5-day road closure from Auchronie Hill to Millbuie Farm

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 C99c

FROM AUCHRONIE HILLTO MILLBUIE FARM

Commencing  7 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 B9126 to U98c Kirkton of Skene, B979 Kirkton of Skene to U100c, U100c to C99c Blackchambers, U102c to B9126

 

What’s behind the headlines as AFC ramps up stadium plans?

Love them or hate them, the No to Kingsford Group (NKS) continue to be painted the villains against the beloved Dandies as determination of AFC’s planning application for a new stadium looms nearer. The story paints a picture of the heroic Reds, struggling to score all things good against one dastardly group who don’t know what’s good for them. For those who don’t read beyond the headlines, any stadium built of course will be first-class if it is in the right location, but the story is a little more complicated than one lone group’s objection against “very localised issues”.

Back in May, the club submitted additional information to Aberdeen City Council to try to address some of the outstanding issues from their original submission some months earlier. Statutory consultees were invited to comment as well as representations being open for the public to comment on the new information. You can read all the new documents online at the AFC link on the right hand side of my page.

Aberdeen City Council’s Roads Development Management team have highlighted a host of outstanding issues not addressed in this second round of documents from the club. New information on trip generation, modal split and trip profiles of the proposed development has emerged with no new scoping details, nor has “the altered methodology been scoped with the Council and agreement has not been sought as would normally be expected.” Police Scotland has not confirmed in writing that they are willing to control the movement of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists as required as part of the Traffic Management Plan nor to provide police officers in both east and westbound carriageways on the A944 to stop vehicles from entering the pedestrian crossing space.

Confirmation previously sought on the 600 spaces at the Arnhall Business Park being available during matches with an evening kick-off has not been forthcoming in the additional information either. Aberdeen City notes that these aspects have not been identified in the Transport Assessment Addendum and are requesting clarity in this regard. They also re-iterate that an off-site parking arrangement with a third party and out with the redline boundary of the site is not enforceable within the planning system. You will see many other issues on their response online; too many to document again.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services response is not available online at this minute, so I will not make comment on that here. Westhill & Elrick Community Council’s response is awaited too.

On reading the many documents submitted from the club this time around, not only have they thrown in some new quanderies over the Fanzone with no backing information on noise assessments, economic implications, but also a new supporters survey compiled by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

After ploughing through these additional late papers, for me, and I know for many others, the fundamental planning issues remain. The greenbelt issue has not gone away. The site remains outwith the Local Development Plan. The stated preferred method of transport is by car, going against both councils’ sustainable travel policies. There is no direct route from the AWPR to the stadium; therefore the AWPR is not the magic bullet for this development. There remains no genuine community use available.

The “Dons executive” has a lot more talking up to do to satisfy not just the baddies of NKS, but the raft of statutory consultees including both councils, local community councils and members of the wider public who have read between the lines and have delved in to the reams of information to come forward with real, not perceived concerns. The plot will no doubt thicken as we turn the pages towards the pre-determination hearing and ultimate determination in October. And of course, what will the decision-makers make of it all?

 

 

 

 

Women in Farming and the Agriculture Sector

I wrote previously about the Scottish Government’s research project, the aim of which is to investigate the role of women in farming and the agriculture sector in Scotland under five headings: daily life, aspirations, career paths, leadership and comparative analysis with women in other family businesses. During the research, the importance of inheritance, training and farm safety also emerged as important issues. I have copied the findings below.

Executive Summary

In 2016, the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) commissioned research on ‘Women in Farming and the Agriculture Sector’. The overall purpose of this research was to establish a baseline position on women in farming and the agriculture sector, which then will inform future policies to enhance the role of women in these sectors.

The specific aim of this research project is to investigate the role of women in farming and the agriculture sector in Scotland under five headings: daily life, aspirations, career paths, leadership and comparative analysis with women in other family businesses. During the research, the importance of inheritance, training and farm safety also emerged as important issues.

The research was comprised of literature review, 9 focus groups, 30 interviews and two on-line surveys: in total, over 1300 women and 12 men from across Scotland participated. The research was undertaken from June 2016 to March 2017.

Key Messages:

Women play a major role in Scottish agriculture, participating in the full range of farming activities.

The cultural practice of passing on large farms intact to one son is the single biggest barrier to women’s entry into agriculture. This means land transfer is institutionalised culturally (i.e. it is a hegemonic practice) but not legally (i.e. there is no legal restriction against multiple inheritance or bequeaths to daughters).

Women are very under-represented amongst the elected leadership of national-level farming organisations (e.g. although over 1/3 of farm operators are women, the NFUS has no women amongst its national office holders, regional board chairmen or committee chairmen.

However, about half of NFUS staff are women). Women have more proportionate elected representation in the Scottish Crofting Federation (where 3/9 board members are women).

Most survey respondents would like to see more women involved in leadership of farming organisations, but only about 1/3 were personally interested in becoming more involved in leadership themselves.

Lack of time is a major barrier to advancing women’s roles on-farm and in farming organisations, and to accessing training (including continuing professional development, knowledge sharing, farm visits and industry events). Women in agriculture are very busy, juggling family responsibilities, farm work, housework, off-farm employment and volunteer work.

Some respondents reported exclusionary practices that take place in farming organisations (e.g. the unlikeliness of women being elected to committee positions; women being asked to leave meetings once the social elements were finished).

Approximately 18% of main survey respondents identified ‘Not welcome by existing male leaders’ as a barrier to their participation in leadership of farming organisations.

The Scottish Association of Young Farmer Clubs (SAYFC) was the most common provider of leadership experience to women in Scottish agriculture.

There is a clear need for more access to, and uptake of, vocational, practical training for women entering agriculture, across a range of topics.

Enabling new entrants to establish farms also enables more egalitarian gender relations. This and other research shows that when men and women enter agriculture together (through buying/ renting together at the outset) more equal gender relations exist.

Approximately 29% of survey participants expressed an interest in developing farm diversification activities in the next five years. This interest was particularly marked amongst crofting respondents (38% expressed interest in developing diversification activities).

Women and men engage in many unsafe farm behaviours as a result of different demands and activities not accounted for in recommendations on safe practices.

Women in family businesses outside of agriculture face far fewer barriers to business involvement and leadership.

Scottish Government’s concerns about recognising the role of women in agriculture are similar to those shared by the European Union and national governments (e.g. Australia, Northern Ireland).

Key Recommendations:

The cultural practice of passing on large farms intact to one son needs to be challenged. Other models should be explored (e.g. in the rest of Europe it is not possible to disinherit other children). Increasing the discourse on inheritance practice (e.g. in farming organisations and the farming press) can lead to change in practices.

Succession planning is poor and families are reluctant to discuss it together. Access to professional advice on succession planning, as well as awareness raising and support, should be offered to all members of farm families.

The practice of only having one named tenant on a croft should be revisited to critically evaluate the gender implications. In an instance of divorce, spouses can lose access to the family home on the croft.

Conscious and unconscious bias needs to be addressed in farming organisations. A programme of measures is necessary and the following are recommended:

  • A 30% quota system for farming organisation boards and committees
  • Mechanisms to enable progression from the SAYFC to the National Farmers Union of Scotland Council (e.g. mentorship, establishment of a ‘young farmer’ or ‘new entrant’ council position).
  • Establishment of a ‘talent bank’ of suitably qualified women for farming positions (identifying their skills and interests, offering training opportunities, and encouraging farming organisations to recruit from this pool when positions became available).
  • Identifying women mentors to support male and female apprentices

If women-only networks and activities are supported, this should be through mainstream farming organisations, and not as separate fringe events.

Practical, hands-on training programmes need to be developed and made accessible to women through flexible scheduling, childcare availability and on-line components. Topics of primary interest to study participants included: livestock husbandry, animal health, accounting, business entrepreneurship, large vehicle driving, environmental protection and legal compliance.

Women should be supported to pursue a range of farm diversification opportunities, at a variety of scales.

More land should be made available for new entrants (e.g. on Crown Estate Scotland land, from large estates (of all ownership types), and through a ‘matching service’ with older farmers).

To increase farm safety, financial incentives, for farmers to purchase equipment appropriate for women and to encourage the use of childcare facilities, should be developed. Further research is needed to consider how to plan a farmyard for women and ageing farmers.

Recommendations for NHS dispensing services to go before Board

You will recall that NHS Grampian carried out a consultation last year on a number of GP practices on prescription dispensing. Skene Medical Group was one of the practices consulted on. You can read the full background on the review here.

You will note that for Skene Medical Group, the review group concluded that as there is a community pharmacy co-located with the medical practice and the fact that there are pharmacists within the surrounding areas, that there are no individual patients or a qualifying class of patients who will have serious difficulty in obtaining from a pharmacist any drugs, medicines or appliances other than scheduled drugs required for treatment, the group therefore recommends that Skene Medical Group is no longer required to dispense from the practice.

NHS Grampian will discuss this recommendation at their next Board meeting on 6th July.

 

 

 

Garioch Area Committee Round up

Today, the Garioch Area Committee met for the first time since the May elections in our home ground at Gordon House. Our last area committee meeting three weeks ago was held in Woodhill House because the chamber in Inverurie was being used for General Election work (what it really just three weeks ago??!).

Ward 13 (Westhill and District) items included an application for alterations and extension to the Milne Hall at Kirkton of Skene. After some discussion and hearing from hall committee member, Kenny Freeman, members agreed to defer the determination until a site visit which will take place on September 5th. You can view the report here.

I was delighted that we all agreed the recommendations to award £8,202 to Westhill District Amateur Swimming Club to purchase equipment which will enhance training across the district and a grant of £599.16 to Millbank & Tillyfourie Playing Field Committee to purchase an electricity generator. Millbank is one of the smaller communities in my ward who has a very active team of volunteers who don’t ask for much, so I was particularly pleased that Garioch Area Committee was able to agree this.

There was an application under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 to grant the extension of the hours of operation of a funfair at Echt Show from 1800 hrs – 2330 hrs on Friday 7th July, 2017 and from 1000 hrs – 0000 hrs on Saturday 8th July and this was duly granted.

Chief Inspector Murray Main presented us with a local area update with a verbal update on the local trends and issues. I was particularly pleased to hear that CI Main will be leading a Rural Crime working group to look at the incidents of crime unique to some of our more rural areas such as sheep-worrying, cattle rustling, theft of plant and hare coarsing; all crimes which have been reported in the press recently. I asked CI Main about how we can effectively report back to communities about the preventative work done in our area with regard to speeding and asked about the campaign targeting motorcycle safety. I was pleased to hear that the great work done by Police Scotland (and formerly Grampian Police) over a number of years on Operation Zenith is being carried forward.

 

RBS agree to further engagement with community

I was pleased to meet with the local CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland last week along with their senior management to discuss further the branch closure at Westhill. Also attending the meeting were local business and personal account holders, charity account holders, a Post Office representative as well as representatives from each of our three Ward 13 community councils; Westhill & Elrick, Echt & Skene and Cluny, Midmar & Monymusk.

I called for this meeting after RBS made a public announcement to close local branches including Westhill, Banchory and Stonehaven. The strength of feeling about the closure is clear by the amount of emails and calls we have received on this issue. A high number of residents have signed a petition against the closure, but we must not build up hopes of any reversal of the decision to close these branches and we must take a proactive stance to get the very best alternatives for local customers. At our meeting, it was reiterated by the bank that this is a commercial decision. What we did ask them to do is bring back more in-depth analysis of the figures they first presented to justify the closure and to produce a “Customer and Community Engagement” document in early course so that we can see clearly the statistics behind the closure and their plans for future engagement.

We were able to start a dialogue with them about the alternative banking methods they expect their customers to use. At our meeting, RBS agreed to consult further through community councils as well as other partners including Aberdeenshire Council. These discussions will shape when and where a mobile branch can be located in Westhill. There was a recognition that the mobile branches are not fit for purpose and we were assured that the vans will be upgraded with the technology required to serve customers.

We were also successful in our request that RBS sit down separately with local Post Office managers to ensure that they have the capacity to provide alternative banking facilities rather than take it for granted that all post offices will be able to accommodate the additional transactions.

Many customers are concerned about the lack of privacy at both the local post office and in a mobile branch and I am making enquiries about the possibility of RBS holding local surgeries.

All in all, this meeting was a useful starting point and I hope that we can explore all avenues to secure the very best alternatives over the coming months. When RBS and our community councils have arranged their next meeting, I will provide details here.

As an update, RBS have today provided the following:

  • An average of 49 active customers use the branch every week to undertake transactions
  • Of the 49 customers, 28 of them already use other branches
  • 13 of these customers are Personal/Private banking customers, 36 are Business customers of which many use alternative banking services e.g. online and mobile app.
  • This data has been derived from customer transactions over a 26 week period from October 2016 to January 2017.
  • Locations of free to use ATMs in and around Westhill include the two at the RBS location in the shopping centre, one at Costco, two at Tesco, one at TACO in the Westhill Business Park and one at Westhill Service Station.
  • For local Clubs and Society account holder enquiries, the Account Management Team can be contacted on 0345 600 2230. I know this is a concern for local account holders left with no local facility as residents who run groups such as brownies, guides and indeed community councils are volunteers and use their own time to keep their accounts in order. Any queries should be directed to the above number but we will endeavour to get more answers as questions crop up in further discussions.
  • The “Access to Banking” protocol which RBS adheres to requires them to publish the “Community & Engagement” documents a minimum of 4 weeks prior to closure and they currently work to get this live 6 weeks before closure. However, further to our discussions, the local CEO has requested that this can be looked at given the 6 months notice period.
  • A Business Growth Enabler along with a technical expert (TechXpert) will start to visit all outlying Post Offices in the area during May.

Local shopping centre issues discussed

I recently met with the agent (M J Mapp) for the privately-owned shopping centre in Westhill, along with representatives of the Westhill and Elrick Community Council; Audrey Findlay, acting Chair and Becky Ferguson, Secretary. For many months now, there have been issues raised at local meetings and this was an opportunity to bottom out some of these issues.

I have summarised some of the issues we spoke about and action points taken from our meeting:

  • concerns have been raised about the safety of the car park. We discussed the request from some residents to make the car park a one-way system. It was confirmed that the layout of the car park will not be changed but the agent agreed to get the car park arrows re-painted. We discussed how there used to be a zebra crossing in the old layout but this had been removed when the shopping centre expanded the car park. M J Mapp are to look at the options for providing a pedestrian crossing.
  • M J Mapp have allocated funds for new landscaping planting and will be speaking to the contractor as the work was felt to be falling below the standards expected.
  • We discussed community notice boards and WECC will update in due course.
  • We discussed the RBS closure and although the marketing and eventual new tenancy agreements would be a commercial decision between the parties involved, we did make it clear that we would like to see something that would enhance the shopping centre and retain the vibrancy of it.
  • colleagues had previously discussed concerns raised about the safety of the area at the back of the shops when exiting the archway on to the crossing on Westhill Drive across from the Holiday Inn. It was felt (and confirmed by Roads service) that the pavement on the shopping centre side of the road was of sufficient depth and coupled with tactile paving, there would be sufficient space to see the road ahead. It was felt there was more a problem with drivers rather than pedestrians. I have contacted Aberdeenshire Council Roads service again who have agreed to repaint the white lines on the crossing and look at the possibility of improving the visibility of the crossing by using illuminated columns, brighter lighting and improved signage.
  • I enquired about the possibility of community groups utilising the old vets building on a short term basis and although M J Mapp was positive towards this idea, we need more clarity from them about the terms and conditions of any proposal and I will keep you updated as we explore options.

Stagecoach confirm changes to local services

Following consultation and input by local residents and councillors, the council’s Public Transport Unit (PTU) have provided a summary of the Stagecoach revisions which will commence on 8th May 2017. They say “the company has implemented a small number of additional changes (highlighted in red) in response to comments and complaints received both at their own public consultation events and at the Council’s Area Bus Forums. Council officers have also requested minor changes to contracted journeys to improve connections for passengers and also respond to public requests. The PTU continues “However, overall, you will see that there are cuts to commercial services on the A947 (service 35), A96 (services 10/37), A944 (services X17/X18) and A90 (south) (services 7/7A/7B/7C) corridors and this is cause for concern. Stagecoach have confirmed that the changes are primarily to tailor levels of service with current passenger demand, which has been falling over the last 2 years, in order to ensure commercial viability, whilst improving service reliability by implementing more realistic journey/layover times.”

I have included all the service changes, not just our local ones, so the full range can be appreciated.

Summary of Stagecoach Bluebird Timetable Changes, 08 May 2017

4A/4C (currently 106)

Stonehaven Town Service

Replaces the hourly Monday to Saturday inter-peak Service 106 (Stonehaven Town Service), contracted to the Council.

  • New service is half-hourly Monday to Saturday inter-peak with alternate journeys (4A and 4C) operating in the opposite direction and it will connect with mainline services to/from Aberdeen at Barclay Street.
  • Aberdeenshire Council will continue to financially support 50% of the service.
  • Timing changes of up to 15 minutes.

7, 7A, 7B, 7C, X7

Aberdeen – Portlethen/Newtonhill/Stonehaven

Stonehaven – the mainline service will no longer serve areas to the west of the two railway bridges, with buses only serving the Thomson Terrace and Forest Park areas. To compensate for this, the Town service is enhanced as Service 4A/4C above, serving Farrochie and Edinview areas.

  • 0718 hours ex Spurryhillock – Barclay Street – Aberdeen (Monday – Friday) is re-instated in response to requests received at the Kincardine and Mearns Area Bus Forum.
  • Marywell Park will be served hourly instead of half-hourly.
  • Frequency reduced from 15 mins to 20 mins between Aberdeen and Portlethen, but there will be a consistent route with all buses serving Schoolhill, Asda, Portlethen Academy and Berrymuir Road.
  • Buses will operate hourly between Aberdeen and Newtonhill, instead of every half-hour.

10

Aberdeen – Inverurie – Huntly – Elgin – Inverness

0550 hours ex Aberdeen – Inverness (Monday to Saturday) is truncated to commence in Huntly.

  • 1730 hrs ex Aberdeen – Insch (Monday to Friday) is truncated to commence from Inverurie, A connection is available with Service 37 (Aberdeen – Inverurie).
  • 2220 hours ex Aberdeen – Elgin (Monday to Saturday) is withdrawn. There is a 2150 hours ex Aberdeen – Inverurie (Service 37).
  • 2300 hours last bus from Aberdeen to Elgin (Monday to Sunday) will also serve Blackburn, Kintore and Inverurie, compensating for the withdrawal of a Service 37 journey (see below).
  • 0539 hours ex Elgin – Aberdeen (Monday to Friday) is advanced by 32 minutes to depart at 0507 hours.
  • 1725 hours ex Inverness – Aberdeen (Monday to Saturday) is truncated to terminate in Huntly. There are alternative departures at 1625 hours and 1825 hours.
  • 2025 hours from Inverness – Aberdeen (Monday to Saturday) is withdrawn, meaning that the last southbound bus is at 1825 hours.
  • New Sunday journey: 0947 hours ex Elgin – Aberdeen.
  • Timing changes of up to 14 minutes.

X17

Aberdeen – Westhill – Elrick

Reduced frequency from 12 minutes to 15 minutes Mon – Sat. Stagecoach advises that this will improve reliability with the same vehicle resources, the 12 minute frequency being impossible to maintain due to congestion. No change to Sunday service.

X20/420

Alford – Kemnay – Aberdeen

With the aim of commercially viability, whilst compensating for the reduced frequency on Service 37 (see below), Service X20 (Alford / Kemnay – Aberdeen) will operate via Kintore (School Road) & Blackburn, adding up to 8 minutes to journey times. The contracted Service X20 journeys in the evenings and Sundays will continue to operate direct to/from Kemnay.

  • New Service X20 journeys: 0815 ex Kemnay – Aberdeen (Monday to Friday); 1540 ex Kintore – Aberdeen (Monday to Friday); 1548 ex Blackburn – Aberdeen (Monday to Friday); 0719 ex Aberdeen – Kintore (Monday to Friday); 1410 ex Aberdeen – Kemnay (Monday to Friday).
  • Council officers to review the routeing of contracted Service 420 (Kemnay – Blackburn – Aberdeen) later this year in response to requests received at the Garioch Area Bus Forum for consideration to be given to by-passing Blackburn, to reduce overall journey times between Kemnay and Aberdeen, in view of Stagecoach’s decision to re-route Service X20 as above.
  • 1445 hours ex Aberdeen – Kemnay (Service 420) (Monday to Friday) is advanced by 5 minutes in response to concerns raised at the Marr Area Bus Forum regarding missed connections with Service 421 (Inverurie – Kemnay – Alford) in Kemnay (see also Service 421 below).  

35/35A

Aberdeen – Oldmeldrum – Turriff – Macduff – Elgin

0825 hours ex Aberdeen – Banff (Monday to Friday) is truncated to commence from Oldmeldrum.

  • 2105 hours ex Aberdeen – Whitehills (Monday to Saturday) and 2215 hours ex Aberdeen – Banff (Monday to Saturday) are rationalised to form a 2135 hours ex Aberdeen – Whitehills (Monday to Saturday).
  • 1603 hours ex Turriff – Aberdeen (Monday to Friday) is withdrawn. There are alternatives at 1523 hours and 1623 hours.
  • 1623 hours ex Banff – Aberdeen (Saturday) is withdrawn. There are alternatives at 1550 hours and 1650 hours.
  • New journey 0528 hours ex Macduff – Aberdeen (Saturday).
  • In response to queries, it is confirmed that Service 35A (Oldmeldrum – Aberdeen) is unchanged.

37/X37

Aberdeen – Inverurie

Reduced frequency from 20 minutes to 30 minutes (Service 10 continues to provide an additional bus per hour between Inverurie town centre and Aberdeen).

  • No longer operates via School Road in Kintore (covered by Service X20 above) with all buses operating via Hallforest Avenue.
  • New peak limited stop journeys numbered X37: 0635 hours ex Inverurie (Monday to Friday), 1710 hours ex Aberdeen (Monday to Friday) and 1931 hours ex Inverurie – Aberdeen (Saturday).
  • 2310 hours ex Aberdeen – Inverurie (Monday to Sunday) is withdrawn but will be covered by a Service 10B (Aberdeen – Elgin) departure at 2305 hours, serving Blackburn, Kintore and Inverurie.
  • 2125 hours ex Inverurie – Aberdeen (Monday to Friday) is withdrawn. The nearest alternative departures are at 2010 hours and 2210 hours. There is also a 2125 hours Service 10 departure from Inverurie (not via Kintore or Blackburn).
  • 2325 hours and 0025 hours ex Inverurie – Aberdeen (Monday to Saturday) are withdrawn. The last southbound departure is now at 2210 hours, though there are later Nightbird departures early Saturday and Sunday mornings.
  • 2355 hours ex Inverurie – Aberdeen (Sunday) is withdrawn. The last southbound departure is now at 2225 hours.
  • 2125 hours ex Inverurie – Aberdeen (Saturday) additional journey.
  • 1648 hours ex Inverurie – Aberdeen (Sunday) additional journey.
  • Service re-routed to serve Craibstone Park and Ride to provide a link to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
  • Timing changes of up to 20 minutes

41

Insch – Inverurie

0912 hours ex Insch – Inverurie (Monday to Friday) and 1012 hours ex Insch – Inverurie (Saturday) contracted journeys are extended to commence from Beechcroft Road, Insch, in response to requests received at Garioch Area Bus Forum.

66/66A

Peterhead – Mintlaw – Stuartfield – Maud

1730 hours ex Peterhead – Stuartfield (Monday to Saturday) is extended to Maud, in response to requests received at Buchan Area Bus Forum.

  • 1155 hours ex Peterhead – Stuartfield (Monday to Friday) is withdrawn. The nearest alternative departures are at 1100 hours ex Peterhead – Mintlaw – Stuartfield and 1245 hours ex Peterhead – Mintlaw – Maud.
  • 1100 hours ex Peterhead – Stuartfield (Monday to Friday) will serve Torterston instead of Downiehills, in response to requests received at Buchan Area Bus Forum.
  • 0629 hours ex Stuartfield – Peterhead (Monday to Saturday) is extended to commence from Maud, in response to requests received at Buchan Area Bus Forum.
  • 1240 hours ex Stuartfield – Peterhead (Monday to Friday) is withdrawn. The nearest alternative departure is at 1144 hours
  • 1808 hours ex Stuartfield – Peterhead (Monday to Saturday) is re-routed to commence from Maud at 1816 hours and will not serve Stuartfield. There is an alternative departure from Stuartfield to Peterhead at 1852 hours (Council contract).
  • 1100 hours ex Peterhead – Stuartfield (Saturday) is withdrawn. The nearest alternative departures are at 1000 hours ex Peterhead – Mintlaw – Maud and 1200 hours ex Peterhead – Mintlaw – Stuartfield.
  • 1445 hours ex Peterhead – Stuartfield (Saturday) is withdrawn. The nearest alternative departures are at 1400 hours ex Peterhead – Mintlaw – Maud and 1600 hours ex Peterhead – Mintlaw – Stuartfield.
  • 1255 hours ex Peterhead – Mintlaw – Maud (Saturday) is retarded to depart at 1400 hours.
  • 1140 hours ex Stuartfield – Peterhead (Saturday) is withdrawn. The nearest alternative departure is at 1244 hours.
  • 1335 hours ex Maud – Mintlaw – Peterhead (Saturday) is retarded to depart at 1441 hours.
  • 1523 hours ex Stuartfield – Peterhead (Saturday) is withdrawn. The nearest alternative departure is at 1655 hours.
  • 0915 hours and 1725 hours ex Peterhead – Stuartfield – Peterhead (Sunday) return journeys are extended to operate as Peterhead – Mintlaw – Maud – Stuartfield – Peterhead.
  • Timing changes of up to 31 minutes.

217, 218 and 220 (currently X18)

Aberdeen – Westhill – Elrick/Alford

Service X18 is renumbered and split into three separate services as follows:

217: Echt – Elrick – (Aberdeen)

Peak hour weekday connecting service, operated under contract to Aberdeenshire Council.

218: Aberdeen – Westhill – Alford (via Lang Stracht)

The hourly daytime service (Monday to Saturday) which has been trialled since August 2015 will be reduced to 5 return journeys (Monday to Friday) and 3 return journeys (Saturday) on the basis of extremely limited passenger demand, effectively reverting to the Council’s contract specification which maintains peak and inter-peak provision and includes boarding/alighting restrictions between Elrick and Aberdeen to enable faster journeys. Connections with Service X17 (Elrick – Westhill – Aberdeen via Queens Road) are available at Kingswells Park and Ride.

First a.m. weekday peak journey from Alford to Aberdeen is advanced by 7 minutes to ensure workers arrive at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in time for 0800 hours. This was in response to requests received at the Garioch Area Bus Forum.

220: Aberdeen – Westhill (Hillside and Broadshade)

Most journeys on this Aberdeenshire Council contract will commence/terminate at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where connections are available with frequent services to/from the City Centre, with 3 return journeys per day going to/from Union Square. Operates via Kingswells Park and Ride (connections with Service X17 for Queens Road) and Kingswells Village.

421

Inverurie – Kemnay – Alford

1516 hours ex Inverurie – Alford (Monday to Friday) on this Council contract is retarded by 5 minutes in response to concerns raised at the Marr Area Bus Forum regarding missed connections with Service 420 (Aberdeen – Kemnay) in Kemnay (see also Service 420 above).

422

Insch – Alford

2356 hours ex Alford – Insch (Monday to Saturday), which is essentially a positional journey back to Insch depot, is re-routed via Whitehouse instead of Montgarrie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royal Bank of Scotland branch closure talks

Since the news last week that Royal Bank of Scotland were to close a number of branches, including Westhill, I have had many residents contact me. The issues being raised include the effect on footfall to other businesses in Westhill, customers wishing to retain face-to-face contact and the loss of excellent, knowledgeable staff. The loss of business banking is also a concern.

I was able to catch up today with a senior member of staff at RBS and go over some of the issues.

Royal Bank of Scotland are signed up to the “Access to Banking Protocol” published by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills to provide guidelines for banks that are closing branches.

The guidelines states that while ensuring customers are treated fairly, decisions on branch closures are ultimately commercial decisions for banks to take. By the time customers like us are aware of an upcoming closure, the decision has already been made and affected staff and other key stakeholders will have been advised.

I was assured today that RBS have written to all their account holders. A number of issues have been addressed for alternative ways to bank and these include:

  • retaining the free ATMs at the shopping centre
  • partnership arrangements with the Post Office branch next door to enable business customers to pay in, withdraw and access coinage
  • setting up a mobile bank service

There will be further consultation with the community about the best location/day for a mobile bank to visit. I have asked if the senior member of staff would facilitate a local public meeting to go over customer concerns in detail and I will update you once this is confirmed. I note from the other locations which benefit from a mobile bank service such as Echt and Kintore that they get a 20 minute slot. It is important that RBS look at the size of the population of Westhill and allocate a longer time slot here. RBS is open to suggestions for sites suitable for the mobile bank to operate from taking in to account wifi access and land ownership.

I understand there will be help in the local branch for customers to set up online banking before the branch closes. This is great, but many customers just want to deal with humans and do not trust online banking. Apart from that, many rural residents do not have good access to broadband, so we must make sure that all these issues are addressed and our more vulnerable residents have suitable alternative banking arrangements in place before October.

I will update again as soon as I get confirmation of any public meeting. If you would be interested in attending a public meeting, please get in touch and I will add your name to my file.

 

 

 

Straik Place to close

Please note that due to EMERGENCY SEWER REPAIR WORKS to be carried out by NICOL OF SKENE Ltd it will be necessary in the interests of public safety to apply the following restriction to traffic.

CLOSURE

ON STRAIK PLACE, WESTHILL

From No. 32 to No. 38

From 28 March 2017 for 4 days

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.