Councillor Welcomes Progress on Clerkhill Shops' Footpaths

>> 15 January 2019

Local SNP councillor Stephen Smith has welcomed progress towards Aberdeenshire Council adopting the area in front of the Clerkhill shops in Peterhead following a report which was approved at today’s meeting of the Buchan Area Committee.

The area in front of the Clerkhill shops has been deteriorating for several years now. The pavement and cobbled area is privately-owned so is not the responsibility of Aberdeenshire Council. Efforts to locate the landowner have proved difficult in the past and the council is now moving to adopt the area so that it can carry out upgrading works under the Peterhead Regeneration Scheme.

Commenting after the meeting, Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith said:

“Improvements to the area in front of the Clerkhill shops has been a priority of mine for some time now, as it is a source of regular complaints and even, unfortunately, trips and falls.

“The ownership of the area is in private hands, hence why the council couldn’t just go in and make improvements. But as the most important shopping area in the town after the town centre, I was keen that something should be done.

“The legal process of the council taking over the land has been long and complicated owing to the nature of the ownership. However, we’re nearing the end of that and I hope that before too long we can see work starting on getting this area tidied up and looking more respectable, getting rid of the trip hazards.”


Peterhead Councillor Backs Retention of Free Parking Period

Peterhead North SNP councillor Anne Allan has described plans to end free parking periods in the town’s ‘Pay and Display’ council car parks as a “backward step” and “detrimental to Peterhead town centre”, ahead of a crunch council vote on Thursday.

In a bid to start making a profit from Aberdeenshire’s loss-making car parks, Conservative and Lib-Dem members of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee tried to begin the process of removing free parking periods from council ‘Pay and Display’ car parks last November.

A counter-proposal from opposition councillors – which would instead have balanced the car parking budget while retaining a half-hour free parking period in all towns was defeated by 9 votes to 5, with Conservative and Lib Dem committee members voting against.

However, the Conservative and Lib Dem bid to scrap the free period was thwarted after opposition councillors insisted that any decision on the change be taken instead by all 70 councillors at a meeting of January’s full Aberdeenshire Council.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the Full Council, Cllr Anne Allan said:

“Introducing a free parking period was a key pledge made by SNP councillors standing for election in 2012 and we campaigned strongly on this issue, working across party lines with other councillors get it introduced.

“Having a free parking period removes one of the major disincentives for people who perhaps have only one or two items they need to get but don’t want to fork out to pay for parking when they are only going to need a parking space for maybe 10 minutes. It encourages people back into the town centre and that is a good thing.

“The proposal to remove free parking from our car parks just doesn’t make sense and is a backward step. If shoppers are forced to pay for making even a brief stop-off, many customers will choose to go instead to the supermarkets.

“All the feedback suggests that having this short free parking period has helped sustain town centres. Removing it will be detrimental to the town centre and I will be voting to support local shoppers and local businesses and retain a free parking period when this is debated next week.”


Shire Opposition Refers Parking Proposals to Full Council - "Free Period Must be Retained"

>> 30 November 2018

Opposition councillors in Aberdeenshire have called for free parking periods in the area’s council car parks to be retained, after they succeeded in referring proposals which would have scrapped the current free period to a future meeting of all councillors.

The referral to full council came after a discussion at today’s Infrastructure Services Committee on the council’s recent review of off-street parking in Aberdeenshire.

Committee Chair Cllr Peter Argyle (LD) – seconded by North Kincardine Councillor Iain Mollison (LD) - moved to begin a formal consultation on a proposal which would have increased parking tariffs while removing the current free period.

A counter-proposal from opposition councillors – which would have instead consulted on retaining a half-hour free parking period in all settlements and introducing it to the first time to Huntly, together with an adjustment to parking tariffs to bring the car park budget back into balance – was defeated by 9 votes to 5.

At the request of opposition members and in line with council standing orders which allow for such referrals to take place, the matter was then referred to the full council for wider consideration.

During debate, Cllr Glen Reid (SNP) thanked council officers involved in the preparation of the report and councillors who served on the recent Member Officer Working Group. However, he expressed his disappointment at administration councillors’ support for the removal of any free period. Afterwards, he said:

“All across Aberdeenshire’s towns, we can see the benefits that have been brought by the introduction of a short free period for parking”, he said.

“Our proposal today would have seen us consult on free parking periods being retained with a further review of the impact after 12 months.

“This referral to full council will give all councillors the opportunity to have their say on all the options and to make the final decision on whether or not a free period should be part of the proposal that goes forward.”

Opposition Leader and Ellon & District Councillor Richard Thomson (SNP) added:

“Most people using the free period are making some kind of ‘grab and go’ purchase, all of which helps maintain the prosperity and wellbeing of our town centres. If they have to pay, many customers will choose to go instead to the supermarkets.

“While no-one wants to see council car parks running at a deficit, there’s no justification for the measures being proposed by the administration, which risk hitting town centre trade while raising far more than we need for car parks to break even.

“Car parks are there to help people use our town centres and not to act as either a cash drain or a cash cow. I hope that the administration will reconsider and come back with proposals which strike a better balance between increasing revenues and supporting our town centres."


Peterhead 'Well-Placed' to Benefit from Scottish Government Schools Funding

>> 27 November 2018

A Peterhead councillor has said that plans for the new Peterhead Community Campus are well-placed to benefit from the Scottish Government’s announcement of funding for new schools.

Education Secretary John Swinney announced last Wednesday a £1 billion scheme to continue investment in the school estate from 2021, when the current scheme reaches an end. The issue was raised at Thursday’s meeting of the Full Council by local councillor Stephen Smith during a discussion on the council’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy.

Commenting, SNP councillor for Peterhead South & Cruden Stephen Smith said:

“Thanks to the leadership shown by the previous SNP/Labour Administration in Aberdeenshire, plans for the new Peterhead Community Campus should be at the front of the queue when it comes to taking advantage of the £1 billion of funding for school buildings announced by Education Secretary John Swinney last week.

“I remain proud of the fact that it was the SNP/Labour Administration which made a new academy for Peterhead a priority immediately upon taking over control of the council in 2015.

“I readily acknowledge the work done by the new council administration since they took over in sticking with our priority and moving it forward. I’m delighted we have six of the Peterhead councillors all working together across party lines to make this project happen and, with this funding announcement, we’re well-placed to deliver a new community campus for Peterhead by 2025.”

Independent councillor for Peterhead South & Cruden Stephen Calder added:

“Peterhead cannot afford to miss this opportunity to get funding towards its new Academy. It would support the learning of our young people and mark a huge step forward in the regeneration of the town. I urge the Council Administration to do all they can to ensure we can benefit from this money from the Scottish Government.”


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