for building homes for outright sale at a discounted prices, this is not something the Council should be doing”.

Labour, SNP, Tory and Independent councillors choose not to heed Steve’s concerns and instead to proceed with the proposal as originally presented, throwing away the opportunity to build an extra 1000 properties which would have been affordable for everyone.

Kingswells Superfast Broadband Update

worldwidewebMessage from Councillor Steve Delaney on Superfast Broadband in Kingswells.

“There’s been much confusion over the super fast broadband rollout in recent weeks. This is not helped by the poor responses potential customers have allegedly been getting from their chosen ISP, most of whom appear to be unaware of the upcoming availability of superfast broadband in Kingswells.

This isn’t restricted to just one ISP, several of them appear to be telling people they can’t get the service. Some are talking about lack of capacity at street cabinets, an area being too far from the exchange or there being no plans for super fast broadband in a specific area. The first two comments only apply to the old (normal not superfast) broadband displaying a lack of awareness of the upgraded service.

With regard to the final comment, my understanding is that the whole of the village will be covered and some outlying properties will be last to be done nearer the end of the year.

This upgrade is part of a digital inclusion initiative being rolled out by the UK Government. It has nothing to do with Prime Four who already have their own dedicated line which they installed (at their cost) prior to opening. They do not use the public broadband network.

The Digital Scotland website ( is stating that the rollout will be between June and October this year. There is no reason to disbelieve this at this point in time as cable laying activities appear to have been completed and the Westhill exchange (which serves Kingswells) has now been upgraded.

I was in contact with them some months ago. At that time the timetable was July to December and they advised that it would be a phased roll out with some areas getting superfast broadband before others, so it’s not unexpected that some areas are not yet operational.

My understanding is that all of Kingswells is included in the upgrade. What I have managed to find out is that one cabinet in Kingswells in operational now and another two are soon to become operational (weeks rather than months I believe). The others will be a little longer before they are operational. I’ve contacted Digital Scotland to try to get some more information but I’m still awaiting a response.

Kingswells Community Council have a page worth checking out at

The link on that page will allow you to enter your telephone number to determine if you can or cannot get the service. Please check back to this link on a regular basis as things are changing but nobody seems to be communicating with the public. Until such times as the various ISPs can get their act together this is the best I can offer you by way of reliable information.”

Bus Stop Opposite Kingswells Church Thrown Out

Bus Stop smallIn a suprise move, councillors have rejected a proposal for the re-instatement of the bus stop opposite Kingswells Church and a pedestrian crossing to address safety concerns, without fully evaluating the proposal.

The initiative, which had also included a request for bus stops at both sides of the carriageway beside the Five Mile garage had been originally been brought forward jointly by Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney and Depute Council Leader, Marie Boulton.

Steve addressed the Committee outlining the difficulties faced by local residents as a result of the removal of the bus stop opposite Kingswells Church. He also spoke of the little used crossing at Prime Four as a result of it being too far for local people top walk and Prime Four workers either driving to work or being taken directly to the site in company provided buses.

Representatives from Kingswells Community Council made an excellent presentation outlining the difficulties being faced by residents in Old Skene Road and adjoining area as a result of the change of bus route by FirstAberdeen and the lack of access to public transport for residents living in this area.

Steve had proposed further investigation into the most cost effective way to progress the Kingswells Church crossing with a decision being taken at a later date following consideration of a more detailed report. The full text of what he proposed was as follows:-

“Instruct officers to carry out further investigations on implementing a layout for bus stops/lay bys in both directions in the immediate vicinity of the Five Mile Garage on the A944 Hazelead to Westhill Road and a footpath from Smiddy Brae to the bus stop at the Five Mile location.

That officers investigate how a cost effective solution to delivering a bus lay by and pedestrian crossing can be progressed opposite Kingswells Church, including the possibility of relocating the pedestrian facilities currently located at Prime Four”.

Councilor Boulton was not present at this meeting (or at the previous meeting when initial representations were heard) and Committee Convenor Barney Crockett was only willing to accept the first part of the proposal relating to the Five Mile Garage, effectively blocking any further investigation into the restoration of a bus stop at Kingswells Church. Councillor Crockett did not consider it appropriate use of officer time to further investigate this proposal. Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors defeated the proposal by 9 votes to 7.

Following the decision Steve said, “The Administration have demonstrated a wish to look further at the provision of bus stops at the lesser used location of the two, completely ignoring the case for the Kingswells Church location, where the greatest need lies”.

“It would have been entirely appropriate for officials to have further investigated issues of road safety and access to public transport, with a decision being taken on the basis of that information, but instead only the part of this proposal which was progressed was the part which was of interest to Councillor Boulton”.

“I am always happy to work with others to deliver a common goal and will continue to do so, but the people of Kingswells have been let down. I do support continued investigation into the Five Mile proposal but was absolutely shocked to see the Kingswells Church proposal kicked out without further consideration. This decision once again demonstrates a council out of control, where resources are not always directed where the greatest need exist. I’m disgusted by this”.

Council Dismisses Traffic Concerns

CountesswellsAberdeen City Council today agreed to progress the Countesswells Masterplan following a period of public consultation but without any further changes to address concerns raised during that consultation.

The proposal will see over 3,000 new homes to the south side of the A944 between the roundabout at the end of the Lang Stracht (where it meets the A944) and the Kingswells roundabout. For avoidance of doubt, the proposals refers to the large orange blob in the centre of the above map.

It is proposed that the roundabout at the end of the Lang Stracht will be removed and the road widened at the junction to eliminate the pinch point turning towards Hazlehead. No other road improvements are proposed. It is intended that this new road from the development which feeds directly into the Lang Stracht will form the main route in and out of this new development.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney expressed a number of concerns at Committee regarding traffic impact from this development, the bulk of which will be funnelled down the Lang Stracht, referring to the need to dual the Lang Stracht in order to avoid gridlock.

He said, “We need to look at the cumulative impact of traffic generated from future phases of Prime Four, the Maidencraig development and Countesswells and I’m convinced that the Lang Stracht cannot cope with this additional traffic”.

“Sufficient land has been reserved in the Maidencraig Masterplan to allow for dualling and I’d like to see developer contributions secured at this point to ensure that this work can progress”.

The Liberal Democrat proposal sought to defer approval of the Masterplan pending firm proposals on traffic mitigation. Labour, SNP and Independent councillors did not feel that such measures were required and voted through the Masterplan with no changes.

Funding For Park & Ride Revamp Thrown Out

p&rA proposal for a one-off maintenance programme of works at the Park & Ride site was turned down by Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors on 14 May 2014, with the SNP not even bothering to vote.

It was part of a raft of measures brought forward from monies raised by bus lane enforcement cameras. These monies can only be used for specific projects and the Park & Ride site was one of these. Instead the cash is being diverted to parking controls n the city centre.

The upgrade would have included undertaking a re-fresh of the waiting rooms with areas being repainted and some worn seating being replaced. Potholes were to be filled and relining works undertaken. Some landscaping works were also planned as well as fencing repairs. The hope was that a revamp of the site along with additional bus service would have improved its usage and encouraged more people to use the Park & Ride.

Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “This was an officer recommendation based on the need to upgrade the site and lack of funding to do so. Nothing political at all, so it should have progressed on the basis of established need. Anything which encourages more people to use public transport must be encouraged as more passengers helps build the case for more frequent services. This is an opportunity lost and one which I hope will not adversely impact on the viability of the site”

Camping Bye Law Update

caravansKingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney welcomed the Council’s decision to progress work on the proposed bye-law designed to prevent camping in designated areas.

The areas specified in the propsals include Kingswells Park & Ride, Hazlehead Park, Lochinch Park, Westburn Park, Duthie Park, Stewart Park, Seaton Park, Calder Park, Bay of Nigg, Riverview Drive, Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre, Queens Links, Kings Links, Aulton Playing Fields, Alan Douglas Park, Eric Hendrie Park and Westfield Park.

The report to Council highlighted over £70,000 spent on cleaning up sites and other associated costs during 2013. The aim of the bye-law is to make it a criminal offence to camp in these areas overnight with the hope that this reduces both the the damage and the clean up costs associated with unauthorised encampments.

Steve said, “I have no issue with the right of travellers to follow their chosen lifestyle, but with rights come responsibilities. I fully accept it would be unfair to tar all travellers with the same brush as not all travellers are leaving a mess behind them, but a number are, and it is this irresponsible behaviour which needs to be addressed.”

“What we need is for the Scottish Government to level the playing field and impose the responsibilities which accompany the rights afforded to the travelling community. Otherwise perhaps the Scottish Government should be picking up the costs of the clean up instead of imposing it on local authorities and private land owners.”

“This bye law will go some way towards minimising the ongoing damage caused to sensitive areas in the city and I fail to see how anyone could responsibly resist its progression.”

The Council agreed to progress the proposed bye law and agreed to write to the Lord Advocate asking him to look at the guidelines issued to Procurators Fiscal relating to unauthorised encampments and the current presumption against prosecution.

SNP councillors opposed the progressing of the bye law. The final decision now rests with the Scottish Government.

Policing Plan Lacks Scrutiny

PoliceScotland3-460x250Aberdeen City Council has approved the Aberdeen City Local Policing Plan 2014-2017. Following the centralisation of policing by the SNP Government in 2013, each local authority division is required to draw up a local policing plan setting out the priorities for that area over a four year period.

Liberal Democrat Community Safety spokesman Martin Greig said, “”The public need to know the direction that the force is moving in, not just this year but over the next few years. We cannot do our job of monitoring the police service without being able to question the
statistics robustly. In the next three years, the policing budget will be cut by £137 million. The ultimate aim is to save £1.1 billion. The Aberdeen Police Divison is the best in Scotland with an excellent tradition in looking after community needs. Aberdeen Police are a model that others try to copy. Groundbreaking operations such as Maple, Oak, Begonia and Trinity and Zenith are exceptional and splendid examples of good practice in fighting crime and protecting victims. I want the police team to have a fair share of public resources. Councillors should not be complacent about the cuts.”

“For the first time, the Scottish Parliamemt Audit Committee divided on the subject of policing because of the absence of reliable financial information on the cuts. MSPs were also worried about the lack of a method for monitoring the impact of the cuts in police performance. The SNP in the committee were opposed on the other side by Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservatives. In Aberdeen we should work together to stand up for our local police service. The risks from centralisation remain unknown and we should do all we can to support our local police.”

Local councillor Steve Delaney also spoke of concerns surrounding the centralising agenda which he said was eroding local control and the reducing the prominence of local priorities, referring to the “Strathclydification” of services across Scotland.

He said, “The Strathclyde model of policing is no more relevant to the North East than the Highland model would be to Glasgow or Edinburgh. It’s a case of horses for courses. These so called local plans are not what they say on the tin, it’s one size fits all and that approach fails to address the differing local priorities we face throughout Scotland. A prime example of this was the withdrawal of road safety education which had been pioneered by the former Grampian Police, something I’m convinced has saved lives in the past”

Steve added, “I expressed particular concerns about the increased use of stop and search, especially where it involves young children, believing this tactic should only be used in cases where there is reasonable suspicion. I also referred to the increasing use of mounted police on our streets. Heavy handed tactics can indeed play a valid role in keeping us safe, but I do not believe them to be justified in routine circumstances, where most law abiding people would consider them to be both frightening and intimidatory”.

The Aberdeen Local Policing Plan 2014-2017 was passed by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors with no account taken of the concerns highlighted by the Liberal Democrats.

Labour, Tories & SNP Block Lib Dem Proposal For £2.5 Million on Roads Investment

pothole1Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors today called for the City Council to invest an extra £2.5 million in repairing the city’s crumbling roads and pavements.

The move came at the 6 May meeting of the council’s Finance, Policy and Resources Committee after the council’s Head of Finance reported that the council had a surplus of £5.9 million at the end of March.

Ian Yuill, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Aberdeen City Council, said “Thanks to hard work and prudent management by council staff, the council had a surplus of £5.9 million at the end of March 2014. The Liberal Democrats believe £2.5 million of that should be invested in making long-term repairs to Aberdeen’s crumbling roads and pavements. We believe the balance of the surplus should be used to repay some of the council’s long-term ‘capital’ debt.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Whilst I welcome the £0.5 Million additional investment which was agreed, our proposals would have added a further £2 Million, more than doubling this year’s inadequate budgetary provision for roads and pavements.”

“The extra £2 Million was certainly affordable. It was completely irresponsible of Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors to sit back and watch Aberdeen’s roads and pavements continue to crumble, given that they had the money to make a difference and they chose not to use it.”

No More Space At Kingswells School!

Parents1A further 46 properties have been approved for the eastern side of Fairley Road, bringing the total for the West Huxterstone site to 143 in stark contrast to the 120 approved in both the Aberdeen Local Development Plan and the West Huxterstone Masterplan.

Kingswell councillor Steve Delaney spoke at the Planning Committee and later wrote to committee members outlining his concerns about the impact of this development on Kingswells School. He had previously raised these same concerns at the masterplan stage in 2012 and asked that development of the site be phased in conjunction with the Education service to ensure the school had sufficient capacity for the additional children. This amendment was accepted but not followed through.

Steve said, “Capacity issues at Kingswells School were highlighted as early as November 2012 and were universally accepted at that time. The two planning applications relating to this site increased the number of units by 20% in full knowledge their was no more space at Kingswells School and no phasing was proposed when the planning applications came forward. These are arguably the worst planning decisions I’ve witnessed in the 12 years since I was first elected to Aberdeen City Council.”

Steve, a former Vice-Convenor of Planning, continued, “First we saw the committee’s request for a visit to the school refused by the Convenor of Education, Culture & Sport. Then the Planning Convenor attempted to block the visit by use of a “guillotine motion”, which thankfully he lost. Such behaviour is in my experience unprecedented. In the past if any local member requested a visit this was done as a matter of courtesy”.

Committee members were rightly concerned and did indeed visit the school, but they decided that delaying these 46 homes would make no difference as the school will be over-capacity whether or not they proceed. The number of primary age children attributable to these 46 homes would have been at least 13, possibly more so the approval has indeed exacerbated the capacity problem.

Steve said, “My proposal to Committee was to delay this development, not to scrap it. I remain unconvinced that Kingswells School can accommodate two additional classrooms without losing valuable general purpose space to the detriment of all children’s education.”

“The reasons the school will be over capacity relate to the increased number of properties, the decision not to phase delivery of the combined site and the failure to factor in any children coming from the West One development. It’s been one disastrous decision after another and the consequences of these decisions will impact on numerous children and their families living in Kingswells”.

“Regrettably the decision has been made and there is no appeal mechanism available. I ensured committee were made aware of all the facts with regard to both applications but regret that common sense did not prevail”.

In the event that additional children cannot be accommodated at Kingswells School, not all children zoned for Kingswells will be offered places and those who are not will require to be bussed to other schools where spare capacity exists.

Report Coming Back on A944 Bus Stops And Crossings

Bus Stop small Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney spoke at committee on 13th March 2013 on his motion for bus stops, lay-bys and pedestrian crossings on the A944 at the Five Mile Garage and Kingswells Church.

He said, “Committee members were very supportive of the reasoning behind this motion, both from a public transport and public safety point of view and I’d like to thank them for this. The parents of Ben Land who sadly lost his life crossing the A944 last summer have also expressed their support for this initiative and I am very grateful for this too.”

“It’s vital that we address the accessibility for all to public transport whilst retaining our primary focus on public safety on what is clearly a busy section of road”

The next stage in the process is a report back to committee on 3rd June 2014, which should come with a full report and a recommendation.

Newhills Expansion Out To Consultation

NewhillsThe Newhills expansion is currently at the Development Framework (pre Masterplan) stage. The proposals involve the building of 4400 homes between Bucksburn and Kingswells. The consultation runs from 17th March 2014 until 29th April 2014.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney spoke at the meeting. Whilst complimenting the proposals overall, he raised specific concerns about school capacity.

He said, “I’m particularly concerned that we’re asked to accept a figure of one secondary school child per 7 households as being reasonable. Unless we’re intending for this to be an area primarily for older people, the figure seems a bit low and I’d ask that we re-visit this as part of the Masterplanning process. A failure to recognise sufficient capacity will result in the loss of a developer funded new build school and over-crowding at existing schools, so we need to get this right.”

He continued, “Similarly there needs to be appropriate arrangements but in place for the adoption or ongoing management of open spaces to avoid the issues we see elsewhere across the city with some areas being badly neglected as a result of unenforceable provisions in this respect. I’d therefore ask that this requirement be fed into the Masterplanning process.”

A number of other committee members also echoed both concerns and it was agreed that these would be looked at further as the process goes forward.

Steve said, “This process remains at an early stage but it’s important we get things right as we only have one opportunity to do so, but getting it wrong will have long term consequences. I’m happy to see this go out for public consultation but will be keeping a close eye on these proposals as they go through the various stages. I would therefore encourage people to look at the document and make their views known.”

The consultation can be found here.

Countesswells Masterplan Out To Consultation

CountesswellsThe Countesswells Masterplan was approved as the basis for further consultation by councillors on 13th March 2014. The consultation will commence on 17th March 2014 and run for 6 weeks.This is the precursor for planning applications for 3000 homes to the south side of the A944 between the Lang Stracht roundabout and the Kingswells roundabout.

Local councillor Steve Delaney spoke on the Masterplan at committee. He commented on the well thought out design of the scheme itself but also raised two major concerns about the proposals.

His first concern related to the maintenance of open spaces, something which is often ignored in planning terms. The committee agreed with the need to address this but felt it would be more appropriately dealt with at at the next stage in the process.

Steve’s main concern related to the number of peak time vehicular movements which would go onto the Lang Stracht. He said, “The Lang Stracht is one of the poorest examples of road design in Aberdeen with traffic weaving in and out and the journey along its length currently taking about 15 minutes at busy times. There’s sufficient space to dual the road along most of its length and this was a lost opportunity in 1998 when the road layout was last changed.”

“When considering the full traffic impact we also need to look at the Maidencraig development and the cumulative impact on the Lang Stracht. We can’t look at this or indeed any other large scale development in isolation or we’ll gridlock large sections of our city, merely as a result of bad planning”.

“The Maidencraig Masterplan has reserved sufficient space along the Lang Stracht to allow for future dualling at that point. The previously approved and subsequently rescinded Morrisons application did likewise”.

“This Masterplan proposes no more than the widening of the road at the current roundabout and changing this from a roundabout to a signalised junction. No provision is made in respect of the huge increase in traffic volume using the Lang Stracht”.

“I have no issue with this development proceeding, as it’s a good development within its own boundaries, but this needs to be subject to essential infrastructure improvements being put in place. On that basis, I would ask Committee to include a requirement to dual the Lang Stracht into this Masterplan prior to any further progression.”

Concerns about the ability of the Lang Stracht were accepted by the committee, with much discussion on this point. However, it was felt that the traffic impact would be carefully considered as part of a future planning application, at which point appropriate mitigation could be more appropriately considered.

Steve said, “Although I was looking for a much stronger commitment at this stage in the process, there was certainly consensus amomgst members that there would be a significant volume of traffic emanating from this development and this would require further scrutiny at the next stage of the process.”

“I would urge local residents to have their say as part of the consultation process, which runs until 29th April 2014” The consultation can be accessed here.

Nightmare On Broad Street – The Soap Continues….

Town HouseEvents of the last few weeks have clearly demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that Aberdeen City Council’s leaders are out of control with Cllrs Young and Crockett seemingly oblivious to the damage they are causing to the reputation of the city.

Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said, “a week is a long time in politics”. Perhaps Aberdeen’s Labour leadership should reflect on their former leader’s words as they look back on the damage they have inflicted on this city’s reputation over the past two or three weeks?

Finance Chief Refuses £7.5 Million!

    Last month at a meeting of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), Aberdeen’s Finance Convenor voted against uplifting the funding formula for local authorities to take account of population movement. This would not have addressed the fair funding deal we have been campaigning for over a number of years, but it would have resulted in Aberdeen gaining an additional £7.5 million per annum in Scottish Government funding under the current scheme. Instead Cllr Young voted with Labour colleagues in Glasgow who would have lost out if the changes had been approved.

    Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “This is worrying behaviour from the man who is in charge of the city’s finances. I agree with Cllr Young that Aberdeen is significantly under-funded and the funding formula needs to be revised, but turning down additional funding is pretty irresponsible. This was just an updating of the existing formula which would have, on this occasion, increased Aberdeen’s share.”

    “By voting for the status quo, Cllr Young has accepted that Glasgow should continue to get more than their fair share at our expense! Following on from that COSLA have decided to re-visit this decision in April. Hopefully this time Cllr Young will remember to take his calculator with him and vote in favour of a better deal for Aberdeen, rather than toe the central belt Labour line.”

    Council Leader & Finance Chief “Wrestle” Over Ministerial Ban!

Moving on from the somewhat bizarre funding row, we had the banning of Scottish Ministers from Aberdeen City Council property. This all arose from an unauthorised visit by the First Minister to a school during last year’s Donside by-election, where he entered the school by a side entrance. The Council had written to top civil servants asking for the First Minister’s conduct to be investigated. The process had concluded with a tightening up by the Council of protocols for visits to schools during election times and a definitive response from the Civil Service advising that the only person who can investigate a complaint against the First Minister is the First Minister!

This was followed by Cllr Young and Cllr Crockett insisting and then denying that Scottish Ministers were banned. It was sounding a bit like a Punch and Judy show! What eventually came before the Council was a watered down proposal which fell short of an outright ban, but created a split in the ruling coalition, with them only winning by one vote.

Steve Delaney said, “This debacle has clearly exposed tensions within the coalition and a failure of the Council Leader to keep his Finance Convenor in line. It’s absolute lunacy to exclude representatives of partner organisations from visiting Aberdeen. Although there a different politics involved, Aberdeen City Council needs to work with the Scottish Government, the UK Government, European Parliament and a host of local and national bodies in order to deliver the best services we can for our citizens.”

” Anything less is no more than playing politics to the detriment of the people we seek to represent. We need to work as grown ups with our partner organisations. Cllr Young has thrown the toys out of his pram big-time on this. He is embarrassing our city with his antics and I fear this may cause longer term reputational damage and risk future investment”

“What the First Minister did was wrong, make no mistake about that. However it was no different to what Cllr Young did himself during the by election when he made an unannounced visit on the coat tails of a Member of Parliament to a Sheltered Housing scheme without either asking permission from the Council, or being invited by the residents.”

“As I highlighted in the Chamber last week, the right way to put this one to bed is not to embark on childish gestures, it’s for all of us to draw the attention of our Scottish Parliamentarians to the need for reform of their own governance arrangements. It is not acceptable that any individual be the last “Court of Appeal” in a complaint against him/herself. This could be easily remedied by setting up an independent body to look impartially at any complaint brought against this and any future First Minister. It’s not exactly rocket science!”

Outrage As Labour Starts “Campaigning On The Rates”!

    Just as you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Council Leader decides to send us all a letter promoting a political message, and charge us for the privilege! It is highly unusual for a Council Leader in Aberdeen to write to residents at public expense. This practice was introduced by Cllr Crocket last year, with previous Council Tax bills having gone out with a letter from the Chief Executive in order to avoid any political bias. Well, hasn’t Cllr Crockett really excelled himself this time with a message on the Scottish Independence Referendum promoting one side of the argument?

    Steve Delaney said, “I agree with Cllr Crockett that Scotland’s future is better served as part of a stronger United Kingdom, but this isn’t an appropriate way to convey that message. Where I have difficulties is that I do not believe Council resources should be used for promoting any political Party or political point of view. In other words, political campaigning should not be funded by YOU.”

    “There are lines that you don’t cross and clearly Cllr Crockett needs a new pair of glasses as he’s way over the line on this one. What are we going to see in the 2017 letter from Cllr Crockett? I suppose it will be a not so thinly veiled “vote Labour” message! Nothing would surprise we with the current leadership, nothing at all”.

    “If I want to get a message out to the public, I pay for the literature myself, I always have done. I have no issue with Cllr Crockett promoting the Better Together campaign and indeed I’d be happy to join him in doing so. My issue, and that of thousands of Aberdonians, including Labour voters, is expecting YOU to pay to read that message.”

    “The Better Together campaign could well do without Cllr Crockett’s unhelpful assistance. Nobody should be allowed to use public funds for political purposes, even if you agree with the message they are promoting. Otherwise, it’s the thin edge of the wedge and he who controls the Council, controls the distribution of information. The cumulation of this was when Cllr Crocket decided that a debate on his conduct over this issue would be held in private, excluding Press and members of the public. Surely this is how we would expect a dictator to behave, not a democratically elected politician?”

    So, What’s Next?

      The last two weeks in Broad Street Towers were certainly more entertaining than Eastenders, Coronation Street or Emmerdale. Soaps are meant to be a distraction from real life. Politics is meant to be about real people and doing the best we can for those we represent. Somehow our leaders appear to be confusing the two, making Aberdeen City Council a laughing stock. This does not bode well.

Delaney Calls on Castlegate Re-opening To Ease Congestion

Castlegate1940sKingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney has called for the Council to look into the possible benefits of re-opening the Castlegate to through traffic in order to support the pedestrianisation of Broad Street (from Queen Street to Upperkirkgate).

Steve raised this at a meeting of Aberdeen City Council on 5th March, along with a request for discussions to be opened with the developers of Marischal Square on substantially improving the views of Provost Skene’s House from Broad Street. In an otherwise tense meeting, both proposals were unanimously agreed with councillors calling for a further report to come back to a future meeting.

Steve said, “I’m very much in favour of full pedestrianisation of Broad Street to complement a new civic square, but not at any cost. We need to ensure that robust traffic management is in place and capable of handling any displacement of traffic resulting from these proposals, otherwise we’ll create gridlock in our city centre.”

“In order to ensure we get this right I’d like to see all options explored and that includes the re-opening of the Castlegate to through traffic. At present it’s a huge unused space and the current surface makes it very inaccessible, especially for people with disabilities. We need to model in the effect such a re-opening would make to the traffic impact in and around the city centre to establish whether or not this would help support the pedestrianisation plans”

Delaney Calls For Bus Lay-bys & Crossings On A944

Bus Stop smallKingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney has been contacted by a number of residents regarding Stagecoach’s decision to cease picking up or dropping off passengers on the A944.

Residents are up in arms about a decision taken by Stagecoach to cease stopping to pick up or drop off passengers on the A944 between Hazlehead and Westhill other than at the Prime Four Business Park. This recently resulted in a couple in their eighties having to walk a couple of miles to get home after the bus driver refused to let them off the bus near their home.

Another incident involved a lady from Westhill who has serious health problems dropping her car off at the Five Mile Garage only to find she had no bus service to get back home and needless to say, was unable to walk the distance from the garage back home.

An issue also exists in respect of the bus stop opposite Kingswells Church which was removed on safety grounds as a result of the widening of the A944. This has meant passengers could catch the X17 into town but can’t easily get home as the next bus stop is past the roundabout at the Prime Four Business Park.

Whilst appreciating their concerns for the safety of passengers boarding and lighting from their buses, it is totally unacceptable to leave local people without access to bus services.
Steve said, “The only place Stagecoach are willing to stop between Hazlehead and Westhill is Prime Four in both directions and Kingswells Church eastwards.”

There used to be stops at the Five Mile Garage and on both sides of the road beside Kingswells Church. Steve is campaigning for bus stops with lay-bys and pedestrian crossings to be put in place at both locations to ensure safety and access to public transport.

He said, “The bus stop at the Church was removed on safety grounds following the widening of the A944 to accommodate Prime Four traffic. The developer should have been obligated to install a pedestrian crossing at this location to mitigate the effect of the road widening on local residents. Instead they funded crossings elsewhere which are of no practical use to anybody.”

Steve has lodged a Notice of Motion to the 13th March meeting of the Environment, Strategic Planning & Infrastructure Committee calling for bus stops with lay-bys and pedestrian crossings in the vicinity of the Five Mile Garage and Kingswells Church to address the loss of bus services in a manner which is safe to both passengers and drivers.

Police And Fire Control Rooms Axed

alison-mcinnes-msp-9As you may have seen in the press, plans have been approved to close fire and police control rooms and service centres across Scotland. All three of the facilities in Aberdeen will close, meaning that every 999 or 101 call will now be diverted to the Central Belt or Dundee.

This prompted demonstrations from devastated staff, anger at the Parliament, and caused many of my constituents to get in touch with me.

Hundreds of talented and dedicated staff will lose their jobs. They have played an integral role in saving the lives of many people. Their knowledge of our area, built up through decades’ worth of service and once valued and nurtured, will be lost.

This shows the uncompromising nature of the SNP’s obsession with centralisation. It removed any opportunity for local people to object, meaning the appeals of local communities fell on deaf ears. Local authorities, once integral to the decision-making process, tell me they found out about the plans on the news. Coupled with the fact that Police Scotland refused to hold a public consultation because it considered the issues too complicated for the public to come to an informed opinion on, this shows a worrying disregard for the views of local communities.

Local SNP representatives backed the Justice Secretary to the hilt when he established single police and fire services, blithely dismissing our warnings that it would lead to such closures. It is no surprise therefore that the sincerity of their apparent dismay at the decision to shut our control rooms is being questioned.

Alison McInnes OBE, MSP for North East Scotland

Council Budget 2014/15

BudgetAberdeen City Council held its annual Budget meeting on 6th February 2014. The Priority Based Budgeting introduced when the Liberal Democrats were running the city has led to increased stability and improved strategic planning of the city’s finances. In excess of 90% of the proposals were common to all parties with an element of expenditure available for allocation to specific priorities. It was for each grouping to prioritise how this amount was spent.

The Liberal Democrats, as part of their balanced budget proposals, urged additional investment in education and repairing Aberdeen’s crumbling roads and pavements.

Liberal Democrat proposals would have seen £300,000 of Common Good funds spent enhancing Hazlehead Park and the area around it during 2014/15. Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “Hazlehead Park is in need of some serious investment and £300,000 could have done much to upgrade this much loved park. Had the Council supported our proposals this would have seen major revamps of the Queen Mother Rose Garden and the poor quality roads around the park”.

The Liberal Democrats also proposed investing £125,000 for replacement or refurbishment of our childrens’ play parks. Although some improvements have been made, investing an additional £125,000 in play parks would have made a real difference by helping to refurbish and improve play parks across Aberdeen.

Turning towards education, Steve said “We believe investing in our children’s education is vital so we proposed giving an extra £100,000 to schools to buy additional books and equipment. That would have made a real difference to every school in the city. Sadly Labour and their Conservative sidekicks rejected this extra investment in Aberdeen’s children’s future.”

The Liberal Democrats also proposed investing a home safety initiative to help address carbon monoxide poisoning, which is still, sadly, responsible for a number of deaths each year. Commenting on this initiative, Steve said, “Investing £50,000 in this would have allowed the council to work with the Fire and Rescue Service and provide thousands of homes across Aberdeen with Carbon Monoxide detectors. This relatively modest amount of money would have made people across Aberdeen feel safer and quite possibly have saved lives.”

The most significant proposal from the Liberal Democrat Group was to nearly double investment in roads and pavements during 2014/15. Currently Aberdeen City Council has a budget of £2.2 million per annum for this which is clearly insufficient. Had these proposals been accepted, this would have resulted in a total of almost £22 million over the next five years being spent on repairing roads and pavements in Aberdeen

Steve Delaney said “Too many of our city’s roads and pavements are crumbling. What the council must do is invest more in the permanent repair and resurfacing of roads and pavements to bring them back to an acceptable standard. In the long-run that will reduce the cost of jet-patching and other less permanent repairs.”

“Sadly Aberdeen’s Labour and Conservative councillors rejected our carefully costed proposal to invest nearly £22 million in road and pavement repairs over the next five years.”

The Liberal Democrats also proposed abolishing “on street” Sunday parking charges and ending both on and off street parking charges on other days at 6.30pm, rather than the current 8pm.

Steve said, “The Liberal Democrats believe ending on street parking charges on Sunday and making on and off street parking free after 6.30pm would help bring more people back into our city centre on Sundays and weekday evenings. The council should be encouraging people to come into the city centre and not making it more expensive for people.”

As part of their revenue and capital budget proposals the Liberal Democrats also proposed investing:

– £50,000 in installing additional bus shelters

– £50,000 to fund a flood guard grant scheme to help households threatened by flood

– £50,000 in small scale environmental initiatives, providing dog waste bins and warning signs

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said,”Despite the rejection of this by Labour and Conservative councillors today we will continue to campaign for greater investment in our children’s future, action to repair our crumbling roads and pavements and more effort to improve Aberdeen’s environment.”

Superfast Broadband Coming To Kingswells Soon!

Local councillor Steve Delaney, who has been campaigning for fast broadband in Kingswells, was delighted by recent news that work has now started on bringing the service to Kingswells.

He said, “Well it’s finally happened. Decent broadband is coming to Kingswells and it looks like it’s going to happen this year”

It’s been a long and arduous journey with a few false starts along the way. In January 2013 an announcement was made confirming Aberdeen City Council had been successful in securing UK Government funding for an ambitious rollout of superfast broadband in current white spots and wifi for the city centre amongst other related initiatives. The package involved a number of different elements but Kingswells was in line for fibre optic high speed connection, which was welcomed by all. Unfortunately questions were then asked regarding possible State Aid implications arising from this funding stream, which put the whole project in doubt.

Thankfully Kingswells fell under the “rural” classification for the purposes of State Aid and rural aid is exempt from such regulation. Accordingly, that element of the funding package was transferred to the Scottish Government last Summer. Some details were released in the Autumn but the best indication we were getting was a programme timetable of 2014-2017. Kingswells originally had an expected “go live” date of 2014/15 so it was looking like things had slipped.

Last week’s announcement did mention Kingswells but it was once again non-specific on localised delivery timescales.

There’s map online which appears to show that Kingswells is timetabled for July – December 2014. The detail on the map is pretty poor and timescales are only indicative, so you may wish to check it out for yourself. Work has already started by way of the laying the fibre optic cabling along the A944 from Aberdeen to Westhill and an influx of BT Openreach vans in the village, so it’s all looking positive for a “live” date which is sooner rather than later.

Steve said, “Some people have been understandably been in touch querying why we can’t just have a decent speed on normal broadband as they don’t need the more expensive fibre optic option. Unfortunately this cannot be achieved without building a telephone exchange at Kingswells as the current difficulties are down to the length of cabling running from Westhill to Kingswells. The short answer is that there’s available funding for high speed fibre optic broadband but none is on offer to upgrade the older broadband technologies.

” Thankfully we’ve secured that funding and I expect most people will be happy to upgrade. This has been a long time coming and Kingswells residents will no longer be subjected to these prehistoric broadband speeds. This was something well worth fighting for and I’m delighted we’re finally going to see it happen”.

FirstAberdeen Announces Fares Promotion

First-Logo-(High-Res)FirstAberdeen have just launched a promotion which will give customers across the network the opportunity of receiving a free day’s travel when they trade in their adult ‘FirstDay’ ticket for an adult ‘FirstWeek’ ticket. This will give customers eight days travel for the price of seven, for £18.

The promotion runs from 13 January until 9 February 2014. Customers can exchange their tickets on board the bus.

Stagecoach X17 Fares Promotion

stagecoach logoStagecoach have recently announced two promotions on their Aberdeen routes, including the X17 which runs from Aberdeen to Elrick.

Day Return ticket
For use within the Aberdeen Zone 1 boundary – normal price £3.40 – promotional price £3.00

Weekly Megarider
For use within the Aberdeen Zone 1 boundary – normal price £14.00 – promotional price £12:00, offering unlimited travel within the Aberdeen Zone 1 boundary.

These promotions are aimed specifically at users of the X17 and 59 but are applicable for any journey within the Aberdeen Zone 1 boundary.

Tickets can be purchased from the bus driver or the travel shop

The promotion runs to the end of February 2014

Happy Holidays!

StevesantaCouncillor Steve Delaney would like to wish all constituents a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lets hope 2014 is a good year for everyone.

Contact details over the festive break are as follows:-

Non-Emergency Issues

Tel: 01224 241500 at any time or Report It here.


Tel: 0845 608 0919

Winter Maintenance Programme

Click here for details of the Council’s Gritting Routes, Ongoing Work and the Winter Maintenance Programme

Other Useful Information

Click here for Festive Customer Service Opening Hours

Click here for Christmas bin collections

Lack Of Respect Highlighted By Auditors

ACCAudit Scotland’s report on Aberdeen City Council for 2012/13 was considered by the Council on 18th December 2013.

The report was fair and balanced highlighting where the Council is delivering good services as well as areas where the organisation could do better. Such reports are meant to be viewed constructively and organisations should learn from their findings, constantly be striving to do better.

Local councillor Steve Delaney felt there was one statement councillors should pay particular heed to.

To quote Audit Scotland, “Behaviours in the council chamber were regularly disrespectful with councillors being reminded of the existence of the Code of Conduct”.

In response to these concerns the Liberal Democrat Group proposed that the Council,

“Notes Audit Scotland’s observations relating to the conduct of Council meetings and refers them to the Group Leaders and Chief Executive for discussion, and instructs the Chief Executive to report back within two cycles on the outcome of those discussions”.

Speaking in support of this proposal Steve said, “It makes sense for Group Leaders to get round the table over a coffee to discuss this. Anything less is childish and a let down to the people who elected all 43 of us.

“When I was first elected in 2002 I was advised to be nice to people on the way up as I’d meet the same people on the way down. I’ve been on both sides of the escalator and it was sound advice which has paid off for me. It’s all about respect and there’s a distinct lack of respect by some members towards others.

“To challenge a point made a fellow member or an officer’s views is what we’re here for. We’re not nodding dogs! However, there’s a line not to cross and making personal attacks on opponents or being disrespectful to officers displays nothing more than contempt for the city we purport to serve. Such behaviour merely leads to escalation and increases distrust between members. We need to remember we are opponents, not enemies. There is a difference!”

Only one councillor rose to his feet in debate to speak against the points Steve had raised but the suggestion of sitting round the table to try to foster better relationships between councillors was defeated 38-4 by Labour, SNP. Conservative and independent members.

Art Gallery Renovation Approved

art gallery Aberdeen City Council has approved a multi-million pound renovation of the Art Gallery.

The debate on 18th December 2013 was emotive with councillors taking opposing views on the design, scale and massing of the building.

Planning is non-political so it was impossible to know how the vote would go.

The application (as illustrated above) involved internal and external changes to the building, with the removal of the internal marble staircase and the addition of a modern copper roof extension being the most contentious points. All members were supportive of the need for changes to the external layout to extend the facility and make better use of existing display space. There was no real argument against the principle of upgrading the building to ensure we are able to accommodate bigger touring exhibitions and display more of our own exhibits, many of which are in permanent storage.

Following the vote Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “I was not entirely happy about the removal of the marble staircase but was otherwise pleased with what I considered to be a sympathetic transformation of the interior of the Art Gallery.

“Where I took exception was with the rooftop extension which I felt was out of keeping with both the existing building and the streetscape on Schoolhill. It reminded me of a set of “pan pipes” like those used to create the music of the Andes! I had no issue with the concept of a rooftop extension, I just felt this one was bland and we could have done better.

“I described the rooftop extension as nothing short of architectural vandalism to one of the jewels in Aberdeen’s crown and suggested that refusal would hopefully bring back a new design which was more sympathetic to the existing buildings”.

The application was approved by 27 votes to 15 with the works scheduled to be completed during 2017.

Labour Led Council Thows Away £50Million!

Halliday ProposalsFollowing on from the Labour led Council’s decision to kill off the City Gardens Project in August 2012, not much has happened. The project was supported by a majority of the public, came with £50 million from the Wood Family Trust and was to be funded through a Tax Increment Finance initiative (TIF) which would have allowed the Council to keep income generated from new business rates to pay off the loan. The business case demonstrated the proposal was expected to cover its costs or better and Sir Ian pledges to underwrite any deficit to a maximum of £35 million. Reluctantly, we’ve moved on from that position.

Sir Ian Wood offered the Council until August 2013 to come up with something transformational, then extended this to the end of this year. This summer local architect John Halliday came forward with an alternative scheme (illustrated above) which involved relocating the entrance to the railway station beside the King Edward VII statue and partially raising the gardens, something which was less costly and was “in danger” of gaining all Party support!

At the August 2013 Council meeting, following Sir Ian Wood’s decision to extend his deadline, Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney lodged an urgent motion requesting the Council enter into talks with Sir Ian to determine if there was a possible way forward. Labour’s Lord Provost refused to take the motion on the basis that it was not urgent.

In October the Administration revealed their Strategic Infrastructure Plan which merely detailed projects which were already agreed, were ongoing or were being delivered by other organisations in the city. It offered very little by way of new ideas. As part of the proposals a City Centre Regeneration Board was set up and the Liberal Democrats suggested that both Sir Ian Wood and John Halliday be invited to join the Board. The Council refused to accept this proposal.

Steve Delaney said, “It was obvious to me by that time the Administration would struggle to meet Sir Ian Wood’s extended deadline, if indeed it was ever their intention to do so, yet they saw no urgency to progress matters. There was no foreseeable outcome other than the loss of £50 million unless they took action to try to secure an agreed way forward and did so expediently. Sir Ian has definitely moved from his previous position in recent weeks, yet there has been no evidence of Labour trying to meet him half way for the good of the city.

“The Liberal Democrats have pledged to work with all Parties to deliver regeneration of the city centre and we will do so in a constructive manner. However, I find it difficult to comprehend how we can deliver any transformational change after walking away from a £50 million donation and a TIF scheme which effectively covered its costs. Instead we now find ourselves relying on public money and much less of it than was originally on the table”.

At the Council meeting of 18th December 2013, the Liberal Democrat Group put forward a proposal that the Council

“agrees that, to ensure the greatest possible level of support from Aberdeen’s communities, the Council will undertake comprehensive public consultation and engagement as part of the process of developing the city centre masterplan”.

This was defeated 38-4 with Labour, SNP, Conservative and independent councillors all refusing to take on board the suggested commitment to consult widely. No surprises there!

* Aberdeen City Council Housing Budget * 18 – 21% Increase In Heat With Rent Charge For Sheltered Housing Tenants

Steve at Lewis CourtOn Wednesday 18th December 2013 Lib Dem Housing Spokesman Steve Delaney presented his first Housing Budget, after all Parties had agreed common proposals last year.

It was a prudent budget but one that set out to ensure completion of the Scottish Housing Quality Standard for all Council owned properties by 2015, made provision to mitigate the negative effects of Welfare Reform and kept rent increases to a minimum amount without affecting the longer term viability of the programme which delivers the repairs, maintenance and upgrades to our properties.

The proposals detailed £43 million of capital expenditure, funded almost by new borrowing and from money raised through rental income. It also supported the use of receipts from “right to buy” sales being used towards repayment of housing debt.

There had been a level of political census on Housing Budgets for a number of years and Steve was hoping this would continue, but regrettably there was one sticking point on which the other Parties would not budge. This related to increases in fuel charges to properties in which people pay for their heating along with their rent. These properties are usually multi storeys, sheltered or amenity housing.

Steve told fellow councillors, “Rising energy bills is something that affects us all, but especially those households who are already living in fuel poverty and those who are in danger of slipping into this category. The recent astronomical rises in consumer energy prices shows how out of control this industry is and demonstrates their lack of responsibility towards their already hard pressed customers.

“As the vast majority of 1 bedroom flats which have heat with rent are in sheltered or amenity housing, the 18% – 21% increase proposed for these properties is going to hit some of our most vulnerable tenants, many of who may already be struggling with the rising cost of living.

“The Liberal Democrat Group propose that we ask officers to report back to the February Budget Meeting on how best to mitigate the effects of the heat with rent charge across the board, but with particular emphasis on assisting those in sheltered and amenity properties”.

The Liberal Democrat Budget was rejected by 38 votes to 4, as Labour, SNP, Conservative and independent councillors all voted to increase charges for those who pay for their heating with their rent by up to £156 per annum.

White Paper Fails To Answer Voters’ Questions

alison-mcinnes-msp-9You are unlikely to have missed the fact that the Scottish Government last month published its white paper on independence – its plan for a separate Scotland and the document that was supposed to answer all the voters’ questions.

It certainly fell a long way short of that. Instead, it was a wish list without a price list.

It fails to recognise that there might be even a single downside to independence. And it fails to recognise that all the organisations and countries with which an independent Scotland would have to negotiate will not simply lie down and accept the Scottish Government’s often unrealistic and brazen demands.

The SNP even has the affront to delay improving childcare until after they win the referendum. This despite the fact that Scotland already has the worst childcare arrangements in the UK and the Scottish Government already has the power to deliver better childcare now. Instead the SNPs message to our children is: you will not get what you need until we get what we want.

A vote to stay in the UK does not mean no to change as the SNP claim. Indeed, it is insulting for the Scottish Government to suggest that the UK is incapable of radical change. The Scottish Parliament was created in 1999 and the UK Government reaffirmed its commitment to devolution by transferring a wealth of financial powers through the Scotland Act last year.

The Liberal Democrats have set out how we believe Scotland can make the best of regional and national economic strengths through Home Rule – more powers for local communities within the UK partnership of nations. It avoids the leap into the dark that the SNP want voters to take on issues such as currency, EU, defence and foreign affairs.

Despite what the SNP tell you, a No vote can be a positive one and proud Scots can support the United Kingdom.

Alison McInnes OBE, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland

Independence White Paper Has Left People None The Wiser


Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrats today (Tuesday 26th November) said that the Scottish Government’s Independence White Paper has left people in Aberdeen none the wiser over what leaving the UK would mean after the document failed to address fundamental questions over currency and other issues.

Speaking after the First Minister launched the paper in Glasgow this morning, Councillor Ian Yuill, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Aberdeen City Council, warned that by failing to give Scots the answers that had been promised the SNP are asking people to take a leap into the dark.

Commenting, Ian Yuill said “The SNP always promised that the White Paper would answer all the questions that people have over independence. But the today’s glitzy launch will have left people in Aberdeen none the wiser over what leaving the UK would mean for Aberdeen and for Scotland.

“We needed to see answers over the SNP’s ‘plan B’ on currency, on what it would mean for things like our place in Europe and our universities. What we got was a wish list that came without a price list and no recognition that the First Minister might not get everything his own way.”

Ian Yuill continued “And on their big childcare pledge, the SNP cannot escape from the fact that they could be helping families in Scotland with the cost of childcare right now by matching the steps that Liberal Democrats have taken in government to boost free care.

“Delaying childcare improvements until after the referendum is unnecessary and does families no favours. The message from the SNP seems to be that they will not give children the support they need until they get the result they want at the referendum.”

Risks Are Just Too High


Aberdeen City Council has approved plans to demolish the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre at Bridge of Don and build its replacement on a new site.

Aberdeen’s Lib Dem Group opposed the proposals on the basis that a full business plan was not available, the risks were too high and alternative options had not been fully explored.

The current venue is beginning to show its age and there have been difficulties attracting the larger exhibitions and concerts to the current venue, with some having moved to larger arenas elsewhere. The Council has decided to enter into a 35 year lease with Henry Boot Developments, who built the St Nicholas and Bon Accord Centres in the 1980s.

The deal is complex but in many ways similar to that for the redevelopment of the St Nicholas House site. The Council is exposed to a maximum liability per annum for the duration of the lease, which is not insignificant, then the asset will transfer to Council ownership. The actual liability is dependent upon external factors and will vary over the period of the lease.

Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “The Council bears the full risk of this proposal and has to bring in income from external sources in order to balance the books. Unpredictable economic circumstances and competition from elsewhere makes the level of risk unquantifiable when taken over 35 years. Any shortfall will present a considerable burden on our already stretched finances”.

“Labour’s Finance Convenor spoke just a couple of days after the decision about the Council needing financial assistance, possibly from overseas investors, to reduce the risk to Council Tax payers. This has cast considerable doubt over the viability of the proposals which he was previously touting as being a good deal for Aberdeen”.

“We are certainly not against progress, but we need to be convinced that these proposals are affordable and indeed that there is not a more affordable option available to us. I believe we took the responsible position by voting against these proposals in their current form and in the absence of more detailed information. The risks were just too high”.

Labour’s Blueprint Offers Nothing New

Aberdeen’s Labour led Council has unveiled their blueprint for the city’s future growth and prosperity.

18 months on from forming an alliance of Labour, Tory and Independent councillors to run the city, their plans for Aberdeen have turned out to be no more than a damp squib.

Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Delaney said, “Pulling all the Council’s infrastructure projects together into one report is useful, but, with few exceptions, that’s all this is. Most of what’s in the report is already agreed, much of which was either started by the last Administration or is being delivered by external partner organisations”.

“I was able to count almost 40 pre-existing initiatives, which leaves me searching desperately for the Administration’s wonderful new ideas. They clearly have no ideas of their own so all we got was a collection of pre-existing projects rolled into one document”

“Looking specifically at Housing, during a recession, ideally we’d be building many more affordable houses to stimulate the economy and cater for the increasing number of people who now need affordable homes. In reality, the opposite is happening with less affordable homes being built than in recent years. The Administration’s plans to divert resources into mid market rent and houses for sale will do little to reduce our waiting lists and help those in greatest need”.

“Turning towards City Centre Regeneration, the £20 million allocated won’t scratch the surface of what’s needed. Already agreed renovations to the Art Gallery and Music Hall will eat up much of this allocation, given that this is not new money. The scope for doing much else just isn’t there. Let’s be clear, we will see nothing transformational happen in the lifetime of this Council”.

Kingswells Broadband Timescales

The Scottish Government has taken over the roll out of Superfast Broadband for rural areas including Kingswells, but to date there has been no information regarding timescales, other than confirmation the programme will be completed by 2017.

Local councillor Steve Delaney raised concerns at the Council meeting on 31st October 2013, particularly relating to the current poor service in Kingswells. He said. “It remains impossible to get any meaningful information from the Scottish Government at this point in time. However, I do have assurances that an announcement will be made in January 2014 which will hopefully be more specific than what we’ve had to date”.

“This whole question of decent broadband speeds for Kingswells has been a case of two steps forward and one step back over the last couple of years. Funding was initially secured from the UK Government with a completion date of 2015. This was then withdrawn as a result of issues over State Aid regulations. It was later confirmed that rural areas such as Kingswells were exempt from these regulations. The handling of the rural element of the fund was then passed from the UK Government to the Scottish Government and the end date moved to 2017 rather than 2015”.

“We don’t currently know whether or not the delivery of Superfast Broadband to Kingswells has been delayed. Hopefully this is not the case, but please rest assured I will continue to argue the case for delivery to be undertaken sooner rather than later”.

Further Updates On No 40 Bus Service

PARK_AND_RIDE_010“FirstAberdeen have now conducted the promised review of the No 40 Kingswells service and are in the process of registering a new timetable with effect from 5th January 2014.

The new timetable is designed to deliver quicker ‘off peak’ journey times and less waiting time at bus stops. The revised service will be renamed the X40 in recognition that it is a limited stop service (outwith Kingswells). Full details will be published following approval from the Traffic Commissioner.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “It’s a great pity these changes can’t happen sooner but good to see First responding positively to community concerns on this route. It is of course imperative these proposals deliver the improvements needed to make the X40 a service we can all rely on”.

Latest Update On No 40 Service

PARK_AND_RIDE_010There have been a number of complaints about the Kingswells bus service since the No 40 became the primary route serving the village last month.

Local councillor Steve Delaney met with First’s management on 7th October to discuss the various issues. The biggest two issues are clearly the length of journey and time keeping. Some sections of the route have insufficient time allocated to them and others have too much, resulting in buses sitting idle at various points on the route.

Residents are particularly unhappy about the No 40 diverting to the Park & Ride site (which happens twice per journey) and the diversion to ARI (rather than stopping on Westburn Road) was also criticised by some people. First have no plans to change either of these diversions.

On a positive note regarding time keeping, First will be analysing relevant data over the next few weeks. The aim is to adjust the timetable (with respect to timing points) and shift any sitting about to parts of the route which will have a lesser effect on passengers. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and it’s likely to be quite a few weeks as changes require to conform to lengthy regulatory timescales.

Steve said, “I use the No 40 myself and have experienced the delays first hand. The Park & Ride and ARI diversions are helpful to some people but disadvantage the majority. It’s unfortunate that these appear to be here to stay”.

“I welcome First’s willingness to take another look at the timetable to try to minimise needless waiting time. This just can’t come soon enough”.

Kingswells Roundabout Confusion

A944_1Kingswells residents have certainly not been lost for words in recent weeks when it came to the road markings at the new roundabout on the A944! Although the road signs make sense, the road markings do not!

Carriageway marking leading up to the new Kingswells roundabout from all directions are unbelievably daft!  When approaching the roundabout from Kingswells road markings suggest you go straight on to Alford when you should turn right!  People who are new to the area will go straight on and not right, ending up at Cults.
The same if true coming from the city centre.  You turn right to Kingswells and not straight on as per road markings, otherwise you’d end up in Westhill! 

If coming from Westhill, you turn right to Cults and not straight on as per road markings, otherwise you’ll end up at Hazlehead.
Also, when coming from the city centre there’s a small section of hatched lines painted on the outside lane on the approach to the roundabout artificially narrowing the road on the approach to the roundabout.  This surely defeats the purpose of the road widening and serves no useful purpose. The concern is that this could increase the risk of accidents. 

Local councillor Steve Delaney has made numerous representations to the Council in recent weeks regarding safety at the roundabout. Following on from this additional markings have been placed on the carriageway and improved signage erected, but the incorrect markings still remain as does the hatched area.

Steve said, “A safety audit is currently being undertaken. This will look at all issues of concern raised to date as well as the overall operation of this junction. I am hopeful of further improvements being recommended but cannot guarantee this. I continue to have concerns, especially in respect of anyone who is not familiar with the area.”

The outcome of the safety audit will help inform recommendations by the Council which the developer will be obligated to implement. This process should take no more than a few weeks at most.

Proposed Fire & Police Control Room Closures

alison-mcinnes-msp-9Planned police and fire closures threaten vital community links 

Following the centralisation of our police and fire services earlier this year, the new nationwide organisations have now set their sights on closing frontline services and eroding their relationship with the communities that they serve.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are planning to close a number of facilities in the North East, most notably the state-of-the-art control room in Aberdeen.

Plans announced by Police Scotland recently could see 8 police stations in the North East close their doors to the public. Many more will slash their opening hours, with the public counters at stations across the region open for 500 hours a week less than at present. Lib Dems have also highlighted the fact that a question mark hangs over the future of police control rooms across the country.

SNP centralisation is leading to the asset-stripping of local services and, because of the way the reforms were pushed through Parliament, local people won’t even be consulted on the planned closures.

Our centralised services are turning their backs on our local communities. And the plans will lead to a loss of local knowledge. For example, the ability of staff to obtain vital infromation from 999 callers can be the difference between life and death. If a distressed caller says there is an incident at Strachan or Finzean will staff in the Central Belt recognise these places from the way they are pronounced

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for full and formal public consultations into these short-sighted and damaging closure plans. Our local communities deserve no less.

Alison McInnes OBE, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland (more…)

Labour Led Council Blocks Roads Spending

Aberdeen City Council has once again blocked Lib Dem proposals to increase spending on roads, pavements and lighting. This is the third time such proposals have been knocked back this year. Adding insult to injury, Labour and Conservative councillors referred to the initiative as a “pet project”, completely missing the need to invest more in our crumbling infrastructure.

The Finance, Policy and Resources Committee was informed of a predicted £4 million underspend this financial year. Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney proposed setting aside £1 million of the underspend for resurfacing of roads and pavements and the upgrading of street lighting.

Steve said, “We took a responsible view suggesting investment of £1 million in roads, pavements and street lighting, accepting there are competing demands on limited Council resources. Given that the annual roads and pavements budget is £2.1 million (and £20 million per annum is needed for 10 years to bring our infrastructure up to standard), this additional expenditure would have made a real difference”.

“To hear administration councillors describe these proposals as a ‘pet project’ clearly shows their lack of understanding of how to run this city. We need to continue to invest in our city to ensure its continuing prosperity”.

Kingswells Broadband Update

worldwidewebThere have been a number of queries in recent weeks regarding timescales for the introduction of Superfast Broadband in Kingswells. The current position has become less than clear, but with the one certainty being that this will be delivered … eventually.

Aberdeen City Council were successful in that the total funding which would have delivered this service to Kingswells and other parts of Aberdeen, along with city centre wi-fi, was approved by UK Government. Unfortunately it has transpired that the previously approved funding package would breach EU State Aid rules and is undeliverable in the manner originally envisaged.

With regard to the wider scheme, Council officers and civil servants continue to work together to devise a scheme which is compliant with State Aid rules or an alternative funding mechanisms which can deliver specific parts of the original project.

The outcome for Kingswells is slightly more positive, but less helpful than we would all like. Kingswells falls under the “rural” classification and, as such, does not contravene State Aid rules. Administration of the fund for the roll out of Superfast Broadband services in rural areas has been passed directly to the Scottish Government. They have yet to announce when Kingswells will receive the improved service, but the timescale for the programme, UK wide, is 2014-2018.

Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m sure many people will be as disappointed as I am with this set back. I would have expected the eligibility criteria under State Aid rules to have been checked out by civil servants prior to the commencement of the bidding process”.

“The previous commitment to upgrade Kingswells in 2015 may very well have slipped but this is currently unclear. What is certain is that Kingswells will get Superfast Broadband within a defined timescale and this is more than can be said for some parts of Aberdeen”.

“The outcome is positive overall, but it remains unacceptable that you can get a faster broadband connection in Afghanistan than you can in Kingswells”.

Update – Mastrick Post Office Move Delayed

Post OfficeAs reported recently, Mastrick Post Office is to be relocated to Clunie Place. The Post Office confirmed that they were making the “final arrangements” in a letter to local councillor Steve Delaney on 4th July 2013.

For whatever reason, the move has been delayed until after the New Year and is now likely to take place during January or February. Please note that Mastrick Post Office remains open at present and posters will be displayed on the premises with details of the date they will be moving nearer the time of the move.

New Bus Route 16th September 2013

PARK_AND_RIDE_010The improved No 40 bus service commences on Monday 16th September 2013. As previously stated, the service runs every 15 minutes during the day and includes the old No 11 route round the village. The No 11 runs in the evenings and on Sundays along the Queens Road corridor, just to confuse us all!

Reaction has been mixed with most people welcoming the increased frequency, but some people adversely affected by the change of route.

On the plus side, the interiors of the No 40 fleet are to be upgraded to improve passenger comfort and free wi-fi is provided on this route. Unfortunately some concerns have been raised about the journey time, which does appear to be unnecessarily long.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “More comfortable buses with free wi-fi and a regular 15 minute service are very much welcomed, but I have concerns that First have over-estimated the journey times, leading to buses sitting at timing points across the route. Hopefully measures can be introduced to speed up the journey into town and I will continue to work with FirstAberdeen to ensure the Kingswells service is every bit as good as it can be”.

Summer Of Disruption Coming To An End

A944_3_sKingswells residents have had a lot to put up with over the Summer months by way of roadworks and excessive noise at unsociable hours. Hopefully all is now starting to get back to normal.

Local councillor Steve Delaney has dealt with complaints relating to unauthorised excessive noise from roadworks during the night, early morning noise from the Prime Four site in breach of agreed operating hours and coned off lanes causing severe hold ups when no roadworks were taking place. All issues were taken forward and eventually resolved, often after repeated attempts!

Steve said, “I accept you can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs, but this project has been handled appaulingly by the Council. It should not be necessary to have to make repeated complaints in order to ensure compliance with agreed procedures. Little or no respect has been afforded to local people who, at times, have felt like they were under seige!”

Roadworks are due to be completed within a matter of days. The first phase of the Prime Four Business Park is due to open in a few weeks. There are of course additional phases but hopefully their construction should not impact on local people to the same extent.

More Changes On The Buses

P&RIt’s all change on the buses from 15th September and it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but mostly positive. Kingswells will have a 15 minute daytime frequency provided by the No 40, going into the City Centre via the Lang Stracht and ARI. For avoidance of doubt, this service will also include the current No 11 route through the village from Fairley Road where it meets the Old Lang Stracht onwards right up to Derbeth as at present.

What it will not cover is the lower part of Fairley Road and the old village. The bus stop at the Church will offer access to services into Aberdeen for people in this part of Kingswells, but the bus stop opposite the Church is to be removed on safety grounds (following the addition of a third lane westwards on approach to the roundabout), so getting home will be more problematical.

Matters are further complicated by the use of the No 11 in the evenings and at weekends, which will take the Queens Road route into the City Centre. Provision has been made for the No 11 to run two services per day term-time so that Hazlehead Academy children can get to and from school. Please contact FirstAberdeen directly if you require details of this service.

Local councillor Steve Delaney, who has been campaigning for better bus services said, “These changes are not ideal for everyone but they do represent good news for most people. We will once again have a frequent service and no longer be left isolated by infrequent and unreliable buses”.

“Having one frequent bus service should represent an improvement over two sub-standard services but am concerned that the old Village is effectively cut off from bus route for elderly and less able residents.

Mastrick Post Office Closure

Post OfficeLocal councillor Steve Delaney has spoken out over the relocation of Mastrick Post Office to Clunie Place.

He said, “Greenfern Shopping Centre is the hub of the community, Clunie Place is not. This new location will be less accessible for some of our more elderly residents”.

He also expressed concerns over the longer term viability of the Greenfern Shopping Centre if the Post Office moves, given the number of Post Office customers who also use the local shops.

Steve has been working with the Council in recent months in an attempt to attract new businesses into the area, in view of the number of empty shops. At the moment there are some positive signs but he will continue to monitor the situation in coming months following the closure of the Post Office..

Very few members of the public responded to the consultation, which clearly had a bearing on the decision. The move is definitely going ahead. More information regarding the moving date will be displayed within the Post Office.

A944 Speed Reduction To Be Considered

A944_1Steve Delaney has been campaigning for a speed reduction to 40mph on the A944 for almost two years. This came up at Committee with an an officer recommendation to retain the current 50mph limit.

Speaking at Committee, Steve said, “This is the only arterial route into the City which does feature a speed limit of 40mph within such close proximity to the built up area. Anyone who uses this route and sits at 50mph sees countless vehicles overtake them and this happens on a daily basis”.

He also raised concerns over the accident record on the A944 and drew attention to the difficulties being faced by people living in the cottages located on the A944 trying to access their homes.

Committee were not minded to commence statutory consultations on reducing the speed limit now, as Steve had requested, but they did agree to carry out further surveys and report back to Committee in 12 months’ time.

Steve said, “I am somewhat frustrated at the lack of willingness to progress a speed reduction at this point in time but I appreciate the decision to take another look at this issue. It’s certainly a step in the right direction. I have no doubt that a case can be built to support a speed reduction, given the countless vehicles exceeding the limit on this road. I just hope we don’t see further accidents or fatalities which we wait for data to be gathered and decisions to be made”.

Labour Still Unwilling To Talk!

Town HouseThere must be few people in Aberdeen who have failed to notice architect John Halliday’s proposed way forward to regenerate our city centre, yet Labour’s leaders have taken no initiative to get things moving.

The plans, revealed in local newspapers on 29th August offer an alternative vision to the City Gardens Project, designed to unite people (and politicians!) on both sides of the divide. There are many questions to be answered, not least of which is how this would be funded, but the concept is interesting and deserving of much more in-depth analysis.

Steve Delaney said, “I was a firm supporter of the City Garden Project but am happy to say this latest idea from John Halliday has grabbed my attention. The initial soundings within the Town House have been positive and open minded on a cross-party basis, yet Labour Council Leader Barney Crocket continues to do nothing to move things along”.

Lib Dem Group Leader Ian Yuill tabled a motion calling on the Council to invite John Halliday to present his vision to councillors, but Cllr Crocket refused to accept the motion. Meantime he and Cllr Young continue to tell the local papers that they are not rushing to talk to Sir Ian Wood, without whose investment this latest scheme will be a non-starter.

Steve continued, “I honestly don’t think Barney Crocket and Willie Young live on the same planet as the rest of us. Someone needs to remind them when they’re in a hole they need to stop digging! They owe it to the City to fully explore this new proposal and to work with both John Halliday and Sir Ian Wood to establish whether or not it is deliverable. Myself and my Lib Dem colleagues will continue to press them to swallow their pride, work with people and deliver for Aberdeen”.

Labour Led Council Backs Halting Sites

Howes RoadAberdeen City Council has decided to build a halting site for travellers on Howes Road opposite Heathryburn School, beside the replacement for the Raeden Centre, in an area earmarked for housing in the Local Plan and a stone’s throw away from an established community. The Liberal Democrats opposed the proposal.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “The Liberal Democrat Group feel that imposing halting sites on established communities is not the answer. It has the potential to severely impact on the quality of life of people living there if things do go wrong, and this is not something I believe this Council should be doing”.

“Travellers by the very nature of their lifestyle don’t want to be told where to pitch, so I’m somewhat sceptical that we can ensure such sites would be used. Imposing halting sites on settled communities and telling travellers where they will go, is failing to recognise the expectations of either community As a result, the creation of halting sites which might not be used may well amount to no more than flushing public money down the toilet”.

He also raised concerns that a site with capacity for 10 caravans, as is proposed, won’t solve the problem of unauthorised encampments. He said that Police will not move travellers on unless there’s somewhere for them to go.

He continued, “As soon as the site is full, we’re back to the Courts for evictions, so expected financial savings will be minimal. Unless we ring the city with multiple sites, we will be unable to prevent unauthorised encampments. If multiple sites are the Council’s intention, they risk attracting an even greater number of travellers to the city and the capacity issue will be further compounded”.

For avoidance of doubt, the Springhill Road site (old Council depot next to Eric Hendrie Park) is no longer under consideration, but the chosen site is just a few hundred yards down the road.

More Bickering Over Haudagain Upgrade

Haudagain_sThe need to address traffic congestion at the Haudagain is of major concern to everyone but it is turning into a political football between Labour and the SNP, with attacks firing across the bows from the Labour led Council and the SNP Scottish Government with increasing regularity, none of which is helping the situation.

Labour want to speed up the decanting of residents in the area which needs to be demolished for the road improvements. New housing is due to be built nearby, but will not be ready within the Council’s revised timescale. The SNP Scottish Government insists construction can’t begin until the Western Peripheral Route has been opened. Whether or not such works could be done in advance of the WPR but following completion of the Third Don Crossing is a question which remains unanswered.

Steve Delaney said, “The upgrade to the junction needs to be done as soon as possible, but shouting for it to be done quicker sort of misses the point. If we carry out works prior to necessary infrastructure being in place, traffic will gridlock during the works. Clearly a modicum of commonsense is needed here. There is also a need to accept that even if families in the affected area could be re-housed sooner, the upgrade won’t happen any faster as these works are the responsibility of the Scottish Government and they will run to their own timetable, like it or not”.

“If we progress along Labour’s chosen route have no doubts about it, the need to re-house 325 families in advance of new housing being built, can only be done by suspending the housing waiting lists and that means a longer wait for people in housing need, many of whom have already been waiting a considerable amount of time for an offer”.

“What we need is a pragmatic solution with Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Government working together to deliver a real solution as soon as possible rather than the sound bite mentality which delivers nothing. My real concern is that works get delayed beyond currently envisaged timescales as a result of all this bickering”.

Why We Need A Street Begging Bye-Law

Town HouseThere has been much discussion about begging in recent months. A survey carried out by the Council revealed that in Aberdeen local beggars were begging to fund drug or alcohol misuse and migrant beggars saw begging as an easy way to maximise their income.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “None of the 31 beggars surveyed were found to be homeless. It is clear there is absolutely no reason to beg on Aberdeen’s streets. There is a wide range of support and assistance available to people from both public bodies and charities. It is paramount that people in genuine need must be supported and joint working with homeless support agencies continues”.

Aberdeen City Council Liberal Democrats backed a collaborative approach with Glasgow City Council and others to gather evidence to support a bye-law which would effectively ban begging in the city. The aim of this approach is to get those who prey on the generosity of the public off the streets whilst directing people in genuine need to organisations who can offer them support.

Steve added, “People who are genuinely homeless are best supported by donating to homeless charities. None of the people who regularly beg on Aberdeen’s streets are homeless and, incredibly, some of them come from as far away as Kirkcaldy to beg in Aberdeen. A byelaw will not be a cure all but it may well have a part to play in tackling the persistent problem of street begging in Aberdeen.”

Labour Refuses To Talk To Sir Ian Wood

Town HouseRegardless of differing views on the City Garden Project, almost everyone agrees that the city centre is in need of regeneration. Steve Delaney welcomed the recent announcement by Sir Ian Wood that his offer to invest £50 million on such a project would remain on the table until the end of the year, on the basis it had to be used for a project which was tranformational.

In response, Steve tabled a motion to Council requesting the Chief Executive enter into discussions with Sir Ian Wood and report back to Council. Labour’s Lord Provost refused to accept the item on the agenda on the basis that it was not urgent. On the basis that a year has passed and no firm alternative proposal has come forward, if this is not urgent, what is?

Steve said, “This was an attempt to unite the Council and the city, to heal old wounds. In common with most people my views have not changed, but I would rather see everyone come together to make something happen, rather than lose £50 million and the regeneration that could deliver to our somewhat tired looking city centre”.

The Labour leadership continues to refuse to talk with Sir Ian, insisting they will be revealing their own proposals for the city centre at the end of October. Steve fears this will be too late, given the end of year deadline and his lack of faith in the current council leadership to deliver meaningful change.

Steve said, “Labour have forced themselves into an ideological corner. Why else would you refuse to enter into talks with a potential benefactor? Given that it has taken them over a year to come up with no alternative to the City Garden Project, perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting while time and money runs out! When it does, the responsibility for short-changing this city will lie at their door”.

Labour Tries To Gag Lib Dems …. And Fails

Town HouseLiberal Democrat councillors in Aberdeen have pledged to continue to speak out despite a decision by the Labour led Council to remove half the Liberal Democrat councillors from Aberdeen City Council’s powerful Finance and Resources and Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committees.

Local Lib Dem councillor Steve Delaney said “This punitive action suggests the Liberal Democrats have been getting under the skin of the Labour Party by having the temerity to disagree with them and hold them to account”.

“Trying to silence an opposition for scrutinising and holding those in power to account is an affront to democracy. Labour are clearly failing to win the arguments before they have seen fit to resort to such tactics. This is a sign of weakness and desperation”.

Steve continued, “Rest assured Liberal Democrats in Aberdeen will continue to challenge Labour and highlight their many, many failings at every possible opportunity. I will not be silenced, nor will my Lib Dem colleagues”.

The Final Countdown!

Local councillor Steve Delaney is once again out and about with Liberal Democrat candidate in Aberdeen Donside today, ahead of tomorrow’s crucial by-election.

Steve said, “I would like to thank everyone for the warm reception we have received on the doorsteps. People don’t want independence and they are telling us they don’t trust Labour’s Willie Young as he constrantly changes his position on issues that matter to people. Voters see Christine as a strong voice for Aberdeen Donside, someone who listens, someone who can be trusted and someone who cares”.

“I have already cast my postal vote for Christine and would ask that those of you who have supported me in the past also lend her your support tomorrow. She knows the issues that matters to people and could articulate these in the Scottish Parliament must more competently than others who seek the position. We need Aberdeen’s voice in Parliament, not the SNP’s man in Aberdeen”.

“Even in these closing days of the campaign I’m eager to meet as many people as possible and hear their views, as is Christine. I’m looking forward to a positive, constructive and worthwhile couple of days”.

Polling takes place at various locations across the constituency from 7am – 10pm tomorrow, 20th June 2013.

Liberal Democrats announce candidate for Aberdeen Donside


The Liberal Democrats have announced Christine Jardine as their candidate for the Aberdeen Donside by-election on 20th June 2013. Commenting on the news, Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney said, “We have a strong candidate in Christine. She knows our area, she knows what matters to us and she will be a powerful voice for Aberdeen Donside in the Scottish Parliament”.

Scottish Lib Dems: Scottish Liberal Democrats announce candidate for Aberdeen Donside by-election.

Pearl Shines At Awards!

Aberdeen City Council CopyrightAberdeen City Council hosted its Star Awards on 2nd May 2013. The event was designed to recognise the excellence of its staff and presentations were made to winners in a number of categories. In particular the “People’s Champion” category invited nominations from members of the public and one of our own was amongst them.

Sheddocksley resident Pearl Rendall is known to us as Kingsford School’s lollipop lady. She has been a “weel kent face” to children (and their parents) in the area for over 30 years. She keeps the kids in order, promotes road safety and brightens up even the wildest and coldest days with her warm smile and friendly conversation.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m delighted Pearl has been chosen as our people’s champion. Pearl has been keeping our children and their parents safe for more than a generation, despite being badly injured carrying out her duties over 20 years ago. I’ve known her personally for a number of years and enjoy seeing her cheery face every day as she educates our children on road safety and keeps them out of harm’s way. This is a well deserved honour for a true people’s champion”.

Pearl was presented with her award at a ceremony at the Beach Ballroom. Steve added, “Pearl does a sterling job but is a very modest lady. Perhaps now she really knows how much she means to all the mums, dads and kids in our area. Nobody deserves this honour more”.

Labour Blocks Investment In Roads ….Again

pothole1Following on from Lib Dem proposals to increase spending on roads, pavements and street lighting at February’s Council Budget, the Lib Dem Group has proposed allocating additional monies twice and been defeated by Labour and their allies on both occasions.

In March the Lib Dems proposed spending £750,000 of underspend in the 2012/13 Enterprise, Planning & Infrastructure budget towards addressing the poor state of our roads, pavements and street lighting. More recently at the April Finance & Resources meeting they proposed spending an additional £600,000 on roads. Both proposals were voted down by the Council’s Labour led administration.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney said, “Given the poor state of our roads and pavements, it would make good sense to re-invest surpluses in much needed improvements. This is what we did on a number of occasions when we were running the Council. Shame this administration can’t employ a bit of common sense rather than simply rejecting a suggestion because somebody else thought of it first!”

“I accept the Council is significantly under-funded by the Scottish Government, but we need to prioritise the spending of what we have at our disposal. If they can justify spending £200,000 on a Hogmanay Party, how can they sit back with a clear conscience and watch our roads crumble?”

SNP Opposes Byelaw For Unauthorised Encampments

Possible Gypsy/Traveller Halting Site on Springhill Road

Possible Gypsy/Traveller Halting Site on Springhill Road

At its meeting on 1st May 2013 Aberdeen City Council backed a proposal to draft a byelaw which seeks to prevent camping in sensitive areas (such as public parks). The initiative has come about as a response to the increasing number of unauthorised gypsy/traveller encampments in recent years.

Since 1st April 2013, there have been 8 unauthorised encampments. Over the previous two years, there have been 86 encampments within the city boundaries. Legal and clean up costs were in the region of £20,000 excluding staff time.

The byelaw, which would need to be approved by the Scottish Government, sets out to create a criminal offence of parking a caravan or camper van overnight at Lochinch Park, Westburn Park, Duthie Park, Stewart Park, Seaton Park, Calder Park, Bay of Nigg, Kingswells Park and Ride, Riverview Drive, Carnie Woods, Aberdeen Exhibition Centre, Queens Links, Kings Links, Alan Douglas Park and Eric Hendrie Park.

If approved, it would allow the Council to progress towards immediate eviction should an encampment set up at any of these locations. Persons found guilty of breaching the byelaw would also be subject to fines.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney said, “I was happy to support this proposed bye-law along with my Lib Dem colleagues. Unauthorised encampments at these locations prevent the public from making use of these areas and result in significant costs to the Council. This will not in itself resolve the issue of unauthorised encampments, but it is a step in the right direction”.

SNP councillors opposed the proposed bye-law, instead backing an amendment which sought to identify additional short term halting sites across the city. The proposal to progress with the drafting of a byelaw was approved with Lib Dem support.

“High Risk And Uninspiring”

MUSE3This is how Lib Dem Deputy Leader Steve Delaney described plans to replace St Nicholas House at the Council meeting on 1st May 2013. The plans are for a modern office development and hotel with a public square in Broad Street.

The funding mechanism works on a lease back system over 35 years and returns the site to the Council at the end of that time. It offers the Council a rental income but the Council, in leasing back the development, takes on all risks associated with this venture. It is of course impossible to say how buoyant the economy will be or indeed what the demand will be for specific types of office and/or retail space over a 35 year period.

Steve said, “All the designs before us were uninspiring and failed to respect the unique historic setting of Marischal College and Provost Skene’s House. I’m fully in favour of redeveloping this site, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to regenerate our city centre and we need to get it right. We had the opportunity to see something iconic delivered in this unique location and instead the Council settled for a drab design, simply replacing one eyesore with another. This was the best of a bad bunch and the Council should have been visionary enough to ask for a better bunch”.

The Council had put this forward as being no more than the choice of a preferred bidder. Steve reminded councillors that “The authority to finalise this deal has been delegated to officers, so it need not come back to Council. Be clear about it, this is about much more than selecting a preferred bidder, it’s pretty much a done deal if you support the recommendation”. Other concerns raised in debate related to the practicality and deliverability of the pedestrianisation of Broad Street.

The Liberal Democrats opposed the proposals on a number of grounds. Councillors had been given insufficient time to digest the report, with some only having seen it the morning of the meeting. The public had been given no say in what was proposed for their city centre. The business case appeared weak and the designs uninspiring. Accordingly the Lib Dem Group proposed that the Council go back out to the market asking potential developers to come up with something better.

Steve continued, “This was a rushed decision where there was no requirement for expediency. Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors were determined to push this through regardless. Regardless of your opinion on the design, the risk to public finances is significant and they will have to answer to the public for their folly”.

Steve requested his dissent be recorded in the Council minute.

Accelerate Aberdeen seeks to demonstrate demand for high speed broadband


Questionnaires are going out across the city regarding broadband provision. Please help the Council to demonstrate the existing demand for high speed broadband in order to attract additional investment.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney said, “Kingswells has amongst the slowest broadband speeds in Aberdeen. Although moves are afoot to deliver fibre optic broadband in our area, the Council is looking to demonstrate to investors, as part of the process, that demand for ultrafast broadband exists. This is a city wide questionnaire, but it’s in everyone’s interest to support the initiative. Your copy should drop through your letterbox in the next few days. I would ask you to take a few minutes to complete and return it”.

There’s a link to the full press release below.

Accelerate Aberdeen seeks to demonstrate demand for high speed broadband.

Bressay Brae Resurfacing

diggingResidents will be aware that Bressay Brae was due to be resurfaced during 2012/13, but this had to be delayed to facilitate the laying of cabling, rather than having a new road surface dug up. Hopefully all residents in the area will have received a letter from the Council regarding the resurfacing works.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m delighted and relieved to hear that these works are to start very soon. I have been in touch with the Council regarding access to homes during works, especially for disabled residents, and have received assurances that access to properties will be maintained wherever possible during the works programme”.

Resurfacing works are due to start on 2nd May 2013 from the junction of Eday Gardens with Eday Road to the firepath on Bressay Brae at its junction with Lang Stracht and should be completed within nine working days, weather and unforseen circumstances permitting.

Steve said, “I have brought the condition of the pavements in this area and both roads and pavements elsewhere in the ward to the Council’s attention for repair and replacement and will continue to do so”. Insufficient funds have been invested in our infrastructure by the Labour led Council and the Lib Dems will continue to press for more investment at every opportunity as we have already done several times this year”.

Kingswells Crescent Resurfacing

diggingKingswells Crescent is currently being resurfaced from Wellside Place to Derbeth Grange. This is arguably the worst road in Kingswells and local councillor Steve Delaney has made numerous representations to the Council about the state of this road over the past year.

Steve said, “This road provides the only means of access to several hundred homes and was literally crumbling. As such it had to be the main priority for Kingswells, accepting there are others in poor condition. I’m absolutely delighted work has finally started”. Works are programmed to run until 30th April, weather and unforeseen circumstances permitting.

Prime Four Roadworks Updates

RoadworksLocal residents are understandably getting frustrated at the disruption being caused in Kingswells as a result of various roadworks being undertaken in connection with the construction of the Prime Four Business Park.

Unfortunately the roadworks in Kingswood Drive will be ongoing for a few more weeks and the roundabout and A944 works will be ongoing for considerably longer.

Drum Property Group (developers of Prime Four) are posting updates regarding the ongoing roadworks. Residents may find it useful to check their website periodically for the latest news.

Kingswells Roundabout Details

Kingswells Roundabout
Local councillor Steve Delaney has had a number of queries regarding the new road layout at the Kingswells roundabout and adjoining streets. He has summarised the plans below, but Steve is not a Roads Engineer so it must be accepted that the summary is offered in good faith and is his best interpretation of the drawings. For anyone requiring more detailed information, the plans can be inspected at Marischal College. Please call the Roads service first to arrange a mutually convenient time, so someone can be on hand to answer any queries.


From City Centre westbound towards Kingswells roundabout the approach to roundabout will be three lanes and the roundabout itself will be three lanes. There will be no crossing point due to the widening of the road as this necessitates the removal of the gap in the central reservation. The bus stop beside the Church (eastbound towards the city centre) will remain but the stop opposite (westwards towards Westhill) will be removed as there is no safe crossing point. This stop is not due to be removed until the new bus stops and pedestrian crossing to the west of the roundabout are in place.

Beyond the Kingswells roundabout heading towards Westhill there will be two lanes to a point about half way between the roundabout and the entrance to Prime Four. At this point there will be bus stops on either side of the road and a Puffin Crossing. There will be an island enclosed by railings to allow the crossing of both carriageways. From this point the road widens to four lanes with two being dedicated right turn lanes into Prime Four.

Coming eastwards from Prime Four to the Kingswells roundabout there’s two lanes from Prime Four to the Puffin Crossing then they go into three lanes leading up to the roundabout. From Prime Four to the Puffin Crossing there’s a dedicated cycle lane and a dedicated pedestrian walkway. From the crossing to the roundabout there’s a shared cycle/walkway. This shared walkway terminates at the new Puffin Crossing on the Kingswells/Bucksburn road, providing a safe return route for people using the X17 to get back to Kingswells.

Coming off the roundabout onto the A944 eastwards towards the city centre there will be two lanes.

Kingswells/Bucksburn Road

Northbound from the Kingswells roundabout heading to Kingswells there will be two lanes coming off the roundabout, splitting to offer a third lane dedicated to right turns into the slip road leading to Fairley Road. Just past this junction the remaining two lanes narrow to one and it’s single lane up to the traffic lights at Kingswood Drive.

Southbound towards the A944 there will be two lanes from the traffic lights at Kingswood Drive to the the slip road which goes to Fairley Road. From that point it goes into three lanes down to the roundabout. The Fairley Road slip road will be left only turning onto the Bucksburn to Kingswells road. In other words there will be no right turn towards Bucksburn as there is now. This will necessitate going to the roundabout and coming back, otherwise going to the top of Fairley Road and turning onto Kingswood Drive, which makes more sense.

Kingswells to Cults Road

This will remain single lane in both directions

Bressay Brae Resurfacing Update

Bressay BraeResidents have raised concerns about the poor state of Bressay Brae and Eday Road (from Rousay Drive to Bressay Brae) with a large number of potholes on the road and sections of the pavement in a poor state. There were further concerns that Bressay Brae has not yet been resurfaced despite having been on the 2012/13 programme of works.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I have brought the state of the road and the pavement to the Council’s attention and the worst of the potholes have been filled, but many more remain. I can confirm that Bressay Brae remains on the resurfacing programme for this financial year, having been postponed due to roadworks in recent months”.

Blot On The Landscape Gets Approval


The Development Management Sub-Committee has approved the application for a four star De Vere Village Hotel in the Prime Four Business Park. As well as serving the businesses located at Prime Four, the restaurant and leisure complex will also be open to the public, providing much needed facilities for Kingswells. The hotel is to be located on the highest part of the site, close to the consumption dyke, which was the cause of some controversy.

Local councillor Steve Delaney was supportive of the application in principle, but not at the specified location. He requested the sub-committee visit the site to see the location for themselves and take an informed view. This request was refused and the application was approved without the benefit of a visit. Steve’s preference was for the hotel to be located on the A944, but there is now no prospect of this, following approval.

Steve said, “I had grave concerns that Historic Scotland were not consulted on this application, given its potential impact on the scheduled ancient monument. I would have been very surprised if they had not lodged an objection, but they can only do so if asked for their input. The design is uninspiring when located next to a historic monument, like a collection of shoe boxes, but would be fine if it had been located in a less sensitive position”.

He also said local people wishing to make use of the facilities attached to the hotel would have a bit of a diversion to get there, many having to pass it and double back on themselves. He continued, “Getting this right is paramount and I am convinced the proposal as it stands will be an unwelcome blot on the landscape and destroy the setting of the ancient monument. Surely there must be a way to deliver this hotel and the prestigious facilities it brings, without destroying our heritage”.

Lib Dems Propose More Spending On Roads

Liberal Democrat councillors in Aberdeen today urged the City Council to invest an extra £750,000 in repairs to Aberdeen’s roads, pavements and street lights. The move came at the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee.

Liberal Democrat Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Spokesperson Councillor Ian Yuill said “Thanks to prudent management by council staff, the Council’s Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure budget for 2012/13 is set to be underspent by £1.3 million. The Liberal Democrats believe it makes sense to invest part of that in repairing roads, pavements and street lights and in work to improve road safety.

“Sadly the Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors who run the council rejected the Liberal Democrat proposal to invest an extra £750,000 and go some way to tacking potholes and broken roads and pavements.”

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Steve Delaney said, “Lack of investment in our infrastructure is the single issue raised by the vast majority of my constituents. There’s a clear lack of prioritising under the current Labour led Administration when they can set aside £250,000 on a Hogmanay Party when our roads and pavements are crumbling. During previous Liberal Democrat led Councils, we used additional resources to fund additional infrastructure improvements. Please rest assured we will continue to press for increased investment in our city’s infrastructure at every possible opportunity”.

Mixed Feelings On New Anti-Social Behaviour Policy

Aberdeen City Council has just adopted a revised policy for dealing with anti-social neighbours. Local councillor and Lib Dem Housing Spokesman, Steve Delaney, welcomed the updated policy which has been designed to tackle this blight on our communities. Steve was involved in the decision to extend the operational times of the anti-social behaviour unit during a previous Council term and both the policy and the unit itself have evolved in recent years to offer strong support to those experiencing such problems.

Steve said, “This latest revision sets out timescales and expected actions, gives a commitment for the Council to take firm action, seeks to ensure the Council’s actions are consistent, identifies key agencies for partnership working and considers the impact of anti-social behaviour on victims. In this respect it represents a major step forward but I do have some concerns”.

The Housing Scotland Act allows for tenants to be placed on a Scottish Short Secure Tenancy (6 month tenancy renewable for up to two years) following the granting of an ASBO, which allows for a faster eviction process to be used if the ASBO is breached. Aberdeen City Council does not routinely use this facility though it is acknowledged as an option. This was one of the concerns Steve raised at Committee as he felt it should be used in every case. He also proposed that where a tenant had been evicted for anti-social behaviour, the incoming tenant should be vetted to ensure that they did not have a pre-existing record of anti-social behaviour elsewhere. He felt that failure to do so could expose neighbours to a revolving door of anti-social neighbours.

Lib Dem colleague Jennifer Stewart also raised concerns that the policy was too prescriptive in specifying what did not constitute anti-social behaviour. The policy stated that everyday living noise such as people walking across a wooden floor, doors banging, people using washing machines, children bullying each other, revving engines etc; are not to be classed as anti-social behaviour. Steve and Jennifer both felt that such behaviour could become anti-social not as one offs, but where the behaviour was deliberate and sustained.

Steve said, “This is a good policy which could have been so much stronger if our concerns had been taken on board. I’m disappointed that others did not see the value in being tougher on anti-social tenants and in being less prescriptive on what type of behaviour the Council will not take action on”.

The Council’s revised Anti-Social Behaviour Policy is available online.

More Details Needed On Sheltered Housing Changes


Aberdeen City is moving away from offering only the Sheltered Housing option to senior citizens requiring a level of support. In future there will be Amenity, Amenity Plus, Sheltered and Very Sheltered on offer. There is broad support cross party for a range of options to be offered, though local councillor Steve Delaney has had some concerns about the lack of consultation with existing tenants in affected blocks prior to these decisions having been taken.

Within our area Regensburg Court will change to Amenity with Lewis Court, Taransay Court and Gray Court either remaining as Sheltered or changing to Very Sheltered. Elsewhere in the city some Sheltered Multis are to lose their sheltered status and return to mainstream housing.

Steve, who is Lib Dem Housing Spokesman, said, “Now that the decision has been taken, the Lib Dems will scrutinise and question the detailed implementation to ensure tenants’ interests are protected during this period of change. We are not opposed to giving people choices, it just needs to be done in a sensitive manner and the Council needs to listen to their tenants and address any concerns they may have”.

Assurances have already been given that nobody will have to move house and nobody will lose out on the level of service they require. If someone initially requires an Amenity service but then needs a Sheltered service at a later date, the intention would be to upgrade their support, not expect them to move home. The changes will not happen overnight, but it’s important people are aware. The detail of how a flexible needs package such as this could be delivered, is still being developed.

Steve asked Committee to bring forward a new allocation policy for blocks which are changing to Amenity or Mainstream. He raised concerns that vacancies should be allocated sensitively to avoid lifestyle clashes. There was also a question over whether existing tenants who wanted to move (accepting that nobody would be asked to move) would have priority over new applicants. It was agreed that a new policy would be drafted for approval at a future meeting.

Please note that these proposals do not affect the delivery of homecare services as these are delivered on the basis of need and will continue to be offered to eligible residents, regardless of where they live.

“Serious Concerns” Over Bon Accord Care


Aberdeen City Council has decided to set up a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) to deliver care services to elderley and disabled citizens. It will be known as Bon Accord Care and will manage residential care homes, day care provision, care at home, housing support in sheltered accommodation, rehabilitation and other services for adults on behalf of the Council. It will be a separate company but will be wholly owned by the Council. The aim is to offer additional services to people which local authorities are not ordinarily permitted to offer. It is hoped that any surpluses generated from such additional trading activities will help to support existing social care services at a time when budgets and under pressure and the elderly population is increasing.

In December 2012 the Liberal Democrats asked the Labour led Administration for a delay in the establishment of the company to allow for more information on how it would operate and a possible revision to the make up of its Board. The proposals came back to the Council on 6th March with none of the company’s legal documents available for scrutiny, a senior member of staff already having been appointed and a recommendation to exclude councillors from the Board. The Liberal Democrats voted against implementing the LATC, citing serious concerns over public accountability and financial viability.

Deputy Group Leader Steve Delaney raised a number of concerns about the financial viability of the company at the meeting, from which public and press were excluded. He also expressed concern that with no councillors on the Board, serving instead on an advisory “Stakeholder Group”, the Council would have little or no direct control over services it provides to elderly and vulnerable people. He remained to be convinced as to the value of progressing the LATC following the publishing of the Scottish Government’s proposals to integrate adult health and social care services, where some of the services proposed for transfer to the LATC would be part of a joint body with NHS Grampian. He said it was right to have considered the LATC as an initiative but the “world had changed” since the idea was first mooted and it no longer offered the same opportunities but now came with a higher risk of failure.

Steve, who has held (and continues to hold) senior positions on a number of highly successful Boards, said that in his experience public bodies which fail inevitably do so as a result of poor governance structures and/or weak unchallenging boards. He referred to the advisory “Stakeholder Group” set up to monitor the LATC’s activities as being no more than a “toothless tiger”.

Commenting on the Lib Dem position he said, “For us this is about providing the best possible service to elderly and vulnerable citizens and if the LATC fails that test, then we shouldn’t be doing it. My serious worry is that the business case just doesn’t stack up and if this venture fails, as I fear it it may well, it will impact upon the level of service the Council can provide to people who need them”.

Bon Accord Care will be the first organisation of its type in Scotland. Several LATCs already exist in England and there have been some high profile failures amongst their number, which was of concern to a number of elected members, given that the only way out if this happens is to either reduce costs (and services) to clients or to bring the service back in-house with a financial bailout that impacts upon all Council services.

Steve added, “Neither myself nor my colleagues will play any part in an organisation which exposes the Council to considerable financial risk and more importantly puts at risk the services we currently deliver to our most vulnerable citizens. Our participation would lend legitimacy to this folly and we just can’t do that”.

Lib Dems Oppose Halting Sites


Aberdeen City Council has decided to investigate the creation of permanent short term halting sites for travellers. The sites under consideration are the Scotstown Recycling Centre, Blackdog, Howes Road and the former Council Depot at Springhill Road (pictured).

Local authorities are under an obligation to ensure that travellers are treated fairly and equitably with regard to access to Council services, but there is no statutory duty to provide dedicated sites for them.

Local councillor Steve Delaney raised particular concerns over the Springhill site citing its unsuitability on road safety grounds and the potential for an encampment to overspill into either the disused lorry park or Eric Hendrie Park.

Currently the Council runs a site at Clinterty which offers a number of permanent pitches for travellers. The proposal before the Council was for short term halting sites where travellers can pitch for up to three months and then they need to move on. The site or sites would be permanent, there would just be an expected turnover of different travellers using them.

Steve Delaney, who is also Lib Dem Deputy Group Leader, said, “I feel that imposing halting sites on established communities, assuming they are used, has the potential to adversely affect the quality of life of people living there if things go wrong, as may happen from time to time, and this is not something I believe we should be doing. From what I’ve heard, travellers by the very nature of their lifestyle don’t want to be told where to pitch, so I’m unconvinced that the Council can ensure these sites will be used, putting aside their suitability or otherwise”.

He proposed that the Council implement its previous decision from 2008 which instructed officers to prepare details for upgrading Clinterty to include additional short term halting provision. He reminded the Council that there had been unanimous agreement on the way forward at that point in time.

Steve added, “More than four years on, this decision remains unimplemented, but the same issues remain with regard to the lack of provision and unauthorised encampments. I believe that by implementing that decision, we are taking steps towards addressing the needs of the travellers without alienating established communities”.

The Lib Dem proposal was defeated with Labour, SNP, Conservatives and Independents all backing further investigation on the suitability of these sites. It is expected a further report with recommendations on preferred site(s) will come back to the Council on 1st May 2013.

Council Budget 2013/14

BudgetToday saw the first Budget of the new Council administration since they took over in May 2012. To be honest, it was a bit of an anti-climax with everyone agreeing officer recommendations for about 95% of total spending and the different political Parties putting forward their own priorities for the city with the other 5%.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Steve Delaney said, “What has come forward from all groups has been some changes to address our particular priorities for the city. Of course we could have done so much more if the SNP Goverment had honoured its pledge on the 85% funding floor, something which only survived an election year, and no more”.

“As was recently illustrated by Alison McInnes MSP, the actual funding for Aberdeen has dropped to 78% this year, effectively giving all Political Groups £5 million less to spend on priority services for our city. Successive Governments continue to short change this city, which is absolutely disgraceful”.

The Liberal Democrat Budget proposals were based around strengthening communities. They reflected the priorities identified by ordinary people over the past year. The proposals included an additional £150,000 on tree maintenance, £80,000 for leaf clearing and £129,000 to increase the frequency of grass cutting. These particular issues were strongly promoted by all Lib Dem members, along with increased investment in roads, pavements and street lighting. Following a campaign of sustained pressure on the Conservative Group by the Liberal Democrats, the Council has finally committed sufficient funds to deliver a Third Don Crossing.

During the debate, Steve highlighted two particular areas of concern in the Administration’s budget. With reference to their plans to pedestrianise Union Street, he said, “My Group cannot support a half baked idea. Yes, we do support the principle of full pedestrianisation but only when the supporting infrastructure is in place. However, part pedestrianisation is plain stupid, taking cars out but keeping buses in. It’s not just dangerous, it’s also a complete waste of public funds”.

The other waste of public money he referred to was the Administration’s pledge to spend £200,000 on a Hogmanay Party in Union Terrace Gardens, something which stopped many years ago as a result of safety concern raised by the Police. Steve remembered attending previous events with his wife and the stampede which ensued at the end of the event. He said, “Of course there’s always a daft idea in a Budget and the £200k for a Hogmanay party hits the high note this year. At a time when we should still be promoting sensible and prudent spending, it is being suggested that almost quarter of a million be blown on a party. This is typical of Labour’s wreckless approach to running this city”.

Needless to say, the Administration’s Budget won the day!

Council Opposes New School for Maidencraig

On 7th February 2013, the Education, Culture & Sport Committee decided not to provide a new school to serve the Maidencraig development. The recently approved Maidencraig Masterplan will result in 750 new homes being built on both sides to the Lang Stracht adjoining existing housing in Summerhill and Sheddocksley. The new development will run as far as Dobbies on the north side and as far as the roundabout which joins the Langstracht, A944 and B1119 at Green Hedges.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley Lib Dem Councillor Steve Delaney said, “Currently children are already walking more than a mile to Fernielea School on the Summerhill side. This would increase to about two miles for those living closest to the roundabout”.

“On the Sheddocksley side the distances to Kingsford School would increase from about half a mile to over a mile. A new school could have accommodated children from the whole Maidencraig development as well as the area from Rousay Drive westwards, making all three schools accessible to everyone. The decision not to even consider this is just plain stupidity”.

The Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment asking for the Committee to look at the feasibility of building a new school to serve this area. The move was opposed by Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors.

Mr Delaney said, “Our area has been denied a new school where a need clearly exists. Instead, we’re going to see children arriving at school soaked and frozen in cold weather as a result of the distances they will have to travel to school. In addition, the Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors who voted against this will be responsible for significantly increased traffic during school runs, which will affect all of us, and runs contrary to local and national transportation policy”.

Super Fast Broadband For Kingswells

worldwidewebKingswells/Sheddocksley Councillor Steve Delaney welcomed the unequivocal confirmation at today’s Enterprise, Planning & Infrastructure meeting that Kingswells is in line for an upgrade to fibre optic broadband.

The announcement that Aberdeen has been successful in its bid for superfast 80Mbps broadband was made in December but details were sketchy at that time.

Mr Delaney, who has campaigned from improved broadband speeds over the past year said, “broadband speeds in Kingswells are truly prehistoric in technological terms, with some households restricted to dialup speed and many others only 0.5Mbps -1.5Mbps. Even the fastest speeds in Kingswells only match the slowest speeds elsewhere in the city. This is having an adverse effect on local people and local businesses trying to communicate in a manner which the rest of us take for granted”.

The Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader referred to business people having had to drive into work out of hours because they can’t access vital data from home due to the slow connection speeds. He also said that receiving large email attachments was problematical and BBC iPlayer was a complete non-starter for many Kingswells residents.

The proposed open access fibre optic network will be constructed along the route of the AWPR close to Kingswells, and will serve households and businesses in the Kingswells, Westhill, Countesswells and surrounding areas as part of a bigger project. The approved funding must be spent by 2014, with the service expected to become operational during 2015.

Mr Delaney said, “This initiative will benefit both the city and shire and includes wi-fi connectivity for the city centre. Small businesses, charities and not for profit organisations will be eligible for grants to enable digital connectivity. However the greatest impact will be felt in areas like Kingswells which have remained digitally excluded for too long.”

Council Opposes Lib Dem Motion For Better Bus Services

No 11 at P&RToday the Council’s Enterprise, Planning & Infrastructure Committee failed to support a joint motion by Kingswells/Sheddocksley Councillor Steve Delaney and two of his colleagues calling for guaranteed minimum frequencies in areas where one bus company has an effective monopoly.

The motion under consideration read as follows:-

“That this Council agrees to write to the Scottish and UK Governments and Aberdeen’s MSPs and MPs calling for a change in the regulatory regime for bus operators providing scheduled public services to introduce a ‘public service obligation’ which would require any bus operator providing more than 50% of the bus services in a particular local authority area to provide a basic level of bus service (including in evenings and at weekends) to communities across that local authority area”.

Mr Delaney, who has been campaigning for better bus services for the past four years, reminded Committee that bus companies received funding through the Bus Service Operators’ Grant and the National Concession Scheme. He felt it was only fair to expect a minimum level of service from a company which was in receipt of public funds.

He said, “We merely seek to redress the balance between commercial activity and public service by asking the Scottish Parliament to introduce minimum frequencies in areas where there’s no competition. Where those citizens are indirectly subsidising those same bus companies, it would only seem fair by way of ensuring value for the public pound. I would argue it’s about putting the “public” back into “public transport”.

Mr Delaney spoke of his bitter disappointment following the debate. He said, “Where there is competition, it works. Where there is none, service is entirely driven by profitability and this inevitably results in very poor services on the less profitable routes. We have a divided city in terms of bus services and that’s what our motion had sought to address in a fair and measured manner”.

Council Opposes Free Sunday Parking Initiative

At today’s Enterprise, Planning & Infrastructure Committee, Labour opposed a Liberal Democrat motion to scrap Sunday parking charges. The motion by Cllr Jennifer Stewart sought to address parking issues for church goers and to increase accessibility for people wishing to visit the City Centre.

In support of the motion, Councillor Steve Delaney, who represents the Kingswells/Sheddocksley Ward, Town Houseemphasised the need to be encouraging people into the city centre on Sundays to boost local businesses. He referred to the poor bus services on Sundays and the cost of travel being prohibitive, especially to families.

He said, “Sunday trading started many years ago, firstly over the festive period, but is now a feature of everyday life. Unfortunately bus operators continue to run the same poor Sunday services as they did two decades ago”.

“The result is that bus fares and frequencies make it unviable for Sunday shoppers to venture into town by bus and parking charges just add insult to injury. I believe more people would come into town and local shops would benefit greatly from free Sunday parking”.

A compromise position of charging a flat rate or £1 or £2 for the day was suggested in an attempt to reach consensus, but this failed to gain support.

Mr Delaney said “We really need to be backing local people and backing local businesses by making it easier for families to visit the city centre on Sundays. I believe this represents a lost opportunity”.

Only the Liberal Democrat members supported the scrapping of parking charges.

Masterplanning Process Needs To Be Reviewed

Kingswells/Sheddocksley Councillor Steve Delaney today criticised the Council’s masterplanning process. The former Planning vice-convenor raised particular concerns regarding community involvement.

At present, Community Councils and other Statutory Consultees are invited to input their views during the early stages of the plan. These plans then go though a number of revisions prior to a finalised version going for Committee approval.

Mr Delaney said, “The process of early engagement is fine but where it falls down is due to the inability of Community Councils and other Statutory Consultees to comment on the final draft. What we get at Committee is a range of comments, some relevant and others relating to versions of the plan which have been superceded. What we don’t get is their concluded view on the finalised masterplan”.

He felt that the current arrangements cut Community Councils out of the process and assumed elected members would rubber stamp Masterplans without having all the information before then. Mr Delaney continued, “This is about listening to communities and having their up to date views in front of us prior to arriving at our own concluded view”.

Councillor Delaney welcomed Committee’s agreement to take his concerns on board and bring forward a report which considers the masterplanning process with a view to reaching a fair and reasonable process which results in the concluded views of both developers and Community Councils being brought before Committee when finalised plans are being considered.

First Challenged Over Withdrawal Of P&R

Kingswells/Sheddocksley Councilllor Steve Delaney today called for action on FirstAberdeen’s decision to cripple the Kingswells Park & Ride service from next week. The new No 41 service will operate on a reduced 30 minute frequency and terminate at ARI rather than Bridge of Don.

At today’s Environment, Infrastructure & Planning Committee Mr Delaney said, “Both local and national transport policy aims to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. This is not an easily achievable goal in Aberdeen where it is more costly to travel by bus than anywhere else in Scotland. The situation is further exacerbated by poor, and indeed, reducing frequencies on a number of routes”.

He continued, “As a provider of public transport and a company in receipt of public subsidy by way of the bus service operator’s grant, they simply lack basic public service ethics. This grant is designed to enable operators to run a public service. It is not intended to boost shareholders’ dividends”.

He spoke about First’s decision effectively killing off the Park & Ride and questioned this in light of the Prime Four office development which will open next year employing 2500 people in its first phase. He also spoke of increased commuter traffic from Aberdeeenshire residents who work in the city. Another point raised was the timetabling which sees the last bus leave ARI seven minutes before the end of standard nursing shifts.

The Committee agreed to calls for talks with both First and the Transport Minister. Mr Delaney said, “My belief is that is that the Scottish Parliament wears blinkers when it comes to bus services in Aberdeen. They see competition deliver lower cost, higher quality services in Edinburgh, Glasgow and elsewhere and believe that deregulation actually delivers benefits to local communities. This was certainly reflected in a response I received from Transport Scotland earlier this year”.

Delaney Calls For 40MPH Limit On A944

Kingswells/Sheddocksley Councillor Steve Delaney has today called for a 40mph speed limit on the A944 from its junction with the Lang Stracht to the city boundary with Aberdeenshire. This stretch of road has been notorious for accidents caused as a result of speeding. Despite the reduction in the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph a year or two ago, motorists continue to exceed the speed limit. Today’s Environment, Infrastructure & Planning Committee agreed to a report coming forward to consider this proposal.

Councillor Delaney welcomed the Committee’s support and said, “You just need to drive along this road at 50mph to observe the number of vehicles which overtake you, clearly putting themselves and others at risk of injury or worse. This is the only arterial road leading into Aberdeen where the speed limit exceeds 40mph and I truly believe we could save lives by reducing the speed limit and enforcing it with fixed speed cameras”.

Mr Delaney has been in discussion with NESCAMP for some time regarding this and is campaigning for fixed speed cameras on this route. He said, “There’s been a lot of good work done by enforcement teams from Aberdeen City Council and Grampian Police but they can’t be there all the time. Only a reduced speed limit and enforcement by way of permanent fixed speed cameras can prevent accidents and save lives”.

Mastrick Family Fun Day, Saturday 15th September

Come along to Mastrick Shopping Centre on 15th September for great day out for all the family.

Northsound Radio have teamed up with the local businesses at the Mastrick Shopping Centre to bring a truly amazing family fun day to the shopping centre.

Local Councillor Steve Delaney said, “Saturday promises to be a great day out for everyone. This can be the one day when the kids want to go to the shops with you! A lot of people have put a lot of hard work into bringing this amazing event to the heart of our community and I’d urge residents to come along, enjoy the event, support local traders and enjoy themselves”.

Click the link below for full details.

Mastrick Family Fun Day, Saturday 15th September | Northsound 1 | 96.9 FM | DAB Radio | More hit music.

Delaney Requests Meeting With Stagecoach

Kingswells/Sheddocksley Councillor Steve Delaney has received an encouraging response from Stagecoach regarding the X17 service. Last month he wrote to Stagecoach inviting them to provide an alternative Park & Ride service following FirstAberdeen’s decision to reduce the frequency of the current service and terminate it at ARI.

In his letter Councillor Delaney said, “FirstAberdeen’s intentions clearly create opportunities for Stagecoach to pick up on a number of Aberdeen routes, and specifically in Kingswells due to the location of the Park & Ride facility”. He continued, “There will be an unmet demand for the passengers who currently use the Park & Ride service to the City Centre. Catering for these people by bringing perhaps the X17 into the Park & Ride site has the potential to build up a customer base of ordinary Kingswells residents, which could perhaps be further expanded at a future date.”

In his reply, Andrew Jarvis agreed that the new Park & Ride service “will provide a very poor link for Aberdeenshire based commuters”. He fell short of committing to run the X17 into the Park & Ride site, but did say he was interested in “”exploring the possibility”. Steve said, “I warmly welcome Stagecoach’s interest in looking at this in more detail and have requested a meeting with Mr Jarvis to discuss matters further”.

In a very welcome move, Stagecoach has announced that the frequency on the X17 is to be increased to every 10 minutes fro 22nd October 2012. Councillor Delaney said, “For people who are within easy access of the X17 stops on the A944, this service overs three times the frequency of First’s Nos 11 & 41 and will be a great boost to public transport in the area. Now all we need is for decent bus services in the village itself!”

Support Your Local Post Office

Local Councillor Steve Delaney is supporting the Post Office’s campaign to win the DVLA contract and its efforts to win more Government work. Post Offices provide a wide range of vital mail, financial and Government services to individuals and small businesses. Their presence boosts local shopping centres and they also offer an essential social service providing advice, support and information to all sections of the community, including the most vulnerable.

Steve Delaney organised a petition opposing Labour’s Post Office closure in 2004, gathering over 6,000 signatures. He fully supports the Post Office’s campaign to hold on to the DVLA contract and attract more Government business. He was written to the Minister for Transport, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs outlining the views of his constituents.

In his letters Steve said, “In addition to generally supporting the provision of Government services at local Post Offices, my constituents would particularly like the Government to support the Post Office’s bid to retain the DVLA contract, as well as the Cabinet Office to back the Post Office’s efforts to win new Government work”.

“I welcome the action that the Government has taken to date on the Post Office, and that unlike under previous Governments, there will be no systematic closure programme. However, several local postmasters and postmistresses have expressed the concern to me that the Post Office has already lost a significant amount of Government business, including National Savings and Investments and Children’s Bonus Bonds. I understand that the provision of Premium Bonds is similarly threatened”.

The decision is likely to be taken by Government in October. If you would like to support your local Post Office, they have cards they can give you to complete and send to your Member of Parliament urging him to write to relevant Ministers outlining your concerns, as Steve Delaney has already done. Fuller details of the campaign are online at .

Beware Of Cold Callers

There have been reports of workmen cold calling and offering to clean or seal driveways. This has been in the Sheddocksley area but may spread elsewhere. Whilst this nothing new, this year the workmen are particularly persistent, often calling on the same address three or four times over a couple of days.

They tend to be dressed in reflective jackets and speak with an Irish accent. Residents have stated that a polite refusal is often insufficient with some workmen having to be told several times that their services were not required. In couple of instances a pickup type vehicle was being driven slowly up the street with the driver also wearing a reflective jacket and closely watching the activities of his colleagues.

Local Councillor Steve Delaney said, “I have received a report of an incident where one of these workmen became confrontational. I would suggest that residents do not engage the services of unknown workmen to carry out work for them regardless of price. Unless you use a reputable firm there is no guarantee of quality and there is no redress if things go wrong after the workmen have moved on. I have passed more detailed information to both Trading Standards and Grampian Police. My advice is to be wary about opening your door to workmen in reflective jackets over the next few weeks unless you are expecting them.”

Help With Money Management

Sheddocksley Baptist Church  are holding a three session basic money management course at Mastrick Community Centre, starting Tue 18th Sept 7.30pm. This free confidential service has been welcomed by the community and is much needed as people struggle to make ends meet during tough times.

The Church have been encouraged by the response they’ve had to this course already,  having run it twice in the church previously. The course is run in conjunction with a  national charity called Christians Against Poverty. More information is available at .

Local Councillor Steve Delaney said, “It’s great to hear that this course is being run in our area once again. Many people are experiencing a tough time at the moment and would welcome the opportunity to gain some additional skills in how to better manage what they have coming in. This is free expert advice which may well make a difference for you if you’re struggling a bit”.

Places are strictly limited to 20. Please call 01224 317430 to book a place.

Council Throws Out City Gardens Project

Today the Labour Group and others on Aberdeen City Council voted against the City Gardens Project by 22 votes to 20. Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader Steve Delaney, supported the proposals not just on the basis of a sound financial investment in the city for future generations but also on the basis that to disregard the outcome of the referendum would go against the main pillars of democracy.

He said, the message being sent out by this Labour led administration is that Aberdeen is closed for business and lacks the foresight to plan beyond the days of oil exploration and the prosperity it currently brings”.

The text of his speech in the Council Chamber follows:-

“I fully respect the diverse range of genuine views held by members of the public on what has become a divisive issue. However, I personally take the view that we cannot turn our backs on the economic benefits and inward investment this proposal offers.

Of course people are concerned about the cost, and rightly so, but that’s what the TIF business case is designed to address. This is a document which sets out a clear rationale as to why we need to progress this project and how it can be delivered financially.

Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow would have jumped at the chance, had such a generous private donation been offered to them. Instead Labour and their supporters are effectively saying “we cannae dae that”.

The decision we take today is not just about the City Gardens Project but also about the regeneration of the whole City Centre, much of which will fail to materialise without the TIF funding.

In opposition Labour fought tooth and nail against the Marischal College redevelopment, citing the Scottish Parliamemt building as reason why it would shoot over budget. As we know it came in £12 million under budget, clearly demonstrating that Aberdeen has the expertise to effectively project manage such a proposal.

In addition, Sir Ian Wood has agreed to effectively underwrite the project to the tune of an additional £35 million, should costs over-run. I suspect the Labour Group would still be opposing this project even if it was fully funded from private donations as their opposition is primarily ideological, rather than financial.

Make no mistake, our UK City of Culture bid is dead in the water if we support the motion today. I’ve visited Liverpool in recent years. I’ve seen how a city which was transformed as a result of a “City of Culture” title, awarded in 2008. This is what we are being asked to walk away from.

We need to approve this financially sound TIF business case in order to secure the City Of Culture title and the massive regeneration and inward investment that will bring. We need to look beyond the oil and make Aberdeen a desirable modern city which attracts people and major employers in the future. Otherwise this city will wither and die.

Today we are being asked by the Labour led administration to disregard the democratic process and cast aside the outcome of a public referendum just because it fails to fulfill their narrow minded political ideology. The last time that happened was 1979 when Margaret Thatcher choose to disregard the will of the Scottish people. The result of that ill considered decision has been the decimation of the Tories in Scotland. Perhaps Labour need to reflect on this before casting their votes.

The Labour Group were opposed to progress when in opposition and are, if nothing else, being consistent. Where the future of our city is at stake, we should all be working together to ensure the best possible outcome. Regrettably They have shown themselves to be lacking in vision and unable to portray a positive outlook for this city.

In conclusion members, when you cast your vote today, you do so in the full knowledge that you are being offered the opportunity to build a new future for this city after the oil has gone. This future will benefit generations to come. Whatever you decide, it’s your grandchildren and their children who will judge you for what you are about to do”.

Liberal Democrat Motion On Bus Services

Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader Steve Delaney has submitted a motion which seeks to change the current regulatory regime for Scottish bus operators to introduce a “public service obligation” on them in areas where there is little or no competition.

Councillor Delaney said, “The Traffic Commissioner for Scotland is very effective within her remit, but that remit is too narrow to address such fundamental issues as, amongst others, the frequency of bus services in any specific area. She can merely monitor the reliability of routes against registered timetables and any sanctions she can impose are limited to compliance with registered details. These details can be changed by bus operators at any time to meet their own needs”.

The motion, jointly submitted by Steve Delaney, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman Ian Yuill, and Group Leader Aileen Malone reads as follows:-

That this Council:

1. Deplores the cuts to services announced by First Aberdeen and expresses concern at the impact this will have on communities in Aberdeen.

2. Notes that these service changes confirm that First Aberdeen’s primary concern is its profitability and the interests of its shareholders rather than the interests of communities across Aberdeen.

3. Agrees to write to the Scottish Government and Aberdeen’s MSPs calling for a change in the regulatory regime for bus operators providing scheduled services to introduce a ‘public service obligation’ which would require any bus operator providing more than 50% of the bus services in a particular local authority area to provide a basic level of bus service (including in evenings and at weekends) to communities across that local authority area.

Mr Delaney continued, “First began its corporate life as an employee run service provider. Unfortunately they have lost their public service ethos, becoming entirely profit led, with no regard to what the public needs and expectations are”.

This motion seeks to ask the Scottish Government to alter the regulatory regime in order to ensure that in areas, like Aberdeen, where there is little or no effective competition, an agreed minimum frequency of services is provided by the main (or only) bus company.

He added, “FirstAberdeen were always pricey with their fares in comparison to other Scottish cities but they did run a good service. In recent years Aberdeen’s bus services have deteriorated and, whilst reliability is now improving, frequencies are still being reduced on some routes and others are being removed from service”.

Steve Delaney considers legislative changes to be the only way to address First’s determination to concentrate on only it’s most profitable routes and degrade the level of service on others. He will be speaking to the motion at the Council meeting on 22nd August.

FirstAberdeen’s MD Quits

David Stewart has left FirstAberdeen after serving as interim MD since 2010. First’s Duncan Cameron confirmed the position this morning following weeks of speculation. The statement merely said that Mr Stewart had “left the business”.

David Stewart, an accountant, was brought in to manage the organisation following the Public Inquiry into FirstAberdeen’s timekeeping on routes across Aberdeen and their failure to resume normal service following a strike in 2009 despite instruction from the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland.

Councillor Steve Delaney, now Lib Dem Deputy Group Leader was the only member of the public invited to speak at the inquiry in April 2010. This followed on from a lengthy letter of complaint to the Traffic Commisioner in which he outlined a number of significant failings on various routes across the City.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Mr Delaney said, “David was an accountant and his emphasis was on maximising shareholder profit rather than running a public service. The reduced frequencies on numerous routes across the city have become David Stewart’s legacy to Aberdeen”.

He further commented on Mr Stewart’s absence from First’s recent AGM, something which raised a few eyebrows. A number of people queried this, asking if he was still with FirstAberdeen but were given what they considered to be evasive answers. It was also noted that he played no part in the recent consultations on forthcoming network changes, something he would previously have been involved with. It is now clear he had left the company, but First were, for some reason, unwilling to confirm this at that time.

Councillor Delaney continued, “Whilst David Stewart was a personable individual and I hold no malice against him, I hope his successor will give more regard to the needs of fare paying passengers in Aberdeen and remember that public transport needs to provide an acceptable level of public service”.

It’s All About Democracy

As we head towards the Council meeting on 22nd August we are beginning to see the true colors of the new Labour led administration. They seem hell bent on blocking progress and dissuading investment into the city in order to fulfill the negative political dogma they have perpetuated in recent years.

Being a councillor is not a game, nor should it ever be treated as such. It involves making decisions which are in the best interests of the city and it’s citizens. There may be different ways to deliver this, but the underlying aim should always be the same, whatever your politics.

The Liberal Democrats, when in opposition, have always held the administration of the day to account, but we have never stood in the way of common sense proposals which would benefit the city and it’s citizens. We will continue to be a robust, yet constructive, opposition as we move forward in this current term.

At the very first Council meeting following the election, we saw the new administration award themselves a 5% pay rise as they took office. Then their leadership went on a power trip with Willie Young taking the Council Leader’s office and Barney Crocket moving into a former Chief Executive’s office in the old Town House. Why was it more appropriate for the incoming administration to demonstrate how “important” they were rather than formulate a policy statement outlining their aims and objectives for the next five years? Surely it should be about serving the public, rather than playing to their already inflated egos?

This was then followed by Willie Young stating he was going to remove the opposition convenor and vice-convenor of the Audit and Risk Committee, the body tasked with scrutinising the work of the Council. Had Labour carried out their threat, this would have been in direct conflict with a recommendation made by Audit Scotland.

Now Labour are seeking to turn down a generous gift from Sir Ian Wood to revitalise our City Centre. Such opportunities arise only once in a lifetime and you let them pass you by at your peril. Had such an offer been made to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dundee, it would have been greeted with open arms.

It is fully accepted that people are concerned as to whether or not the city can afford this, and I, as a councillor, need to be satisfied that we can. That was of course the intended purpose of the business case, which we now have. Before anything can proceed this must first be scrutinised first by councillors, then by the Scottish Futures Trust and finally, by Scottish Ministers. It has to stack up or the funding will not be made available. Labour clearly seek to kill it off before it receives independent scrutiny by the Scottish Futures Trust. They are clearly afraid to do so as they know the business case makes sense.

I’ve read the TIF Business Case and I try believe it is financially sound and can be relied upon to deliver this project. It provides a solid framework for regenerating our city centre which will bring with it additional tourism and encourage people to want to move to Aberdeen to work here and add to the prosperity of the city. It is available to download from the Council’s website if you would like to read it yourself.

As you know, a ballot was held and the public voted. There was a clear division but there was also a clear outcome in favour of the City Garden Project. Whilst I can respect deeply held views by those who opposed the project, I cannot respect throwing the baby out with the bath water in order to adhere to political dogma, which is the approach advocated by Labour.

Labour made it clear from the outset that they intended to ignore the wishes of the people if they were in a position to form the Council’s administration. This clearly demonstrates their lack of respect for the citizens of Aberdeen. I personally made it clear from the outset that my personal viewpoint was irrelevant and I would support the majority view following the ballot. Whether or not you commit to such a project must be respectful of the views of the public, given that a free and fair democratic vote was held.

In recent weeks I have received representations both for and against this project and I know I will receive more. To date the vast majority have taken the same line as myself, even those who have openly stated they are Labour supporters and voted against the proposals.

This is no longer about whether or not the City Gardens goes ahead. It is purely and simply about democracy and the current administration’s belief that nothing matters as long as their will prevails.

Delaney Submits Motion On P&R Service

Kingswells/Sheddocksley Councillor Steve Delaney has lodged a Notice of Motion with the Council to be considered on 22nd August 2012.

It relates to FirstAberdeen’s decision to reduce the frequency of the Park and Ride service from Kingswells.

Steve said, “For reasons unknown to me, First appear to be intent on killing off the Park and Ride service. The reduced frequency and termination at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has effectively turned it into a shuttle bus for hospital staff and visitors. It’s usefulness to commuters working in the City Centre and beyond has been wiped out”.

The Notice of Motion reads as follows:-

That this Council:-

1. Deplores FirstAberdeen’s decision to terminate the Park & Ride service from Kingswells at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

2. Instructs officers to seek a meeting with FirstAberdeen to emphasise the need for effective Park & Ride services in order to reduce congestion caused by commuter traffic and their role in achieving this.

3. Instructs the Chief Executive to seek a meeting with the Transport Minister and Group Leaders to discuss recent reductions in bus frequencies across the city and FirstAberdeen’s failure to deliver on local and national transportation policies in Aberdeen.

Councillor Delaney continued, “FirstAberdeen, as a company in receipt of the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, should be obligated to ensure their business plan is compatible with the delivery of national and local transport priorities. The grant is not meant to enhance shareholder profits, but instead to enable bus companies to deliver a quality public service”.

These changes look certain to result in more cars on our roads as commuters have little option but to drive to work in the City Centre as the service they need either fails to take them where they want to go or the frequency is such as to be useless for their working patterns.

Steve said, ” The Scottish Government has absolutely no understanding the difficulties which arise in in areas, such as Aberdeen, where there is little or no competition and a single company can be driven purely by profit with no regard to providing a public service. We need to get this message across to the Transport Minister and we need to get his commitment towards resolving the situation which has been allowed to develop in Aberdeen”.

“It is vital that both the Scottish Government and FirstGroup play their respective parts in delivering a public transport service in Aberdeen which encourages people to use the bus to travel to and from work, thus reducing congestion on the roads”.

Road Works On C89C

The C89C CHAPEL OF STONEYWOOD – FAIRLEY ROAD will be closed between its junctions with the C88C Newhills Road and Kingswells Crescent. This restriction shall take place from 09:30 to 16:00 on Tuesday the 21st of August, 2012, and is for public safety during anti-skid surface works.

These works have been brought forward in order to avoid them clashing with road works taking place as a result of the Prime Four Business Park.
Access to properties will be maintained, but no through traffic will be possible.  An alternative route is available via the C93C Borrowstone Road and the U90C Tulloch Road.

Road Works At Eday Road/Stronsay Drive/Stronsay Place Junction

I have just been informed of temporary road closures in connection with the Tesco development. This will affect the junction of Eday Road, Stronsay Drive and Stronsay Place.

• Eday Road will be closed for a distance of forty metres westwards from its junction with Stronsay Drive.

• Stronsay Drive will be closed for a distance of forty metres southwards from its junction with Eday Road.

• Stronsay Place will be closed for a distance of forty metres eastwards from its junction with Stronsay Drive.

• Finally, Stronsay Drive will be closed for a distance of forty metres northwards from its junction with Eday Road.

The closures will be applied from Wednesday 8 August 2012 for up to four weeks. I will update you as each stage in the works ends and begins. Only one leg of this junction shall be closed at any one time, and these closures shall follow the sequence noted above.
The measures are necessary to protect public safety during traffic signal installation works in connection with the new Tesco development on Lang Stracht / Rousay Drive.
Alternative routes for the first two closures noted shall be via Fernielea Road, Fernielea Crescent or vice versa. Alternative routes for the remaining closures shall be via Stronsay Place, Summerhill Terrace, Summerhill Road, Lang Stracht,  Stronsay Drive or vice versa

Works At Greenfern School Site

Residents have raised concerns over works which have been ongoing at the site of the former Greenfern School in recent months. The site is currently surplus to the Council’s requirements and local people had thought some sort of development was about to commence on the site without their knowledge or input into the process.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “The site has been leased to Scottish Gas from April to December this year in order to carry out essential gas works in the surrounding area. It offers a sensible solution for storing equipment without damaging grassed areas as has often been the case with other maintenance works in recent years. It also keeps children away from potential dangers posed by their equipment and vehicles”.

Steve felt there was merit in using this site in the short term on safety grounds but was surprised that local residents in Maidencraig Place had not been made aware of what was going on. He said, “It would have avoided a lot of misunderstandings if people had been made aware of what was going to be happening outside their front doors”.

Aberdeen City Council has yet to decide what to do with the site. Councillor Delaney said he would be supportive of a range of uses which could compliment its location next to the existing houses and it proximity to Kingsford School. These could include community facilities, an all weather playing field for the school or sheltered housing. He said, “This is an important site in our area. It is vital that local residents, Kingsford School, the local Community Council and local councillors are consulted on its future.

Speeding Concerns On A944

One of the biggest concerns raised in Kingswells has been speeding along the length of the A944, with the section between Kingswells and Westhill being particularly bad. Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney has been campaigning for permanent speed cameras to be installed in the interests of road safety over the past few months.

Steve said, “The reduction of the speed limit to 50mph has certainly had an impact amongst law abiding drivers. Unfortunately it is being flouted on a regular basis by a significant number of motorists who appear to have little regard for their own safety or that of other road users”

Both Grampian Police and Aberdeen City Council have been carrying out enforcement action in the area over the past six months or so. This is helping reduce the number of people breaking the speed limit when action is taking place, but they can’t be there all the time and Steve believes the only solution is for permanent speed cameras to be installed.

Steve added, “I’ve seen the traffic data and speeding in not perception, it’s a fact. Given the accident history on this road I will continue to pursue this matter in order to improve safety and reduce accidents and fatalities.

Stagecoach Invited To Plug Park & Ride Gap

Councillor Steve Delaney has  written to Andrew Jarvis, Stagecoach’s Managing Director, inviting him to divert the X17 into the Park & Ride site at Kingswells in the aftermath of FirstAberdeen’s decision to downgrade the current Park & Ride service to a hospital shuttle bus service. In his letter to Mr Jarvis he said that this  “creates opportunities for Stagecoach to pick up on a number of Aberdeen routes, and specifically in Kingswells due to the location of the Park & Ride facility”. Referring to the current 14/15 service (soon to be No11), Steve said, ” people are sick and tired of the poor service on offer from FirstAberdeen”.

FirstAberdeen recently announced the current Park & Ride service is to terminate at ARI rather than Bridge of Don. As a commuter service it serves no purpose for people living in Aberdeenshire wishing to leave their car on the outskirts and use the bus to get to work in the City Centre. In addition, this service is moving to a 30 minute frequency (from 15 minutes at present) reducing its usefulness even further.

Steve said, “There are clear opportunities to improve public transport to Kingwells when the first phase of the Prime Four Business Park opens next year. What we do not want to see is the majority of employees driving to work due to the dire bus services available in our area. There was potential for the Park & Ride to carry passengers in both directions during peak times, had a decent frequency been maintained. First’s changes to the Park & Ride service flies in the face of reason as we are trying to encourage people to use public transport”.

Steve suggested in his letter there will be an unmet demand for the passengers who currently use the Park & Ride service to the City Centre. He felt that catering for these people by bringing the X17 into the Park & Ride site had the potential to build up a customer base of ordinary Kingswells residents, who are currently denied both choice and a decent frequent bus service.

Friends Of Sheddocksley Park

Work is to be ongoing over the Summer on making the Sheddocksley play park safe and bringing it back into use following vandalism some years ago.

Councillor Steve Delaney, who lives in the area, said, “I’m delighted to have a firm commitment from the Council to bring this much needed facility back into use. As residents will be aware, this small play park is the only facility of its kind in Sheddocksley. I’ve had numerous requests for something to be done  about it over the past few years and I’m delighted to see things move forward.”

Steve has also been looking into ways to improve and expand upon what’s already there. He added, “There are real possibilities of accessing external funding to increase the size of the play park and add new play equipment, but only if this is led by a community group. As a parent myself I would be happy to facilitate the creation of such a group, but it needs local people who are willing to get involved.

Such a group would find its own way and could help look after the existing facility or could go the whole hog and become a charity with the aim of raising funds locally and supplementing these from Lottery related sources or other external funding streams. It’s up to the individuals concerned as to how they wish to take this forward and appropriate support would be available to offer advice and assistance.

If you live in the Sheddocksley area and would like to be part of this exiting challenge, please drop Steve Delaney an email.

Changes To Park & Ride Service

FirstAberdeen is consulting on changes to bus services across Aberdeen. It is proposed that any changes commence from 16th September 2012.

The changes suggested for the No 40 Park & Ride Service are significant. The route is to be renumbered 41 and the intention is for it to terminate at the ARI bus port rather than AECC at the Bridge of Don. The frequency of buses running on this route is to change from 15 minutes to 30 minutes at all times of day.

It is difficult to appreciate First’s rationale as the new service will be of no use to anyone other than staff and visitors travelling to ARI. There is no longer any reason for people who live in Aberdeenshire and work in the City to leave their cars at the Park & Ride site and travel  from Kingswells to the City Centre and beyond. The new route no longer takes people where they want to go.

Steve Delaney said, “I have have made representation to First regarding these changes. I stressed the need to retain the 15 minute service (at the absolute minimum during peak times) and I have asked for the operating hours to be increased to accommodate the most common 12.5 hour nursing shifts. I have also asked First to look at through ticketing options (to allow onward travel from ARI) as your ticket currently allows travel as far as the City Centre or on to Bridge of Don. These new proposals would see your journey (and your ticket) terminate at ARI. I am fully convinced FirstAberdeen is trying to run down the Park & Ride service. The cut in frequency and the termination at ARI makes this route much less attractive to the travelling public”.

Steve continued, “This flies in the face of common sense, given the need to encourage people to leave their cars at home and the new parking restrictions affecting staff working at ARI, which, it was suggested, would make use of the Park & Ride site. There are also future opportunities with regard to the Prime Four office development which do not appear to have been factored in. A lack of frequent, reliable bus services to this business park will inevitably result in even more cars on our roads. Rather than look at how best they can grow this service, FirstAberdeen have, with these proposals, effectively crippled the Park & Ride, resulting in a lost opportunity”.

Steve Delaney, now Councillor for Kingswells/Sheddocksley, gave evidence to a Public Inquiry in 2010, following on from representation he had made to the Traffic Commissioner as a result of unreliable bus services across Aberdeen. He has continued to campaign for better bus services since then. Steve met with FirstAberdeen ahead of the public consultation and urges local residents to have their say.

The consultation runs until 15th July 2012. Residents wishing to make their views known should write to Duncan Cameron, Operations Director, FirstAberdeen, 395 King Street, Aberdeen. AB24 5RP.

Kingswells Bus Service Changes

FirstAberdeen is consulting on changes to bus services across Aberdeen. It is proposed that any changes commence from 16th September 2012.

The main changes to the current 14/15 service which serves Kingswells are as follows:-

The current No 14/15 service is to become the No 11 and will follow the normal route into the City Centre, then pick up the present No 16 route and terminate at Springhill. Unfortunately the daytime frequency remains as dire as it is at present, running every 30 minutes. The main changes which may be of interest to Kingswells residents relate to the proposed route through the village. Please note the original proposal (as shown on the linked map) was designed to miss out the Fairley Road link but this has now been added back to the route.

Steve Delaney, now Councillor for Kingswells/Sheddocksley, gave evidence to a Public Inquiry in 2010, following on from representation he had made to the Traffic Commissioner as a result of unreliable bus services across Aberdeen. He has continued to campaign for better bus services since then. Steve met with FirstAberdeen ahead of the public consultation and urges local residents to have their say.

Steve said, “I have raised particular concerns with First regarding the removal of Fairley Road from the route. There are a number of elderly residents in this area and, for many, this is their only means of  transport. It  would also appear that First  may not have factored in the 120 new houses planned for West Huxterstone when proposing this change. Strong representation from Kingswells Community Council, local residents and myself has resulted in this vital section of the route being retained. I would commend FirstAberdeen for their commonsense approach in this respect”.

He continued, “The half hourly daytime service to Kingswells remains unacceptable. I have made this clear to FirstAberdeen and you can rest assured I will continue to press for better bus services for our area. However, there are two distinct improvements proposed over the current level of service. The 30 minute service will operate until approximately 2200 (with the last bus leaving the City Centre at about 2300) which is a much needed improvement over the current hourly service in the evenings. The re-introduction of the late night buses to Kingswells at the weekends is also welcomed”.

The consultation runs until 15th July 2012. Residents wishing to make their views known should write to Duncan Cameron, Operations Director, FirstAberdeen, 395 King Street, Aberdeen. AB24 5RP.

Changes to Nos 3, 13, 23 & 25 Bus Routes

FirstAberdeen is consulting on changes to bus services across Aberdeen. It is intended that any changes commence from 16th September 2012. The main proposals are as follows:-

Service 25

This once popular service has been eroded by First in recent years, initially be cutting the Sheddocksley link then following this with reductions in frequency. Currently it operates on an hourly frequency but they plan to withdraw the service in September. An additional bus per hour is being added to the No 3 route as it moves to a 10 minute frequency.

Services 23 & 3

These will move from a 12 minute frequency to a 10 minute frequency during the day. Evening and weekend services remain largely unchanged. Additional measures have been introduced to improve timekeeping on the No 23 route.

Service 13

This service will move from a 30 minute frequency to 20 minutes during the day. Evening and weekend services remain largely unchanged. The route will no longer go to the Beach and will now terminate at Golf Links instead.

Steve Delaney, now Councillor for Kingswells/Sheddocksley, gave evidence to a Public Inquiry in 2010, following on from representation he had made to the Traffic Commissioner as a result of unreliable bus services across Aberdeen. He has continued to campaign for better bus services since then. Steve met with FirstAberdeen ahead of the public consultation and urges local residents to have their say.

Steve said, “I welcome the increased frequencies on bus services on the 3, 13 and 23 routes. However, just as important, or perhaps more so, is  for buses to arrive on time. Although much progress has been made since 2010 it has come at the cost of reduced services in many parts of the city. In particular, the No 13 running on a 20 minute daytime frequency and an hourly service in the evenings remains totally unacceptable, given the number of people who rely on this route. FirstAberdeen are aware of my strong views on this and I will continue to press for an improved frequency on this essential service”.

The consultation runs until 15th July 2012. Residents wishing to make their views known should write to Duncan Cameron, Operations Director, FirstAberdeen, 395 King Street, Aberdeen. AB24 5RP.

Additional Consultation Event On Buses

Councillor Steve Delaney has welcomed the decision to hold a city centre consultation event about proposed changes to bus services.

Steve said, “When I met with FirstAberdeen on 25th June one of the issues I raised with them was the short notice for the consultation events and another was the lack of a central event for those living outwith the areas where events were planned.

As a result they have just announced a further consultation event on their proposed changes. There will be a public drop-in session on Wednesday 4th July at the Douglas Hotel from 10am to 6pm. This will give everyone who was unable to attend this week’s events to go along and have their questions answered”.

Steve will be posting further updates on the impact of the proposed changes over the next few days.

Delaney Hits Out At Undemocratic Labour

Aberdeen City Council Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Steve Delaney, was disgusted at Monday’s undemocratic decision by Labour to neuter the role of the Audit and Risk Committee by changing its remit to prevent it looking at anything other than decisions which have already been taken.

Labour’s Willie Young called for an Urgent Business Committee after opposition leaders decided to bring forward September’s meeting of the Audit and Risk Committee in order to scrutinise the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) business case for the City Garden Project and wider city centre regeneration.

The TIF business case for the City Garden Project is designed to set out the financial viability for the City Gardens Project, the renovation of the Art Gallery, and improvements to the Denburn Valley, and will determine the affordability of the scheme.

Cllr Young had already made it clear he would remove the opposition leaders (who head up this committee) unless they toed his Administration’s line and abandoned the meeting.

Clearly  Cllr Young has had his wings clipped as Labour backed away from the removal of Audit and Risk Committee office bearers and have now agreed to put the TIF case to a Finance and Resources meeting as should have happened in the first place. However, that does not detract from the undemocratic decision regarding the limits now imposed on the committee’s powers.

Councillor Delaney: said:

“The necessity to call an Audit & Risk Committee before the recess came after Cllr Young  withdrew the TIF report from the Finance & Resources Committee last week. We received no valid reason why the report had been withdrawn and this action raised a number of questions.

Audit and Risk is tasked to ensure good governance of the city and hold the Administration to account. Limiting the powers of this committee just because they choose to scrutinise the TIF business case in defiance of the ruling Administration completely undermines due process and reduces the effectiveness of this committee.

Labour’s approach is nothing short of Dictatorship. No administration should, when challenged, behave in this manner. It runs contrary to the spirit of Audit Scotland’s recommendations in 2008 and demonstrates how this Labour/Tory/Independent Administration intends to ‘bully’ the Council. Opposition members are there to contribute to debates and challenge the Administration, not to be silenced by those in power”.

Rotten Tooth Removed

The industrial type telecoms mast which has incensed a local community for nearly three years and was described by a local councillor as a “rotten tooth on the landscape” has finally gone.

The mast was a replacement for one at the former Cocker’s Garden Centre. It was meant to be temporary for a period not exceeding six months and was to be removed as soon as an alternative site could be found in the area. The applicant was on several occasions operating without Planning Permission by remaining on site following the expiry of previous permission, making a mockery of Development Control.

The structure had comprised of a large industrial type base and a mast which rose significantly higher than the more discrete street furniture type masts used elsewhere. It sat in a field adjacent to housing and was clearly visible from most parts of South Sheddocksley.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Steve Delaney said, “I fully accept that most of the population use mobile phones and the masts need to go somewhere. My long running issue here is purely with the type and location of this mast. It is visually obtrusive and not of an acceptable type in a residential area. Had this been proposed as a permanent location, it would be unlikely to have have been granted permission”.

Steve, who battled with the Council for 33 months to have it removed said, “What a relief is is to be able to look out across the fields again, without having to stare at the blot on the landscape. I’m thoroughly disgusted at how often “temporary permission” was extended with little evidence that a new site was being sought. It became a talking point and residents are just glad to see the back of it”.