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X40 Bus Service To Be Withdrawn From Kingswells

P&RFirstAberdeen has today announced its intention to withdraw the X40 service from Kingswells with effect from the end of this year. This will result in Kingswells Village being the only part of Aberdeen which is not served by public transport.

Kingswells councillor Steve Delaney said, “This decision leaves elderly and disabled people who do not drive, effectively stranded. It also leaves Kingswells residents with no access to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Stagecoach services are available from Kingswells Park & Ride, but that’s of no use unless you own a car, which sort of defeats the purpose”.

“Local residents have for some time believed that FirstAberdeen was trying to kill off this service. In recent years the X40 has seen a number of reductions to its frequency. As a result, those who have the option of driving to work are doing so as result of the poor frequency. This has been further compounded by poor timekeeping. It’s hardly surprising to see passenger numbers down on what is effectively a third rate service”.

“I have already been in touch with the Council asking them to raise this matter with the Scottish Traffic Commissioner in the strongest of terms. I have also asked that they look at all other options open to the Council in order to try to reverse this decision. In addition, I have contacted Stagecoach asking them to look into the possibility of covering Kingswells Village with one of their services”.

“Earlier this year the Liberal Democrat Group proposed £200,000 for supported bus services in their Budget, which would have immediately helped in situations such as this. The Council’s Labour led administration only subsidise Culter/ Cults and Craigiebuckler with approximately £80,000 of subsidy. We would have gone much further with a costed proposal which had citywide relevance”.

“Although I’ve tried to work with FirstAberdeen constructively over the past eight years, it has always been clear that they are profit driven rather than people driven. They have absolutely no regard for maintaining a public service, merely private profit at the expense of the public they aspire to serve”.

“In 2013 the Liberal Democrat Group on Aberdeen City Council sought to ask the Scottish Parliament to strengthen bus regulation legislation by introducing a public service obligation to ensure services were provided to all areas and a minimum frequency of service stipulated. This motion was put forward to prevent such occurrences as we see today, but it failed to attract support from any other political group. Today those councillors should hang their heads in shame”

Consultation on Eday Crescent Play Area Refurbishment

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

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

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

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

Access To Properties During Kingswood Drive Resurfacing

diggingSome concerns have been raised by local residents regarding access to their homes during the resurfacing of Kingswood Drive between Broaddykes Drive and Coldstone Avenue from 3rd to 5th September. There should have been a letter drop (from the Council) to all affected residents but this does not appear to have happened.

There will be some minor hold ups as the work is carried out but residents and emergency vehicles will always have access to their residence in Coldstone Avenue. There may times when at key points of the operation there will be slightly longer delays but these will be at a minimum while the work is at or near the junction.

Broaddykes Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic at its north-most entrance though access from the other entrances to the Broaddykes/Huxterstone area will not be effected during these works. Traffic management signs will be put in place to help guide drivers until the work is carried out.

Temporary Traffic Order Imposed – C89C Chapel of Stoneywood to Fairley Road

diggingAberdeen City Council has made the above-named order in terms of its powers under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The effect of the order, which will operate from 20:00 on the Friday evening until 06:00 on the Monday morning on weekends beginning 16, 23, 30 September, and 7 October, 2016, is to impose a temporary prohibition of driving on the C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road, Aberdeen, between its junctions with Kingswells Crescent and the C88C Newhills Road. Access to properties will be maintained, but no through traffic will be possible. The measure is necessary to protect public safety during AWPR works.
Alternate Route : An alternative route is available via the A944 Skene Road, Lang Stracht-Green Hedges, and A944 Lang Stracht, the A90 North Anderson Drive, the A96 Great Northern Road, Auchmill Road, and Inverurie Road.

Temporary Traffic Order Imposed – C89C Chapel of Stoneywood to Fairley Road

diggingAberdeen City Council has made the above-named order in terms of its powers under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The effect of the order, which will operate from 00:00 on 8 September, 2016, until 18:00 on 7 March, 2017, is to impose a temporary 40mph speed restriction on the C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road, Aberdeen, between its junctions with the C88C Newhills Road and Kingswells Crescent. There will also be a prohibition of right turn manoeuvres at the junction with the C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road on to the two new access roads approximately 75 metres north east of Dykeside Steading. The measures are necessary to protect public safety during the movement of construction vehicles associated with the AWPR

Changes in Temporary Traffic Order – C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road

diggingABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL HEREBY GIVES NOTICE UNDER THE ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1984 OF TEMPORARY RESTRICTION OF TRAFFIC In the interests of public safety at the access to and egress from Circus Vegas From 09:00 on 17 August, 2016, until 23:00 on 28 August, 2016, there will be a temporary 40mph speed restriction on the C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road, Aberdeen, from its southern junction with Kingswood Drive to a point 500m north of its southern junction with Kingswood Drive. There will be a temporary 30mph speed restriction on the C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road, Aberdeen, from a point 500m north of its southern junction with Kingswood Drive to a point 200m south of its northern junction with Kingswood Drive. There will be a temporary 40mph speed restriction on the C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road, Aberdeen, from a point 200m south of its northern junction with Kingswood Drive to its junction with Kingswells Crescent. THE COUNCIL REGRETS ANY INCONVENIENCE THAT MAY BE CAUSED BY THIS TEMPORARY MEASURE, WHICH IS IN THE INTEREST OF PUBLIC SAFETY.

Temporary Traffic Order Imposed – Lewis Road, Derbeth Crescent, Colonsay Crescent

diggingAberdeen City Council has made the above-named order in terms of its powers under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The effect of the order, which will operate from 09:00 until 16:00 on 29 August, 2016, is to impose a temporary prohibition of driving on Derbeth Crescent, Aberdeen, between its junction with Lewis Road and a point 10 metres in a westerly direction. There will also be a prohibition of waiting on either side of Lewis Road, Aberdeen, between a point 20 metres south of its junction with Colonsay Crescent to a point 55 metres north of its junction with Derbeth Crescent, and also on either side of Colonsay Crescent, Aberdeen, between its junction with Lewis Road and the boundary between numbers 1 and 2 Colonsay Crescent. The measures are necessary to protect public safety during ironwork repairs being carried out by Scottish Water.

Alternate Route : An alternative route is available via Sheddocksley Drive and Springhill Road.

Temporary Traffic Order Imposed – C93C Borrowstone Road

diggingAberdeen City Council has made the above-named order in terms of its powers under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The effect of the order, which will operate from 18:30 on 19 August, 2016, until 06:00 on 22 August, 2016, and from 18:30 on 26 August, 2016, until 06:00 on 29 August, 2016, is to impose a temporary prohibition of driving on the C93C Borrowstone Road, Aberdeen, between Westholme and East Kingsford Cottage. Access to properties will be maintained, but no through traffic will be possible. The measure is necessary to protect public safety during works associated with the AWPR.

Alternate Route : An alternative route is available via the B979 Clinterty-Kirkton of Skene, Wogle Road, Westhill Drive, and the A944 Skene Road.

Temporary Traffic Order – AWPR 28 C89C

diggingAberdeen City Council has made the above-named order in terms of its powers under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The effect of the order, which will operate from 20:00 on the Friday evening until 06:00 on the Monday morning on weekends beginning 19, 26 August, and 2 September, 2016, is to impose a temporary prohibition of driving on the C89C Chapel of Stoneywood-Fairley Road, Aberdeen, between its junctions with Kingswells Crescent and the C88C Newhills Road. Access to properties will be maintained, but no through traffic will be possible. The measure is necessary to protect public safety during AWPR works.

Alternate Route : An alternative route is available via the A944 Skene Road, Lang Stracht-Green Hedges, and A944 Lang Stracht, the A90 North Anderson Drive, the A96 Great Northern Road, Auchmill Road, and Inverurie Road.

Pre-Application Consultation – Proposed Stadium At West Kingsford

StadiumAberdeen Football Club have recently announced their intention to hold a number of pre-application consultation events in advance of lodging a formal application in respect of their proposals for a stadium at West Kingsford.

Details are as follows:-
– FourMile House, Kingswells, Tuesday 26th July, 1pm-8pm;
– Holiday Inn hotel, Westhill, Friday 29th July, 1pm-8pm;
– Aberdeen Asset Management Suite, Pittodrie, Tuesday 2nd August, 1pm-8pm.

In addition, ‘pop-up’ exhibitions are also arranged to be displayed at the Trinity Shopping Centre (Wednesday 3rd August 12pm-6pm), Central Library (Friday 5th August, 12pm-5pm) and at Pittodrie Stadium (Monday 8th August, 1pm-7pm).

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “I would encourage everyone who has an interest in this proposal, whether for, against, or just looking for more information, to attend one of these events. It’s important that everyone’s views are heard”.

Feedback from these events will help inform a finalised planning application later in the year. At that stage you will have 21 days to make any representations, should you wish to do so.

Steve added, “I’ve had a number of representations from constituents, both for and against this application, seeking my support. I would like to make it clear that councillors are not permitted to express a view on planning applications prior to them coming before the Council or the Planning Committee, otherwise they are debarred from voting on the application. However, all representations are of course given due consideration”.

Missed Opportunity for Broad Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour, Tories and Independents Back Closure of Hazlehead Swimming Pool

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

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

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

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

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”.

Roadworks In Kingswells

diggingThe Old Lang Stracht bus route will be closed from 26th June to 3rd July inclusive. This is necessary to allow resurfacing to be carried out from the junction with Fairley Road to a point 200 metres eastwards. The X40 and X18 buses will be diverted along Fairley Road to the Kingswells roundabout then onto the A944 to the Green Hedges roundabout and onto the Lang Stracht during these works.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “This road is in a terrible state and I’m delighted to see these works are finally happening. It’s just a pity we’re only looking at a 200m section being resurfaced rather than its whole length, but it’s welcome nonetheless”.

Bus Route Diversion in Sheddocksley

As a result of resurfacing works in Arran Avenue between Benbecula Road and Skye Road, the No 23 bus will be diverted. The roadworks are due to run from 16th – 20th May inclusive.

Access to homes in Benbecula Road, Uist Road, Taransay Road, Lismore Gardens and Berneray Place will be maintained from 16th – 18th May, but there could be delays between 8am and 5pm.

On 19th and 20th May access will not be possible between 8am and 5pm when the road is being laid, until the surface has set. There will be no bus service on Lewis Road from Stornaway Crescent to Skye Road.

Additional bus stop will be in place on Lewis Road along the diverted route. Details as follows:-

Start date and time 16 May 06:00
End date and time 24 May 24:00

Service 23 when heading to Sheddocksley terminus
Normal service round Lewis Road to Sumburgh Crescent then:
• left into Sumburgh Crescent
• continue along Sumburgh Crescent
• right into Lewis Road
• continue along Lewis Road (using all temp stops)
• left onto the Lang Stracht (spend any layover time at the last temp stop on Lewis Road)

Buses

More Roads Misery for Kingswells

A944_2_sThe first phase of the Countesswells development is about to begin and associated roadworks have already started. This is a development of about 3,000 homes phased over 10-15 years on the south side of the A944 between the Sheddocksley roundabout and the Kingswells roundabout.

In advance of the first houses being built, public utilities (electricity, gas, water mains, plumbing, sewerage, telecoms etc) need to be taken from Kingswood Drive (near its junction with Fairley Road) across the A944 and over to the Cults road. In other words we are talking about months of disruption for Kingswells residents once again”.

“These works will result in road closures, diversions or other traffic management measures on Kirk Brae, Cults, C128C Cults to Kingswells, Countesswells Road, Kingswood Drive and the A944 Aberdeen to Alford carriageway.

In order to minimise the time taken to complete the works, construction teams will operate up to 12 hours a day Monday to Saturday with the possibility of Sunday working. Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Delaney has asked that extended hours not be worked on Kingswood Drive in order to offer some respite to residents in adjoining streets.

The first two phases of eleven are being conducted at the Countesswells Road end of the site with phase three being the Cults to Kingswells road (south end). The A944 works, Kingswells roundabout, Kingswells to Cults road (north end) and Kingswood Drive are affected during phases six to nine”.

“Access to Kingswells will be preserved at all times, though there will be lane closures on the A944 in the vicinity of the Kingswells roundabout and on the C89C Newhills road.

Roadworks are scheduled on Kingswood Drive between 18th July and 19th August during which time a one way system will operate from a point just northwards of its junction with Fairley Road to its junction with the C89C Newhills road.

Steve Delaney said, “It appears that public utility works have the right to carry out major works such as these as long as appropriate traffic management proposals are put in place. The fact these works will have a negative impact on Kingswells whilst offering no benefit to the area, does not seem to feature. No sooner have the dug up our roads and they’re back to dig them up again!”

“I asked for the Kingswood Drive works to be undertaken during the school holidays when there’s less traffic on the roads and this has been confirmed. I also asked for the extended working hours to be avoided in residential areas and this is being considered”.

“These are small but significant concessions. Unfortunately there will still be significant delays getting in and out of Kingswells via the A944 and the closure of the Cults road and there’s no getting around that”.

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”.

Election Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Removal Of “No Ball Games” Signs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Potholes Report in January

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

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

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

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

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

New Heating System for Regensburg Court

Steve at RegensburgAberdeen City Council set up Aberdeen Heat & Power in 2002 to deliver combined heat and power solutions for hard to heat multi-storeys. The city now has a network of buildings linked directly to their combined heat and power infrastructure, complimented with several stand alone district heating systems. Where possible the Council also seeks to link public buildings into the CHP “grid” as larger scale initiatives are more economic to operate.

Three years ago local councillor Steve Delaney asked the Council to look at the inclusion of Regensburg Court in any future rollout. At that time the programme was fully committed to works elsewhere, though it was agreed this proposal would be given serious consideration. He also asked if Kingsford School could be included to improve the potential viability of any such a scheme.

On 27th August 2015 the Communities, Housing & Infrastructure Committee approved the inclusion of a district heating (stand alone) system for Regensburg Court in the next investment phase during 2016/2017. They are also looking at the feasibility of extending the initiative to include Kingsford School, as was initially requested. At committee, Steve also asked for the viability of connecting this new scheme to the existing district heating system at Mastrick Land with a view to eventually connecting directly into the combined heat and power “grid” at a future date. It was agreed this will be looked at further.

Steve said, “Combined heat and power along with district heating lifts tenants in hard to heat properties out of fuel poverty and assists us in meeting our carbon reduction targets. This will make a huge difference to heating bills at Regensburg Court. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m absolutely delighted and I know tenants will be too”.

Lewis Court Update

IMG_1560At long last work is due to re-start on building works at Lewis Court following the collapse of Muirfield in April this year. Since then the site has been abandoned with scaffolding still in place, abandoned paint pots and paint brushes, missing rain downpipes and the grounds unmaintained, with bushes and grass growing up over people’s windows.

Local councillor Steve Delaney, who has raised this repeatedly, brought the matter up at the Communities, Housing & Infrastructure Committee on 27th August 2012. He spoke of the shocking mess that people are surrounded by and called for works to be resumed as soon as possible, with the grounds being tidied up in advance of building works starting.

Steve said, “Lewis Court has become overgrown, like a jungle. It’s completely unacceptable expecting people to live in conditions such as these. The grounds have been neglected to such an extent that residents can’t even open their windows.Those who are not looking out at scaffolding or abandoned paint pots can’t see out at all for the height of the bushes or grass in front of their windows. This needs to be sorted out now”.

Assurances were given that building works are to resume on 14th September 2014 with the grounds being tidied up in advance as requested.

Pearl Wins National Award

IMG_0540Aberdeen’s favourite lollipop lady has done it again. Following on from winning Aberdeen City Council’s “People’s Champion” in 2013, Pearl has now won a top national award.

Pearl Rendall is known to many as Kingsford School’s lollipop lady. She’s been keeping our children, and their parents before them, safe for well over 30 years and yesterday she won the “School Crossing Patroller Of The Year” award for Scotland.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Finally we see an ordinary hard working person being given the recognition she deserves for her hard work and community spirit. Personally I feel there’s far too little heed given to the dedication shown by ordinary folk who make a real difference in their communities”.

“I’ve known Pearl for a number of years and she crosses my son (above) every day on his way to school. She teaches road safety, awareness of danger, respect for others and so much more. She even cheers up my grumpy face on a Monday morning! This is someone who takes a genuine interest in the kids and their parents, not to mention the grandparents and other local folk too”.

“Well done Pearl, nobody deserves this more than you do”.

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”.

Countesswells Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aberdeen’s Gaelic Plan – Disproportionate & Uncosted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”.

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.

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”.

Charles Kennedy 1959-2015

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

Lib Dem Budget Supported Education, Infrastructure & Local Communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lib Dems Call For 20mph Speed Limit In Aberdeen

IMG_0169-0.JPG Democrat councillor Ian Yuill is asking Aberdeen City Council to look at the “feasibility, desirability and implications” of introducing 20mph speed limits on many more Aberdeen Roads.

Ian Yuill’s move came after the City of Edinburgh Council agreed to introduce 20mph speed limits across much of Scotland’s capital.

Ian Yuill said “I want the council to find out what Aberdeen’s residents, communities and businesses think of introducing 20mph speed limits across much more of Aberdeen. Other cities have introduced widespread 20mph limits but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for Aberdeen. I do think though that it is worth investigating.”

“Many residential roads in Aberdeen already have 20mph limits or are ‘20s Plenty’ zones. People living in other areas regularly ask for reduced speed limits or traffic calming on roads to improve pedestrian and road safety. It may make more sense to look at a more widespread 20mph scheme rather than continue a piecemeal approach.

“Clearly, if a 20mph scheme was ultimately introduced in Aberdeen, it would not apply to every single road in our city. As has been the case in other cities introducing widespread 20mph speed limits, major roads in Aberdeen would continue to have a 30mph or 40mph speed limit. ”

Steve’s Seasonal Message

Steve SantaI’d like to thank everyone who contributed towards making things happen in our area in 2014. A list of names would be too long to publish and I’d be bound to miss someone out! So whether that’s Council staff or community volunteers, you all know who you are.

Volunteers are what makes society what it is today. Whether it’s helping out at your local school, assisting an elderly neighbour, putting in a few hours to help out a charity, or being a community activist, you make things happen which would not ordinarily happen. You are the people I admire the most.

2014 was a good year for myself and my immediate family but not one without its challenges. Hopefully it was kind to you too. Not knowing what the future holds, I can only offer my very best wishes to you and yours over the festive break.

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing everyone again in 2015

Regards
Steve Delaney

Housing Budget – Consensus Followed By Madness!

housesOn 17th December 2014 the Council agreed its Housing Revenue and Housing Capital Budgets for 2015/16. Revenue raised from Council house rents is legally restricted in its use to pay for expenditure directly related to managing, improving and renovating these properties and grounds belonging to the housing account as well as financing the cost of housing debt. It cannot be used for general council expenditure. All Non-Housing expenditure is managed through the General Fund, and this Budget will be debated in February.

In an unusual moment of consensus, councillors from across the political divide backed an officer proposed housing budget which saw rent increases pegged to 3.3% along with a programme of investment across the city. Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesman Steve Delaney discovered an error in the budget which would have seen £360,000 cut from the environmental improvements budget.

This funds crime prevention measures, bird proofing, area fencing, security doors, sound insulation, security lighting and numerous other estate management improvements in Council housing areas across the city which have been identified by Housing Officers. The proposed reduction had been a genuine error and Steve was thanked for spotting this by Labour’s Housing Convenor.

In his Budget speech Steve responded by saying, “I’d like to tribute to councillors across the chamber for their willingness in recent years to work together for the benefit of our tenants. We will not always agree, and we will have our differences from time to time, but we do all genuinely try to reach a consensus on issues that relate to the condition of our housing stock and the welfare of our tenants”.

Steve proposed just two changes additional changes, the first instructing a report to be drawn up setting out the next phase of the Combined Heat & Power initiative which connects multi-storeys and public buildings to a low cost communal system for heat and power. This was accepted unanimously.

Steve said,”We are delighted to see the continued roll out of over-cladding and other much needed upgrades to multis across the city. However we would also ask Council to instruct a report into the possible further expansion of the highly acclaimed Combined Heat & Power initiative in advance of the current programme coming to an end. We would support this initiative being expanded to include many more homes and public buildings in order to contribute towards the reduction of fuel poverty, reduce our carbon footprint and minimise fuel costs faced by the Council in respect of public buildings.

However, Steve’s second proposal was defeated by Labour, SNP and Tory councillors in a hugely bizarre turn of events. He was proposing asking the UK and Scottish Governments to co-operate with each other in advance of the official transfer of new powers to allow the equivalent of Housing Benefit to be paid directly to landlords under the new Universal Credit regime.

By way of background, it had been decided that the housing element of the forthcoming Universal Credit (equivalent to the current Housing Benefit) could no longer be paid directly to councils and housing associations. Instead it would be paid directly to tenants who must then pay their own rent. The biggest fear is that due to competing demands on very limited household budgets, a significant number of tenants will fall into rent arrears. This is what happened with the introduction of the Poll Tax and councils are still collecting debts from over 20 years ago. Less revenue to councils and housing association results in less investment in existing housing stock and fewer new builds, possibly also leading to higher rents.

The Smith Commission on Devolution has proposed giving the Scottish Government discretion in this matter to continue direct payment of the housing element of Universal Credit to landlords in Scotland. This is a position councils and housing associations have been advocating in order to protect the interests of current and future tenants. However, this power will not come into force for 12-18 months pending the implementation of the forthcoming Scotland Act, so there will be a period of unnecessary exposure to this risk.

Steve said, “I expected nothing less from the Tories, but was gobsmacked to see Labour and the SNP opposing a measured proposal which could have helped keep rent arrears in check whilst also taking some of the financial pressures off people unfortunate enough to find themselves out of work. When rent arrears go through the roof as a result of this folly, the blame will clearly lie at the doors of those who walked away when they could have tried to do something about it. I’m not sure if it’s ignorance of the facts or if there’s hidden political agendas here. Regardless, this decision is no less than pure lunacy!”

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

Tougher Regulation of Private Landlords

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

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

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

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

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

Update on A944 Bus Stops/Crossings

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

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

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

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

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

That officers

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

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

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

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

Education Fears with Local Development Plan

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

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

Howes Road Travellers’ Site Kicked Out

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

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

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

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

Countesswells Development Approved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unaffordable Housing For Summerhill Site

summerhillAberdeen City Council has approved plans to develop the former Summerhill Academy site for housing developed using the mid market rent model, which results in rents being set mid way between Council rents and the private rental market.

It was agreed after considerable debate and division that the preferred option was for 100% mid market rent with no provision of housing at social rent levels on the Summerhill site to address the needs of families on council and housing association waiting lists.

The report before councillors was brought as a result of an instruction from the August meeting, but this tight timescales has resulted in normal procedures being bypassed and councillors being provided with an outline business plan rather than a detailed one.

Lib Dem Housing spokesman Steve Delaney said, “I did not believe that we should be considering a proposal without a full detailed business plan which takes account of deliverability of all possible options for this site. We also needed a detailed analysis of projected school rolls and plans to mitigate any capacity issues but this too was unavailable”.

“I also had considerable concerns about the 100% provision of mid market rent which will do nothing to help low paid working families living in overcrowded conditions, something I was somewhat bemused to see being proposed by Labour councillors”.

In the normal course of events, due process dictates that a full technical business case should be completed and presented to the Corporate Asset Group and then considered by the Corporate Management Team. An officer recommendation is then be made and reported to the relevant committee. It was acknowledged this process was not followed in this particular case due to time constraints.

Steve also raised questions about the capacity of the Lang Stracht and how additional traffic could be accommodated, also how Hazlehead Academy could cope with additional pupils arising from these proposals. He requested further proposals be brought forward to a future meeting incorporating a mix of tenures with emphasis on including housing at social rent levels.

He continued, “Make no bones about it, mid-market rent is usually allocated on a first come first served basis, unlike social housing, so anyone who can afford the rent can apply. This would not exclude those who can afford to buy but may choose to rent”.

“There is no guarantee that these house will go to newly qualified nurses, teachers and other key workers who would otherwise struggle with private rent levels. This proposal does nothing to address the skills shortages we face as a city. Clearly this decision is a slap in the face to low paid families in Aberdeen as Labour instead build housing for those on modest incomes. This is not affordable housing and they should hang their heads in shame”.

“Surely there has to be a way that we can assist key workers without robbing those in greatest housing need of their only hope of living in a home that’s affordable to them. I even suggested we all get together to look at a possible way forward on the key workers issue working cross party, and that too was rejected. I’m deeply disappointed by this”.

Council Approves Uninspiring Carbunkle – Without Civic Square!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets Work Together For A Better Scotland

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

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

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

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

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/

Council Won’t Consult On Summerhill Site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council Backs Unaffordable Housing Initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”

Camping Bye Law Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Policing Plan Lacks Scrutiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No More Space At Kingswells School!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report Coming Back on A944 Bus Stops And Crossings

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

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

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

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

Newhills Expansion Out To Consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

The consultation can be found here.

Countesswells Masterplan Out To Consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nightmare On Broad Street – The Soap Continues….

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

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

Finance Chief Refuses £7.5 Million!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outrage As Labour Starts “Campaigning On The Rates”!

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

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

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

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

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

    So, What’s Next?

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

Delaney Calls on Castlegate Re-opening To Ease Congestion

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

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

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

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

Delaney Calls For Bus Lay-bys & Crossings On A944

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Police And Fire Control Rooms Axed

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

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

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

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

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

Alison McInnes OBE, MSP for North East Scotland

Council Budget 2014/15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– £50,000 in installing additional bus shelters

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

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

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

Superfast Broadband Coming To Kingswells Soon!

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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”.

FirstAberdeen Announces Fares Promotion

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

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

Stagecoach X17 Fares Promotion

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

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

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

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

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

The promotion runs to the end of February 2014

Happy Holidays!

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

Contact details over the festive break are as follows:-

Non-Emergency Issues

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

Emergencies

Tel: 0845 608 0919

Winter Maintenance Programme

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

Other Useful Information

Click here for Festive Customer Service Opening Hours

Click here for Christmas bin collections

Lack Of Respect Highlighted By Auditors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art Gallery Renovation Approved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour Led Council Thows Away £50Million!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Paper Fails To Answer Voters’ Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alison McInnes OBE, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland

Independence White Paper Has Left People None The Wiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

Risks Are Just Too High

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour’s Blueprint Offers Nothing New

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Broadband Timescales

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

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

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

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

Further Updates On No 40 Bus Service

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

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

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

Latest Update On No 40 Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Roundabout Confusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed Fire & Police Control Room Closures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alison McInnes OBE, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland Continue reading

Labour Led Council Blocks Roads Spending

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

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

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

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

Kingswells Broadband Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update – Mastrick Post Office Move Delayed

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

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

New Bus Route 16th September 2013

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

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

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

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

Summer Of Disruption Coming To An End

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

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

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

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

More Changes On The Buses

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

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

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

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

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

Mastrick Post Office Closure

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

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

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

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

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

A944 Speed Reduction To Be Considered

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

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

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

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

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

Labour Still Unwilling To Talk!

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

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

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

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

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

Labour Led Council Backs Halting Sites

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Bickering Over Haudagain Upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

Why We Need A Street Begging Bye-Law

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

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

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

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

Labour Refuses To Talk To Sir Ian Wood

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

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

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

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

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