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!

S&C
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

by-election

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

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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.

http://www.primefour.co.uk/traffic

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.

A944

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

hotel

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

anti-social_267x197
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

regensburg

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

rosa

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

Springhill

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 www.nfsp.org.uk/DVLA_campaign.aspapmoney.org .

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 www.capmoney.org .

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”.