Ian Yuill

Liberal Democrat councillor for Mannofield, Airyhall, Braeside, Broomhill, Garthdee, Kaimhill and Ruthrieston Learn more

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Proposal to leave city centre ‘Spaces for People’ changes and marquees in bus lanes in place!

by Ian Yuill on 20 August, 2021

Councillors will be asked on Wednesday 25th August to decide on a proposal from Council staff to leave city centre “Spaces for People” changes in place indefinitely. Councillors are also being asked to allow the marquees in Union Street’s bus lanes to remain in place until March next year.

People were told when the “Spaces for People” changes were made at the start of the pandemic that these changes were only temporary.

Whatever permanent arrangements are made for Union Street and the rest of the city centre, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I believe it is wrong for the Council to try to continue with the “Spaces for People” changes meantime. To do so would mean the Council was going back on its word that the changes were a temporary measure for public health reasons.

Bus service disruption

The “Spaces for People” changes have also caused disruption to bus services and inconvenience for many bus users. Whist this was an unfortunate consequence of changes made for public health reasons, there can be no excuse for keeping these changes in place any longer than is necessary.

The “Spaces for People” changes in our city centre should be removed as soon as possible.

Marquees and beer tents

People were also told the marquees and beer tents in bus lanes and elsewhere in Aberdeen were also a temporary measure to help bars and other hospitality venues cope with the restrictions imposed on how many people businesses could allow inside their premises during the pandemic.

The restrictions on the number of people inside bars and hospitality venues have now of course been lifted. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I believe there is now no justification for these marquees and beer tents to remain on streets. These marquees and beer tents should be removed as soon as possible.

You can read the proposals from Council staff here.


19 Responses

  1. Dorothy Smith says:

    Totally agree with you.
    The pavements are wide enough to accommodate the amount of people. There is also a convenient crossing.

  2. Andrew Elrick says:

    Speaking as a disabled person, its terrible to have so much of the town centre cut off for those of us with limited mobility thanks to the removal of bus access. Furthermore, with so many bricks and mortar shops declining and pulling out, I don’t see preventing easy access as being helpful to urban renewal. If going out seems to have become an ordeal for the sake of appeasing expansionist pub owners and the like, it seems far better to just stay at home and order online.

    Limited pedestrianisation is fine if the principal issue is preventing air pollution, provided exceptions are made for greener public transport that people depend on. That hybrid system seems to have worked for Broad Street so why not elsewhere? (Alternatively, if the main point is to reduce congestion in the city centre, simply levy a toll and bring in additional council revenues that way rather than being beholden to the hospitality sector.)

  3. Marie Cruden says:

    Union Steeet looks dirty and these wooden benches and temporary bus stops are an eye sore. Pavements are wide enough for people to walk on.

  4. Eileen Leslie says:

    I agree with you that there is no need for these Spaces for People to be left in place any longer. We certainly do not need them. As for the marquees and beer tents, get rid of those unsightly things now and get our city centre back to as near normal as possible for everyone’s sake. We don’t need all these Covid reminders.

  5. Val May says:

    I am absolutely despairing and angry that the council would even think of keeping things the way they are in Union Street. How dare they!! We were told it would be temporary!! Why on earth would they want to do this? It is ugly, dystopian, just plain ridiculous and completely unnecessary.
    I would like to know who the council staff are who want to retain these measures.

  6. Eleanor says:

    Ian I totally agree. Streets should be cleared of beer tents and all that causes disruption to buses taxis and the public. Bon Acoord street should be reopened because it’s a public highway. Union street is diabolical and no need for further spaces for people. As you say it was supposed to be a temporary measure. Taxi rank should be reinstated on Back Wynd as Hadden Street is a disgusting rank and very hard to walk down. Also the congestion on market street, guild street, Union street. It gridlocks. As Hadden is closing as well due to the market is getting demolished , where do people get taxis !

    Aberdeen is a disgrace and because of the current council with lack of thought for the city, the public and businesses.

  7. Clifford Milne says:

    Dear Ian

    Thank you for your email, Union Street is a mess, I have been driving
    In Aberdeen for 52 years and I have
    Never seen the town like this. The
    Council must remove the beer tents
    And wooden seats ect to save Union
    Street. I think the pedestrian idea
    Is a good one but not yet, we have to
    Save Union Street first and open it up
    To get going into town to shop, The
    Buses and traffic going down to Guild
    Street is a joke, I have a car park space off Crown Street, so when I
    Am in the town I go though the Railway station thee times a week
    So I pass Guild street often and in the
    Past 3 or 4 weeks they are sometimes people going about that area than their is on Union street,
    Coming of buses, trains ,bus station,
    And going into Union Square, I counted 10 buses at one time on Guild street. The councillors should get out of their office’s and walk about Aberdeen and see how bad it is. The pedestrian idea is okay in the
    Next 3 or 4 years but not now. How do we need the pub tents still up it is a joke. I hope you and other councillors should start a petition to
    Stop this, I would go all around the
    Westend and Airyhall to hand out the
    Petition, every one I ask about this
    Idea about Union Street says it is the
    Worst thing that has happened in
    Years, I have worked in Aberdeen for
    54 years and still working,
    I hope you can try to stop
    This happening. Hope you are keeping well.

    Best wishes

  8. Doris Duncan says:

    I absolutely agree with everything that has already been said. As someone with limited mobility, we need buses on Union Street to enable us easy access to the town centre.

  9. Jim Maitland says:

    Totally agree with you Ian and the other responders.
    At 79 I remember Union Street as a wonderful broad street full of vibrant businesses.
    Time our Councillors, at large, realised they are there to act in the best interests of and act upon the wishes of our citizens.
    Also, I understand that we have an Aberdeen BID in place what are they doing to prevent this destruction of our beautiful City.

  10. Trevor Stirton says:

    I have to agree with all the comments above the council for years has allowed the city centre to be run down. Get rid of the social distancing measures all over the city not just Union Street they were never needed, it has killed off footfall. The council shoul be doing everything possible to get people back into the city. All those empty spaces above the shops should be given over to social housing. Get rid of all the mess on the pavements and clean the buildings to encourage people back in then we can think of pedestrianisation. Sort out the bus routes and taxi ranks and short term parking costs , it is far too costly for a short stay in fact make the first 30 mins free to encourage shoppers back. And once the theatre etc is back completely remove parking costs after 6:00pm.

  11. Naomi Mandel says:

    I agree with everything thats already been said. While the restrictions were necessary, for a specific reason, they have never looked nice, have they particularly been of benefit, in terms of the intended “function”.
    Most people have actually tended to still use the pavements as per pre virus. There was certainly not a lot of social distancing. It has made it harder for anyone with any type of mobility/other issue. With more people back at work, that means more cars, and therefore more traffic gridlocks
    I totally agree that Union Street needs to be cleaned up and opened up, to try to bring business,people and life back to Union Street. I also agree with the part pedestrianisation of Union Street, as per Broad Street. This would would be a happy medium of addressing environmental concerns, allowing and enabling more people to come into the city centre and also less traffic gridlocks.
    For once, the council needs to actually listen to what the citizens of Aberdeen actually want, and what they are saying, rather than pay scant and tokenistic attention.

  12. Carolyn Sinclair says:

    Absolutely agree. People need traffic back properly in the city centre. Our dying centre needs regeneration not killing off all together! So many people can’t shop in town now due to not being able to walk from wherever the buses stop! This is actually contributing to online shopping and no new businesses will come if the footfall doesn’t improve! As for the cleaner air- that’s a joke as the traffic builds up in Guild St etc! Have the council ever measured the air quality round by Market St and Guild St? The bridge leading to college St wasn’t built for that level of traffic. The vibrations caused by that amount of traffic going over the cassies must be causing an issue! The CV is only an excuse now for all the unwanted mess in Union St, we need more new businesses not just pubs etc! AND the pubs with outdoor seating aren’t even in the closed off but!! Thanks for contesting!

  13. Joanne says:

    I agree with a lot of the comments.

    The bollards in Union Street / George Street etc, that are supposedly there to allow pedestrians to walk on the road, all they have become is stopping places for Deliveroo, Just Eat etc drivers, I’ve challenged a couple of them and been given a mouthful of abuse.

    Cyclists (mainly Deliveroo etc), on the part of Union Street that is closed, supposedly for pedestrianisation, they seem to think that they have right of way and it won’t be long before someone gets mown down.

    And on Schoolhill, supposedly closed off to traffic between the two centres for pedestrians? It’s baffling? The crossing has been switched off, however there’s more and more traffic going through, unchallenged, again an accident waiting to happen.

  14. Donald Alexander says:

    Yes I concur with the previous comments. Honestly there is no need for restrictions now because there are hardly any shops worth visiting on that stretch of Union Street. As for the traffic snarl up around Guild Street, don’t get me started on that🤬

  15. Susan says:

    Agree with comments above. Visited Aberdeen city last week – first time in months- and shocked at the mess of Union Street and loss of shops. As others have mentioned future partial pedestrianisation of Lower Union Street possible but life needs to be breathed back into it first. With the oil downturn we need to make Aberdeen appeal to tourists. At the moment it’s just embarrassing.

  16. Sylvia Alexander says:

    I fully agree with all the above comments. Why do the Councillors not hear what the people are saying. We want Union Street back to what it was. Get rid of all the wooden benches big plant tubs and also the marques that were supposed to be for a temporary measure.
    If Union Street becomes pedestrianised that should include all bikes and cycles. It is an accident waiting to happen. I myself was all most hit by a delivery bike. They speed down Union Street and do not ring their bell. Most people still walk on the pavement so no need for Union Street to be changed just to suit the Councillors. Have the Councillors seen the congestion at Market Street and the Bus station – obviously not. It is time they got their head out of the sand and lived in the real world but as per normal I think they have already decided. Thanks for fighting the case.

  17. Clare says:

    I like the measures – I like the sense of space, previously it was really hard to walk down union street without having to get by heaps of people queuing on buses. Glasgow and Edinburgh have much nicer shopping streets because they have more room for pedestrians, not less. We shouldn’t be driving into the city centre – people can cycle, take the bus or walk.

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