Aberdeen Local Lockdown Latest Update 23 August 2020

Aberdeen’s local lockdown is being lifted over the next few days. This follows on from a row between Aberdeen City Council’s co-leaders and the Scottish Government on 20th August with the council co-leaders arguing against the decision not to lift restrictions at that time.

Liberal Democrats in Aberdeen have said there must be no place for politics in decisions about the city’s local lockdown. A lockdown is not a game of chess. It is only imposed when absolutely necessary in order to get Covid-19 back under control and to keep people safe. Decisions on how and when restrictions are lifted needs to be based on medical and scientific guidance.

Commenting on the lifting of the local lockdown Councillor Yuill said, “The decision by the Scottish Government to end Aberdeen’s local lockdown is welcome. Every day the lockdown continued – necessary though that was – damaged local businesses, jobs, and Aberdeen’s economy”.

“The commitment of people in Aberdeen to sticking to the local lockdown rules and the hard work of NHS staff has driven down the Coronavirus infection rate to a point where it is now possible to end the local lockdown”.

“Every single person and business in Aberdeen must continue to stick to all the rules and guidelines to minimise the risk of a further Coronavirus outbreak in Aberdeen. A further outbreak, with the attached risk of a further local lockdown, would be disastrous for our city and its economy.”

Changes announced on 23rd August were as follows:-

▶︎ Restrictions on visiting people indoors lifted from 24 August

▶︎ Limitations on care home and hospital visits lifted from 24 August

▶︎ Five mile limit on non-essential travel lifted from 24 August

▶︎ Organised outdoor contact sports, some outdoor live events, driving lessons, child contact centres, face-to-face advice services, bingo halls, amusement arcades and casinos, snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling and both static and travelling funfairs can re-open – subject to strict adherence to guidance and appropriate safety measures such as physical distancing with effect from 24 August.

However, this excludes any hospitality element within them (see next item)

▶︎ Restaurants, pubs, casinos and other hospitality businesses can open from 26 August subject to environmental health checks.

The Scottish Government has not ruled out extending restrictions if necessary to protect public health.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “The lifting of restrictions on meeting people indoors and on hospital and care home visits will mean so much to so many people who have once again been cut off from family and friends as a result of the reckless behaviour of others. Lets all work together to ensure this never happens again”.

“In our family we have adopted Preston’s “Don’t kill Granny” motto. When we visit elderly relatives we wear face coverings in communal areas and when entering their homes until we reach the living room and able to maintain a safe 2m distance. In the end it’s all about keeping those we love safe so that once this is all over, they are still around to enjoy a visit”.

“In my view it’s still too soon for pubs to be permitted to re-open, given recent experiences. Keeping our schools open and being able to visit elderly and disabled family members ranks so much higher on my list.”

“However, previous guidance, which was not always adhered to, is now being backed by enforcement powers and fines, so lets just hope that’s enough to reinforce the need for adherence to the remaining restrictions and avoid any further local lockdowns”.

Opposition Leaders’ Joint Call For Council Meeting To Take Place

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Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat and SNP councillors have accused Aberdeen City Council’s ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and Independent coalition of running scared of democratic accountability after they rejected an opposition call to hold a council meeting in August.

SNP Group Leader Alex Nicoll said, “In March, at a meeting of the Urgent Business Committee, we agreed a range of emergency measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic including reducing decision making to a core of five Councillors and delegating decision making to officers. Whilst that made sense at the time, it soon became clear that these special arrangements were not needed. Other councils across Scotland adapted to the changing situation by holding virtual committees and council meetings.”

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill commented, “In May, we urged that the council reinstate the meetings of its committees and the full council. Disgracefully, the Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and Independent coalition refused to even add that to the agenda of the council’s Urgent Business Committee meeting that month.”

Alex Nicoll added, “When the Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and Independent councillors finally agreed with us that council committee meetings should restart there was a sting in the tail – they cancelled the August meeting of the council!”

Earlier this week, Councillors Yuill & Nicoll wrote to the Co-leaders of Aberdeen City Council, Councillors Jenny Laing and Douglas Lumsden, and Independent Leader Councillor Marie Boulton, calling for the reinstatement of the August meeting of the council.

Councillors Laing, Lumsden and Boulton rejected the request to hold a council meeting.

Alex Nicoll said, “ Given the last meeting of Council was in March and there is no scheduled meeting until December, there will be some nine months before all councillors have the opportunity to meet together to take decisions that require to be taken by Aberdeen City Council.

“I am at a complete loss to understand why the ruling administration feel there is no business for the full council to discuss given the recent events in the city and the calls from businesses and ordinary folk to address the issues affecting us all during these most difficult times.”

Ian Yuill added, “This has nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with accountability. Aberdeen’s citizens expect all their councillors to be meeting to discuss the major issues affecting our city, not least the impact of the current local lockdown on individuals and businesses across Aberdeen. The ruling coalition‘s refusal to agree to hold a council meeting is an abandonment of their responsibility. They are clearly running scare of democratic accountability.”

Next Council Meeting Delayed Until December!

As the result of a decision by just three Conservative, “Aberdeen Labour” and Independent councillors, the next meeting of the city council will not be held until 14th December.

As the last meeting of the council was on 3rd March, that means there will be a gap of more than nine months between council meetings!

Full council meetings are where many of the major decisions of the council are taken. Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors believe a council meeting planned for 24th August should have gone ahead with councillors taking part online. Aberdeenshire Council has met throughout the lockdown using Skype and there is absolutely no reason why the city council could not meet using a similar system.

People expect their local councillors to be able to hold those in control of the council to account and to be involved in making the key decisions about the council and council services. The action by the Conservative, “Aberdeen Labour” and Independent councillors in cancelling the August council meeting makes this much more difficult.

Lib Dems Condemn Cuts To Council Budget Agreed By Just Three Councillors

Photo of Town House, Aberdeen

The Liberal Democrats have condemned a decision by just three councillors to make millions of pounds worth of cuts to council services in Aberdeen.

The decision to make these cuts was made by the Conservative, “Aberdeen Labour” and Independent Alliance Group Leaders at the 30th June meeting of Aberdeen City Council’s Urgent Business Committee.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill said: “The council’s finances have been hard hit by the pandemic. It is between a rock and a hard place. No one would argue that substantial changes need to be made to the council budget.”

Councillor Yuill continued: “The Liberal Democrats believe though, that in the interest of openness and democracy, changes to the council budget should have been made by all 44 councillors. Sadly the Conservative, ‘Aberdeen Labour’ and Independent Alliance Group Leaders were happy for this decision to be made in a meeting of just five councillors. Such an important decision being made by a small group of councillors is not in the best interests of democracy, openness or the people of Aberdeen.”

Street Lighting Upgrades, Carriageway & Footway Resurfacing

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay 

Aberdeen City Council has approved this year’s programme of works for the resurfacing of roads and footways as well as lighting column replacements and lighting upgrades.

Under normal circumstances we could expect the works specified in the main list to be undertaken and for some works the reserve list to be done if there is an underspend on the main list works or if any of those works slipped due to unforeseen circumstances.

Although the normal order of play will be followed, it is currently impossible to say how many of the identified works can be completed due to current lockdown conditions, the need to follow social distancing requirements by road crews and other issues outwith the control of the council and its contractors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The list below highlights proposed works in both the main and the reserve lists as approved in respect of the Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill and Mastrick areas.

Replacement Lighting Columns – Main List

39 columns in the Willowpark area

Replacement Lighting Columns – Reserve List

Corroded columns across the Summerhill area

Column replacements in Jura Place, Kingsford Road, Lewis Road car parks, Maidencraig Place, Mull Way, Sheddocksley Drive, Stroma Terrace, Three Crescent, Windford Road, Windford Square, Arnage Crescent, Arnage Drive, Arnage Place, Burnbrae Place, Croft Place, fern hill Road, Gillahill Place, Mastrick Drive, Greenfern Road & Springhill Road.

Footway Resurfacing – Main List

Endrick Place

Eday Road – North side from Stronsay Drive to Eday Crescent

Sheddocksley Road phase 1 – Both sides from Kingsford Road to Maidencraig Place

Footway Resurfacing – Reserve List 

East Main Avenue – Mastrick Drive to Arnage Drive – west side

Eday Road – East side from Stronsay Drive to Ferneilea Place

Sheddocksley Road phase 2 – Both sides from Maidencraig Place to Sheddocksley Drive.

Sheddocksley Road phase 3 – Both sides from Bellfield Road to Kingsford Road.

Carriageway Resurfacing – Main List

Kingsford Road from Springhill Road to Kingsford School including the loop at Regensburg Court

Carriageway Resurfacing – Reserve List

A944 Eastbound from the Lodge to the 5 Mile Garage

A944 Westbound from the Lodge to Smiddybrae

A944 Westbound from DJ Automotive Engineering access to 100 meters before B9119 (Tarland Road)

Mastrick Drive from No 2 to No 16

Kingswood Drive from Kingswells Avenue to Coldstone Avenue

Fairley Road from Kingswood Drive to No 26

C89C (Chapel of Stoneywood) from Dykeside Roundabout to Kingswells Crescent

Flood Prevention Works

Old Skene Road, Kingswells

Lang Stracht, Summerhill & Maidencraig areas

Aberdeen City Council “Lockout” Continues

Liberal Democrat councillors in Aberdeen have condemned a refusal by Conservative, “Aberdeen Labour” and Independent councillors who control the council to even discuss recommencing council and council committee meetings from August. 

Councillor Jenny Laing, the Convener of the council’s Urgent Business Committee, refused to allow that committee to even discuss a proposal about this from Liberal Democrat Leader Ian Yuill and SNP Leader Alex Nicoll when the committee met on 6th May.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill commented: “Councillor Laing’s refusal is a disgrace. This is not about party politics. It is about allowing council and council committee meetings to recommence online from August. Councillors have a key role in decision making and scrutiny but most councillors have been completely excluded from this since mid March. People in Aberdeen expect their councillors to be involved in making key decisions affecting our city – yet Councillor Laing has blocked this even being discussed.”

Councillor Yuill continued: “Just last week Aberdeenshire Council had an online meeting of its full council involving over 80 participants. Aberdeenshire Council also continues to hold council committee meetings online. There is absolutely no reason why what works successfully in Aberdeenshire would not work just as well here in Aberdeen. What is good enough for Aberdeenshire should be good enough for Aberdeen. Just what are Councillor Laing and her colleagues scared of?”

What Was Proposed?
The full text of the urgent notice of motion submitted by Ian Yuill and Alex Nicoll for consideration by the 6th May meeting of Aberdeen City Council’s Urgent Business Committee was:

Governance Arrangements

That this committee:

1. Thanks all members of council staff for the exceptional professionalism and commitment they have shown and continue to show during the Covid-19 pandemic.

2. Notes that in meeting the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic it has been necessary to review and amend procedures to ensure the essential delivery of services by governments and councils.

3. Notes the Urgent Business Committee’s decision of 20th March 2020 to cancel meetings of the council, most committees and sub-committees until 21st August.

4. Recognises that councillors have an essential role in scrutiny and decision making and that many members of this council are currently excluded from this.

5. Notes that on Thursday 30th April 2020 Aberdeenshire Council held a full council meeting online involving over 80 participants and that Aberdeenshire Council continues to hold committee meetings online.

6. Notes that it is likely some measure of social distancing will continue to be necessary after 21st August.

7. Agrees to suspend Standing Orders 12.6.1 and 43.2.1 to enable parts 8 and 9 to be considered.

8. Agrees that the normal cycle of council, committee and sub-committee meetings will recommence on 22nd August 2020 and that full use will be made of online meeting facilities as required to ensure social distancing requirements can be met.

9. Agrees, in the interests of openness and accountability, that all future online council, committee and sub-committee meetings will be webcast live as soon as practicable.

10. Agrees, with effect from 7th May 2020, to reinstate the composition of the Urgent Business Committee to the position on 19th March 2020 (3 SNP, 2 Conservative, 2 Aberdeen Labour, 1 Liberal Democrat, 1 Independent Alliance).

11. Instructs the Chief Officer – Governance to report to this committee no later than 30th June on the implementation of the above.

Latest Update On Household Waste & Recycling Centres

An increasing  number of residents have been asking about Household Waste and Recycling Centres and when they are likely to re-open. This is at a time when many residents have been making good use of the lockdown to carry out a spring clean or some DIY, all of which normally generate extra trips to the recycling centre.

Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HRWCs) in Aberdeen have been closed since 24th March and currently all HRWCs in Scotland remain closed. The reasons for this decision is two fold. Current working practices were not designed to accommodate  social distancing. Also. the lockdown regulations state that no-one can leave their house without a reasonable excuse and visiting a HWRC is not considered to be an essential journey under those regulations. 

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has written to the Communities and Local Government Secretary this week calling for recycling centres to be re-opened as soon as possible on a socially distanced basis, as he warned of increases in fly-tipping and the build up of household waste during the lockdown.

He said, “Our councils could follow similar schemes to those in England where Recycling Centres have been allowed to re-open. Where only a certain number of slots were made available each day and then residents invited to book a time to visit, registering car details for workers to confirm people were arriving at their appointed time. Allowing people to clear their homes of large items of waste they may have generated will give a much needed boost to the wellbeing of our communities”.

Lib Dem councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley & Summerhill, Steve Delaney said, “The safety of both staff and the general public must be at the forefront of all decision making. However, with Governments, Local Authorities and other public bodies now looking towards a safe but gradual exit from the lockdown, it’s vital that we look towards opening these HWRCs as soon as possible, albeit on a carefully managed basis”. 

Aberdeen City Council confirmed earlier this week that HWRCs are likely to remain closed unless the travel ban is lifted. In the meantime they are taking practical steps to consider under what circumstances they could be re-opened, once the national travel advice is changed.  However, they have said it will take time to adequately prepare for reopening the sites safely and there are many issues to be considered

Steve continued, ““Fly tipping remains an offence which can attract fines up to a maximum of £10,000. I understand these are challenging times but would ask that residents be mindful of carrying out spring cleans or DIY projects in the interim unless they have somewhere to store the excess waste or recyclable items until our HWRCs re-open. I will of course post any updates regarding timescales for the re-opening of HWRCs one this becomes clearer”.

To report fly-tipping, residents should visit https://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/services/environment/report-flytipping

Where residents employ a private contractor to remove your waste, they should check they are an authorised, licensed collector and ask where they will dispose of the waste they collect.  

To check whether a contractor is a licensed Waste Carrier see here: https://www2.sepa.org.uk/wastecarriers/

Council Suspends Grass Cutting

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Aberdeen City Council has suspended all grass cutting across the city until further notice. All council services which are deemed to be non-critical have either been suspended or are operating on a reduced capacity. This has been done in order to ensure that all available resources can be redeployed where they are most needed.

Lib Dem councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill, Steve Delaney said, “I’ve had an increasing number of residents contact me in recent weeks asking when the grass cutting is going to commence”.

“As I had expected, this is one of the services which has been suspended at the moment. A number of staff from our grounds maintenance and roads services have been assisting with bin collections and other critical services”.

“In the current unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves, I’m afraid we need to accept that the council just doesn’t’t have the capacity to do everything we expect of them”.

“The most critical services are running well under challenging circumstances and I thank staff for their willingness to take on different duties to help us all get through this”.

Aberdeen City Council Administration Rejects Live Webcasting Of Committee Meetings

Photo of Town House, Aberdeen

Liberal Democrats in Aberdeen have condemned the Conservative, “Aberdeen Labour” and Independent councillors who control Aberdeen City Council for rejecting the Liberal Democrats’ call to live webcast council committee meetings during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill revealed that the Conservative, “Aberdeen Labour” and Independent group leaders rejected the Liberal Democrats’ proposal because of the amount of work it would take.

Ian Yuill  said: “I absolutely do not accept that webcasting council committee meetings would create any significant extra work for council staff. At the most basic it would only involve pointing a camera at a screen displaying the online meetings.

“Decision making needs to be open and accountable. People should be able to see decisions being made in their names as it happens, not in a recording broadcast only later.

“I am appalled that the Conservative, ‘Aberdeen Labour’ and Independent group leaders have refused to back live webcasting council committee meetings.”

Help For Communities

A new website and phoneline launched today, providing people all across Grampian with information on how to access social, practical and emotional support on Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

The new Assistance Hub goes live this morning, pulling together links to the latest advice from a range of partners including all three local authorities, Police, Health, Red Cross, volunteers and community information. It is a site for anyone in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray, with information for residents and businesses alike.   

The website address is www.GCAH.org.uk or call 0808 196 3384 (8am-8pm 7 days a week). The number will complement other helplines, including Aberdeen City Council’s Crisis Support Line, which was launched last week and can be reached directly on 0800 0304 713.

The website is full of links with up-to-date information. The main objective is as a focal point for information and assistance for anyone affected by coronavirus anywhere in Grampian. It is also a way for residents to offer their support which they can safely deliver in their communities. Staff are on the phone to provide callers with up to date information, or to link them up with the right person who can quickly answer questions.  Another important feature is that the site can be used to request help on behalf of someone else, allowing friends and neighbours to signpost to someone in need. 

Lib Dem councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill said, “There’s so many useful new websites popping up offering advice about the coronavirus, public services, the lockdown and much more, that people are getting confused about where to go to locate specific information”.

“The amount of work which has gone into Aberdeen City Council’s coronavirus page is commendable as it the Business Gateway, NHS Grampian’s dedicated resource and a number of others but now we need to join the dots so people can find what they need quickly and easily without having to check a dozen sites with the risk that they encounter misinformation amongst the wealth of fact based resources”.

“My advice is simple, make the Advice Hub your homepage and you can’t go wrong. It links directly to all the other pages but offers much more besides, in a user friendly interface. Thanks to all the public sector partners in our area for this invaluable resource”.

Crisis Helpline

0800 0304 713

Aberdeen City Council has launched a freephone Crisis Helpline for people who find themselves in urgent need.

This service is for crisis only. It is for those who are hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak and unable to find the information they are looking for or unable to get help from their existing support networks, in these unprecedented times.

This number will be open from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday until further notice.

Members of the emergency helpline team are ready to provide welfare and financial advice and support, including what to do if you are struggling to get food or pay bills.

Council Suspends Recycling Collections

Aberdeen City Council has had to temporarily suspend the uplifting of our mixed recycling bins and garden waste brown bins. Their statement on this is reprinted in full below. 

Please read to the end of this page for the latest updated information.

Collection of household mixed recycling bins and brown bin collections (for garden waste and food waste) have been temporarily suspended to allow the City Council’s waste service to introduce measures aimed at adhering to recent guidance on coronavirus prevention.

The waste service will now be working at reduced levels and, in order to prioritise resources to the general waste collection, other services have temporarily been suspended.

This affects only households with wheeled bins and residents should not present their recycling bin or brown bin for collection. Residents are asked to keep their brown bin and recycling bin for now. Food waste should go in the general waste bin during the suspension. The general waste bin is being collected.

Recycling points are still available at many supermarkets and shopping centres but residents should not make special trips to use them. Instead, residents could use them while they are doing their essential shopping, in line with Government guidance. Residents should, where possible, clean their hands before and after use.

Householders should be aware any additional items left beside bins will not be collected. Residents are also reminded that they should not leave anything beside the bins at recycling points or communal bins.

In addition, all household waste and recycling centres in Aberdeen have closed to the public. The household waste and recycling centres are at Bridge of Don, Hazlehead, Bucksburn, Dyce, and Tullos. The decision to close the centres has been made following the new measures imposed by the UK government.

With the closure of the household waste and recycling centres and the suspension of the bulky uplift service, residents should ensure that large items intended for disposal are stored safely away from communal areas.

There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section which can be found here.

Coronavirus Assistance

Housing, Welfare, Business & Financial Information All In One Place

Aberdeen City Council has set up links to information which will assist people and businesses who find themselves running into difficulties during the coronavirus outbreak. These difficulties may be health related, financial or indeed have arisen as a result of measures taken by local or national government to control the spread of this deadly virus.

Help For Individuals & Families

It is understood many people may be unfamiliar with the benefits system since the recent introduction of Universal Credit or they be unaware of the raft of additional support measures introduced by UK and Scottish Government to assist them and their families to get by during the enforced closure of their workplace.

With extra strain on household budgets, additional protection has been put into legislation to ensure you do not lose your home (be it council, housing associated, privately rented or mortgaged) and you don’t get your fuel supply cut off if you can’t pay. There’s also help available if you find yourself homeless.

There’s help for people who are in “at risk” groups are self isolating and have no family to support them. There’s also crisis loans and grants for those who have been hit hardest and are unable to get by in the short term.

Help For Businesses

Business can now apply for help to the Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund. The fund is administered by local authorities. Depending on the type and size of your business premises, you can apply for either a £10,000 grant or £25,000 grant.

Finally there’s a freephone Crisis Helpline for people who find themselves in urgent need.

This service is for crisis only. It is for those who are hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak and unable to find the information they are looking for or unable to get help from their existing support networks, in these unprecedented times.

The telephone number 0800 0304 713 will be staffed initially from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday from Tuesday 24 March until further notice.

Members of the emergency helpline team are ready to provide welfare and financial advice and support, including what to do if you are struggling to get food or pay bills.

Local Councillor Steve Delaney said, “I commend council staff for putting this helpful resource together so quickly. The council’s switchboard is being inundated with calls and your waiting times are going to be lengthy if you do decide to call”

“Please use this online help page, which links into information on what assistance is available to you and how to access it, as your One Stop Shop. You will either find the information you need or be transferred to another site with more information. This page lets you access information much quicker than you would by trying to get help over the phone”.

All the information mentioned above, and much more, can be found on Aberdeen City Council’s updated Coronavirus Help Page

Council Frees Up Parking For NHS Staff

Aberdeen City Council has issued 200 free parking permits to NHS Grampian allowing key staff to park within the Foresterhill Controlled Parking Zone during the coronavirus outbreak. Permits will be prioritised and will allow holders to park in any parking bay within the zone, including residents only bays.

NHS Grampian has also lifted all parking restrictions on the Foresterhill site, with the exception of disabled parking bays, which will continue to be enforced to ensure people with disabilities can continue to park close enough to facilities. The restriction preventing NHS staff from using the multi-storey car park has been removed.

These measures have been put in place to ensure NHS staff can get to work and parked during the current pandemic

Necessary Changes To Ensure Delivery Of Essential Services

Aberdeen City Council is in the process of moving into resilience mode in order to ensure they have sufficient resources to tackle the coronavirus whilst protecting the most vital public services and our most vulnerable citizens.

This means that certain services we expect the council to deliver will be reduced or even stopped for a number of weeks, possibly months, to ensure essential core services can still be delivered. This has become necessary as a result of staff being sent home after displaying virus-like symptoms and others having to self-isolate for their own safety due to underlying health conditions, all in accordance with Scottish Government guidance.

The council’s statement reads as follows:-

The core services include gritting as road surface temperatures are still going to about 0C overnight, traffic coordination and traffic lights to assist emergency services, emergency repair work and health and safety maintenance to council homes and properties, collection of recycling and waste bins from households, ensuring a capacity of HGV-licensed drivers, crematorium and burial services, essential janitorial and school meal provision services, and essential health, environmental protection and trading standards services.

To ensure these core services can be carried out over the coming weeks, other work will be reduced or is stopped meantime. This includes planned road repairs (excluding emergency works), special refuse collections also known as bulky uplifts (excluding where there is a fire risk in multi storeys), communal recycling and waste bins, planned repair or maintenance works to council homes, and reduced grass cutting and gardening work. All libraries across the city have now closed.

While cremations will continue to take place, no new bookings for chapel services at Aberdeen Crematorium are being taken from Monday to help minimise the spread of coronavirus. There will only be City Council staff at the Aberdeen Crematorium building.

Kingswells, Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney said, “None of want to see council services reduced but, sadly, we need to face the reality of a national emergency situation and ensure that Aberdeen City Council have sufficient staff and resources to play their part in the work being done by all public sector partners, including NHS, Police, Fire Service and voluntary sector partners”.

“These measures will enable us to play our part in the fight against the coronavirus as well as ensuring our household bins are emptied and our key workers, our most vulnerable residents and those self isolating are all adequately supported”.

Coronavirus (COVID19) Latest Update On Council Buildings & Council Services

Message from Councillor Steve Delaney

The situation around the Coronavirus pandemic is evolving daily, if not hourly. I would advise everyone to take heed of the official advice coming from UK Government, Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council, which will continue to evolve based upon the best evidence available.

Aberdeen City Council has had to shut down all public buildings with the exception of Marischal College (which is opening for reduced hours).Most council services are continuing to operate but this may be subject to change to ensure the most critical services can continue to run at all times.

For the latest information from Aberdeen City Council click HERE

Tory Council Axes Kingswells Weekend Buses

Aberdeen’s Conservative led coalition have axed weekend bus services to and from Kingswells as part of this year’s “budget savings”. Other services to face the axe are the 15A weekend service and the Sunday service on the 40 (Bridge of Don).

Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “The No 14 bus service was hard fought for by Kingswells residents following the withdraw of First’s X40 service three years ago. The No 14 has proved popular with residents and passenger numbers are growing. Just as we thought bus services were starting to settle down, this happens”.

The No 14 service is operated by Stagecoach but fully funded by Aberdeen City Council after First withdrew from Kingswells maintaining the service was not commercially viable and Stagecoach were unwilling to pick up the route commercially.

Steve added, “Under current legislation, councils must consider introducing financially supported bus service bus services to serve communities which have no commercially operated services. They key is that they must consider but there is no obligation on councils to pay for such services nor is there any minimum specification required for such services. Consequently there is no prospect of reversing this cut to services”.

The current contract with Stagecoach was for two years with the option of re-tendering at the end of that time or extending the current contract for a further 12 months. The two years ends on 31 March 2020 and council officers are looking to extend the contract with the current bus operator for a further 12 months, but on the basis of a Monday to Friday service only.

Steve continued, “The date the weekend service will cease on, is not yet confirmed but it’s likely to be some time in April. The remaining weekday service will then continue for a further year but it’s anyone’s guess what will happen this time next year. It’s an absolute disgrace that Kingswells, a village of around 5,000 people, will be effectively cut off from the rest of Aberdeen every weekend. The services at the Park & Ride are fine for people who live within walking distance or have a car, but they do not serve the majority of residents in Kingswells”.

Aberdeen’s Conservative, suspended Labour and Independent Alliance councillors have shown they have no interest in Kingswells and should hang their heads in shame”.

Please note:- This change currently affects the weekend No 14 service only. Stagecoach services operating from Kingswells Park & Ride are not council supported and are therefore subject to different changes from April.

City Lib Dem budget proposals focus on Education, the Environment and Road Repairs

At this week’s budget meeting Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors proposed investing in education, protecting the city’s libraries, abolishing the Garden Tax, repairing crumbling roads and pavements and enhancing Aberdeen’s environment at Aberdeen City Council’s budget meeting.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill said: “The Liberal Democrats’ priorities are education, the environment and repairing Aberdeen’s crumbling roads and pavements.

“Our proposals create a £1 million Education Fund, abolish the hated Garden Tax and invest in properly maintaining Aberdeen’s roads and pavements. Things that affect the whole city. It is important that the council gets the basics right.”

Key points of the Liberal Democrats’ budget proposals included:

  • Creating a £1 million Education Fund to enhance educational opportunities across Aberdeen.
  • Abolishing the Garden Tax, the unpopular charge made to collect residents’ garden waste from brown bins.
  • Investing an extra £9.5 million over five years in repairing roads and pavements across Aberdeen. This would pay to resurface over 50 miles of road surface.
  • Investing in improving Aberdeen’s environment – including tree planting, enhancing biodiversity and decarbonising the council’s fleet of lorries, vans and cars by 2030.
  • Investigating the feasibility of planting rose beds at key points alongside Anderson Drive.
  • Investigating generating green energy using ground source heat pumps in council playing fields and parks.
  • A 3.74% increase in council tax.

Ian Yuill said, “Despite the savage cuts forced on the council by the SNP Scottish Government, the Liberal Democrat have managed to focus resources on our priorities of education, the environment and repairing Aberdeen’s roads and pavements.”

Tougher Measures To Remove Politicians Convicted Of Serious Offences

A former Conservative councillor on Aberdeen City Council remains in office following his conviction for sexual assault last December. His conduct is currently under investigation by the Ethical Standards Commissioner to establish whether or not he broke the Councillors Code Of Conduct. Councillor Alan Donnelly was suspended from his role for three months by the Standards Commission on 5 March, pending the outcome of that investigation.

Currently a councillor may not be removed from office following a conviction unless they are sentenced to at least 12 months imprisonment and there are no restrictions on a convicted councillor’s duties following their conviction, but that looks like it is about to change.

Following the conviction, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Ian Yuill, reported the matter to Ethical Standards Commissioner. The council’s Urgent Business Committee unanimously removed Councillor Donnelly from all council committees and his positions on external organisations which require councillor representatives and also reported the matter to the Ethical standards Commissioner. In addition, all political group leaders called on Councillor Donnelly to resign.

However, although he resigned from the Conservative Party, Councillor Donnelly has continued to sit as an independent councillor, supporting his former Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and Independent Alliance coalition colleagues to pass measures this week which retained their majorities on all council committees despite them having lost that majority in the council itself. He also attended a civic event a few weeks ago.

Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Delaney said, “I was horrified to see Councillor Donnelly attend an event held in January to celebrate 25 years of good work from a local charity which supports some of the most vulnerable people in society, just seven days after his sentencing. I considered his presence to be inappropriate and subsequently raised my concerns”.

“I contacted the council’s Chief Executive asking that political group leaders meet to discuss at what measures can be put in place to prevent him from attending civic functions and prevent him from having unsupervised contact with members of the public in the course of his duties as a councillor. The Lord Provost has subsequently advised the council that Councillor Donnelly will not be attending civic events for the duration of the time he is on the Sex Offenders Register or whilst still under investigation by the Standards Commission”

“I also contacted the Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government , asking that appropriate legislation be brought forward urgently to introduce appropriate measures to protect the public in such circumstances. The Minister has since advised that work by civil servants to look at how future legislation could be strengthened to remove councillors in these circumstances is indeed being expedited”.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton is promoting legislation which would require elected members at all levels to be disclosure checked at each election with strict criteria specified to ensure the protection of children and vulnerable adults should any elected member fall foul of those checks.

Steve said, “This has now gone beyond the actions of an individual and has highlighted serious flaws in the system. Councils currently have no powers to either remove a councillor convicted of a serious offence or indeed to monitor or restrict their activities following conviction. What this case has demonstrated is that the legislation needs to be tightened up and I’m pleased to see this is what looks like happening”.

Aberdonians to get £345 less per head from the Scottish Government than the average council area

From 1st April, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils will be the second and third worst funded local authority areas in Scotland, according to the latest figures produced by the Scottish Parliament’s information centre. 

Per head of population, Aberdeen City Council will receive £345 and Aberdeenshire Council £199 less than the average Scottish local authority next year. Only Edinburgh will receive less from the Scottish Government.

Commenting on the figures, North East Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said: “These figures are disgraceful. The Scottish Government is using the North East as a cash cow and that means less money for our schools, roads and local lifeline services.

“It’s no wonder people feel let-down by this SNP Government. Instead of supporting and investing in the North East, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are two of the worst funded local authorities areas in Scotland.

“Our public and healthcare services have been at the back of the queue for funding for over a decade and there is no recognition of the unique challenges faced by people living in our area. If we ever want to get a fair deal from the Scottish Government, we need a complete rethink about how our local services are funded.”

Aberdeen City Councillor Ian Yuill added: “Year-after-year the SNP government in Edinburgh has badly short-changed people in Aberdeen. This means cuts to vital services which hits some of the most vulnerable in our city.”

Figures below are provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) on 20th March 2019

Aberdeen City Council Backs People’s Vote

People's Vote logoLiberal Democrats have welcomed Aberdeen City Council’s backing for their call for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal negotiated by the Prime Minister.

The council agreed by 22 votes to 9 to back a motion from Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill calling for a People’s Vote  at its meeting on Monday 17th December.

Aberdeen City Council’s Lib Dem leader Ian Yuill said “We now know that promises made about Brexit, like £350 million a week extra for the NHS and getting a deal with the ‘exact same benefits’ as EU membership, cannot be kept.

“Since the start of the month it has become blindingly clear that the Brexit process is a mess and the Prime Minister’s exit deal is clearly doomed.

“Given all this, it does not seem right to tell people, as the UK Government is doing, that the public should just accept without question whatever version of Brexit we ultimately face on 29th March next year.”

Ian Yuill concluded “A People’s Vote would put the UK’s citizens back in control and give everyone the chance to decide whether the Prime Minister’s deal is good for the country and if the UK should leave the EU on those terms.”

Council To Investigate “Plastic Roads”

Aberdeen City Council’s Operational Delivery Committee has unanimously agreed to Lib Dem Councillor Steve Delaney’s proposal to look at carrying out a trial of “plastic roads” in Aberdeen.

Steve said, “I was delighted to have all party support to further investigate this exciting new product which claims to offer longer lasting road surfaces and pothole filling at lower costs. Given the council’s commitment to double its budget for road and pavement resurfacing over the next five years, my hope is not that we can do this for less, but that we can get more for our money”.

In its most basic form, plastic was first used to fill potholes in India over 20 years ago, though the process was pretty basic at the time and has changed significantly over the years. One of the first main highways to include the use of plastic was constructed in Chennai, India in 2002 and it has yet to display any significant signs of wear or tear.

Since then technology has moved on and the term plastic roads is perhaps a little misleading as the amount of plastic actually used in the current product is significantly less than was used in the early roads, but instead it is merely sufficient  to offer much greater durability than that of current road surfacing products.

Plastic bags and plastic bottles are used to create pellets which are mixed with asphalt, replacing a significant amount of bitumen,  to fill potholes or to completely resurface roads.  The cost of the product is reputed to be up to 50% less than traditional roads and the maintenance costs observed elsewhere are significantly reduced.

The only company in the UK currently offering this product is MacRebur, based in Eaglesfield, Dumfries & Galloway. They further developed the concept after having received a £1m investment boost following their successful entry in the 2016 Virgin Voom competition. Sir Andy Murray is another major investor in this enterprise. The product is sold to asphalt manufacturers who can then incorporate it into their road mix. 

Similar technology has been in use elsewhere in Europe, Australia and the USA for a number of years where it has helped lower construction costs and has proved to be more durable than traditional roads. Over the past five years this technology has been used to resurface 21,000 miles of roads in India.

Currently Dumfries & Galloway, Cumbria & Enfield councils have all carried out resurfacing trials and Fife Council are believed to be considering a trial involving pothole repairs using this product, It has recently been used to resurface a junction onto the A6 near Caithwaite and a section of the A7 in the Lake District. In the case of the A7 project, 500,00 plastic bottles and 800,000 plastic bags were diverted from landfill.

Steve said, “The re-use of our plastic bags and plastic bottles in the process would be a positive outcome as would the increased durability of these roads.On the face of it this product appears to have strong environment credentials as well as offering cost savings”. 

“It was agreed that council officers will look further at the possibilities regarding the use of this product in Aberdeen. They will also consult with colleagues elsewhere in the UK to obtain feedback on trials already undertaken.  I am clearly hopeful that this will lead to a trial being conducted in Aberdeen in the very near future”.

“I’m pleased to have been in a position to bring this matter to the attention of the council and I appreciate the support of all councillors in agreeing to explore the possibilities further”.

Winter Maintenance Plan Approved

Last winter was a challenging one which just seemed to drag on. During this time  we some of the best examples of keeping the primary routes clear, despite it being the worst winter for a number of years.

However, icy pavements were amongst the worst we had seen with many people unable to get out and about and a number of accidents having occurred.

Each year the council reviews last winter’s operations with a view to learning lessons from what worked well what did not. It’s important to acknowledge that depending on the severity of a winter, we will as citizens always expect more than can reasonably deliver.

Of course the key to improvement is learning from what did and didn’t work well last year and seeking to improve upon it for next year.

Commenting on changes coming in this winter, Lib Dem Environment & Infrastructure spokesman Steve Delaney said, “Following shortages and delays in supplying salt bags to residents last winter I’m delighted to see a number of changes moving forward. These  one tonne salt bags will be publicised earlier and there will be a cut off date of 1st November”.

“It will now be easier for residents who have no space for a tonne of salt, to be access alternative options. These include a limited availability of 10kg buckets of salt and 20 huge grit bins located at convenient locations across the city where residents can fill up their own buckets with salt”.

“The introduction of 1 tonne salt bags and the smaller alternatives were both Lib Dem ideas as was the suggestion we work with other local authorities to share good practice, reduce costs and improve effectiveness”,

“I welcome the incorporation of these ideas into our regular winter maintenance programmes, especially with respect to the salt bags for which demand outstripped supply last winter”.

“Unfortunately our proposals to invest in additional personnel and machinery for clearing pavements and for snow clearing equipment intended for community use fell by the wayside, but hopefully these are proposals the council can reflect upon further as we seek to further build on community resilience moving forward”.

More information can be found here.

Please note at the time of posting the linked webpage has not been updated for 2018/19 though the link to order one tonne salt bags does work.

Council Backs Lib Dem Initiative On Community Speedwatch

Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Yuill has welcomed the unanimous backing of Aberdeen City Council’s Operational Delivery Committee for his proposal about introducing “Community Speedwatch” in Aberdeen.

Ian Yuill said “Community Speedwatch involves local volunteers being trained by the police to operate speed guns. The volunteers then monitor speeds at locations agreed by the police. The volunteers do not stop speeders or issue speeding tickets. What the do do is pass information about speeding vehicles to the police. Drivers recorded as speeding are then typically ‘educated’ by the police.”

Ian Yuill continued “I am delighted by the committee’s unanimous support for my proposal. Community Speedwatch works successfully elsewhere in the UK and I do not believe there is any reason why it could not work here in Aberdeen. I believe Community Speedwatch could help make a real difference to speeding in communities across Aberdeen.

“Community Speedwatch could reduce speeds and make our roads safer for drivers and pedestrians alike. I very much hope the police decide to introduce Community Speedwatch in Aberdeen.”

Council Rejects Bid To Tackle Obstructive Parking

Aberdeen City Council last week rejected a notice of motion by Lib Dem councillor Steve Delaney to request powers for City Wardens to deal with obstruction offences.

If someone parks over your driveway, effectively blocking you in, Police Scotland are currently the body you need to contact to request action.

With significant pressures on police time and much higher priority crimes to deal with, they are not always able to to attend. Steve’s proposal was merely asking the council to write to the Scottish Government requesting they decriminalise the offence of obstructing a dropped kerb as has been done with parking on yellow lines.

He said, “Decriminalisation of yellow lines has been a great success. Rather than relying on police to patrol parking offences, the City Wardens are able to offer a more reactive service, which gets the message across to people that parking on yellow lines is not acceptable in terms of road safety”.

“This proposal was intended to assist people who get blocked in and making the small minority of drivers who park carelessly think again before straddling across a driveway”.

Steve made it clear to councillors that this was not about increasing the number of City Wardens or putting pressure on budgets. It was about making use of the existing team as they went about their daily duties. Obstructions do not occur in large numbers, but when they do, they create major difficulties for residents who can’t get out of their driveways.

He added, “I was really surprised to see a lack of consensus on this matter. Anti-social parking which prevents residents from getting out of their driveway is already an offence, it’s just not always receiving the hoped for response, for understandable reasons. This proposal would have increased response rates by deploying staff who were in the area anyway”.

Unfortunately Labour, Conservative, SNP and Independent councillors failed to support the proposals.

Council Rejects Proposal To Look At Improving Snow Clearing And Gritting


The Conservative, Labour and Independent councillors who control the City Council rejected a Liberal Democrat proposal to look at how the council’s snow clearing and gritting operations could be improved at the council meeting on 5th March.

Lib Dem Group Leader Ian Yuill said, “My colleagues and I put forward our proposal that council staff look at how snow clearing and gritting could be improved after countless people contacted us about problems with snow clearing and gritting earlier in the winter. People told us how worried they were about the icy state of many pavements. Some people told us they were unable to get out and were trapped in their own homes”.

“People told us they realise that the council cannot possibly grit every single pavement and road in the city but that were particularly annoyed that even well-used pavements were very slippery for days on end”.

“”Some residents also told us they were keen to do more themselves but were very frustrated that the council failed to deliver one tonne bags of salt to residents and community groups who had requested these. The council is now telling people these large bags of salt will not be provided until next winter”.

“In response to these complaints, I submitted a “notice of motion” to the council calling for staff to consider how snow clearing and gritting could be improved. I made the point this was not necessarily about spending more money but by doing things like ensuring the one tonne bags of salt were delivered on time, that grit boxes were in the best places across our city and that the council consider what it could do to help residents and community groups who might wish to help grit pavements.”

“Sadly the Conservative, Labour and Independent councillors who control the council rejected part 5 of my motion (see below) which asked that council staff look at how snow clearing and gritting could be improved”.

The full text of the notice of motion was:

That this council:

1. Thanks all staff involved in carrying out winter maintenance (gritting and snow clearing) during the recent cold weather

2. Recognises that many people expressed concern at the slippery condition of many pavements for lengthy periods during the recent cold weather

3. Expresses concern that over 400 requests from residents and community groups for one tonne bags of salt remained unfulfilled at the end of January and that people are now being told they will not receive these bags of salt until winter 2018/19

4. Notes that officers will be reporting to the appropriate committee on 2017/18 Winter Maintenance Operations

5. Instructs officers to report by October 2018 on how winter maintenance operations could be improved by:

a. Considering whether additional pavement ploughs / grit spreaders are required and advising on the financial and staffing implications of that.

b. How an appropriate network of grit bins could be provided across Aberdeen.

c. A review of the mechanism for providing one tonne bags of salt to individuals and community groups to ensure these are provided timeously.

d. Considering how best to provide residents and community groups with bulk bags of salt smaller than one tonne in size.

e. Considering how appropriate snow clearing equipment could be provided to community and residents’ groups who wish to make use of such equipment.

City Lib Dem Budget Proposals Focus On Education, Roads And Environment


Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors today proposed investing in education, repairing crumbling roads and pavement and enhancing Aberdeen’s environment at Aberdeen City Council’s budget meeting.

The Liberal Democrats also squarely put the blame for the cuts on the SNP Scottish Government which has once again made Aberdeen City Council the worst funded council in Scotland.

Ian Yuill, Leader of the city council Liberal Democrats, said “These are cuts made because of decisions made by the Scottish Government.”

Key points of the Liberal Democrats’ budget proposals included:

Improving education by investing in teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD)
Doing more to tackle the difficulty of filling some head teacher positions in Aberdeen
Providing continuing funding for the Aberdeen International Youth FEstival
Investing an extra £12.5 million over five years in repairing roads and pavements across Aberdeen. This would pay to resurface 68 miles of road surface.
Increasing the council’s ability to clear snow from roads and pavements
Investing in improving Aberdeen’s environment
Investing an additional £183,000 in supported bus services to reconnect bus links to isolated communities in Aberdeen
A commitment to build a new bridge over the River Dee.
A study into dualing the Lang Stracht
A 3% increase in council tax

Ian Yuill said “Despite the savage cuts forced on the council by the SNP Scottish Government the Liberal Democrat have managed to focus resources on our priorities of education, Aberdeen’s roads and pavements, our local environment and our city centre.”

Delaney Raises Concerns Over Future Delivery Of Council Services

Local councillor Steve Delaney has raised serious concerns over proposals to change how Aberdeen City Council is run and how its services are delivered. This is not about who runs the council it’s about how it’s run.

Proposals came forward in August looking to re-structure the council’s management and how it delivers services to the public. This was followed by a further report to councillors in December. Steve has seen several previous council restructures and has seen change in a number of local and national bodies over many years. With the council facing unquantified but significant cost pressures over the next few years these proposals were presented as a way to make services more efficient and to reduce costs. Unfortunately he was not convinced.

Steve said, “I raised a number of concerns in August and again in December regarding these proposals. Every time the council encounters significant challenges it looks to re-structure when much of what’s being proposed could already be done by altering working practices within the existing set up”.

“Another concern related to whether or not the new re-structure is suitable for Aberdeen City Council as no alternatives were offered by way of comparison. I also felt that far too little detail was offered to councillors for them to be able to take an informed view of such a radical change”.

“Nobody denies that change is needed during challenging times, but I remain unconvinced that these changes will either result in improved service delivery or produce the saving we need. In fact my fear is that if this fails to deliver, putting things right is likely to add further cost pressures and possibly result in additional cuts to services”.

“Further concerns relate to the absence of a Director of Education in the new structure and my belief that councillors will become further removed from meaningful decision making, resulting in a dilution of the democratic process”.

“How the council’s management is structured should ordinarily be of little or no concern to members of the public. However, where this has the potential to impact on the delivery of services and the quality of service that’s another thing”.

Regrettably, the proposal to re-structure how the council operates was approved by 21 votes to 20. The change will commence in April 2018 and will be phased over a period of time.

You can watch Steve’s contribution to the debate here.

Contacting Aberdeen City Council During The Festive Break

Details of Aberdeen City Council’s opening hours between 23rd December and 2nd January can be found here. If you have a genuine emergency outwith office hours or on days the offices are closed please get in touch with the Regional Communications Centre on 03000 200292.

Information on Aberdeen City Council’s winter maintenance programme can be found here.

Information on gritting routes including maps and status reports can be found here.

Lib Dems release pictures of the inside of Provost Skene’s House

Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors have released a series of photographs revealing how the inside of long-closed Provost Skene’s House now looks.


Ian Yuill, Leader of the Aberdeen City Council Liberal Democrats, said, “People have been asking for some time what had happened inside Provost Skene’s House so, once building work around it finished, I asked to be allowed to visit. That visit took place earlier this month and I took some photographs so that others could see how Provost Skene’s House now looks inside.

“I was surprised just how untidy Provost Skene’s House was in places. I was also surprised to see that the painted ceilings and panels were not protected. I was shocked to see that in one place disposable coffee cups had been left sitting on woodwork. I still remember my mum telling me as a child never to put anything hot or wet on her wooden tables – and the woodwork inside Provost Skene’s House is a lot older and more precious than my mum’s tables!

“I have now written to the coucil’s Chief Executive highlighting my concerns.

“On a more positive note, I was again assured Provost Skene’s House had not been damaged by the building work which has taken place around it.”

Ian Yuill concluded , “It was very clear to me that Provost Skene’s House will need a lot of work done on it before it can reopen. The sooner that happens the better.”

Kingswells Buses Latest

Bus services in Kingswells are to run from 06.00 – 23.00 on weekdays following the decision by Aberdeen City Council on 22nd June 2017.

The first No 94 of the day will leave the Park & Ride heading towards Derbeth at 5.50am, resulting in two additional runs in the morning. The service will extend into the evenings, running until 11.00pm. Matters relating to timetabling are still be finalised and, subject to Traffic Commissioner approval, it is hoped the increased hours will be able to commence from 31st July 2017.

Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “This will offer some solace to everyone who depends on the bus to get to and from work and is very much welcomed in that respect”.

“However, it remains the case that we have no weekend service and the daytime frequency leaves much to be desired. Hopefully we’ll see a positive longer term solution emerge from the Finance, Policy and Resources meeting on 20th September”.

Council Needs To Sort Out Bin Collections!


In March this year Aberdeen City Council started rolling out the new mixed recycling collections across the city. As we all know, this has resulted in our existing 240L black bins becoming recycling bins and being replaced by 180L bins for unrecyclable rubbish. All households were also given access to food and (if appropriate) garden waste collections, including rural properties which had, to date, been excluded from recycling collections.

The introduction of the new service was long overdue as people wanted to recycle more, but the recycling facilities in Aberdeen were very poor and the system in place did not make it easy for people to recycle. It took about three months to cover all addresses so you’d think that, subject to a few hiccups, it would have settled down by now. Regrettably, this does not appear to have been the case.

The Implementation Phase

Lib Dem Environment Spokesman Steve Delaney said, “We’ve been screaming out for a better recycling service for years but its introduction has been nothing less than chaotic. In some areas, mostly flats but also areas where there was inadequate ground space to accommodate the number of bins, it was obvious other solutions such as communal facilities would be needed. However, rather than return to base and report the issue, the crews just dumped the bins on the street regardless. Surely it would have made more sense to re-examine options for these addresses at the end of the programme?”

“By way of an example, I alerted the Council to the need for communal bins in a section of North Anderson Drive and the inability to store this volume of individual bins at this location due to lack of ground space. This information was passed on some weeks prior to the roll out, yet the individual bins were delivered regardless and residents are now being told it may take up to a year until communal bins are put in place. It’s an absolute disgrace”.

Rural Properties Being Missed

He continued, “I’ve also had complaints from rural properties in Kingswells which are being routinely missed out of recycling uplifts, despite having been provided with the bins. Some addresses are being done, others are being missed and some of these are within sight of each other. The Council response has acknowledged they are aware of ‘a handful of outstanding issues’ and confirmed they are working towards resolving these. If you live in one of the rural properties around Kingswells and are still experiencing difficulties, please let me know”.

Assisted Uplifts Were Not On The System

Steve added, “In addition, the Council uplifts a number of bins from addresses where people are unable to put out their own bins as a result of infirmity or significant physical disability. These too were being missed as the software designed to manage the routes did not flag up these addresses. It wasn’t until I raised this that a manual system was put in place in an attempt to resolve matters. This was reported as a result of a couple in their nineties not having their bin collected for several weeks. I’ve since been assured the software issues have now been addressed, but if you know differently, please let me know”.

Brown Bins Left Lying For Days

Steve said, “Then there’s the issue with brown bin uplifts where bins are being left lying for days, sometimes longer, before they get picked up. The Council has blamed the increase in recycling, the highest ever in Aberdeen between April and June, and the challenges this creates during the rollout of a new service. Could this not have reasonably been anticipated with the increase in the different types of materials which can now be recycled? I’m advised the capacity issue is now being addressed, but it may be another 2-3 weeks until matters are fully resolved”.

Dumped Rubbish And Fire Risks

He said, “Just to cap it all, the Council has recently suspended the uplift of bulky items with no advance warning in order to try to clear the backlog of missed collections. As people put items out for collection outside their homes, my fear is that this will attract fly tipping. Requests for bulky goods uplifts will resume from 31 July but I suspect the backlog will take many more weeks to clear”.

“A constituent yesterday raised concerns that the mattress she had put outside her home for collection might be set on fire after being told that collections have been suspended. Following on from the Grenfell tragedy we need to re-evaluate everything we do in respect of minimising any potential fire risk and keeping people safe”.

‘At an absolute minimum the Council needs to communicate any intentions to suspend future bulky uplifts in advance and risk assess any applications received during a suspension period from a safety perspective. I am currently pressing for assurances on these points”.

Furious…

“To say that I’m absolutely furious would be an understatement! The new refuse collection service was planned out over a long period of time, yet the foreseeable and obvious difficulties do not appear to have been built into the delivery plan”.

“Even accepting that some unforeseen difficulties have arisen, I’m appalled the Council appears to have lost control of the situation and is only now, five months after the new service commenced its roll out, that there appears to be an end in sight”.

“Please rest assured I will be happy to follow up on any further concerns until matters are fully resolved. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you are experiencing ongoing issues with bin collections”.

Council Extends Hours Of Operation On Kingswells Shuttle Bus

Lib Dem councillor Steve Delaney today welcomed Aberdeen City Council’s unanimously agreement to increase the hours of operation of the temporary shuttle bus service which has been in operation in Kingswells since FirstBus withdrew services on 1st April 2017.

Councillors agreed to increase the hours of operation of the No 94 service to start at 6am and run until 11pm weekdays only. There remains no weekend service. The increased level of service will be funded until the end of the current financial year.

A report is coming forward to the September meeting of the Finance, Policy & Resources Committee with a view to addressing the lack of commercial bus services in Kingswells and other gaps in service across Aberdeen.

Steve has been campaigning for a full service to be restored to the area since First announced their intentions last September.

He said, “I’m delighted that all councillors have come together today to agree improvements to the No 94 shuttle bus service. I’ve said so many times before that the temporary service starts too late in the morning and doesn’t run late enough to be of use to shift workers. This improvement will be very welcome in Kingswells”.

“Having said this, the No 94 can only ever be regarded as a sticky plaster as the current service is too infrequent off-peak with around 1.5 hours between buses, does not run at weekends and is in effect only a feeder service for the X17 at the Park & Ride. Limitations of the current service results in residents requiring two, or often three, buses to get to their destinations, resulting in round trips of up to three hours a day, just to get to and from work”.

“What we need is a service which allows Kingswells residents to get to and from their destinations within an acceptable period of time. I look forward to proposals for a permanent solution for Kingswells coming forward to the September meeting’.

“Please rest assured I will continue to press for a longer term solution which runs 7 days a week, including evenings, and better addresses the needs of Kingswells residents”.

It is not yet clear what date the extended hours will commence from. A further update will be provided in due course.

Council Dithers And Delays On Kingswells Buses

Each year councillors are presented with a list of projects which can be funded as a result of fines collected from drivers caught using bus lanes. These monies can only be used to support initiatives which deliver on priorities set out in the Council’s Local Transport Strategy.

One of the proposals included funding to mitigate the loss of bus services in Kingswells Village and the Dubford/Danestone areas, as well as the removal of the service linking Aberdeen Airport to Dyce Railway station. This initiative was in the list of new projects which would be progressed as more fines were collected throughout the year, but it was ranked 16th on the list.

Liberal Democrat Infrastructure Spokesman Steve Delaney said, “I was pleased to see this proposal on the list but in reality it was never going to happen, sitting in 16th place. For that reason, I asked for it to be moved to third place on the list. Unfortunately this attracted no support from other councillors at the committee”.

Councillors instead decided to hold back on a decision regarding Kingswells buses pending a fuller report on bus services across the city which comes to full Council on 21st June.

Steve said, “I find it hard to believe that prioritising the employment of a cycle officer, the funding of number plate recognition technology and the reinstatement of a walkway, to name just three projects, should rank above ensuring that Kingswells is not left without a bus service. This really beggars belief. I made it clear to fellow councillors that Kingswells can’t wait for a city wide solution and that I would be expecting to see proposals specific to Kingswells next month”.

Regardless of the unwillingness to fund a service from these monies, there did appear to be a cross party understanding of the issues affecting Kingswells residents and an acceptance that matters must be resolved as a matter of priority. On that basis Steve will continue to work with Council officers and indeed across party lines to ensure that a solution is found.

He added, “Although deeply disappointed by today’s outcome I will take people at face value in the meantime. Clearly the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we will hopefully see some meaningful progress on 21st June”.

Councillor Steve Delaney re-elected after Landslide!

Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney has been re-elected to Aberdeen City Council in a landslide result on a 45.5% turnout. Steve polled 1825 votes, more than double his 2012 result. This was also more than double the number of votes cast for his nearest rival.

Steve said, “I extend my grateful thanks to everyone who supported me at this election. I’m doing a job I enjoy and I’m delighted to have been re-elected for a second successive term”.

“I would also like to thank my agent, my family and the “army” of local volunteers who helped deliver this result. I really couldn’t have done it without you all!”.

“I’m taking the weekend off to spend time with the family, then the hard work starts on Monday. Thanks again to everyone”.

Listening to People – Working for an Even Better Aberdeen

On Friday 28th April Aberdeen Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto for the council elections.

Liberal Democrats believe that local elections should be about important local issues and basic services vital to local communities. Their key priorities for Aberdeen over the next five years were identified as:

• Taking action to improve the education and life chances of Aberdeen’s children and young people.

• Empowering Aberdeen’s citizens and communities.

• Improving transport within our city, including making a real start to repairing Aberdeen’s crumbling roads and pavements.

• Making streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

• Delivering, with partners, 2,500 homes to rent by 2022 with the emphasis firmly on social housing.

• Protecting our city centre, Green Belt and local communities from inappropriate developments.

• Retaining and improving local community and sports facilities.

Key to delivering these aspirations will be achieving fairer treatment for our city and its citizens from the Scottish Government.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill said, “Our commitment is to work with the citizens of Aberdeen and we aim to deliver for them.

“Aberdeen a city with a long and proud heritage, a city with a record of valuing education, a city with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a city which embraces links across Europe and around the world.

“Sadly, over the last five years Aberdeen City Council has been controlled by a coalition of Labour, Conservative and “Independent” councillors who have inflicted the Marischal Square development on our city centre, allowed major council building projects to go over budget and over time and sought to pick fights with the Scottish Government.

“Our city, its citizens and business community deserve better. Over the next five years Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors will work to deliver the best possible services, to strengthen our city’s economy and improve people’s life chances and quality of life.

“We will focus on delivering the best possible local services for Aberdeen’s citizens and businesses. We will not use the council chamber to re-fight national political battles.”

“We will continue to oppose the SNP Government’s policies of centralisation and separation.

“Unlike other parties, we are not dictated to by the Central Belt and our priority will always be the interests of Aberdeen and its citizens.”

The full manifesto is available to download here.

NHS Shuttle Bus

It was mentioned at the public meeting on 30th March that NHS Grampian would be running a shuttle bus directly between ARI and Kingswells at certain times of day to ensure NHS staff can get to and from work following the withdrawal of the X40.

There was a glimmer of hope that they may also allow local Kingswells residents to make use of the service. Local councillor Steve Delaney explored this possibility with NHS Grampian earlier in the week.

He said, “This is a temporary service put in place by NHS Grampian during the construction of their car park at ARI in order to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of the X40. It is in place until July and there’s currently no commitment beyond that date. Unfortunately they are unable to transport Kingswells residents on that service as it is only available to NHS badge holders, who will be required to show their ID badges”.

“In order to transport non-employees, they would need to register the route with the Traffic Commissioner and drivers would require specific licences. Sadly this is not an option for them on a short term service”.

“I would hope that Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian can work more closely towards finding a solution that works for both NHS employees living in Kingswells and indeed the wider population of Kingswells”.

Liberal Democrats Announce Strong Team Of 14 candidates To Fight City Council Election

Liberal Democrats in Aberdeen have announced that they will be fielding a team of 14 candidates to fight the Aberdeen City Council election on 4th May. Four Liberal Democrats defending their seats – Steve Delaney, Martin Greig, Jennifer, Stewart and Ian Yuill – will be joined by 10 other candidates.

The Liberal Democrats are fielding one candidate in 12 of the 13 wards in the city. The exception is Hazlehead/Queens Cross/Countesswells ward where both sitting Liberal Democrat councillors Martin Greig and Jennifer Stewart will be defending their seats.

The Liberal Democrats team of candidates includes former head of the Aberdeen schools music service Ken McLeod who is seeking to replace retiring Liberal Democrat Aileen Malone as councillor for Lower Deeside, leading North East environmental campaigner Gregor McAbery, standing in Torry/Ferryhill, and former children’s charity Chief Executive Karen Marr, who is contesting Bridge of Don. Dyce/Bucksburn/Danestone is being contested by former Aberdeen councillor Dorothy Pearce and University of Aberdeen student activist John Waddell is standing in George Street/Harbour.

Liberal Democrat Leader on Aberdeen City Council Ian Yuill said: “We are delighted to have such a strong team of candidates across Aberdeen. It is already clear that many people are hugely disappointed with the performance
of the Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors who have controlled Aberdeen City Council for the last five years. People are also telling us that the SNP’s fixation on another independence referendum is not what a local council should be about.

“People want local councillors who will focus on Aberdeen and the communities and people they represent. That is what Liberal Democrats have done over the last five years – and that will continue to be our priority. The Liberal Democrats want to see greater investment in repairing the city’s crumbling roads and pavements, significant improvements to our city centre and more resources for our city’s schools.”

The full list of Liberal Democrat candidates is:

Ward 1. Dyce/Bucksburn/Danestone : Dorothy Pearce
Ward 2. Bridge of Don : Karen Farquhar
Ward 3. Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill : Steve Delaney
Ward 4. Northfield/Mastrick North : Sam Forman
Ward 5. Hilton/Woodside/Stockethill : Sam Petchey
Ward 6. Tillydrone/Seaton/Old Aberdeen : Jenny Wilson
Ward 7. Midstocket/Rosemount : William Sell
Ward 8. George St/Harbour : John Waddell
Ward 9. Lower Deeside : Ken McLeod
Ward 10. Hazlehead/Queens Cross/Countesswells : Martin Greig and Jennifer Stewart
Ward 11. Airyhall/Broomhill/Garthdee : Ian Yuill
Ward 12. Torry/Ferryhill : Gregor McAbery
Ward 13. Kincorth/Nigg/Cove : Cameron Finnie

Kingswells Residents Sold Out By Aberdeen City Council

Today Aberdeen City Council debated a report with proposals on how to mitigate the withdrawal of bus services from Kingswells village from 1st April 2017.

The report recommended the extension of the No 94 crematorium bus to Kingswells. The service would act as a shuttle bus ferrying residents to Kingswells Park & Ride operating on a 30 minute frequency, to link into Stagecoach’s X17 service between 06:30 – 08:33 and 16:40 – 19:03 and would provide a service between 09:00 – 16:30 from Kingswells to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. No evening or weekend service was proposed.

Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “Although I accept that the use of the service 94 is the only option open to us to bridge the gap over the next few weeks, given the tight timescales, it does not offer a usable solution beyond that of the next few weeks”.

“The outline timetable will not help people who start work early or finish late, whether they are travelling from Kingswells or indeed working in Kingswells businesses including Kingswells School, Kingsmead Nursing Home, Great Western Nursery and others. In addition, having to change buses at ARI will create timing difficulties for others en route to work”. That’s not to mention the difficulties people will experience socialising and going about their everyday lives.

“The daytime services proposed are very limited indeed, with 60-75 minutes between services, which will impact upon people’s ability to get to medical appointments and the proposed route will not service a number of local facilities within Kingswells”.

As a result of commercially sensitive content, the report was taken in private.

Steve had proposed a two stage approach where the 94 service would be used on a rolling month to month basis until such times as a full service could be tendered and put in place. He suggested that a budget be approved for this and the task be delegated to officers to minimise the time taken to introduce a new service. This would have avoided final decisions being delayed until after May’s council elections.

He said, “My proposal could have limited the use of the No 94 to just a few weeks, pending the introduction of a service which ran in the evenings and operated seven days a week straight into the city centre. This was the preferred option of the council’s Public Transport Unit, but they needed the authority and the funding to go out to tender’, something which was not forthcoming today”.

“My proposal offered a feasible way forward but instead it was opposed by Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors including the Labour and SNP members elected to serve the Kingswells area. Instead, they backed the extended 94 service, leaving many workers unable to get to or from work, putting Kingswells businesses at risk and isolating people in their own homes as a result of the absence of evening and weekend services”.

“Aberdeen City Council has failed to deliver. Kingswells deserves better than this. I’m absolutely appalled at the total disregard of the facts on the ground presented to committee by local people. The decision was to put this service in place for 12 months and with no additional finance at its back, any prospect of an improved service being brought in sooner must surely be very remote”.

“This decision is an absolute disgrace. I’m certainly not finished with this yet and I will seek to overturn this decision and deliver a usable and sustainable service for Kingswells at the very earliest opportunity”.

Environmental Improvements Rejected By Council

Liberal Democrat proposals at last week’s budget meeting offered some environmental improvements in an otherwise tight budget which would have improved the overall look of our neighbourhoods across Aberdeen.

Kingswell, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “Some of the most common complaints I receive relate the how our area looks and how standards have slipped in recent years. Grass cutting is a prime example where, in order to save money, the Council has reduced the number of grass cuts per year”.

“This results in grass growing longer between cuts and making a mess of our pavements as soon as it does get cut. This is not only unsightly but it also presents a slip hazard, especially for elderly and disabled people”

The Liberal Democrats proposed an additional £500,000 to be spent on increasing the number of cuts per annum in order to improve the look of our open space, but also to minimise the mess which is left behind after cuts. Another issue of concern which they tried to address was tree maintenance.

“Steve said, ‘The tree squad has been reduced from 14 people to 2 in recent years. As a result, the focus has to be on attending to dead, diseased and dangerous trees due to budgetary and resourcing pressures. This is resulting in the Council having very little to spend on maintaining the trees they own across the city”.

“The Lib Dems proposed spending an additional £120,000 in order to clear the backlog of dead, diseased and dangerous tree works to free up some spend on traditional tree maintenance”.

Also in the proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrats was a one off expenditure of £200,000 on upgrading the grounds of all sheltered housing blocks across the city. It related to an idea Steve put to the the grounds maintenance team three years ago which has since been successfully trialed in at least one sheltered block since.

Steve said, “The shrubs in these areas were planted decades ago and many are not ideally suited to this type of environment. They grow far too tall and have become straggly over time, catching on people’s hands and clothes and allowing unsightly weeds to grow beneath them”.

“Were these to be replaced by low ground cover plants, the weeds would be reduced, the appearance of the areas would improve, and end of year maintenance would be less costly”.

“There was clearly scope to roll this out across all amenity areas over time, but I suggested we start with the sheltered blocks first so we can see the difference it makes to people’s enjoyment of their surroundings and then look towards identifying additional budget for other areas in future years”.

Sadly Labour, Conservative, SNP and Independent councillors were not minded to include any of these proposals within their own priorities.

Investment In Schools Blocked

Each of the past five years the Lib Dem Group on Aberdeen City Council has proposed additional funding for local schools.

This year’s additional expenditure amounted to £2.5 million across the city, amounting to £111 per pupil.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “Had this proposal been accepted, it would have resulted in increased expenditure of £48,174 for Kingswells, £37,962 for Kingsford, £29,082 for Fernielea and £22,755 for Muirfield. Secondary education was not forgotten either with an additional £89,244 earmarked for Hazlehead and £71,706 for Bucksburn”.

It’s vital that our schools have sufficient funds to ensure our children get the best education possible.

Unfortunately Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors did not share this aspiration.

Council Reject Plan For Investment In Education, Roads And Environment

Commenting on Aberdeen City Council’s budget for 2017/18, Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said “I am very disappointed that Aberdeen City Council did not accept the Liberal Democrat proposals to invest more in education, repairing crumbling roads and pavement and enhancing Aberdeen’s environment when its set its budget for the forthcoming year last week”.

Key points in our proposals – which was part of a carefully costed and balanced budget – were:

Creating a £2.5 million Education Fund to make a real difference for every school and ever school pupil in Aberdeen
Investing an additional £3.277 million in repairing roads and pavements across Aberdeen
Investing an extra £350,000 in improving Aberdeen’s environment
Investing an additional £500,000 in supported bus services to ensure that communities in Aberdeen are not left isolated
Carrying out a feasibility study into transferring the currently closed Hazlehead Swimming Pool to community management

The proposed Liberal Democrat budget also included:

Rejecting proposals to cut £500,000 from spending on libraries
Increasing the council’s ability to repair roads and clear snow from roads and pavements
Freezing both on and off-street parking charges
A commitment to build a new bridge over the River Dee
A study into dualing the Lang Stracht
An additional £120,000 on tree maintenance
An extra £250,000 on increasing the frequency of grass cutting
Investing £200,000 to upgrade the grounds of all sheltered housing blocks in the city

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill said, “Despite the savage cuts forced on the council by the SNP Scottish Government the Liberal Democrats have managed to focus resources on our priorities of education, Aberdeen’s roads and pavements, our local environment and our city centre.”

SNP Scottish Government Cuts £13 Million From Aberdeen City Council’s Budget

The SNP Scottish Government, with the support of Green MSPs, has imposed a huge cut of £13 million from Aberdeen City Council’s budget.

This massive cut will place tremendous pressure on Aberdeen City Council – already the worst-funded council in Scotland.

This SNP funding cut will mean a massive real terms reduction in the money available for vital local services in our city. Liberal Democrat MSPs voted against this damaging budget in the Scottish Parliament.

With so much pressure on local schools, with many of our roads and pavements broken and crumbling and with funding for social care services simply not good enough, the SNP Scottish Government chose to make an enormous cut to the funding of Aberdeen’s local services knowing that this would make things even worse.

Steve Delaney said, “As your local councillor I will always stand up for local people, always put our area and our city first and continue to fight for a fair deal for Aberdeen from the SNP Scottish Government”.

Kingswells’ Community Stars

PARK_AND_RIDE_010Sunday 27th November 2016 saw individuals across Aberdeen recognised for their hard work in communities across the city. This year Eric Clark,  Jim Henderson, Pam Hudson, Aleen Shinnie and Jeanette Taylor were all recognised as “Community Stars” at a civic reception in the Town House to celebrate those who have contributed towards making local communities better places for all of us. 

These five Kingswells residents were responsible for organising the petitions opposing First’s intended withdrawal of bus services from Kingswells and collecting over 2,000 signatures. They all helped gather feedback at the drop in sessions in order to help the council understand the full impact of the proposed withdrawal and help them to plan for the future.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “This annual event was introduced a few years ago to offer a thank you from the council to those who make a real difference in their local communities. Sometimes nominees have contributed over many years, in other cases they may have made a huge impact over a shorter period of time. Either way, those who are recognised have made a real difference”.

“My warmest congratulations go to Kingswells’ winners for 2016. You really deserve the recognition for all your hard work”.

Recognition For A Lovely Lady

pearlAberdeen’s favourite lollipop lady has been presented with her British Empire Medal by Lord Lieutenant George Adam on behalf of HM the Queen at a special reception in the Town House.

Pearl Rendall’s award was originally announced in the Queen’s 90th Birthday honours list in June for services to education. She has been crossing kids at Lewis Road on their way to Kingsford School for over 36 years.

Pearl knows all the kids by name and teaches them how to cross safely from and early age. The kids all love Pearl as she does them, but she stands no nonsense either and they soon realise the importance of staying safe.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’ve known Pearl for a number of years. For Pearl it’s not just a job, she puts her heart and soul into it. As well as cheering up the parents with her warm words and cheery smile, she also looks out for the older folk in our community too”.

“This is what the honours system should be about, recognising the contribution of ordinary folk to their local communities. Well done Pearl, nobody deserves this more than you”.

Autumn Leaves Clearing

IMG_0168.JPGAs is usual for this time of year, everywhere is covered in autumn leaves and these can present difficulties for people who are less steady on their feet. Unfortunately the clear up tends to take longer than we would all like, due to the number of leaves and the huge area to be covered.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I have received assurances from the council that leaf clearing will be their priority between now and the end of the year. They have hired additional sweepers to speed up this work and they are confident they will have all the leaves cleared up before Christmas”.

Eday Crescent Play Area Upgrade

eday_crescentThe play area in Eday Crescent is to be upgraded before the end of the year. Unfortunately this means that all the old equipment is to be removed very soon.

As part of the upgrade some tarred areas around the edges are to be replaced with grass and a new rubberised surface is to be laid over the remaining tarred area. As you would expect there will be a fair amount of disruption but it willl be well worth it.

Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m delighted to see yet another play park being upgraded in our area. From the artist’s impression, it’s clear this will offer much improved facilities for families in the Summerhill area.

Communities, Housing & Infrastructure Meeting 1st November 2016

Town HouseThis committee has overall responsibility for Trading Standards, Bon Accord Care, Aberdeen Crematorium, Aberdeen Heat & Power, council housing, community centres, waste collections, environmental services, roads, pavements, street lighting and a whole lot more.

They also receive reports from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Police Scotland and question senior officers. Their next meeting takes place on Tuesday 1st November at 14.00 at the Town House and is open to the public.

Notable items for discussion are a request for taxis to be permitted to use bus gates, a Police Scotland report on serious and organised crime, proposed changes to housing allocation policy, various road traffic orders (new and in progress), AWPR side road speed limits and this year’s winter maintenance programme.

This meeting is open to the public and the full agenda can be found here.

Aberdeen Consistently Short-Changed

RumblesNorth East MSP Mike Rumbles has uncovered figures that show Aberdeen City Council has lost out on over £100million of ‘block grant’ funding since 2011.

The records, produced by the Scottish Parliament Library (SPICe), show that Aberdeen has been the worst funded council in Scotland for at least six years running – closely followed by Aberdeenshire Council. City funding has consistently dropped below the Scottish Government’s own funding ‘floor’ of 85% of the Scottish average for Total Revenue Support (TRS).

Calculations also show that Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire together have received £711million less than the Scottish average, over the same period.

Mr Rumbles said: “These figures are frankly disgraceful. The Scottish Government have been using the North East as a cash cow, and that has meant less money for our schools, less for our roads, and less for our local services.

“It’s no wonder people feel let-down by this Government, they have had over six years to meet their own funding targets and have resolutely failed every time.

“This is a vulnerable time for the North East, but instead of supporting and investing in our area, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are now two of the worst funded local authorities areas in Scotland.”

Liberal Democrat city council leader Ian Yuill added: “People across Aberdeen know that our city has been short-changed by the SNP for years.

“This is nothing less than a SNP raid on the cash that could provide vital services for families in Aberdeen.

“If something doesn’t change, Aberdeen faces even more SNP underfunding next year. It’s time the Scottish Government held up their hands and gave Aberdeen a fair deal.”

Lib Dems launch campaign against Labour’s ‘vanity publishing’ magazine

Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat ‎councillors haveIMG_0169-0.JPG launched a campaign calling on Labour-led Aberdeen City Council to drop their scheme to spend tens of thousands of pounds printing and circulating to homes across Aberdeen a magazine publishing the council’s “achievements”.

Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill said “We couldn’t believe it when Labour councillor Willie Young proposed this stupid and outrageous magazine scheme at last week’s council meeting. It’s a disgrace that Labour and their allies think it’s acceptable to spend tens of thousands of pounds on this. This is money that could be used on local services such as buying books for schools, providing social care or filling potholes.‎”

Councillor Yuill continued “So many people have contacted us about this over the last few days that we have now launched an online petition calling for this daft magazine scheme to be dropped. People can back the campaign via Facebook.”

Ian Yuill concluded ‎ “It seems Labour doesn’t trust Aberdeen’s local media and are resorting to expensive vanity publishing. Frankly if Labour don’t like the coverage they get in the local press and on local radio and TV they have no one to blame but themselves. It’s an outrage that Labour and their allies have decided to spend council tax payers’ money on this magazine.”

Council Backs Delaney On Kingswells Buses

ACCAberdeen City Council has agreed a motion from Lib Dem councillor Steve Delaney which seeks to ensure Kingswells residents are not left without a bus service and also looks at wider issue of public transport provision across the city.

Steve spoke of First’s total disregard for the residents of Kingswells and the difficulties they will experience if bus services are withdrawn and sought cross-Party support to find a way forward.

It all played out in a somewhat theatrical manner as Labour tried to block the motion twice. Steve then sought an adjournment from the Lord Provost in an attempt to find a way forward without division. What was agreed retained the focus and immediacy of the Kingswells situation.

Steve said, “It was somewhat bizarre how this all played out but I achieved what I had set out to do. This was to gain all Party support from the Council to do everything in it’s power to retain bus services in Kingswells and for politicians of all Parties to work together in order to achieve this. Anything less would have been a missed opportunity”.

“My thanks go to all councillors for their support. Also thanks to the Kingswells residents who sat through a very long meeting to hear this item”.

The full debate can be viewed online. Just select “7 a) Motion by Councillor Delaney” from the menu on the right of your screen. You will need to scroll down to find it.

What was finally agreed reads as follows:-

“That Council:-

1. Deplores FirstAberdeen’s intention to terminate the X40 service to Kingswells at the end of this year, effectively leaving an entire community without access to public transport.

2. Instructs the Director of Communities, Housing & Infrastructure to seek a meeting with FirstAberdeen to seek to reverse this decision and to further emphasise the need for services to be provided to all areas of Aberdeen.

3. Instructs the Chief Executive to meet with Group Leaders to consider how best to ensure that Kingswells residents are not left without a service and investigate how best to protect our communities across Aberdeen from further service withdrawals.

4. Reaffirms the decision of the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee and asks the Chief Executive to arrange for public meetings in Kingswells and Bridge of Don to take place, which seek to feed back and discuss options which are identified by residents and from the drop in sessions.

Energy From Waste Plant Approved

incinerator-picAberdeen City Council yesterday approved the construction of an Energy From Waste plant to divert non-recyclable household waste from landfill.

The proposal was the subject of a six hour debate. The item before councillors was a Planning Application in which they were required to determine the suitability of the plant on purely planning ground as any health or environmental concerns fell outwith the discretion of the Council, falling instead to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

Following on from the decision, the operators will need to apply for a licence from SEPA, who will monitor the operation of the facility and have the power to intervene at any time, should the operators fail to comply with stringent environmental regulations in any way.

The plant will also generate electricity as a by-product of the incineration process, with the potential to alleviate fuel poverty in the Torry area.

The Energy from Waste plant will compliment a new recycling facility which will support mixed recyclate collections and allow many more items to be recycled than is the case at present. The mixed recyclate collections will begin early in 2017 and will be phased in over a few months.

More Shenanigans At Fawlty Towers!

Town HouseLabour have shot themselves in the foot again! At today’s Council meeting they pushed through a decision to publish a 12 page glossy booklet outlining their achievements over the last four years, to be sent out with next year’s Council Tax bills, just weeks away from the Council elections!

Following on from a similar communication setting out a view on the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, today opposition Parties mounted a robust opposition to this proposal.

Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Delaney opposed the previous communication even though he supported the sentiment of that letter which supported Scotland’s continuance as part of the UK. His opposition was on the basis that Council Tax payers should not be footing the bill.

Steve said, “This is political propaganda at its worst. If Labour want to tell everyone about their achievements I’m fine with that. There’s an election next year. By all they means put this in their leaflets and let voters arrive at their own conclusions, just don’t expect Council Tax payers to pay for it”.

Broad Street Safety Concerns Highlighted

Artist-impression-of-Marischal-SDetailed plans for a rejuvenated Broad Street were today approved unanimously by Aberdeen City Council. The plans offer an attractive streetscape designed to be more pedestrian friendly, with innovative lighting, a water feature and an area of greenery.

Whilst backing the plans, Liberal Democrat leader, Ian Yuill, expressed concerns over the decision to remove traffic lights from the junction of Upper Kirkgate, Gallowgate and Broad Street. However, it was agreed that the appropriate infrastructure to support traffic lights would be present, should this later be considered necessary.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “With a bus a minute running through Broad Street, my concerns about pedestrian safety remain. I can only hope that these fears are never realised”.

“With regard to the design itself, it’s surprising appealing and will add much value to the area, even if we are faced by the monstrosity of Marischal Square across the road!”

Consultation on Eday Crescent Play Area Refurbishment

EdayAberdeen City council is holding a public consultation event for the refurbishment of the Eday Crescent play area.

This will be held from 12.30-15.00 on Tuesday 6th September at Mastrick Library. The different options for the play area refurbishments will be available to view.

A council officer will be on hand to answer questions and note opinions from members of the public who wish to comment.

Further consultation on all of these sites will take place in the local primary schools where some of the real experts in play areas will have a chance to make their views known.

Missed Opportunity for Broad Street

Artist-impression-of-Marischal-SAberdeen City Council has taken the decision to remove cars from Broad Street, whilst maintaining it as a through route for buses.

A Liberal Democrat amendment to fully pedestrianise the area was defeated by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors. Instead they favoured “part-pedestrianisation”, with buses sharing the space with pedestrians.

Liberal Democrats went to lengths to point out that there is no such thing as “part-pedestrianisation”, it’s either pedestrianised or it’s not!

Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said he would prefer to see the buses off Broad Street to make best use of the open space.

He also raised safety concerns about the use of shared surfaces, referring to the time when buses were permitted in the area of George Street in front of what’s now John Lewis. He spoke of pedestrians being lured into a false sense of security, only for a bus to come belting round the corner.

With regard to the public consultation exercise, Steve said, “I was concerned to see the consultation merely asked people’s views on the pros and cons of the three options. It did not even ask people to express a preferences. I would have liked to have known what the public thought before taking this decision, but sadly that was a missed opportunity. If nothing else I felt it was disrespectful to those who attended the events”.

Labour, Tories and Independents Back Closure of Hazlehead Swimming Pool

poolAberdeen’s ruling Labour-led coalition has voted down proposals to keep two Aberdeen swimming pools open. As a result, Hazlehead and Kincorth pools are set to close within the next few weeks. This follows on from a Lib Dem campaign to keep both pools open.

SportAberdeen, the arms length body which runs sporting and leisure facilities in the city took the decision following a cut in their funding by Aberdeen City Council. A Lib Dem proposal to put in place funding to allow the pools to remain open was dismissed by Finance Convenor Willie Young, who took the view that the decision be left in the hands of SportAberdeen.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “These facilities are to close as a result of significant cut to SportAberdeen’s budget by our Labour led Council. The Liberal Democrats sought to reverse the position with additional funding but Labour and their allies blocked this move. With a headcount of over 21,700 users of Hazlehead pool over the last year, I have difficulty understanding how this decision can be justified”.

The nearest pools following this closure are Bucksburn, Cults and Northfield.

Election Roundup

alisonLiberal Democrat candidate for Aberdeen Donside, Isobel Davison put up a good showing at the polls following a positive campaign, delivering the second highest increase in Lib Dem vote share (compared to the 2011 election) across all North East constituency seats.

Isobel said, “I would like to thank everyone who supported me in the Kingswells, Sheddocksley and Summerhill areas during the recent election”.

Following on from last week’s Scottish Parliament elections we say hello and goodbye to two prominent Liberal Democrats.

We say goodbye to Alison McInnes who was the first ever Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East Scotland region, winning the seat in 2007 and holding it again 2011. Alison was latterly Justice spokesperson, holding the SNP to account over the centralisation of Police and Fire services and their plans to close local control Police control rooms. She was also a strong supporter of victims rights and civil liberties. Alison was a strong campaigner on local issues related to the oil industry, NHS Grampian, the City Deal and much more. She was awarded the OBE in 2013 for public and political service.

We say hello to Mike Rumbles, the new Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland. Mike served as MSP for West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine from 1999 – 2011. He is a former teacher who also served in the armed forces before entering politics.

Lib Dem councillor Steve Delaney said, I would like to welcome Mike Rumbles as our new Lib Dem representative and I wish him well in his new role. I have no doubt he will offer a strong voice for our area”.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Alison McInnes OBE. Alison had been in elected office for 24 years, having been a community activist for some time before that. She was a strong voice for the whole of the North East and was one of our most effective parliamentarians. I am privileged to have worked with Alison and wish her every success for the future”.

Removal Of “No Ball Games” Signs

_85113988_noballgamesAberdeen City Council has taken the decision to remove signage banning ball games across the city. All current signage is destined to be removed within the next 12 months and no new signs will be erected.

The decision was taken on the basis that these signs have no legal force, therefore no action can be taken against anyone who ignores the signs. In addition, it was also accepted that outdoor play should be supported and encouraged to foster team building and help tackle childhood obesity.

Lib Dem Group Leader Ian Yuill, supported by local councillor Steve Delaney had asked for a report back in six months identifying areas which are unsuitable for ball games with recommendations on how to manage these locations. In addition, the Lib Dems asked the committee to undertake an information campaign aimed both at those playing ball games and local residents, outlining what constitutes appropriate use of open space and ball play”.

Steve said, “Whilst supporting the sentiment of this proposal, I believe some basic safeguards should be put in place to reassure those who are subjected to unreasonable or ongoing anti-social behaviour. Those playing ball games need to respect local residents and their property. Anti-social behaviour and damage to property remain totally unacceptable and this decision must not be regarded as a free for all”

“Putting in place green space management for areas where it would be inappropriate to play with balls just makes sense. Similarly, an information campaign to outline what is acceptable and what is not, would have helped balance rights with responsibility and made it clear who to contact in respect of ongoing instances of unacceptable behaviour.

Disappointingly Labour, Conservative, SNP and Independent councillors took the decision to remove the signage without taking on board the Lib Dem proposals.

Potholes Report in January

Local councillor Steve Delaney called for a report on pothole repairs at the Communities, Housing & Infrastructure Committee on 27th August 2015.

Steve said, “I note one of the poorest customer ratings has gone to roads maintenance. A couple of years ago we were trialling a number of different approaches to pothole repairs, but I’ve heard no more on the outcome of these trials”.

“Two years on, many repairs are still of poor quality. Furthermore, repairs are being undertaken to areas which meet the set criteria only and adjoining defects which do not fit this criteria are being left. The result is that these areas soon afterwards meet the criteria and repeat visits are needed. I struggle to see how this can be cost effective”.

Steve requested a report to a future committee outlining the current criteria for road repairs, detailing the repair processes for repairing potholes and outlining any possible improvements which could be introduced”.

It was agreed this report will be considered by committee in January 2016.

Countesswells Update

CountesswellsAs a result of a failure of the members of the Countesswells Consortium to sign an agreement legally binding them to deliver the schools, roads and other infrastructure, the Planning Application came back to Council.

This application refer to land to the south of the A944 between the roundabout at the end of Lang Stracht to the Kingswells roundabout, where 3000 homes and associated facilities are destined to be built.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “When we first considered this last year, I was happy enough with the proposals within the site boundary but voted against the application due to the absence of any detailed traffic mitigation proposals. I considered this to be an unsafe position then, and it has become more so over time. It’s some 10 months later and we still don’t know whether or not sufficient measures will be put in place to address this legitimate concern”.

The proposal before councillors had advocated the signing of separate agreements with the different developers.

Comment in on this, Steve said, “If we proceed, there is a real risk that contributions do not all line up as expected as a result of any disputes or disagreements between developers. A “best case negotiated settlement” may not necessarily represent the level of contribution which is needed to address either the required education or roads requirements, or indeed both”.

Steve voted to refuse the application on the basis that the current roads infrastructure could not cope with the increased traffic and no details of traffic mitigation had been put forward. When that was defeated he supported the previous Council decision to progress the development but only following the signing of the said legal agreement jointly by all three developers. This proposal eventually won the day.

He said, “It’s not up to the Council to sort out falling outs between developers. They either agree to take joint responsibility for delivering the roads and schools needed to support this development or they don’t build”.

Aberdeen’s Gaelic Plan – Disproportionate & Uncosted

Gaelic-sign-440x188Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors have condemned the Gaelic Language Plan adopted at today’s (19th August) meeting of Aberdeen City Council as “disproportionate and uncosted”.

The Liberal Democrats urged the council to get a report on the costs of the various actions proposed in the plan, but this was rejected by an alliance of Labour, SNP and Conservative councillors.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill said “Labour, SNP and Conservative councillors were happy to sign up to a plan which is completely uncosted. The plan includes things such as bilingual street name signs, bilingual council forms and bilingual public meetings – and all of these will cost money.”

Councillor Yuill also argued that the Gaelic Language Plan for Aberdeen was disproportionate given the tiny number of Gaelic speakers in the city.

Ian Yuill said “Less than one in a hundred Aberdeen residents speak Gaelic. The Gaelic Language Plan includes proposals which are frankly inappropriate for a city which has had no tradition of speaking Gaelic for hundreds of years.

“We need to support Gaelic and recognise its part in Scottish life. What is not needed is imposing a Gaelic Language Plan on a city and a population which has no Gaelic tradition.”

Charles Kennedy 1959-2015

key_Charles_KennedyI’m absolutely shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of Charles Kennedy this morning. I met him a few times and had a lot of time for him. He was a decent, honest man who did his party and his country proud. Always one to stand up for his principles and represent his constituents. We need more politicians of Charles’ integrity, not less. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

Lib Dem Budget Supported Education, Infrastructure & Local Communities

Town HouseOn 5th February 2015 Aberdeen City Council passed its General Fund and Common Good Budgets for 2015/16. This essentially covers everything except Council housing, which was dealt with in December.

All Parties were agreed on over 99% of the £455 million expenditure on essential services, with the different groups proposing alternative spending priorities for the remainder. The Liberal Democrats prioritised education, roads resurfacing, potholes, street lighting and the gritting/clearing of roads and pavements in winter.

The Lib Dem proposals on Education, which were rejected by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors offered additional funding to every school in the city based upon their school roll. It was for head teachers to use this where they saw the greatest need.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Had this proposal been accepted, it would have resulted in an addition £12,807 going to our primary schools, consisting of £4,384 for Kingswells, £2,995 for Kingsford, £2,762 for Fernielea and £2,706 for Muirfield. Secondary education was not forgotten either with an additional £6,689 earmarked for Hazlehead and £4,472 for Bucksburn. At just £200,000 for the whole city, this represented an affordable investment in our children’s future”.

The Liberal Democrats, acknowledging the Council’s inability to keep our roads and pavements clear of snow and (more importantly) ice during a fairly mild winter, also put forward proposals to help address the deficiency. They proposed additional staff and equipment to grit an extra 12.5 miles of pavements AND 12.5 miles of side roads/cul-de-sacs on a “normal” snowy day. During the rest of the year these staff would be deployed to undertake an additional 6,000 road surface treatments/pothole repairs. This was a fully costed proposal which was affordable to the Council, but rejected by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors.

As in previous years the Lib Dem Group proposed an additional £2 million expenditure in our crumbling infrastructure. This would have delivered an additional 5.5 miles of road resurfacing, or 5.5 miles of pavement resurfacing or 1,333 lighting columns or a combination of these to best meet priorities within our communities.

Steve Delaney said,”I was advised by officials a couple of years ago that £20 million of investment is needed per year for the next 10 years to bring our infrastructure up to scratch. Aberdeen’s Labour led Council spends about 20% of what’s needed each year, allowing our roads and pavements to further deteriorate with little hope of being resurfaced in the short term. Sadly this is not a priority for them”.

The Liberal Democrats also put forward proposals to set aside £250,000 from the Common Good Fund to make awards of up to £15,000 to local organisations to support projects which would deliver long term benefit to communities. In fairness, many councillors, cross-Party saw merit in this approach but other than the Lib Dem members, none were willing to support them when it came to the vote.

Tougher Regulation of Private Landlords

housesLiberal Democrat Housing Spokesman Steve Delaney has been pressing Aberdeen City Council to impose tough sanctions on private landlords who fail to register the properties they own. This is a matter he has raised regularly at committee since he was elected in 2012, continually pressing for tougher sanctions against those who choose to ignore the legislation.

The registration of private landlords was first introduced in 2004 and further guidance issued in 2009. As part of the process, premises are inspected and complaints can be investigated. The legislation seeks to introduce an element of regulation which seeks to protect tenants, but there are a minority of landlords who either fail to register or allow their registrations to lapse and drag out the process.

Steve said, “Most private landlords are decent people who abide by the legislation, but for those who do not, Aberdeen can not be seen to be a soft touch”.

Under the legislation, Councils can impose a late registration fee of £110. If this is not complied with, following due process, a Rent Penalty Notice can be served, which effectively results in all rent derived from the property being forfeited. The ultimate sanction is of course prosecution as it is illegal to lease a property without joining the landlord registration scheme.

Steve said, “The Council has to date been reluctant to make use of the sanctions it has at its disposals and has only recently embarked upon a trial of these. After much debate and a full analysis of the situation, officers have now come up with a policy which is fair to decent landlords but tough on those who choose to play the system. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m delighted to see Aberdeen City Council fully utilising the powers at its disposal”.

Update on A944 Bus Stops/Crossings

Bus Stop smallLocal councillor Steve Delaney has been campaigning for improved safety on the A944 since his election in 2012. More recently he mounted an initiative to restore bus stops opposite Kingswells Church and beside the Five Mile Garage.

Recent action came about as a result of a decision taken by Stagecoach about a year ago to cease stopping to pick up or drop off passengers on the A944 between Hazlehead and Westhill other than at the Prime Four Business Park.

Related to this was the decision to remove the bus stop opposite Kingswells Church on safety grounds as a result of the widening of the A944. This has meant passengers can catch the X17 into town but can’t easily get home as the next bus stop is past the roundabout at the Prime Four Business Park.

Steve had put forward proposals for bus laybys, bus stops and signalised crossings at both Kingswells Church and the Five Mile Garage. Unfortunately Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors in a surprise move threw out the Kingswells Church proposal in June, instead calling for the followup report to look only at the Five Mile Garage, the lesser used of the two locations!

The report on the Five Mile proposal came to committee on 28th October recommending no action at this time as funding could not be identified to take it forward. Steve proposed the following, effectively reviving both proposals for future consideration and identifying a potential funding source. His proposal was as follows:-

That officers

1) be instructed to carry out further investigations on implementing a layout for bus stops/laybys in both directions and a pedestrian crossing in the immediate vicinity of Kingswells Church A944 Hazlehead to Kingswells Road

2) be instructed to carry out further investigations on implementing a layout for bus stops/laybys in both directions and a pedestrian crossing in the immediate vicinity of the Five Mile garage on the A944 Kingswells to Westhill Road

3) be instructed to enter negotiations with the intention of securing developer contributions from future phases of Prime Four in order to deliver these necessary infrastructure improvements at no cost to Aberdeen City Council.

Steve said, “Whilst I accept this will not deliver the much needed infrastructure in the short term, it does compel the Council to investigate the possibility of these improvements being funded it by way of developer contributions as Prime Four expands. With no funding from Council sources this was the best possible outcome and I was pleased to secure unanimous backing for these proposals”.

Education Fears with Local Development Plan

Parents1On 28th October 2014 Aberdeen City Council put its latest Local Development Plan out to public consultation. The consultation will run for 10 weeks, giving interested parties the opportunity to comment on the proposals as they currently stand. The Plan then comes back to the Council with councillors having to take a final view before it goes to the Scottish Government Reporters’ Unit for further scrutiny in advance of its adoption by the Council. Very little has changed since the Plan adopted in 2012 as a significant supply of land had already been identified for employment and residential purposes, to be phased over the next 20 years.

Local councillor Steve Delaney asked a number of detailed questions. His greatest concern related to educational provision for housing schemes proposed in the Local Plan. Steve pointed out that pupil forecasts in the current Plan date back to 2010. He asked that these be updated to ensure the Council using the most up to date figures available and can ensure adequate educational provision is identified. His comments referenced Kingswells Primary, Kingsford Primary and Hazlehead Academy, though he stressed that capacity issues would create challenges across the city unless Planning and Educational services worked more closely with each other.

Howes Road Travellers’ Site Kicked Out

Howes RoadOn 28th October 2014 Aberdeen City Council’s Communities, Housing & Infrastructure Committee approved the Local Development Plan to go out to 10 weeks’ public consultation.

In a surprise move, the Labour led Council reversed their previous decision to create a Gypsy/Traveller Halting Site opposite Heathryburn School at the top of Howes Road and directly adjacent to a school for children with special needs, which is to replace the Raeden Centre.

Local councillor Steve Delaney, who had opposed the use of this site from the outset, said, “This is a colossal U-turn by Labour who had used their majority to force this site through, being well aware of its unsuitability in respect of its proximity to a school for children with special needs, a point I had raised myself at the time”.

“The children who will attend this establishment need a tranquil setting and putting a halting site at this location would have created a conflict of uses. For once I commend Labour councillors for waking up to the reality of the situation and finally coming to their senses”.

Countesswells Development Approved

CountesswellsAt its meeting on 8th October 2010 Aberdeen City Council approved the Countesswells Development. The proposal will see over 3,000 new homes to the south side of the A944 between the roundabout at the end of the Lang Stracht (where it meets the A944) and the Kingswells roundabout. For avoidance of doubt, the proposals refers to the large orange blob in the centre of the above map.

Local councillor Steve Delaney spoke in the debate. He expressed no specific concerns over the development within its own boundaries and said that much thought had gone into the layout, open space and town centre. His primary concerns related to the traffic impact arising from the development.

The junction with the Lang Stracht is to receive a major upgrade which will address current pinch point and increase capacity and throughput but Steve’s concern related to the funnel effect as most of this additional traffic would head down the Lang Stracht, which is ill-equipped to cope.

He said, “This proposal is aimed at getting the traffic out of Countesswells, but it fails to adequately address capacity issues elsewhere on the network. The Lang Stracht is already nose to tail during the morning peak. Unless we take drastic action, such a dualing the Lang Stracht, we will see residents in Summerhill and Sheddocksley struggle to get to work”.

The developer’s own figures suggest 82% of peak time movements will be northwards and the bulk will go down Lang Stracht as it’s the easiest and most direct connection, with some traffic also heading down the B1119 Hazlehead road leading to Queens Road. Steve described the peak time traffic from 3000 new homes as “significant” and in addition to the 750 homes planned for Maidencraig and phases 2-4 of Prime Four.

Steve continued, “Only junction improvements being considered for the Lang Stracht. I was filled with horror to read about “potential contributions” towards mitigation on Lang Stracht. Why only potential?”

“This is not sustainable development. Key infrastructure requirements are being ignored as is so often the case. Are we to gridlock whole communities in the name of progress or does Aberdeen deserve better?”

Council Approves Uninspiring Carbunkle – Without Civic Square!

MUSE3The replacement for St Nicholas House was approved by Aberdeen City Council by 23 votes to 18. The Council approved plans as set out in a report before councillors but without the creation of a civic square or consideration of the merits of pedestrianising Broad Street or indeed the possibility of opening up Castlegate to traffic or Queen Street turning left onto West North Street.

Local councillor Steve Delaney was unconvinced by the proposals as they stood. He was not against the development of the site, but rather the quality, scale and massing of what was proposed. Also the effect it would have on the setting of Marischal College and Provost Skene’s House.

Steve said, “This is poor quality architectural design which offers little by way of improvement on the former St Nicholas House. It’s unimaginative, uninspiring, a half baked carbunkle if you ask me. Aberdeen really deserves better”

“The original design was poor but without the civic square it offers nothing by way of compensation for the poor design. This may well re-appear as a concept but without including a condition regarding its funding by the developer it will either fall to the Council Tax payer to stump up or simply never happen. I consider this omission to be irresponsible”

“Whether or not pedestrianisation would work is something we may never know, which is unfortunate”.

Previous proposals by Steve to look at traffic management and the possible re-opening of the Castlegate and to seek to enhance the views of Provost Skene’s House were unanimously approved by the Council but now appear to have been swept aside.

Steve said, “I’m really disappointed with this poor design in the heart of our city and the potential loss of the public open space. It was a great opportunity to really make a difference to our city centre”.

Lets Work Together For A Better Scotland

Commenting on the Referendum result, local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Now that the Referendum is over, we all have time to reflect. Regardless if you were a Yes or a No, we’re all Scots and we need to work together in the interests of Scotland. 85% of the electorate showed they cared passionately about the future of our country by turning out to vote. The vast majority wanted so much more than we have today and the status quo cannot be an option. My respect goes to all who expressed strongly held views on both sides. We all want a much stronger Scottish Parliament, that much we can agree on”.

“For those like me who voted No, this is not a time to rejoice, but instead a time to rebuild. If you voted Yes, you will be hurting as I would have if it had gone the other way. Friends, family and neighbours were on different sides of the argument and there were always going to be wounds to heal, whatever the outcome. Now is the time to unite as Scots to ensure we’re not short changed as a final “Devo-Max” settlement is drawn up. First steps yesterday were encouraging and I look forward to ongoing co-operation between the Parties to deliver on the settled will of the Scottish people”.

The wording of the resolution to the UK Parliament, signed by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Gordon Brown MP, sets in stone their commitment to a timetable: command paper next month, white paper in November and draft laws for a new Scotland Act in January. Published yesterday, the resolution to Parliament will be laid formally when it opens its doors on Monday. It states:-

That this House welcomes the result of the Scottish independence referendum and the decision of the people of Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom; recognises that people across Scotland voted for a Union based on the pooling and sharing of resources and for the continuation of devolution inside the United Kingdom; notes the statement by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition regarding the guarantee of and timetable for further devolution to Scotland; calls on the Government to lay before Parliament a Command Paper including the proposals of all three UK political parties by 30th October and to consult widely with the Scottish people, civic Scotland and the Scottish Parliament on these proposals; further calls on the Government to publish heads of agreement by the end of November and draft clauses for a new Scotland Act by the end of January 2015.

Council Won’t Consult On Summerhill Site

ACCFollowing the withdrawal of Morrisons Supermarket from the former Summerhill Centre site, local people have raised concerns about what may go into the site.

Local councillor Steve Delaney put forward a proposal regarding the future use of the Summerhill site at the Council meeting of 20th August 2014. It read as follows:-

That Council consult widely with the general public in Summerhill, Mastrick and Sheddocksley seeking their views on the redevelopment of the former Summerhill Centre, with a view to bringing an options appraisal to the appropriate committee

Speaking at the Council meeting Steve said, “We need to gather views as to what local people would like to see built there. They have had to look at a derelict site for more than 2 years, surely we owe them that? Now the Morrisons option is off the table, given the size of the site and its prominence, lets ask the public and give serious consideration to their ideas. This is an opportunity to allow local people a say in re-shaping their own community”.

The Council Leader, with SNP, Conservative and Labour support instead referred the matter to officials to work up a list of options for the site and report back to councillors in October where a final decision will be made.

Steve said, “So much for being a listening Council! It would have made sense to hear what local people think before taking a decision on how best to progress this. It became apparent during debate that Labour members in particular had concerns about what people might say. Whilst accepting that all ideas would need to be feasible and deliverable, I just couldn’t get my head round why we should not be asking people for their views”.

“I suggested to the Council Leader that she should be asking people what they want, not telling them what they are going to get! Clearly our Labour led Council don’t value the views of people living in Summerhill, Mastrick and Sheddocksley”.

Council Backs Unaffordable Housing Initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bus Stop Opposite Kingswells Church Thrown Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding For Park & Ride Revamp Thrown Out

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

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

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

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

Camping Bye Law Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Policing Plan Lacks Scrutiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No More Space At Kingswells School!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report Coming Back on A944 Bus Stops And Crossings

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

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

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

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

Newhills Expansion Out To Consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

The consultation can be found here.

Countesswells Masterplan Out To Consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nightmare On Broad Street – The Soap Continues….

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

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

Finance Chief Refuses £7.5 Million!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outrage As Labour Starts “Campaigning On The Rates”!

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

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

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

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

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

    So, What’s Next?

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

Delaney Calls on Castlegate Re-opening To Ease Congestion

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

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

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

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

Delaney Calls For Bus Lay-bys & Crossings On A944

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council Budget 2014/15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– £50,000 in installing additional bus shelters

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

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

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

Lack Of Respect Highlighted By Auditors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour Led Council Thows Away £50Million!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Paper Fails To Answer Voters’ Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alison McInnes OBE, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland

Independence White Paper Has Left People None The Wiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

Risks Are Just Too High

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour’s Blueprint Offers Nothing New

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour Led Council Blocks Roads Spending

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

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

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

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

Labour Still Unwilling To Talk!

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

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

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

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

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

More Bickering Over Haudagain Upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

Why We Need A Street Begging Bye-Law

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

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

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

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