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Green light for Aberdeenshire roads policies

By Kyle Ritchie

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Roads and transportation policies for the Aberdeenshire area have been approved by councillors.

The council's infrastructure services committee assessed the draft proposals which focused on three areas speed limits, pedestrian crossings, and street trading and occupation of the road.

A report was presented to the councillors during their online meeting on Thursday.

The proposed policies previously went before the local authority's six area committees, which were given the opportunity to comment on and contribute to the development of the plans.

The public had the chance to give their views in a consultation and community councils and other groups were also invited to provide their feedback.

The report was presented to the committee by roads policy and asset manager David Armitage.

In the speed limit section he said the main change that is being looked at in the policy is 20mph limits, which could be introduced on a far more wide spread basis.

Introducing 20mph speed limits is a main part of the new policies.
Introducing 20mph speed limits is a main part of the new policies.

Mr Armitage outlined two options which were the existing policy that installs them with traffic calming measures or introducing signage only limits. He said both were viable and would be happy to implement either.

He said: "We are also recommending that it would be implemented in our designated town centre areas, where the main purpose of that area is for people shopping and where there would a relatively large number of people needing to cross the road."

He added that any new speed limit would have to go through the current statutory process.

The cost of the measures have been estimated to be between £1,000,000 and £1,800,000. Mr Armitage said there was no spare budget and the council would apply for national funding which may be available.

The report added: "In the absence of external funding, the new speed limits could be phased in across Aberdeenshire over a five to 10-year programme, depending on the availability of resources, giving priority initially to disadvantaged areas where the benefits would be greatest.

"A viable alternative option would be to continue with the existing policy whereby 20mph speed limits are introduced selectivity backed up by traffic calming measures as necessary to meet qualifying speed criteria."

Committee chairman councillor Peter Argyle said: "The actual wording in the policy is what we are being asked to agree which is moving towards 20mph speed limit as the norm while maintaining a network of strategic routes.

"Now that does not rule out the possibility of individual places having a different approach, it is not a one-size-fits-all but it is a general principle."

For pedestrian crossings Mr Armitage said the proposed policy was a focus on prioritisation on an Aberdeenshire-wide basis.

He added: "The purpose of the policy would be that we would have clear guidance on how we would assess and prioritise pedestrian crossings, which would be set out in the manual and we would provide them based on these criteria.

"They would be prioritised to make sure they are targeted where they are most needed.

"The calculation method we are proposing would differ from the previous one. It took the flow over four hours, this one would be based on the busiest four 15-minute periods. I think it is a more valid way of doing it."

The report added: "Different types of crossing are appropriate at different locations and factors such as road character, traffic speed, and vehicle and pedestrian numbers should be taken into consideration.

"Moreover, budget constraints limit the number of crossing facilities we are able to both provide and maintain so it is necessary to evaluate and prioritise requests for new installations."

For street trading and occupation of the road the proposed policy aims to give greater clarity to where and when street trading may be permitted on a public road.

It also takes into account other uses of a public road including street cafés, storage of non-motorised vehicles, community events and filming.

Roads policy officer John Bruce addressed the committee on this section.

He said: "This is a completely new policy for Aberdeenshire.

"The first principle is that the primary function of the road is to provide a means of passage and any secondary use of the road should not unduly detract from this primary use.

"The second principle is that the maximum permitted duration of an occupation of the road should be proportionate to the community benefit."

Councillor Mark Findlater had concerns about obstructions on the road.

He asked: "If there are trailers or caravans on the road are they going to be classed as obstructions on the road and then be dealt with accordingly?"

Mr Bruce said: "If the committee do approve the policy we would be saying that the council view caravans, trailers, food outlets as obstructions on the road and would deal with them in accordance with the manual."

Councillors agreed to approve the draft policies for the three sections.

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