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Spaces for people fund success for Aberdeenshire Council

By David Porter

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Aberdeenshire Council has been successful in its £310,000 project bid to ensure people are able to safely access services in town centres while maintaining physical distancing.

A successful bid to Sustrans means that works in Inverurie and Ellon to improve social distancing for town centre users will go ahead.
A successful bid to Sustrans means that works in Inverurie and Ellon to improve social distancing for town centre users will go ahead.

Following constructive discussions with Sustrans which administers the £30 million fund on behalf of the Scottish Government, Aberdeenshire Council’s submission was successful.

The funding will cover 100 per cent of the cost of these temporary infrastructure projects to provide safe walking, wheeling and cycling as the lockdown is eased.

Immediate priority is to be given to the north-east town centres in Banchory, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Inverurie, Peterhead and Stonehaven.

The local authority is continuing to engage on its initial proposals with councillors, business associations, business improvement districts, community councils, bus operators and emergency services.

The proposals are still at this point being developed and will be shared more widely once they are at a more advanced state however indicative plans were revealed by a local councillor for Ellon on social media.

This brought mixed responses from locals with many pointing out the effect on local businesses as a result and citing the backlash which has already generated opposition in Aberdeen city centre to moves to pedestrianise sections of Union Street and make several roads either one way or blocked off completely.

Indicative plans for Inverurie which were also circulated ahead of confirmation indicate that Inverurie town centre would be made one way eastwards along Burn Lane.

Implementation of the proposals will create additional spaces for pedestrians to observe physical distancing for the foreseeable future in town centres as they begin to reopen.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Transportation, Ewan Wallace, said: “These physical distancing measures are being introduced to enable visitors to our town centres to move around freely and safely, which will in turn assist in the economic recovery of the area.”

Director of Sustrans Scotland, Karen McGregor said: “It’s clear that people across Scotland want to do the right thing during Coronavirus.

"They want to look after their physical and mental health.

“They also want to make sure that they are keeping to physical distancing guidelines while still being safe on our streets.

“Providing funding support to Aberdeenshire Council through our Spaces for People programme will make it easier and safer for people to travel across Aberdeenshire for essential travel and exercise.”

Council teams will continue to monitor the agreed measures put in place and will adjust them accordingly as the lockdown restrictions are relaxed further.

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