Labour response

Local elections 2022:  questions sent by Aberdeen Cycle Forum to candidates / party representatives and answers below received from Scottish Labour (provided by Sandra Macdonald)

1. Do you agree that there is a Climate Emergency? 

Yes. That is why Labour has committed to make Aberdeen the first city in Britain to offer free bus travel to every resident, by fully funding those citizens not eligible on grounds of age for existing concessionary schemes; and to invest £180 million in the council’s capital budget to achieve net-zero targets and address the climate emergency, providing funding for climate adaptation priorities including fleet replacement, active travel, electric vehicle charging, energy efficiency, heating replacement, property refurbishment and improvements, district heating, and waste management.

2. Despite all the plans, policies and strategies in place at both a local and national level, active travel infrastructure in Aberdeen is very poor, and the rate of change in delivering improvements seems to be incredibly slow. What would you do to speed up the rate of change? 

The focus over the past twenty years has been to deliver the AWPR and take traffic off city streets. The focus for the next twenty has to be to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists within the city. Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils have worked with the regional transport partnership, Nestrans, on an Active Travel Action Plan 2014 – 2035 (AcTrAP) which aims to “create an environment and culture in which walking and cycling are convenient, safe, comfortable, healthy and attractive choices of travel for everyday journeys”. Aberdeen Labour believes more needs to be done to fast-track actions under this plan over the next five years.

Aberdeen Labour has also pledged to: 

  • introduce attractive and sustainable new public transport with the Aberdeen Rapid Transit network, connecting major venues and transport hubs; 
  • invest an additional £5 million to commence a major programme of footway widening, junction improvements and additional crossing points to make Aberdeen a more walkable city, in line with Aberdeen’s Climate Change route map;
  • engage with cycling organisations on shared priorities for developing new cycleways and active travel infrastructure. 

3. Aberdeen City Council is still intending to implement new road-building schemes such as on South College St and the Berryden Corridor which will increase traffic capacity coming into the city centre. Do you support those proposals? 

We support these schemes, because they will contribute to a net change of reducing traffic in the city centre. The South College Street proposal in conjunction with bus priority measures are essential to make the pedestrianisation of Central Union Street work, while the Berryden Corridor is designed to improve transport connectivity from the north of the city, reduce congestion and improve pedestrian and cycle provision.

Aberdeen Labour will invest £150 million to deliver our City Centre and Beach Masterplans to ensure that the heart of our city is lively, appealing, accessible, inclusive and fit for the future, and develop a public realm strategy, including walking and cycling, for the whole city, as recommended in the 2022 Economic Policy Panel report.  Which is why we have developed detailed plans for pedestrian-friendly spaces all the way from Union Terrace Gardens to the Beach Ballroom, to ensure delivery of big changes to make Aberdeen a city fit for a net-zero future where passengers and pedestrians come first, while putting sustainable transport arrangements in place to ensure access for all.

4. We have previously asked for the City Council to designate a Councillor and a Senior Officer to be Active Travel champions and a direct point of contact for campaign groups such as our own. Would you support such an idea? 

Yes.

5. Many other cities are now implementing car exclusion zones around schools at key times of day as a means of reducing pollution, increasing safety and thus encouraging active travel for children. We are not aware of any such plans in Aberdeen. Would you promote such an idea to be adopted in Aberdeen? 

Aberdeen City Council already has safe walking and cycling routes to school. Aberdeen Labour has pledged to invest an additional £5million to complement a major programme of footway widening, junction improvements and additional crossing points to make Aberdeen a more walkable city, in line with our Climate Change Route Map as well as engaging with cycling groups as part of this. That funding could be utilised to improve safety measures around schools.

6. Do you support plans to pedestrianise Union Street between Market Street and Bridge Street, and would you support a segregated cycle path for the full length of Union Street?

Yes, these plans are essential to the future of our city centre. Retail habits have changed considerably in the last few years, with the challenges of online shopping and the global pandemic exacerbating problems. Aberdeen Labour has led the way in investing heavily in our city centre. Over the last five years we have seen the refurbishment of our cultural assets like the award-winning Aberdeen Art Gallery, Music Hall and Provost Skene’s House as well as Union Terrace Gardens. Pedestrianisation allows us the chance to change the heart of our city’s infrastructure in favour of sustainable and active travel but in order to do that people need to vote for Aberdeen Labour to get pedestrianisation in place.