New plan surfaces for Carnie pitch

After campaigning for almost six years for improvements to the Carnie pitch, I was delighted today when colleagues on the Garioch Area Committee agreed the recommendations in the options appraisal put forward by officers.

Local residents will know that this synthetic surface, built by developers and opened to the public in 2008, has seen much better days. The surface has lacked maintenance and been misused due to the open access of the facility, particularly by dog exercising and other inappropriate use.

We have worked with a number of interested parties over the years looking at ways in which a new 3G or similar surface could be made sustainable by using a booking system so that different groups could make best use of the space, and at the same time generate income for maintenance of the facility. Unfortunately at this time, no group has expressed an interest in taking financial or ownership responsibility for the facility.

The option recommended to committee and agreed today was to replace the existing surface with a tarmac surface which would include an acrylic two-colour top cover to enhance playing quality for a number of sports including tennis, basketball, mini-hockey etc. This is a basic but enduring surface and the most suitable for a public access facility. The appropriate infrastructures (e.g. goals) and line markings would be included in the works. The work will be commissioned this month, although of course completion will be weather-dependent with synthetic surfaces typically laid in the April-September period.

This is great news and will mean that the facility can once more be enjoyed by nearby residents and the wider community. I have asked that Landscape Services input to the programme of works by tidying up the area immediately surrounding the pitch too.

I really appreciate the work officers have done in bringing this options paper forward, and the speed in which our new Area Manager has matched funding to appropriate local projects. A perfect example of the right people, in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time!

Road Safety Week sees approval of reduced speed limit at Kirkton of Skene

I was pleased that Road Safety Week has been marked in my ward by the Garioch Area Committee approving today the implementation of a Traffic Management Order (TMO) which includes the reduction of speed limit to 50mph on the A944 west of Gairloch Smiddy to Mason Lodge, an overall distance of 2030 metres. Within the five year period from January 2012 to December 2016, of the 17 accidents reported to Police Scotland, 65% of these involved inappropriate speeds. The purpose of the 50mph speed limit is to reduce the number and severity of collisions at the crossroads.

The TMO earlier went to public consultation. An objector argued that safety should be improved on the bends of the road and drainage needs to be looked at. The Roads team have been asked to investigate drainage issues and I have today requested an early report back to ward members. Officers today stated that the bends on the route where vehicles have known to have left the road have already been identified for inclusion in next year’s surfacing programme and again, I asked for early implementation.

Drivers will be aware that on both sides of the smiddy junction, there are “slow down” LED warning signs. Unfortunately these are out of order at the moment. My final request was to ensure these are fixed promptly and that they remain in place to complement the new speed limit.

The additional journey time travelling at 50mph rather than 60mph over the proposed change, we are told, would equate to 14 seconds (the time I took to type the first 20 words of this blog!).

Proposed changes to Aberdeenshire bus network – have your say.

Stagecoach have issued the following information and are seeking your views. All feedback received by 17th November will be considered ahead of plans being finalised.

Full details of all routes can be found here.

I have summarised the main changes to Westhill and the surrounding areas as highlighted by Stagecoach:

Within Westhill, the service is proposed to become two way rather than operating a circular route in Westhill with journeys finishing at Broadshade to improve the overall reliability of the service. Other minor timing adjustments to the timings between Kingswells P&R and Union Square.

Service 220 withdrawn from Broadshade due to the extension of service X17, some 220 journeys will extend to Kirkton of Skene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evening closure of Straik Road for waterworks

Please note that due to Utility Works to be carried out by Scottish Water/A Plant Lux Traffic Management it will be necessary in the interests of public safety to apply the following restriction to traffic.

CLOSURE

ON STRAIK ROAD, WESTHILL

From the junction with A944 Broadstraik Roundabout to the junction with Carnie Avenue

For 1 night on 30 October 2017 between 19:00 and 00:00

Diversion via B979 to B9119, B9119 to A944, A944 to Straik Road as shown on the attached plan

Access to Emergency Vehicles will be maintained at all times.

Access for pedestrians will be maintained and vehicular access to affected properties will be maintained whenever possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Aberdeenshire schools honoured in national school sport awards

Schools across Aberdeenshire have been recognised in a prestigious national sports award for innovation and achievement in delivering PE and extra-curricular sport.

Three schools were awarded Sportscotland’s highly prized gold status in the School Sport Award; nine achieved silver status and one was honoured with bronze status.

As part of the National Lottery funded programme, the Sportscotland School Sport Award is a national initiative that is designed to encourage schools to continuously improve PE and sport. The award encourages sporting links schools and the communities around them.

The Sportscotland School Sport Award is supported by the Active School’s Network which aims to ensure there are opportunities for all children and young people to engage, participate and reach their potential in this area and is part of Aberdeenshire Council’s Sport and Physical Activity Service.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services, said: “I am delighted that so many schools in Aberdeenshire have been acknowledged in this prestigious national award.

“The schools involved impressed those judging the award by presenting a wealth of evidence demonstrating among other aspects increased attainment and that key targets were met.

“Schools also demonstrated an increase in the number of extra-curricular sports clubs and a rise in the number of activities offered. For example, at Meldrum Academy participation rates went up three per cent from 24 per cent to 27 per cent.

“I would like to thank all the teachers, pupils’ parents and Council Officers who played such a key role in this success.”

Cllr Anne Stirling, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee, said: “There is plenty of anecdotal evidence which suggests that young people who are involved in sport at after school clubs not only become healthier but are less likely to get involved in anti-social behavior.

“This is not only good for the young people but means are communities are nicer places to live, work and visit as a result.

“Schools play a vital role in shaping our children and young people as citizens so it is very positive indeed that so many schools in Aberdeenshire are receiving these noteworthy awards.”

Stewart Harris Chief Executive of Sportscotland, said: “Congratulations to all the staff and pupils at the schools in Aberdeenshire – they should be extremely proud of this fantastic achievement. Not only have they put physical education and sport at the heart of their school and the local community, but they have managed to do so in a way that encourages all pupils to engage in physical activity whilst having fun at the same time.

“Sportscotland is committed to being a world-class sporting system for everyone, and a crucial part of that is putting young people at the heart. Working with our partners in local authorities and governing bodies of sport, we are creating closer links between physical education, school sport and club sport, which benefits young people by providing more and better opportunities to take part in sport.”

With more applications than ever before, there are currently 212 sportscotland Gold School Sport Award schools – 336 schools have been awarded silver and 84 with bronze.

To achieve a Bronze or Silver Sportscotland School Sports Award, schools self-assess their current practice. However, to gain gold status an extensive external assessment is also carried out by an independent panel of experts.

The on-line self-assessment tool supports schools to achieve this by helping them to reflect on their current practice and identify areas for improvement. It also puts young people in the school at the forefront of the decision making and implementation processes around the school.

For more information, please visit https://sportscotland.org.uk/schools/school-sport-award/.

 

 

Here is a list of the schools in Aberdeenshire that have received awards:

GOLD (REVALIDATION) Ellon Academy
GOLD (REVALIDATION) Meldrum Academy
GOLD The Gordon Schools
SILVER Aboyne Academy
SILVER Barthol Chapel Primary School
SILVER Elrick Primary School
SILVER Lairhillock Primary School
SILVER Markethill School
SILVER Mearns Academy
SILVER Midmar Primary School
SILVER Skene Primary School
SILVER Westhill Academy
BRONZE Crombie School

 

 

National Planning Review unlikely to improve local situation, councillors tell Government

Scottish Government proposals to overhaul the planning system in Scotland are unlikely to have any positive effect in meeting the demands and aspirations of communities and the development industry, say councillors.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) has written to the country’s Chief Planner in response to a range of changes being proposed at a national level.

Councillors and planning officials believe the current approach to strategic and local planning in the area works well and the proposed changes take decision making further from local communities.

There is particular concern over a lack of detail around proposals to replace the role of the Strategic Development Plan (SDP), which currently provides a long term strategy for future growth.

It also guides the production of Aberdeenshire’s Local Development Plan, which provides a blueprint for the development of the area, ensuring a consistent approach to planning applications.

The Government’s current intention is to replace Strategic Development Plans with Regional Partnerships and officers and councillors are concerned about the lack of detail so far.

Its Places, People and Planning consultation asked Scottish councils for their opinions on plans to bring forward a Planning Bill in the near future, which is part of a wider programme of work aimed at strengthening “planning’s contribution to inclusive growth and empowering our communities”.

Now ISC chairman, Peter Argyle, has written to the Scottish Government on behalf of the committee to set out the council’s thoughts on a Position Statement which outlines the changes the Government is considering.

The Position Statement was published following an independent review of the planning system, published in May 2016, and a subsequent consultation on 20 proposals for improvement.

Aberdeenshire Council has already responded to the initial consultation, and has now given its opinion on proposals for changes which have emerged as a result.

There is particular concern around timing as the north-east needs, at the very least, a transitional arrangement to ensure up-to-date development plans are in place throughout any period of change.

Cllr Argyle said: “This council’s most immediate concern is the lack of detail around measures to replace the role of the Strategic Development Plan and the means of engaging over regional spatial strategy and, in particular, housing requirement.

“The Council welcomes change where benefits can be evidenced but, in the context of the north-east of Scotland the current arrangements have worked very well and there is not as yet sufficient evidence or detail around a replacement system to demonstrate that it will improve on the current system.

“One size does not fit all and there is a lack of evidence that the proposals will improve the process or performance of the system in delivering infrastructure and further housing.”

ISC vice chair, John Cox, added: “The current barriers to development, particularly housing, are the physical cost of development and the demand within the local markets, not the planning system or its processes.

“The changes being proposed would also remove political control from the local area, taking it to the centre, and would also potentially give developers the opportunity to renege on agreements made for contributions to improve infrastructure impacted upon by their developments, known as Developer Obligations.

“The committee wanted to reinforce the resource implications of the proposals for all councils and the need to improve trust in planning processes, which the current proposals do not assist.

“There is nothing that gives me confidence the process will be easier, quicker or more efficient, basically failing most of the objectives. Plain and simple, this would be a further erosion of the local democratic process and accountability, driven by lack of funding.”

Councillors have also expressed their concern about the fast pace of the consultation and the emerging legislation, fearing it may lead to errors.

The Government’s Position Statement states no final decisions have been made on the content of any future legislation at this stage.

Sunnybank to Lyne of Linton road closure

 

Please note that due to Utility Works to be carried out by BT/A Plant Lux Traffic Management it will be necessary in the interests of public safety to apply the following restriction to traffic.

CLOSURE

ON C142c

From Sunnybank to Lyne of Linton

For 4 days from 18 September 2017

Diversion via, C146c to A944 Dockenwell, A944 to C141c as shown on the attached plan

Access to Emergency Vehicles will be maintained at all times.

Access for pedestrians will be maintained and vehicular access to affected properties will be maintained whenever possible.

Site notices will be erected in due course indicating the temporary restriction to traffic and the alternative routes where applicable.

Please look out for each other on the roads.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Road users urged to have Safer September following motorcyclists’ deaths.

Following the deaths of three motorcyclists on Moray and Aberdeenshire roads in two months, road users are being told to have a ’Safer September‘.

Two riders and one pillion passenger have died in the area since July, prompting the two councils to encourage motorists to be vigilant. Aberdeenshire and Moray have numerous routes which provide great opportunities to see the north-east at its best, however, thinking about road safety throughout your journey can make it a much safer experience.

Councillor Peter Argyle, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee and the council’s Deputy Leader, said: “North-east roads can be very busy during the summer months and with autumn now approaching, September is often seen by motorcyclists as one of the final months where good riding conditions are available.    

“When someone is killed in a road traffic incident, they are not just another number – they are someone’s family member, best friend or partner and a huge hole will always be left behind by their loss.

“Under the helmet and leathers, or inside any vehicle, is a person with a life, people who love and depend on them. Everyone needs to remember this when considering taking risks on public roads.”

Leader of Moray Council, Cllr George Alexander, said the recent death toll is distressing for all.

“Motorcycling is clearly growing as a leisure pursuit, which on our rural roads is perfectly understandable,” he said.

“But, as I’m frequently told by motorcyclists, it’s a pursuit that requires complete concentration at all times, so I would ask all riders to take that extra bit of care, concentrate and watch the speed.

“Everyone using the roads, irrespective of the mode of transport they are using, has to be mindful about their own and other road users’ safety.  A momentary loss of concentration, being distracted or a poor decision can result in a catastrophic outcome.”

Police Scotland Road Policing Inspector Jon Barron said: “I am acutely aware of the desperately tragic toll following road traffic collisions and that too many families have suffered and are continuing to suffer across our area.

“Road users can help by concentrating fully, by paying attention to what is going on around them and by making sure that their vehicle is safe and they are fit to drive or ride. 

“Please look out for each other, particularly more vulnerable road users including motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and pedestrians and play your part in keeping north east roads safe.”

The ‘Safer September’ message is simple; enjoy travelling in the north-east, but remain focussed on your driving, riding and the road around you.

 

South Fornet to junction with B9126 set to close for 5 days

Please note that due to CARRIAGEWAY REPAIRS to be carried out by Aberdeenshire Council it will be necessary in the interests of public safety to apply the following restriction to traffic.

CLOSURE

ON THE U102c

FROM SOUTH FORNET TO THE JUNCTION WITH B9126

Commencing    21 August 2017 for 5 days.

Site notices will be erected in due course indicating the temporary restriction to traffic and the alternative routes where applicable.

The alternative route is B977 to U101c, U101c to C99c Blackchambers OR B977 to B9126, B9126 to U102c