Transport for the future

Today the North East transport partnership Nestrans began a 10-week consultation period on a range of proposals for travel over the coming years.

The strategy is grouped into six themes looking at:

Plans for travel in the city centre;
Increasing walking and cycling;
A focus on alternative energy;
Plans to address the challenges of rurality;
Improving connectivity through road and rail links.

Full information on the draft regional transport strategy and how to take part in the consultation is available at Nestrans2040.org.uk

Covid-19: New city restrictions

The First Minister has just announced a five-mile travel ban on Aberdeen residents and ordered city bars and restaurants to close. People have also been advised not to travel to Aberdeen except for work or education.

The reintroduction of lockdown measures comes after a spike in coronavirus cases. It will last for a week initially.

Cllr Jim Gifford is Leader of Aberdeenshire Council. He said: “Throughout Covid-19, it has been widely accepted that local outbreaks were a real risk. The decision to apply restrictions in Aberdeen City has been taken as a result of Public Health advice, and it is that Public Health advice which is of the highest priority.

“We must all be aware of these local restrictions and ensure we are doing everything in our power to stop local outbreaks becoming more widespread. This has implications on almost everyone and our approach to tackling this must be done as a region.

“We encourage people in Aberdeenshire to make themselves aware of the restrictions and not travel into the city, unless necessary for work or education. Meanwhile we also encourage people in the City boundary to stick to the travel limits and prevent spread into part of Aberdeenshire.

“It is incumbent on everyone to adopt all the measures in order to help keep each other safe.”

I have had clarification over the status of Aberdeenshire residents who work/attend schools in the city. The Scottish Government is protecting the ability for young people to return to education next week as previously outlined. This means that if you live in Aberdeenshire but go to school in the city or work in a city school (and vice versa), you will be required to attend school next week as planned.

There is more detail in the Scottish Government news release: https://www.gov.scot/news/local-restrictions-introduced-in-aberdeen/

NHS Grampian has issued a list of venues affected by this cluster, and they are not all in Aberdeen. The Marine Hotel is included but here is what the Stonehaven establishment has to say: “The Marine Hotel has been listed as one of these premises by NHS Grampian and various other local news sites. We have been assured by Aberdeenshire Council & HP Grampian that this was an error! We are looking to have this retracted & amended as soon as possible by the NHS Grampian press team. This error is devastating for us! PLEASE spread the word!”

Full NHS Grampian statement here: https://www.facebook.com/NHSGrampian/posts/3615874845138239

New litter campaign

Aberdeenshire Council today launched an anti-littering campaign in an effort to tackle litter in our countryside and on our coastline.

Artist Andrea Hall has agreed that the council uses two of her eye-catching designs free of charge as the background for two posters, which read ‘Don’t be a Tosser’ and ‘Swim against the Tide.’

Andrea’s work is inspired by her own experience – the locations in her designs are real places where she has visited and swum.

Over the coming weeks, the posters will be displayed in parks and open spaces across Aberdeenshire to encourage people to take their litter home.

Help wanted with grass cutting

Aberdeenshire Council is tackling the backlog of open spaces – including parks – that require work to return them to a reasonable standard.

Work at school sites is the current priority, as the date for pupils to return has now been set.

However, there is still much to do across general open spaces as well as within the school estate.

Before the pandemic, there were a number of positive collaborations with local groups who assisted in managing soft landscaping within communities. Today the council reaffirmed that it is keen to hear from groups or individuals who wish to get involved in their local area, whether that be at a school site, or adopting a floral display.

Several farmers and agricultural contractors have already volunteered time and equipment to help with this large undertaking.

If you would like to offer support, email the council at greenspace@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Guidance for community groups/individuals can be found here: http://bit.ly/Communityguidance Meanwhile guidance for farmers/agricultural contractors is here: https://bit.ly/Contractorguidance

Homebase plans approved

Aberdeenshire Council planners have approved a plan to split the former Homebase store in Portlethen into two units.

Further information about the application can be found on the council’s website under “View planning applications” using the reference APP/2020/0978 at https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/planning/public-access/#planning

The decision has also been covered by the Evening Express: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/fp/news/local/plans-to-convert-former-north-east-homebase-store-in-to-two-retail-units-approved1/

Planning: New applications

Three applications have been registered last week within the North Kincardine ward of Aberdeenshire Council and can be viewed using the online planning register (https://upa.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/online-applications/).

APP/2020/0946
Site address: Plot 1, Whiteland Coast, Site OP1, Newtonhill.
Applicant: Barratt North Scotland c/o Halliday Fraser Munro, 8 Victoria Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1XB.
Full planning permission for erection of showhome and sales arena.
Public comment expiry date: 3 September.

APP/2020/1268
Site address: Maryculter House Hotel, Maryculter, AB12 5GB.
Applicant: Maryculter House Hotel c/o WCP Architects, 6 Albyn Lane, Aberdeen, AB10 6SZ
Full planning permission for erection of timber lodge.
Public comment expiry date: 18 August.

APP/2020/1424
Site Address: Cairnview, Tillyhowes Steading, Banchory Devenick, AB12 5XL.
Applicant: Mr Anco Maan c/o Inspired Design & Development Ltd, 27 Evan Street, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, AB39 2EQ.
Full planning permission for alterations to a dwellinghouse and erection of a garage/store.
Public comment expiry date: 20 August.

Advice on offer

Aberdeenshire Council is setting up a series of webinars to help community groups navigate the requirements to re-open their facilities and consider the risk assessments that they should undertake.

The first webinar will take place on Friday 21 August 2pm – 3.30pm, followed by one on Thursday 27 August from 5.30pm – 7.00pm.

There will be speakers from Aberdeenshire community-managed facilities, Aberdeenshire Protective Services, Live Life Aberdeenshire Facilities, and Economic Development. Afterwards there will be a question and answer session.

Registrations will open from Monday 10 August, when a central email easinglockdownsupport@aberdeenshire.gov.uk will go live.

At the moment there is no specific sectorial guidance for community facilities and council along with partners will work with government to articulate the need for clear, community sector guidance and support. There will be various regulatory elements for these community groups to navigate along with emerging good practice

Council lets to resume

Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services has agreed to begin reinstating lets from August 2020.

A letter has been sent today sent to all groups affected by the temporary restriction on lets. It details the staged approach the council will be taking to reinstate all lets over time.

Lets for Education and Live Life Aberdeenshire facilities will resume on a phased and priority basis.

As always this will be dependent on the continued smooth progress out of lockdown and will be reviewed in line with Scottish Government guidance.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

Aberdeenshire Council has identified the following priorities for the resumption of lets:

Direct delivery of services

• Groups delivering commissioned services funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC)
• Active Schools
• Direct delivery of Community Learning and Development
• Primary / Secondary Education.

Priority 1: groups providing services that assist parents in returning to work

• Groups providing wraparound care (breakfast/after-school clubs), including existing private and commercial groups
• Childminders
• Nurseries / playgroups / early years groups providing childcare services. Includes existing private and commercial groups.

Priority 2: targeted services for vulnerable people and groups delivering primarily outdoor services.

• Existing Outdoor Sports groups delivering youth training sessions. Includes existing private and commercial groups
• Existing Outdoor businesses delivering Culture and Sport services outdoors.
• Existing Community groups delivering services to exclusively vulnerable people or people with acute health needs.

Priority 3: existing community and non-statutory education groups. Note any ‘expansion of services would fall into Priority 4.

• Existing Community Groups/organisation
• All Existing Dry Sports organisations. Existing is also applicable to teams within clubs
• Existing Adult education groups
• Existing Swim Clubs / Pool user groups
• Existing Cultural groups
• Existing Religious Groups (existing defined as already using a council facility).
• All other existing early years and children’s groups.

Priority 4: new commercial and community users.

• New Private or Commercial groups wanting lets.
• New services/teams within existing sports and cultural groups.

From 3 August 2020, Direct Delivery, Priority 1 and Priority 2 will be able to resume lettings arrangements.

For Priority 1, groups allowed to book term time space from 11 August 2020 to the end of 2020 calendar year. The situations will be reviewed in September 2020. If the normal facility is closed, then efforts will be made to source alternative premises. It is expected that appropriate prices apply. Any agreement on a let is reliant on the facility manager’s agreement. Groups/childminders are only allowed to deliver their ‘existing levels of service’ with any additional services treated as Priority 4.

For Priority 2, Outdoor Sports Groups and Businesses will be able to agree bookings for Term 1 (until 12 October 2020) for outdoor areas. There will be no access to indoor areas, pavilions and changing rooms at this stage. There is an expectation that prices would be as normal and a presumption that the service would reduce in size. For existing Community Groups, discussions can be had on indoor bookings of facilities until 12 October 2020.

For Priority 3, discussions can be had on bookings for Term 1 only, however any confirmation will be delayed until Priority 1 and 2 groups have had space allocated. The allocations may be fewer than in previous years due to pressure on space.

For Priority 4, no booking of let will be allowed.

Schools to re-open in August

Aberdeenshire’s schools are set to open full-time for all pupils from Wednesday 12 August in line with an announcement today by the Scottish Government.

Monday 10 August and Tuesday 11 August will be in-service days to allow for additional preparation for staff. The in-service day previously arranged for Thursday 19 November has been cancelled.

The five days holiday missed by bringing this year’s school term forward will be taken next June, with effect from Monday 28 June, 2021. This makes for a seven-week summer break next year.

Detailed information will be shared directly with parents and carers once the new national guidance on preparing for the new term has been published. Meanwhile for more information visit https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/schools/schools-covid-19/#reopen

Bus timetables updated

From Monday 3 August Stagecoach bus services in Aberdeenshire and Moray will increase ahead of the resumption of schools.

Here is a link to the new timetables – you can scroll down to the one for the Stonehaven area: https://www.stagecoachbus.com/service-updates/serviceupdatesarticle?SituationId=ID-24/06/2020-17:38:13:966

The frequency increase does not only affect school journeys but will also the 7/X7 service – Aberdeen – Portlethen – Stonehaven among others.

If you have any questions you can get in touch with Stagecoach on Twitter @StagecoachBBird or via email on bluebird.enquiries@stagecoachbus.com.

Remember to wear a mask on the bus and pay using contactless if possible!