Countesswells Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Bus Service For KingswellsNew Bus Service For Kingswells

IMG 0168Kingswells has a new bus service operating from 16th August 2015. The X18 operated by Stagecoach will run from 0721 (0816 on Saturdays) until 1909 operating from Monday to Saturday.

The service runs from Alford to Union Square, offering a convenient route to and from Westhill and an additional route into Aberdeen City Centre. The only downside (apart from no evening or Sunday service) is that the X18 only stops at the Park & Ride and does not go through the village.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m delighted to see the introduction of this new service. It offers a convenient bus route to the Westhill shops and an express service into the city centre”.

The only details available suggest the route is via Lang Stracht, Westburn Road and His Majesty’s Theatre to the bus station at Guild Street. The timetable is now online at https://www.stagecoachbus.com/uploads/tt_290_291_webfrom16august2015.pdf

Steve added, “I’ve been assured by Stagecoach’s Managing Director that this does not replace plans to bring the x17 into the Park & Ride. These plans are delayed for practical reasons until nearer the end of the year. When implemented, they will offer an alternative route into the city centre via Queens Road.

Update on A944 Bus Stops/Crossings

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

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

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

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

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

That officers

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

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

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

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

Education Fears with Local Development Plan

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

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

Howes Road Travellers’ Site Kicked Out

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

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

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

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

Countesswells Development Approved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bus Stop Opposite Kingswells Church Thrown Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding For Park & Ride Revamp Thrown Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No More Space At Kingswells School!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report Coming Back on A944 Bus Stops And Crossings

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

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

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

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

Newhills Expansion Out To Consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

The consultation can be found here.

Countesswells Masterplan Out To Consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delaney Calls on Castlegate Re-opening To Ease Congestion

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

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

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

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

Delaney Calls For Bus Lay-bys & Crossings On A944

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FirstAberdeen Announces Fares Promotion

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

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

Stagecoach X17 Fares Promotion

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

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

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

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

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

The promotion runs to the end of February 2014

Art Gallery Renovation Approved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Updates On No 40 Bus Service

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

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

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

Latest Update On No 40 Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Bus Route 16th September 2013

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

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

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

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

More Changes On The Buses

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

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

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

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

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

SNP Opposes Byelaw For Unauthorised Encampments

Possible Gypsy/Traveller Halting Site on Springhill Road

Possible Gypsy/Traveller Halting Site on Springhill Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Four Roadworks Updates

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Roundabout Details

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

A944

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

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

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

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

Kingswells/Bucksburn Road

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

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

Kingswells to Cults Road

This will remain single lane in both directions

Blot On The Landscape Gets Approval

hotel

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

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

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

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

Council Opposes Lib Dem Motion For Better Bus Services

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

The motion under consideration read as follows:-

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

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

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

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

Council Opposes Free Sunday Parking Initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masterplanning Process Needs To Be Reviewed

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

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

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

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

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

First Challenged Over Withdrawal Of P&R

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

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

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

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

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

Delaney Calls For 40MPH Limit On A944

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

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

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

Delaney Requests Meeting With Stagecoach


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

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

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

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

Liberal Democrat Motion On Bus Services

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

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

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

That this Council:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FirstAberdeen’s MD Quits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delaney Submits Motion On P&R Service

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

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

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

The Notice of Motion reads as follows:-

That this Council:-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Road Works On C89C

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

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

Speeding Concerns On A944

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

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

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

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

Stagecoach Invited To Plug Park & Ride Gap

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

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

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

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

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.

Rotten Tooth Removed

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

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

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

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

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