Where Is The Evidence?

By Jane Cruickshank / August 21, 2020

A STRING of letters between Stonehaven Business Association and Aberdeenshire Council officers has failed to elicit any explanation for the continued implementation of Spaces for People measures in much of the town centre – despite their pleas for a more targeted approach.

Dawn Black told The Bellman: ”As we were waiting patiently for the results of the promised review of the Spaces for People cones in Stonehaven Town Centre on Thursday 20th August we were horrified to see pictures emerging on local Facebook groups of water-filled barriers being put in to replace the cones on some streets.

”Our local businesses and people are already up in arms about the whole situation and this has tipped them over the edge. Why are these being put into place when a review was due the very same day?”

Businesses do their own monitoring

Ms Black said the SBA had produced a map of queue problem areas, where they feel distancing measures are appropriate.

And in one of a string of letters to the area manager, the SBA made it clear they hoped more areas of cones would be removed following Thursday’s review – and being retained at the queue hotspots only.

Traffic Orders Enacted By Officers not Councillors

As the Spaces for People measures are in effect temporary traffic orders, they were enacted by local authority officers (employees) of the Infrastructure Services department without any committee of elected councillors having its say.

These officers have promised review and monitoring but have failed to provide our business community with any statistics, or evidence of this having been done.

Unlike our councillors, officers do not have to explain or directly answer to the public for their actions – press enquiries must be made through the communications team.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson today said: “The measures put in place to support town centres through the Sustrans funded Spaces for People project are a public health intervention and are required to provide the additional space required for physical distancing for customers visiting our town centres.

“With the level of Covid-19 infections remaining high within the North-east area, there continues to be a need to support physical distancing to safeguard all those in and around Stonehaven town centre.

“Officers will continue to monitor the situation and consider potential alterations. To ensure the available parking is freed up on a regular basis, we would encourage visitors and workers to Stonehaven to consider their travel choices and not to use the current free parking area in the town centre for any longer than necessary.”

Ms Black said: ”The cones and barriers are the death knell for Stonehaven town centre as a shopping centre. They are unattractive, unwelcoming and off-putting to any visitor and locals.

”We now have the added problem of delivery vans blocking the roads as they cannot temporarily move the cones to make their deliveries with the water-filled barriers.

”Will we find ourselves down the line with them still blighting our streets, like the “temporary” barrier on the Bervie Braes and installation on Ann Street at the end of Bath Street?

”We are literally begging the council to see reason and keep the cones and barriers where they are actually warranted rather than this blanket provision.”

She added: ”The SBA have been working hard to promote Stonehaven through our Stunning Stonehaven website and upcoming App as well as, ironically with the “Stonehaven Loves Local” campaign. It would seem that Aberdeenshire Council do not love Stonehaven in the way we do.”

Photos courtesy of Dawn Black and taken today, Friday 21st Aug around 10am.