Food Train Offers Shopping Service For Over 65s

A new 1:1 shopping service ‘Food Train Connects’ will cover all of Scotland and is for anyone aged over 65.   It will officially be launched in the next couple of weeks but they are taking any referrals and volunteer enquiries that are coming in just now.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m delighted to hear that Food Train is coming to Aberdeen. Many older people either don’t have their own transport or are unable to do their own shopping but may not be comfortable with online shopping or their preferred supermarket does not currently offer home deliveries”.

“This service matches people who need the service with volunteers who will use their own vehicles to get your shopping from a local supermarket, have it delivered to your door and even unpack it for you! The service is available to anyone over 65 years of age and is now looking for both customers and local volunteers in advance of their launch in Aberdeen in the next few weeks”.

If you are aware of any older person who may benefit from this service, there is a referral form below. Obviously many older people are needing help with their shopping due to COVID-19 restriction and many local communities are doing a brilliant job of enabling this to happen. Food Train hopes to fill any gaps there may be in this provision and, of course, they will provide a long term service providing access to food that will continue after current restrictions are lifted.

Find out more and make a referral here. Please share this post to anyone who either needs this type of service or may be willing to volunteer.

Please Don’t Dump Used Dog Waste Bags!

Photo by Pauline Gerard

A minority of dog walkers, although they are cleaning up after their pets, are then discarding the bag with the dog waste. Sadly this habit has become more prevalent over the past few years.

Unfortunately, due to unprecedented pressures on critical council services and with more people currently able to take their dogs for long walks, dog waste bins are filling up and overflowing more often than usual. In many cases excess bags are being dumped next to the dog bins, resulting in unsightly piles of used dog waste bags.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Dog waste bags can be put out with your normal household waste if need be. I know it’s annoying if the dog waste bin is full but please don’t discard them outside, otherwise you risk being fined for littering. Besides, we really don”t want to risk further health issues on top of this horrible pandemic. Thank you”.

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/

Supermarket Coronavirus Shopping Arrangements

Photo of supermarket trolleys

The big supermarket chains have all put special arrangements in place during the Coronavirus pandemic.

I have tried to summarise the current position for each of the big four chains below but it is best to check each store’s website for the latest arrangements.

Please remember to stick to social distancing rules whilst you are in a supermarket.

Asda
Asda has changed its opening hours and put special arrangements in place its stores.

NHS and care staff have priority for the first hour of trading every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and exclusively on Sunday mornings between 9am and 10am. You can find information about specific Asda stores here.

Morrisons
Morrisons now has an NHS hour from 6am to 7am, Monday to Saturday.

Morrisons has created a range of different food boxes to meet the needs of customers who are self-isolating. These boxes can be ordered online through https://www.morrisons.com/food-boxes/ and are delivered by courier, usually the next day.

Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury’s has increased its Groceries Online and Click and Collect capacity. Even with the additional capacity delivery slots are still difficult to get so you should try the click and collect facility.

They have also introduced a new Volunteer Shopping Card to enable friends and helpers to shop on behalf of someone else. 

8am to 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is dedicated to serving elderly, vulnerable, disabled customers and their carers.

7.30am to 8am, Monday to Saturday is dedicated for NHS and social care workers.

Tesco
Tesco has introduced priority hours for NHS staff. Please check with your local store for details of this.

As well as priority hours, Tesco is giving NHS, emergency service, and care workers priority access to its stores to help them shop when they have the time. You should go to the front of the queue to get into the store with your employee ID.

9am to 10am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Tesco is dedicated to serving elderly and vulnerable customers.

Council Suspends Grass Cutting

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

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”.

Coronavirus – Sources Of Local & National Information & Advice

There are several useful sources of local and national information and advice which can be of help during the Coronavirus (CORVID-19) pandemic.

Information and advice
You can find helpful information and advice at: 

Revised bus and rail timetables
The lockdown has meant big changes to bus and rail timetable. The links below take you to the latest information from the bus and rail companies:

Online Shopping Concerns Raised With First Minister

Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash

People who are self isolating for health reasons are finding it increasingly difficult to get what they need online, with store purchases continuing to be prioritised. In addition, it is becoming more difficult each week to obtain a delivery slot. This is all against the backdrop of the major supermarket chains claiming to have increased the capacity of their home delivery services.

Lib Dem councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill, Steve Delaney said, “I’ve had a number of concerns raised with me about this since before the lockdown but I’m afraid it appears to be getting worse rather than better. The issues highlighted to me have specifically related to Tesco and Asda”.

“The first issue is availability of booking slots, which has been getting progressively worse since the lockdown with shoppers having to wait up to two weeks for a delivery. Earlier this week not a single delivery slot was available from either Tesco or Asda. On 17/4/20 Asda offered some availability for 27/4 and 28/4 only with nothing sooner or later. From the same date Tesco were offering slots from 20/4 to 26/4 only, with nothing beyond that date”.

“The other issue relates to availability of goods. Online shoppers are having to place their orders well in advance but goods which are in stock and available when ordered are later being marked as out of stock  and removed from customers’ online baskets as in-store shoppers are buying these goods off the shelves”.

“We are all grateful to the hard working supermarket staff, delivery van drivers and everyone else involved in the supply chain for  their sterling efforts to maintain the food supply chain during such difficult times. I am also aware of the considerable logistical challenges supermarkets are facing with increased demand for online shopping and the inevitable staff absences they must be facing as a result of the pandemic”.

“However, removing items from online shoppers’ trolleys is resulting in people who, for health reasons, cannot physically get to a shop, losing out every single time to more able bodied shoppers who can, if required, check back the following day for any out of stock items”.

“I raised these issues with Aberdeen City Council more than two weeks ago and they confirmed the issues had already been highlighted nationally. I also know of a customer who called Tesco to explain these difficulties only to be told they were aware and matters should improve within the next couple of weeks as stocks were replenished. However, the situation has got worse, not better”.

Steve has also written to the First Minister in some detail outlining these concerns. He has requested that matters be raised with the Chief Executives of supermarkets which offer home delivery services asking them to review their processes to ensure those placing orders online are no longer put at a disadvantage

National Helpline Launched

Welcoming the launch of a helpline for people who are isolated, digitally excluded and without support during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lib Dem councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley & Summerhill, Steve Delaney said

The following information was issued on behalf of the Scottish Government and COSLA. It is intended to reach people who are isolating and do not have access to the internet.

Only too often we forget about the digitally excluded. This support line offers a vital safety net for those who cannot access online services. Please pass this information to anyone you know who falls into this category. Thank you.

A new national helpline has been set up to provide essential assistance to those who don’t have a network of support but who are at high risk if they contract Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Scottish Government and Local Government have been working with Local Resilience Partnerships across Scotland to set up and launch a coronavirus helpline for people at high risk with an urgent need for support. It has launched today (Tuesday 14th April). This support will be delivered by a range of local groups, including councils, the third sector and volunteers.

The service will offer help to those who do not have family or existing community support and cannot get online and who are over 70, disabled people, require the support of mental health services, are pregnant or receive a flu jab for health reasons. This service is in addition to localised support already available for people who have received letters advising them to shield themselves. However, any of those in the shielding category who are not yet receiving assistance, who do not have family and cannot get online can access support via this new helpline.

We know that constituents may be in touch with you for help at this time and would ask you to direct appropriate cases to this helpline. The helpline (number below) will initially operate during core working hours of 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday while plans are developed and implemented to extend it to operate for a longer period each day. 

Coronavirus free helpline: 0800 111 4000

Callers will be automatically connected to their local authority who will support them to access the service they need, such as:

  • essential food and medication
  • links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults
  • emotional support
  • contact with local volunteer groups.

Please remember this helpline is dedicated to helping those who cannot leave their home and who cannot get help online.

Hearing Aid Batteries

Because of Covid-19, many deaf people have not been able to collect new hearing aid batteries because it is not safe to go to hospitals to pick them up.

The Scottish Government aims to ensure a supply of batteries so that people have enough to see them through the lockdown (stay home).

The new arrangement is:

1) Contact your local Health Board to let them know you want new batteries.

2) Arrange with the Health Board for you either to collect from a community hub, or deliver them to your home along with your food delivery.

Aberdeen’s Libraries Go Online

Aberdeen City Library has had an online presence for some time and these services have seen an increase in use during the current lockdown. Unfortunately many residents are unaware of this and others might not have considered going digital. All you need is your library card to access these services.

The library service has increased the number of digital resources available to members. These include BorrowBox, RB Digital UK and PressReader which provide free access to thousands of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eComics and digital copies of newspaper and magazines.

Aberdeen City Council has confirmed that no fines will be issued for books currently out on loan and cannot return them due to the closures.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “There’s a vast resource of library books and other materials online. Whether you want to do some reading yourself to help pass the time or you’re looking for books for the kids, there’s a wealth of material you can access free of charge. If you’re no longer a member of the library, you can even register online”.

The library is also looking into ways to engage with users via its website and social media channels. This includes providing online help and reading recommendations, Bookbug sessions for children delivered over YouTube and Facebook Live, and much, much more.

The Bookbug sessions can be viewed here:

For more information, visit www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/library or contact Aberdeen City Libraries by emailing LibraryEvents@aberdeencity.gov.uk.

Look Out For Vulnerable Children And Adults

The City Council’s Integrated Children’s and Family Services and the Child Protection Committee are urging communities to adopt an ‘eyes open’ approach to young individuals struggling without the support of schools and nurseries network.

Anyone with any concerns about the health, safety or wellbeing of a child or young person should contact Police Scotland on 101 or the Aberdeen Joint Child Protection Team on 01224 306877 (0800 731 5520 for emergencies out of office hours).

Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership is also asking for an ‘eyes open’ approach for vulnerable adults. 

Measures are in place to provide the right level of support to those adults most in need of care and protection.

There will, however, be vulnerable people who are not known to the services and we need to ensure that they are safe and well.

If you think an adult may be at risk of harm and in need of protection, please contact Duty Social Work on 0800 731 5520.

You can also submit a reporting form online through the Aberdeen City Council website https://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/services/social-care-and-health/adult-support-and-protection./.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m pleased to see support services in place to support vulnerable people during these unusually difficult times. Please don’t assume that someone who is clearly struggling has a support network in place. Unless you know this to be the case, please make contact on one of the above numbers”.

“There are going to be people who slip through the net, most especially elderly people who have no family, so please make that call. If you’ve got it wrong and support is already in place, at least you cared enough to take action”.

Update On Recycling & Brown Bin Collections

Aberdeen City Council has announced the resumption of brown bin recycling collections but on a reduced monthly frequency.

Commenting on the partial reintroduction all mixed recycling, garden and food waste collections in Aberdeen Liberal Democrat Operations Spokesperson Steve Delaney said, “ The Liberal Democrats welcome the reintroduction of collections of mixed recycling, food waste and garden waste in Aberdeen”. 

“Some residents were left confused and dismayed when the decision was taken to temporarily suspend emptying both brown bins and recycling bins in order to stick to social distancing rules. Not everyone got the news of this change which meant bins were still put out on dates when there was no collection. Some people also mistakenly thought they had to put all their waste and recycling in the same bin”. 

“I am delighted that staff from other council services have volunteered to help with waste and recycling collections. Thanks to them, mixed recycling and brown bin collections can restart, albeit on a reduced frequency.”

Councillor Delaney continued, “Whilst four weekly collections of mixed recycling, food and garden waste will present a challenge for some families, this is certainly a vast improvement on no service at all.

“With all household recycling centres closed throughout Scotland, the only remaining option is for excess recycling to be taken to supermarket recycling centres. I have done this myself, as have others but it’s not an option for residents who are either in the shielding group and unable to leave their home, or those do not have access to a car. For these people the challenge of what to do with overflowing recycling will remain unresolved”.

“Most people I have spoken with understand why this situation has arisen and the need to protect council staff. We should never be asking anyone, let alone our key workers, to put themselves at risk in order to deliver the essential services upon which we all depend. That’s why it was important for the council to find a solution that gets the job done without risking the lives of staff collecting waste and recycling”.

A calendar showing which collections are on which days can be found here.

Mind Of My Own APP Now Includes Coronavirus Support

Aberdeen City Council has issued a reminder to the city’s vulnerable young people that they can access support through the current Covid-19 pandemic via an innovative app launched by the council last year.  

Since March 2019 the Mind Of My Own app has helped the city’s care-experienced young people make their voices heard and make decisions on their lives by saying how they are feeling, what support they need and to tell their care worker about the things that are important to them.  

With the use of Mind Of My Own, users can help overcome feelings of anxiety, isolation or loneliness by sending their worker a statement , which will be received by email, to let them know how the user is feeling and allow the individual to feel connected and digitally close to them at this time.

The app can be downloaded from an app store or by creating an account at https://one.mindofmyown.org.uk/

If potential users find this difficult, they can contact their worker and be supported through the downloading process.  

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.

Are You Receiving Steve’s Email Updates?

Steve Delaney is the Liberal Democrat councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley & Summerhill. He sends out regular local news updates to residents by email.

These updates are normally infrequent, only going out when there’s something of local interest to bring to people’s attention. However, they have become a useful source of accurate information about the impact on public services in our area during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are not already receiving these updates and would like to be added to the list, click here.

The list is open to anyone living in the Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill Ward, so please forward this page to others who may have an interest. You can of course unsubscribe at any time.

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.

Changes To Registrar Services

Aberdeen City Council has published the following information

As from today [March 23], Aberdeen City Council has introduced the following measures in relation to registration service (Births, Deaths, Marriages, Still-Births, Civil Partnership and Citizenship Ceremonies) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Births

• Birth registrations have been suspended until further notice.

Deaths

• Face to face still birth registrations and face to face death registrations have been suspended until further notice. We are awaiting emergency legislation changes and will update our website when the information is available.

Civil Ceremonies

• New measures are in place for our civil ceremonies. A maximum of 4 people can attend a civil ceremony at our offices. This includes the couple and their witnesses.

• Pre-booked civil ceremonies must also adhere to the current attendee restrictions of 4 persons.

• Any marriage/civil partnership paperwork which was due for collection (eg schedules) will be from Marischal College.

• Notice of marriage or civil partnership can only be accepted by post to Marischal College. Please do not send your documentation if your wedding is any further than 6 weeks ahead.

• Should you wish to postpone or cancel a marriage or civil partnership ceremony, please contact the office as soon as possible on 01224 522616. If you wish to cancel you will be entitled to a full refund or we can hold onto your booking until you have decided on another date.

Citizenship Ceremonies

• Citizenship Ceremonies have been postponed until further notice.

Copy Certificates

• Request for historical certificates are only be available via our online service at present.

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

Kingswells Fibre Nears Completion

The roll out of high speed fibre connections began in Kingswells 5 years ago. Despite getting off to a promising start, various obstacles were encountered and, at times, it was less than certain that we would see full coverage of the village.

Local councillor Steve Delaney has been working with Aberdeen City Council, Digital Scotland, BT and Openreach to ensure that the programme was fully delivered.

Steve said, “I’m pleased to announce that Derbeth Grange is now 100% completed. To my knowledge there are only a handful of addresses in Wellside Place and Derbeth Park which are not yet capable of being connected to fibre.

“I fully understand the frustration of these families who are still experiencing prehistoric connection speeds but we are getting there. The final challenges appear to be down to obscure technical issues which have yet to be resolved as all other homes in these streets are already connected.

“Please rest assured I will remain in regular touch with Openreach and will post further updates as final completion nears”.

Help Fuel The Renewal

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Sheddocksley Baptist Church offers activities for all ages within our community with their toddler groups, youth cafe, community nurses, senior citizens’ lunches and much more, including the Fine Peace Cafe, which runs 3 days a week

“If you use their facilities and are able to either make a small donation or undertake a fundraising event to help them enhance their offering to our community, I’m sure they will appreciate your support”.

 

Extended Opening Hours At Park & Ride Waiting Room

With effect from 11/2/19 the waiting room at Kingswells Park & Ride will be opened when the first No 747 service arrives and closed when the last bus departs, seven days a week, making it much more comfortable for passengers waiting for a bus, especially in cold or wet weather.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I first raised this matter some years ago following budget cuts which had left the facility unmanned.

“Temporary solutions were put in place from time to time but some fell by the wayside and most arrangements only covered a few hours a day on weekdays.

“With the introduction of the No 14 service last year I once again approached the council’s Public Transport Unit on this matter and they agreed to try to identify a solution and keep it under review.

“Now that the 747 Airport Service is up and running, Stagecoach has agreed to have their drivers open and close the waiting room at the start and end of each day, seven days a week.

“This is going to make a huge difference to local residents and make it much more appealing to use the bus to get to and from work”.

This arrangement will continue for the foreseeable future unless otherwise advised by the operator.

Leaf Clearing

As the leaves fall from the trees and Autumn arrives, the big leaf clearing exercise commences.

The council has hired additional machinery to try to get this job done as quickly as possible and their aim is to complete works by the end of the year.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I know piles of leaves are unsightly but diverting the crews to specific locations holds up their schedule and results in the clearance work taking much longer, which benefits nobody”.

“I would therefore request that residents only report areas which present a genuine safety concern and that way we will get all areas cleared of leaves much faster”.

“Needless to say, please do report any council maintained areas which have not been cleared by the New Year which you feel may have been missed out”.

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.

Kingswells Buses Update

Budgetary provision for supported bus services in Kingswells, as proposed by councillors last September, was agreed as part of Aberdeen City Council’s 2018-19 Budget last week. The service went out to tender a few weeks ago and these tenders have now been evaluated.

Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “It’s been a long struggle to get to the point where the council has agreed to invite tenders and put a budget in place to deliver the service. This could and should have been progressed a year ago. Nonetheless, things finally appear to be happening and an announcement is expected next week”.

“A preferred bidder has been selected and council officers are working through the details with the proposed operator. Due to requirements of procurement legislation no announcement can be made prior to 26th March 2018. Please note that I am not aware of who the preferred bidder is, nor do I have any details of the chosen route or the level of service being offered”

“Unfortunatelythe proposed commencement date has been put back from 2nd April to 30th April. In the meantime the current No 94 service will continue as normal”.

“Please rest assured I intend to get a Focus out within days of the announcement to ensure everyone, especially those who are not online, has the full details.”

“If anyone who does not deliver Focus is able to assist with deliveries next week, that would be appreciated as there are a few gaps in the delivery network and this needs to go out quickly.”

Kingswells Broadband Update

With just a few streets in the village unable to receive super fast broadband at speeds of 38Mbps or higher, residents living at those addresses are keen to know if or when they can expect their homes to be connected.

Lib Dem councillor Steve Delaney said, “A few more streets have been connected since the New Year but information on the others has been difficult to get hold of. The fact that Digital Scotland’s website typically states that there are no plans to provide a service for at least 12 months right up until a street goes live, just adds to the frustration.”

“I’m pleased to say that I now have an update from Openreach on their current plans for these streets. These are pretty broad timescales, where given, but they are the best available at this point in time. I would suggest you check the status of your address on their website every few weeks”

“All currently available information can be found below. Please note I cannot offer any more detail than this. If you are living in a street which is not mentioned and cannot get the service, please do get in touch as it is possible that a handful of addresses may have been omitted accidentally and I would be happy to flag these up to Openreach.”

Concraig Park/Walk

Works here have not yet commenced. This will be phased over the next 3-6 months but not all premises will go live at the same time due to the numbers involved. It is not possible to identify a timescale for individual addresses.

Wellside Circle

All addresses are connected with the exception of Nos 35-38. These premises will be upgraded abut no timescale is currently available.

Wellside Place

All addresses are connected with the exception of Nos 1-8. These premises will be upgraded abut no timescale is currently available.

Derbeth Park

All addresses are connected with the exception of Nos 34, 36, 38 & 40. These premises will be upgraded abut no timescale is currently available.

Derbeth Grange

The homes which are connected to the TPON network (via Cabinet 21) remain outstanding. No information was given on these and this matter is being pursued.

Clydesdale Bank Closure

Clydesdale Bank have made a shock announcement that they intend to close their Mastrick branch by the end of June this year.

Mastrick councillor Steve Delaney said, “Local people and local businesses have been devastated by this news. This is a very well used branch, it’s always busy and it provides a lifeline to both the local community in Mastrick, Northfield, Sheddocksley and Summerhill but also to local businesses, especially those in the Mastrick Shoping Centre”.

“I have serious concerns for the shopping centre, having lost both the Post Office and now, it appears, the bank. It’s not just the convenience of the bank being handy, it’s also the fact that it brought people into the shopping centre, people who may in future go elsewhere”.

“Mastrick Shopping Centre is popular and well used, as is the Clydesdale Bank. I do have to wonder if this was a paper exercise conducted by someone who doesn’t know the area as it makes no sense to close this branch”.

Steve has written to Clydesdale Bank’s Chief Executive outlining the concerns of both residents and businesses and asked for them to reconsider the proposed closure.

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.

Kingswells Broadband Update

Much progress has been made towards Openreach’s stated intention for all homes in Kingswells village to have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2017. However, it will remain a source of frustration and anger to those of you who remain unable to get the service, though there’s currently no reason to suggest that matters are not currently in hand.

Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “Please check out Digital Scotland in the first instance to establish if you can order the faster service. Orders can be placed through any internet service provider. Please do not be put off if you are informed that nothing is planned in your street for at least 12 months as this message often fails to get updated until the service goes live”.

“I’ve been in contact with Openreach in the last week and they are collating data on the addresses which cannot currently receive the faster speeds. It is now going to be some time in January before that information is available. I will of course update everyone as soon as possible. In the meantime here’s the updates I do have”.

Derbeth Grange

The properties in Derbeth Grange which were on the slow Exchange Only lines (about half the street) were subject to a failed upgrade in the summer where a number of residents found themselves cut off completely. These addresses were typically only reaching speeds of around 1Mbps. They have now been connected successfully and residents are able to order fibre broadband.

The rest of Derbeth Grange is connected to the TPON network with speeds of typically 3Mbps – 8Mbps. These lines have not yet been upgraded. Openreach is aware of this.

Derbeth Park

This street was connected several weeks ago. However, there are a handful of addresses (30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40) which cannot currently receive the service so these are being looked into. If you live in Derbeth Park, do not live at any of these addresses and are having difficulty ordering the new service, please contact Steve to let him know.

Concraig Park/Concraig Walk/Wellside Avenue/Wellside End

These four streets are not yet connected to the upgraded service and information has been requested regarding an indicative completion date.

Rural Addresses

Information is quite sketchy in respect of rural addresses close to Kingswells. Some will be connected but others are not currently under consideration for the upgrade. The picture should become clear once the village has been completed.

Route & Timetable For Kingswells Evening Buses (94A)

The new Kingswells evening bus service, the 94A, started yesterday evening and will run Monday to Friday only. It will be operated by Stagecoach and normal Stagecoach fares will apply. The route will be Union Terrace, Blackfriars Street, Skene Square, Westburn Road, Lang Stracht, Fairley Road, Kingswood Drive, Kingswells Crescent, C89C, Kingswood Drive, Kingswells P&R, C89C, Skene Road, Queens Road, Albyn Place, Alford Place, Union Street, Union Terrace. In other words it goes into the city centre via Queens Road and returns via Lang Stracht.

This service will be funded by Aberdeen City Council until the end of March 2018.

Steve Delaney said, “I’m pleased to see an evening bus reintroduced for Kingswells, especially one which goes to the city centre. The different outward and inward routes is less than ideal but it’s a start. What’s important is that the Council agrees a longer term solution for Kingswells at its meeting on 20th September”.

The timetable is available here.

The route map is available here.

Steve added, “Due to time constraints it has not been possible to make these changes widely known. Please let your friends and neighbours know and re-post this message to ensure it gets to as many residents as possible”.

Extended Hours For Kingswells Buses

From 14th August 2017 the hours operated by bus services in Kingswells will be extended. The earlier morning start will commence from this date. However, an evening service was also due to commence on the same date but this is not currently possible as it awaits Traffic Commissioner approval.

Steve said, “I’m pleased to see this early morning service introduced but disappointed the evening service is still awaiting Traffic Commissioner approval. Please rest assured I will issue a further bulletin as soon as this is approved and the full timetable is available”.

“Due to time constraints it has not been possible to make these changes widely known. Please let your friends and neighbours know and re-post this message to ensure it gets to as many residents as possible”.

The revised timetable for Kingswells bus services from 14th August 2017 can be accessed from the link below.

X94 Kingswells Shuttle Service (6am version July 2017)

Broadband Update For Kingswells

This week there’s a combination of good and bad news regarding the rollout of fibre broadband in Kingswells, but there’s a lot going on, which is why this special update is being released.

Cabinet 11 Capacity Addressed

The good news is that capacity was extended for Cabinet 11 users a couple of weeks ago. This area was upgraded over a year ago, but insufficient capacity was installed to allow all households who wanted the service to receiver the faster service. Councillor Steve Delaney raised this issue with Openreach and was initially informed it could take up to 9 months to resolve. Thankfully it has happened much sooner.

The streets which could potentially be affected are: – Kingswood Road, Kingswood Crescent, Kingswood Gardens, Kingswood Avenue, Kingswood Path, Kingswood Walk, Kingswood Grove, Fairley Road, Edmond Gardens, Whiterashes, Denview Wynd and possibly some other streets in this area.

Steve said, “It just seems plain daft that they would upgrade an area where people were either getting the slowest speeds in the UK or, in some cases, no connection at all, without installing sufficient capacity from day one. I have no idea if the cabinet will have sufficient capacity for everyone who wants to connect, but additional connections have been added”.

“I’d suggest if you live in these streets, want high speed broadband and have been unable to order it previously, that you place your order quickly”.

Derbeth Grange Connection Issues

The addresses in Derbeth Grange which are connected to TPON (about 60 homes) will be upgraded to fibre later this year. No firm timetable has been published to date. The same goes for other areas connected to TPON with the exception of Derbeth Park (see below).

However, the households in Derbeth Grange currently connected directly to the exchange (about 60 homes with the slowest speeds) had been upgraded a couple of months ago. However, a fault in the new cabinet 28 has resulted in some addresses not being able to be connected. As a result, some residents have placed orders, had these orders accepted, then either been told their line cannot be upgraded or indeed been cut off completely.

Steve said, “I’ve been in discussions with Openreach on this matter over the past few weeks. The fault has now been traced and the website updated to advise that the service is not currently available. I am unsure of the technical detail, suffice to say I have been advised it is not going to be possible to fix the fault. Options are being looked into but it will take at least three months to implement an alternative solution”.

Derbeth Park Infrastructure Works Are Now Underway

Works to upgrade Derbeth Park to super fast broadband are currently underway with the cabling and infrastructure being put in place. In order to receive the service a box needs to be attached to each property and permission is required from home owners. Openreach have already fitted several of these and are continuing works into next week and possibly beyond.

Steve said, “Derbeth Park will be the first of the streets in the TPON area to be upgraded to fibre broadband with speeds of potentially 300Mbps (though packages on offer may vary). I have received assurances from Openreach that any residents who are not at home when they call requesting permission to fit these boxes will be left contact details outlining how to get in touch to arrange for the works to be undertaken”.

You can track the status for broadband upgrades in respect of any address in Kingswells by logging on to www.scotlandsuperfast.com

Kingswells High Speed Broadband Expected By Year End

High speed broadband is planned for all homes in Kingswells Village by the end of 2017. For avoidance of doubt, this includes the 774 homes currently connected to TPON network in the Derbeth, Concraig and Wellside areas.

Lib Dem councillor Steve Delaney has been campaigning for full coverage of high speed broadband in Kingswells over the past five years, working with Aberdeen City Council, BT, Digital Scotland and the Scottish Government to press the case and ensure delivery under the current programme of works which concludes in the next few months.

He was also instrumental in pushing for a solution for the slowest lines in Kingswells, the ones connected directly to the Westhill Telephone Exchange, something which has now been delivered.

Steve said, “I’m absolutely delighted to see the end is finally in sight. Back in April I spoke of there being some good news in respect of Kingswells broadband and I’m pleased to say I am now in a position to offer some detail on that”.

“I met with BT’s Regional Director a few weeks ago to discuss the remaining properties which do not currently have access to high speed broadband. We also discussed ongoing issues with a lack of capacity for new lines in the area served by cabinet 11 (Kingswood Avenue area and Fairley road area including the new Dandara/Stewart Milne development) as well as connection for rural properties”.

Works have commenced and are ongoing in the TPON areas. The target date for completion is the end of 2017, though this may possibly slip. The connection in these areas will be made directly to the premises (FTTP) allowing potential speeds of up to 300Mbps, though actual speed will depend upon your provider and the packages they offer. These areas, which are having to wait longer than the rest of Kingswells to get a decent speed, have the potential for the fastest speeds currently available in Aberdeen.

Steve added, “The TPON network will remain connected for the meantime as there’s costs associated with the faster speeds and some people may be happy to remain on the old system, so there’s no issue about anyone being cut off, though it is expected that most people will upgrade. Details of timescale for specific addresses are not yet clear but the information on www.scotlandsuperfast.com will be updated as the roll out commences, with the first updates expected in the next few weeks”

“This has been a long time incoming but unfortunately there’s still work to be done. The capacity issue at cabinet 11 remains, though it will be addressed in the coming months. Some rural addresses on the outskirts of Kingswells will be upgraded as part of this programme, others will not. Some rural addresses will see an improvement in speed short of an upgrade, others will not. Unfortunately 100% coverage will not be achieved as part of the current programme”.

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.

Broadband Update for Derbeth, Concraig and Wellside

As those of you who live in the Derbeth, Concraig and Wellside areas of Kingswells know, being connected to TPON & Exchange Only technology has prevented your line from being upgraded to high speed fibre broadband. But there is GOOD news!

In response to ongoing correspondence with BT, local councillor Steve Delaney was informed that “There has been significant positive progress on both the TPON and EO situation within Kingswells from within the Digital Scotland programme”. He went on to say that the Digital Scotland website will be updated to reflect the changed circumstances very soon.

Since then, new cabinets have gone up in the Derbeth area, so all is looking positive, though timescales are not yet available. Last year there was a breakthrough with the EO lines and some parts of Kingswells which were on these lines have now been upgraded. The rest will hopefully follow soon, though everything did come to an abrupt halt a few months ago.

Up until now there was no guarantee that the TPON lines would be upgraded as part of the current programme which is nearing its end. Hard to convert areas were deferred to the end of the programme to allow for technological advances and more cost effective solutions to be explored. Kingswells fell into that category.

There will be further updates as more details become available.

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”.

Announcement Expected On Bus Services

busAs of today’s date FirstAberdeen has made no announcement of their intentions with respect to the X40/11 services to Kingswells. Clearly their intention to withdraw services from the end of the year has now passed as they are required to give ten weeks’ notice prior to terminating a service.

Having said that, I am expecting an announcement from them soon, possibly within a matter of days. Whether that’s a withdrawal of service around the end of January, a continuation until July 2017 to assist hospital workers during the ARI car park closure or another, as yet unknown alternative, is anyone’s guess.

I have recently received a response to my submission to the Public Transport Unit on behalf of Kingswells residents. Their response contained some information which was of a confidential nature and had to be redacted prior to it being made public. I thank them for their assistance in this as I was keen to ensure that everything which could be made public was made public.

There will of course be further updates are the picture becomes clearer.

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.”

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.

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.

Summerhill Post Office Re-Opens

POFollowing the unannounced closure of Summerhill Post Office over two weeks ago, the branch re-opened on 27th June 2016. Post Office Ltd has now put in place interim arrangements to ensure the facility can provide a service until its longer term future is known.

Local councillor Steve Delaney, who has been in constant touch with the Post Office throughout the closure, received a call from them yesterday, advising of the interim arrangements.

In discussions with Post Office last week, Steve said, “There is a duty incumbent on Post Office Ltd to maintain a service”, and asked for interim arrangements to be put in place as soon as possible, adding that, following the earlier closure of Rousay Drive Post Office, “it is totally unacceptable to leave an entire community without a service”.

He concluded, “I’m delighted to see the busy branch at Summerhill re-opened and would urge everyone to spread the word so that customers can once again make use of this facility”.

AFC Plans Stadium At West Kingsford

StadiumAberdeen Football Club has announced plans to relocate to West Kingsford on the outskirts of Kingswells, following the club’s decision not to proceed with their previously preferred location at Loirston.

The proposed location is about 200m beyond the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route close to the boundary with Aberdeenshire and the recently released plans include a 20,000 seater stadium with training facilities located on site. The club plans to have the training facility open by 2018 with the stadium in operation by the 2019/20 season.

The planning process requires major applications such as this to conduct a statutory public consultation prior to lodging planning application. Details of this will be publicised by the club in due course.

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill said, “I would encourage you to come along to the public consultation, find out more about what’s proposed and make your views known as part of that process”.

“Following on from this a formal application will be lodged, at which point there’s 21 days in which you can make any formal representations, should you wish to do so”.

“A final report with recommendations will then go before councillors for their determination in due course”.

“Councillors are not permitted to express a view on the merits of any planning application prior to its determination. On that basis I can state factual information and advise as to the relevant established processes but I cannot discuss the application itself”.

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.

Rousay Drive Post Office Update

POFollowing on from recent concerns regarding the closure of Rousay Drive Post Office, local councillor Steve Delaney wrote to Post Office Ltd, following this up with a meeting in Glasgow on 21st August.

Steve said, “Communications from the Post Office have been poor, with everyone left in the dark as to what’s going on. My biggest fear is that this amounts to the loss of a vital local service by the back door and without consultation. Although half of Summerhill is well covered by Summerhill Post Office, the other half is not and Sheddocksley has no Post Office whatsoever”.

It was a useful meeting with Steve keen to work with the Post Office with the intention of securing a replacement service for our area. Post Office Ltd advised it was not their intention to reduce the size of the network and confirmed they would be advertising for another local business to take on the service very soon. Steve has already put forward suggestions they may wish to further examine and has offered to meet with them locally as matters progress.

He added, “This was a meeting allowed me the opportunity to convey local concerns first hand and put right some misconceptions about distances and public transport links, which will hopefully help inform the process as it moves forward”.

“I’m not at all happy at how this has been handled or the fact that people have been left without postal services for so long. Regardless, I am of course happy to work with Post Office Ltd towards achieving a positive and sustainable outcome. There is no guarantee we’ll get a new Post Office, but it essential that dialogue continue and all options are explored”.

Sheddocksley Roadworks

diggingA number of roadworks are soon to commence in the Sheddocksley area. There will be a prohibition on driving and parking in order to ensure public safety during gas mains replacement works.

These works will be carried out in a phased manner. No phase will commence until such times as the phase before it has been completed, so dates given are subject to alteration.

Phase 1, Sheddocksley Road, Aberdeen, between its junctions with Bellfield Road and Kingsford Road, from 07:30 on 24 August, 2015, until 24:00 on 11 September, 2015.

Phase 2, Sheddocksley Road, Aberdeen, between its junctions with Kingsford Road and Auchlea Road, from 07:30 on 31 August, 2015, until 24:00 on 25 September, 2015.

Phase 3, Sheddocksley Road, Aberdeen, between its junction with Auchlea Road and and its southern junction with Windford Square, from 07:30 on 7 September, 2015, until 24:00 on 9 October, 2015.

Phase 4, Sheddocksley Road, Aberdeen, between its junction with Windford Road and its southern junction with Sheddocksley Drive. Sheddocksley Drive, Aberdeen, between its junctions with Borrowstone Place and Sheddocksley Road. Borrowstone Place, Aberdeen, between its junctions with Sheddocksley Drive and Derbeth Crescent, from 07:30 on 14 September, 2015, until 24:00 on 23 October, 2015.

Phase 5, Derbeth Crescent, Aberdeen, between its junctions with Borrowstone Place and number 20 Derbeth Crescent, from 07:30 on 21 September, 2015, until 24:00 on 6 November, 2015.

Please contact Scottish Gas Network or the Roadworks Coordinator at Aberdeen City Council for more details.

Rousay Drive Post Office Closes

IMG 0168After less than two years’ in operation the Post Office at Rousay Drive in the Nisa Store has closed down. This follows the “temporary” closure of the branch over the preceding four or five weeks. No explanation has been offered as to the reason for the closure.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “About three weeks into the “temporary” closure I received a letter from the Post Office which said absolutely nothing, other than the fact the Post Office was closed, which of course I had already worked out!”

“I since contacted them and they did not have the decency to respond. Regardless of the reasons behind the closure they have shown an inability to communicate with the public and displayed a blatant disregard for public service.”

“Rousay Drive was a busy Post Office in a convenient location, so the closure would not have been down to lack of business. The nearest Post Offices are in Summerhill Drive and Cluny Place, making them inconvenient for some residents at the western side of Summerhill but inaccessible to Sheddocksley residents who don’t drive.”

The closure of a Post Office branch (where the Post Master/Mistress is employed by the Post Office) such as the former premises in Lewis Road needs to go through a public consultation process with a view to relocating the service. The closure of a Post Office Local outlet (one situated within a shop and operated by the shop on a commission basis) does not require consultation and there is no requirement to relocate the service within the locality.

Steve said, “This is the loss of a vital local service and the Post Office just don’t give a damn. Furthermore, they seem to have become a law unto themselves, accountable to no-one”.

Kingswells Broadband Update – June 2015

Slow_sMore homes in Kingswells will be able to sign up for superfast broadband later this year. Digital Scotland has confirmed that additional works will be undertaken between October 2015 – April 2016 but has not offered any indication of areas to be included. The areas which could be connected easily are Concraig, Wellside and parts of Derbeth, essentially those homes which are connected to cabinets 19, 20, 21 & 22.

People living in the Kingswood Avenue area, part of Derbeth Grange, Fairley Road, Edmond Gardens and Whiterashes now look unlikely to be connected until later in 2016 or 2017, if at all. It would be possible to upgrade the main cabling from the Westhill exchange directly to these homes and this remains a possibility but of course it comes at a cost.

In the meantime there is an alternative available by way of satellite technology which is then re-distributed by wi-fi. Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “Following a successful trial in the Derbeth area, I’ve been in touch with the company behind this initiative to establish how practical it would be to roll out the service to other parts of Kingswells”.

“The service is currently available in the Derbeth and Concraig areas (though this may also take in parts of Wellside) and I’ve asked them to look at the viability of offering connection to The Kingswood Avenue and Fairley Road areas. This is currently being looked into”.

This service is more expensive at £49 per month for a 12 Mbps connection or £90 per month for a 30 Mbps connection. As an introductory offer, Kingswells residents can sign up for £35 or £60 per month respectively for the first 6 months. Equipment and installation costs are currently £275.

If you’d like to find out more about this service, contact Aberdeen Technical Services on 01224 573601 or email: sales@aberdeentechnical.co.uk
Steve said, “For people on exchange only lines with slow connections or no connection, this may be their only option, at least in the short term”.

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.

Cabinet 12 Goes Live!

broadband-01At last the long wait is over! Broadband cabinet 12 in Kingswells has been switched on! This cabinet serves Corse Avenue, Corse Gardens, Corse Wynd, Migvie Gardens, Migvie Lea, Migvie Avenue, Migvie Grove, Midmar Park, Midmar Walk, Midmar Crescent, Midmar View, Bethlin Mews and Cromar Gardens, offering high speed connections to a potential further 277 properties.

Areas served by cabinets 11 and 13 have been live for several months. No information is currently available on cabinets 19, 20, 21 and 22 as to when we can expect them to give live. In fact no indication has been given as to which cabinet will be upgraded next.

Residents living in Kingswood Avenue, Kingswood Path, Kingswood Walk, Kingswood Grove, Fairley Road, Edmond Gardens, Whiterashes and part of Derbeth Grange are directly connected to the Westhill Exchange rather than through street cabinets. It is currently unknown if or when these streets will be connected.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I will continue to update this website with information as I manage to suss it out, but getting reliable information on the Kingswells superfast broadband programme from official channels is absolutely impossible. The whole programme appears to be being guarded with a secrecy rivalling that of North Korea!”

“This failure to communicate with the public is absolutely disgraceful in what is allegedly an open, transparent democracy. Digital Scotland and BT Openreach appear to be needlessly withholding information from us or they simply don’t have a planned programme of works and are making it up as they go. Either way, it’s totally unacceptable as they appear to be accountable to nobody.”

For your information, the following streets are served by the following cabinets:-

Cabinet 11 – Coldstone Avenue, Kingswood Mews, all Broaddykes Place, Broaddykes View, Broaddykes Close, Broaddykes Avenue, Broaddykes Crescent, Broaddykes Drive, all Huxterstone Drive, Huxterstone Terrace, Huxterstone Court, Huxterstone Place, Bellfield View, Old Skene Road

Cabinet 12 – Corse Avenue, Corse Gardens, Corse Wynd, Migvie Gardens, Migvie Lea, Migvie Avenue, Migvie Grove, Midmar Park, Midmar Walk, Midmar Crescent, Midmar View, Bethlin Mews and Cromar Gardens

Cabinet 13 – Clova Crescent, Clova Park, Coull Gardens, Coull Green, Callum Wynd, Callum Park, Callum Crescent

Cabinet 19 – Wellside Road, Wellside Place, Wellside Close, Wellside Gardens, Wellside Avenue

Cabinet 20 – Wellside Wynd, Concraig Place, Concraig Gardens

Cabinet 21 – Derbeth Place, Derbeth Park, Derbeth Manor, Derbeth Grange, Derbeth Walk

Cabinet 22 – Wellside Circle, Concraig Park

Please note this information is as accurate as is possible from the limited information available. There is no guarantee that it is 100% correct but it is offered in good faith. It is also worth noting that some properties connected to a specific cabinet may not necessarily be able to receive the superfast broadband service.

Check out if you can get superfast broadband here

Kingswells Broadband Webinar

Slow_sA webinar (web/telephone based seminar) was kindly organised by Kingswells Community Council in response to people’s frustration at not being able to get up to date information regarding the Superfast Broadband roll out in Kingswells.

It took place on 19th August 2014 and comprised of presentations from those charged with delivering Superfast Broadband to Kingswells including BT Openreach and Digital Scotland followed by a question and answer session which featured concerns raised by local residents and Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney.

Here’s a brief summary of what was discussed:-

Two cabinets are currently online, a third (cabinet 12) will be up and running in a few weeks. These will cover about 900 premises. It was accepted that information is sketchy at present but the aim is to have the Digital Scotland website updated regularly in future and this should be live in a few weeks’ time. Updates will also be issued via Twitter and Facebook. It is suggested everyone who is interested sign up via www.digitalscotland.org.uk as well as the Facebook page and Twitter feed.

It became apparent that some people (notably in parts of Derbeth, the Kingswood Avenue area and the Old Village, maybe others too) may have lines connected directly to the exchange. Superfast Broadband requires connection to street cabinets and existing street cabinets are being used wherever possible. In areas served by these “exchange only” lines (where the speeds are typically the worst in Kingswells), BT need to install street cabinets before they can offer connection.

Areas with pre-existing cabinets are being prioritised first to get the largest number of people upgraded and online faster. These won’t necessarily have to wait until the end of the programme to be connected, but they are regrettably being classed as lower priority at present, merely adding insult to injury.

It is expected that up to 5% of addresses across Scotland may not be able to get super fast broadband. It was unclear how many properties in Kingswells may potentially be affected.

It is hoped that new technologies emerging over the 4 years the programme is running, will further reduce this number, but that in itself suggests a small number of people may have to wait much longer than the originally anticipated completion date of October 2014. The panel would not be drawn on which, if any, areas in Kingswells were likely to be affected.

It was agreed that Kingswells Community Council and Steve Delaney will be kept updated with latest developments.

Steve said, “Much of the presentations at the start of the webinar told us nothing we didn’t already know and had minimal relevance to Kingswells, but they may prove interesting to some people. Although the information relating to Kingswells was somewhat less favourable than we had hoped, it did help put everything in context and led to a greater understanding of what’s going on”.

“The webinar is worth watching if you can, but for most people downloading the audio content might be easier. There are many unanswered questions which will only add to people’s frustration, but having some answers is in all fairness, worthwhile. I would like to thank Kingswells Community Council and, in particular, Ian Cox for setting up the webinar. Full details on accessing the content is on their website”.

http://www.kwells.org/broadband-webinar-2/

Kingswells Superfast Broadband Update

worldwidewebMessage from Councillor Steve Delaney on Superfast Broadband in Kingswells.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Community Council have a page worth checking out at http://www.kwells.org/superfast-broadband-now-available/

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

Bus Stop Opposite Kingswells Church Thrown Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council Dismisses Traffic Concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding For Park & Ride Revamp Thrown Out

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

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

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

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

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.

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.”

Superfast Broadband Coming To Kingswells Soon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Broadband Timescales

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

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

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

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

Proposed Fire & Police Control Room Closures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Broadband Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update – Mastrick Post Office Move Delayed

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

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

Summer Of Disruption Coming To An End

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

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

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

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

Mastrick Post Office Closure

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

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

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

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

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

A944 Speed Reduction To Be Considered

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

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

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

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

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

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”.

The Final Countdown!

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

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

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

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

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

Accelerate Aberdeen seeks to demonstrate demand for high speed broadband

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

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

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

Accelerate Aberdeen seeks to demonstrate demand for high speed broadband.

Super Fast Broadband For Kingswells

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mastrick Family Fun Day, Saturday 15th September

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

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

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

Click the link below for full details.

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

Support Your Local Post Office


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

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

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

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

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

Delaney Submits Motion On P&R Service

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

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

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

The Notice of Motion reads as follows:-

That this Council:-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changes To Park & Ride Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Bus Service Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Service 25

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

Services 23 & 3

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

Service 13

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

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

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

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

Additional Consultation Event On Buses

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

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

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

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