Aberdeenshire to form final view on Kingsford stadium plans

On Thursday 16th March, Infrastructure Services Committee is recommended to note and consider the view provided by Garioch Area Committee last month that the application be refused for the reasons as detailed and to note and consider the responses already provided by consultees including the holding objections from Environmental Health & Transportation. The Committee is further recommended to agree a formal consultation response for submission to Aberdeen City Council on the stadium proposal at Kingsford. I hope that ISC will reiterate our comments made at Garioch Area to request that Aberdeenshire Council continue to be involved in the process as the plans progress. We fully respect the right of Aberdeen City councillors to make the final decision but as this plan is a significant departure from both the Local Development Plan and the Strategic Development Plan and affects Aberdeenshire residents, both authorities should be working in partnership to work through the issues raised. The report before ISC members can be seen here (item 8).

 

 

Places, people and planning – consultation events

As the period for responding to “Places, people and planning” draws to a close (4th April) there will be an opportunity to speak to the Scottish Government team over the next couple of weeks.

They are in Trinity Shopping Centre, Aberdeen on Wednesday 15th March from 9am-4pm.

The consultation can be found here and there is still time to send in your comments. If you have views about any of the main themes: making plans for the future, getting more people involved in local plans, building more high quality homes and associated infrastructure, stronger leadership and smarter resourcing, please respond to the consultation.

 

Scottish Liberal Democrats re-affirm support for Frank’s Law

The Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Perth yesterday unanimously passed a motion re-affirming the party’s support for Franks Law.

The motion also went on to urge the Scottish Government and the SFA to examine what support can be given to ex-football players suffering from dementia. The commitment follows fresh calls from former professionals and their families, including from Liz McNeill, the wife of former Celtic captain Billy McNeill who suffers from dementia.

Frank’s Law is named after former Dundee midfielder Frank Kopel who was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 59. At present, anyone under the age of 65 who requires personal care for conditions such as dementia, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis has to fund the cost of the care themselves. However, for those over the age of 65, that personal care is free.

Commenting after closing the debate, North East MSP Mike Rumbles said:

“I am delighted that conference has unanimously voted in favour of re-affirming our support for Frank’s Law.

“While Liberal Democrats were instrumental in introducing free personal care for the elderly, it is absolutely essential that action is now taken to ensure people under the age of 65 with a degenerative illnesses have access to the personal care and support they need.

“Frank’s widow, Amanda Kopel deserves great credit for forcing this issue on to the political agenda and keeping pressure on the Scottish Government to act.”

Mr Rumbles, who represents the North East, added:

“What’s more, today party members recognised the number of ex-footballers who go on to suffer from dementia in later life.

“That is why Scottish Liberal Democrats are urging the Scottish Government and the SFA to examine what support can be given to ex-football players suffering from dementia and support research into the potential link between brain injuries, dementia and football.”

What do you think of proposed bus timetable changes?

Stagecoach have issued the following information and are seeking your views:

“Ahead of registering our new timetables for 1st May 2017 we’d like to hear from you! Our proposed timetables to commence 1st May are available here. Services will be revised in Aberdeen, Buchan, Stonehaven, Inverurie, Kemnay and Moray from this date.

Proposed timetables for bus services are all available online now at stagecoachbus.com. We’d love if you could review the proposals and share your thoughts, whether in support of the revisions, highlighting any concerns or sharing any other ideas you have on the services we operate.

Proposals include –

  •  Improvements to bus connections between Aberdeen and Stonehaven. Service X6 will be replaced with new X7 journeys, operated by Stagecoach Bluebird.  These will be offered in addition to the X7 journeys operated by Stagecoach East Scotland.  Service 7A/7B/7C will be replaced with a simplified 7/7B service – as part of this change the route in Portlethen and Stonehaven will be modified to be more consistent.
  • Westhill – Aberdeen service X17 will become a 15 minute frequency at peak times, and a diversion to Prime Four Business Park will be introduced in the peaks.
  • Some early morning and late evening journeys on services 10 and 35 to be withdrawn in response to low passenger use currently.
  • Service X18 will be replaced by service 217, 218 and 220.
  • Inverurie – Aberdeen service 37 will be revised to a frequency of every 30 mins Monday – Friday. There are two proposals for this service – option A operates on the current route and Option B operates via Craibstone Park & Ride. Customers are encouraged to provide feedback on their preferred timetable.
  • Alford – Kemnay – Aberdeen service X20 will see some minor timing revisions. Like with service 37, there are two proposals for this service – option A operates on the current route and Option B operates via Craibstone Park & Ride. Customers are encouraged to provide feedback on their preferred timetable.
  • Aberdeen Airport service 727 will be revised and will no longer serve Craibstone Park and Ride. There are two proposals for this service – one operates on the current route and the other details the timetable for when Broad Street will close for redevelopment.
  • Service 80 – Kirkhill Industrial Estate to Aberdeen Airport will be withdrawn due to low passenger use.
  • Service 66 – Peterhead – Stuartfield will reduce in frequency.
  •  Service 11/11A will be revised to operate every 30 minutes.
  •  Service 30 will be withdrawn due to extremely low passenger use.
  •  Service 31 will be withdrawn and replaced by service 33.
  •  Service 32 will be withdrawn and replaced by a revised service 36 allowing customers to connect to the New Elgin retail area.
  • Service 33 will be revised to operate a 20 minute frequency from Lossiemouth to Pinefield and New Elgin via Elgin. The section of route from Lesmurdie Road to Newmill Road will be withdrawn due to low passenger use.
  • Service 36 will operate to a revised route to replace part of withdrawn service 32. The section between Elgin and Forres will be withdrawn. Bus travel between Elgin and Forres can be made on services 10/11/11A.
  • Service 34 and 38 will not be revised from 1st May.

We are also holding holding information events throughout Aberdeenshire and Moray, to let you view the timetables or speak to local staff about the proposals. Events are planned to take place in Aberdeen, Westhill, Elgin, Portlethen and Inverurie.

Aberdeen St Nicholas Square, Aberdeen 2nd March, 10am – 4pm

Garioch Area Bus Forum Westhill Academy, Westhill 2nd March, 7.30pm – 9pm

Elgin St Giles Shopping Centre, Elgin 7th March, 9am – 5pm Portlethen/Inverurie Date and Venue TBC but event will take place week commencing 6th March.

At the events you can give us your feedback and or ask any questions regarding the proposed schedules.

For those unable to attend the above events, the proposed timetables and network maps are now available to view here, all feedback is welcomed to nscotmarketing@stagecoachbus.com or simply reply to this email.  All feedback should be submitted no later than Friday 10th March 2017.

Garioch councillors oppose stadium site

At Garioch Area Committee today (Tuesday 21st February), councillors were asked to note the contents of their planner’s report here (item 7) to provide a view to Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) later next month on the Aberdeen City application 170021/DPP and request that Aberdeenshire Council be consulted on any relevant additional information or addendums to the Transport Assessment and Environmental Statement in order that the Council can fully consider any changes to the proposal and assess impacts upon Aberdeenshire.

Westhill and Elrick Community Council as a statutory body requested to speak at the meeting. There were further requests to speak from the “No to Kingsford” group, the “Westhill for Kingford” group and George Yule for AFC. This allowed councillors to hear a range of views and ask questions as required. We were also able to get clarification on particular issues from our own planner and Transport officer.

The full Minutes of this meeting will be available as a public document in about three weeks time but to summarise, after a long discussion, councillors had a number of issues to put forward to ISC. A motion was put forward to recommend to oppose the application due to multiple breaches of policy. An amendment was offered to put forward the concerns highlighted in the report with a view to getting more information. The motion carried 6-5. ISC will now consider in March, Garioch Area Committee’s recommendation to oppose the application. I voted for the motion and I give my reasons for this below.

This has been a very frustrating application for local councillors. We have a major proposal on our doorstep which is going to impact on Westhill and District but we are really at the mercy of Aberdeen City councillors.

We’ve had a huge amount of letters, emails and phone calls from residents about the stadium proposal. We’ve sat through dozens of meetings listening to the local debate. I circulated my own survey some months ago to gauge local views with a 60/40 split against out of 500 responses.

I have also taken time to speak to local businesses in the more rural areas who are in favour as they see business opportunities. I have also spoken to businesses who can see their trade being adversely affected by the development.

I do think that AFC have been a bit unfair to their fans and shareholders by portraying this as a done deal. They should have emphasised more that there is a planning process to go through and planning policies to consider. It’s not a numbers game.

The Garioch Area Committee’s job is to look at planning policy without influence of big business and without being swayed by the popularity of an organisation.

The main planning issues for me are:

Loss of greenbelt, particularly leading to coalescence of Kingswells and Westhill. We love our City neighbours but we are two separate identities. The purpose of the greenbelt is to direct planned growth to the most appropriate locations and protect and give access to open space within and around towns and cities. There have been many references made by supporters of the fact that most residential and business land in Westhill was greenbelt at one point. Not technically so; some was agricultural land, some greenfield, but nearly all planned and consulted on – see comments about the Local Development Plan below.

Traffic issues – the traffic issues have been well documented in the planner’s report. The proximity to the AWPR being used as a positive point by the applicant is actually a myth. The AWPR will take cars from the north and the south on to the A944 which Transport Scotland has reported will see only a 1% reduction of traffic after the AWPR is completed. There is no direct link from the AWPR to the stadium. Some 55.5% of fans according to the Traffic Assessment will travel from Aberdeen City – most using the A944, not the AWPR. For residents as far up as Strathdon, their main route in to Aberdeen is via the A944.

At this stage there are a lot of unanswered questions over traffic management and parking.

The Kingsford site is not in the Local Development Plan. Developers are well aware of the LDP process which allows councils to work with developers and local communities at an early stage to set out a land use plan which everybody should have confidence in.

The reason I voted for the motion to oppose rather than wait for further information about the traffic and parking issues was that the main breach of policy, i.e. greenbelt, cannot be mitigated against unless we pick up Westhill and move it further west. I have real concerns about the traffic management and parking issues but we’ll see what they come up with.

I have no doubt AFC need a new stadium and I really do wish them well, but Kingsford is not the right site.

 

11 weeks until local election polling day

Apply for your postal vote!

I always enjoy meeting people at the polls but for many, a postal vote is the easiest way to get your vote in if you are likely to be out of the area or tied up at work.

Now is the time to apply for a postal vote.

The easiest and simplest way to vote is by post.

If you sign up for a postal vote your ballot paper will be delivered to your house by the postman a couple of weeks before polling day. You can vote in the comfort of your own home, at a time that suits you. Then you put your completed ballot paper in the envelope provided and stick it in the  post – you don’t even need a stamp.  It couldn’t be easier.

This is the link to the Grampian Electoral Registration Office Postal Vote application form:

https://www.grampian-vjb.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ER1-PostalVote.pdf

Please fill in and return the form today to make sure that whatever happens on polling day you don’t miss out on your chance to vote. 

How good are our local bus services?

 

If you have any issue you want to raise or questions to ask of either Aberdeenshire Council or Stagecoach, please come along to the Garioch Area Bus Forum on Thursday 2nd March at 7.30pm in Westhill Academy.

The Invitation plus Agenda can be accessed below. Please email me separately if you wish a copy of the previous Minutes from September 2016.

Garioch Bus Forum Invitation 02 03 17

Garioch Bus Forum Agenda 02 03 17

 

 

 

 

AFC stadium proposal to be discussed next week

 

Aberdeenshire Council are being consulted on the major development that is the proposed community and sports facilities at Kingsford, near Westhill. Garioch Area Committee will consider our planner’s report on Tuesday 21st February and provide a view to go forward to a future Infrastructure Services Committee. You can read here (item 7) what our planners conclude about the application.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gurudeo Saluja, OBE

I was saddened to hear of Gurudeo’s death at the age of 82. Gurudeo was the Liberal Democrat councillor for Westhill and District until he retired in 2012 having served since 1999.

I first met Gurudeo when he was my local councillor, then again as a Liberal Democrat colleague. Scottish party conferences were all the more fun when Gurudeo and his wife Patricia were there. We also met up regularly through our work on the board of Grampian Housing Association. Affordable housing was an issue close to his heart and he worked hard to champion this.

When he stood down as a councillor, he kept his interest in community issues, being a regular face at local meetings. Gurudeo had a great sense of humour. He was a gentleman and friend to many and he will be missed.

3 day road closure in Westhill

enterprise-drive

Please note that due to RESURFACING AND LINING WORKS to be carried out on Straik Road, Westhill by Nicol of Skene Ltd it will be necessary in the interests of public safety to apply the following restriction to traffic.

CLOSURE

ENTERPRISE DRIVE, WESTHILL

From the junction with A944 Straik Road to the junction with Prospect Place

FOR 3 DAYS COMMENCING 20 FEBRUARY 2017

Access for pedestrians and emergency vehicles will be maintained at all times.

Alternative route here: enterprisedrivewesthill200217