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Kingswells Old News

Updated: 7 January 2002

Park and Ride Figures Soar: Park and Ride figures for the Kingswells area of Aberdeen have reached their highest level so far, with almost two-and-a-half thousand people utilising the service over the past week.

The increased numbers underline a significant increase since the service was started just a few months ago.

Council leader, Len Ironside said: "The figures show that the Kingswells Park and Ride usage is growing, at a steady pace and we are delighted with the results.

"Many people will use the new service to come into the city for Christmas shopping. After they test it for the first time, I am confident they will use it time and time again."

The figures for last week, as from Monday November 26th were as follows: - Monday - 136, Tuesday - 166, Wednesday - 147, Thursday - 173, Friday - 166, Saturday - 357, Sunday - 199. (Posted 3.12.2001)


Kingswells Residents protested peacefully at a Stewart Milne show home in Kingswells on a cold Sunday afternoon. Information on the proposed stadium development was offered to site visitors. The effort was welcomed by most prospective purchasers. Many people said that they had not been made aware of the stadium proposal either now or, in some cases, prior to purchasing houses. One couple came back in their car to ask a second question ! (Posted 28.11.2001
Bad Timing For Stadium Proposal, Inquiry Told: A planning application to build a new football stadium at Kingswells was lodged at the worst possible time for the proposed sports complex on the outskirts of the village, it was claimed yesterday.

The claim was made on the first day of a public inquiry into the plans for a £12million sports and leisure centre at nearby East Middlefield.

Gordon MacCallum, of Glasgow-based Keppie Planning, asked if the proposal for Aberdeen Football Club to relocate its facilities to the site surrounding the proposed leisure development posed a further danger to the green belt area around Kingswells.

Baxter Allan, also of Keppie Planning - which submitted the proposal on behalf of developers the Queens Road Development Company - replied: "I don't see it that way.

"I suppose you could say that from the point of view of this inquiry, the timing of that proposal could not have been worse, but there's no link between the proposal and Aberdeen Football Club's proposal.

"I understand the concern of the people of the Kingswells area that suddenly this development for an urban sports centre has suddenly gone global. I think that's behind a lot of the objections to my clients' proposal."

However, Mr Allan said he did not know much about the Dons' proposal and declined to speculate on it.

He said each proposal should be assessed on its own merits according to the criteria set down by Aberdeen City Council.

Mr Allan also rejected suggestions that building the complex on the disused farm land breached council green belt policies.

He said the policies ruled that land could be used for sport and recreational development in exceptional circumstances.

This, he said, qualified as an exceptional circumstance, because SportsScotland had reported the city was crying out for such a facility and there were no suitable sites for the development in the city centre or in any urban areas.

Under cross-examination by planning consultant Alistair Stark, representing the Kingswells Infrastructure First Group (KIFG), which opposed the application, Mr Allan said in his opinion the term 'exceptional circumstances' meant it was recognised that in Aberdeen it is difficult to find a site on which to build a sports complex and in special cases, where it could be justified, the possibility of building a sports facility on green belt land could be considered. He believed this was such a case.

He added the East Middlefield site could be interpreted by some as a brown field site because it is derelict, unused land.

Mr Stark quizzed Mr Allan about each of the alternative sites which had been examined and refused for a variety of reasons, including size, location and roads provision surrounding the sites.

When Mr Allan said the Sunnyside Farm site in Cults had been discounted because of poor road access, the KIFG representative said the situation would be similar if the development went ahead at Kingswells and that the roads leading from Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber to the site were also poor.

The Kingswells site remained the best option because it was easily accessible and in a desirable location for Next Generation, the operator of the proposed complex, he said.

Mr Allan confirmed the building would be large, but said landscaping work would be carried out to lessen its impact. It would be set back from the A944 Aberdeen-Westhill road.

He admitted the firm had not looked at the Robert Gordon University Kepplestone site or the Fire Brigade headquarters on Anderson Drive, for which retailers had recently been refused planning permission.

The council had not made the company aware of the sites, he said, but it was unlikely that a sports operator could outbid a retail firm for property.

The inquiry at the Westhill Hotel, chaired by David Russell, also heard from civil engineer Graham Christie.

He said he did not anticipate any transport difficulties as road improvements would be made if the development went ahead.

The Scottish Executive called the scheme in for further scrutiny and opted to hold the full public inquiry, which was attended by less than ten members of the public yesterday, after city councillors backed plans for the development, which could create 100 jobs, by 27-15 in May.

The four-day hearing is due to continue today.

A decision on whether the scheme can go ahead is expected in February or March next year.

By ANGELA TAYLOR 29 November 2001 (http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk)


Centre Hope For Tennis Hopefuls: Budding Tim Henmans in the North-east could get professional coaching and financial help if a sports centre on the outskirts of Kingswells gets the go-ahead, it has been claimed.

Scott Lloyd, managing director of Next Generation Clubs, which is behind the proposal, was giving evidence at

a public inquiry into the plans for a £12 million sports and leisure centre, at nearby East Middlefield.

He said the main aim of the complex was to increase the number of places where tennis could be played as an all-year sport and increase the level of playing ability and the UK's representation in international competitions.

Architect Joseph Dagen, who was called to give evidence by Aberdeen City Council, said the proposal by Queen's Road Development Company, was labelled a bad neighbour development under national planning policy guidance.

29 November 2001 (http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk)


Inquiry Into Kingswells Sports Scheme To Get Underway: A PUBLIC inquiry into a proposed £12million sports and leisure development for Kingswells is to get underway next week.

The Scottish Executive called the scheme in for further scrutiny and opted to hold the full public inquiry after Aberdeen City Council backed plans for the development by the Queen's Road Development Company, which could create 100 jobs.

The planned development would be constructed near the favoured site of Aberdeen's proposed new 30,000-seater football stadium at Kingswells.

City council planning chiefs advised against the plan to build a sports and leisure centre on land off the A944 Westhill-Aberdeen road east of Kingswells, telling councillors green belt land earmarked for the scheme was suitable for sports developments - but not for the massive building and car park which QRDC wanted to create.

However, city councillors voted the plans through by 27-15 at a meeting in May this year.

The scheme is the brainchild of QRDC director and Aberdeen businessman Stuart Clarkson.

The centre would be 25% bigger than a sizeable superstore and would include tennis, badminton and squash courts, swimming pools, a restaurant and a bar.

He has lined up the leisure giant Next Generation, run by former tennis star David Lloyd, to run the operation.

Unlike the Dons stadium, the proposed leisure development was largely welcomed by Kingswells residents.

However, it came under fire from the Scottish Society from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which recently had its own green belt planning application in the area refused on appeal.

Planning officials also claimed it breached policies on green belt.

The Dons want to build a 30,000-seater stadium near Kingswells and re-locate from Pittodrie.

The stadium, which would also include a sport-and-leisure village and hotel complex, competition swimming pool and soccer academy, is to be built as part of Scotland's bid to host the European football Championship finals in 2008.

The inquiry, being held at the Westhill Hotel, gets underway on Tuesday, when supporters and opponents of the development will be invited to state their case.

The inquiry, which is expected to last four days, is due to continue on Wednesday and Thursday and then on Monday, December 3.

See next week's Press and Journal for full reports from the inquiry. By SCOTT MACNAB, 24 November 2001 (http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk)


Kingswells Protest Wins Support Of Westhill: Westhill residents have joined the ranks of opposition to Aberdeen FC's proposed stadium at Kingswells.

The latest move emerged last night as campaigners in Kingswells issued a statement denying reports of a split in their ranks.

The Kingswells protesters were hitting back at claims from one local community councillor that the protesters represented a lunatic fringe.

They were joined by a Westhill residents' group, which listed a series of objections to the Dons' plans.

Kingswells Community councillor Ian Cox reportedly had claimed that views of the protesters were not representative of the Kingswells community at large.

The campaigners hit back in a statement issued jointly by Derek Martin, chairman of Kingswells Infrastructure First Group and Mrs Barrie Buchan, secretary of Kingswells Community Council.

The statement read: "Kingswells Community Council and the Kingswells Infrastructure First Group are pleased to jointly confirm that they continue to work towards a common objective to protect the village from the commercial development and stadium which threatens Aberdeen's green belt.

"We are wholly united and committed to this aim and will not be undermined by the attempts of others to deflect attention away from this fundamental issue."

Both Mr Martin and Mrs Buchan also expressed their encouragement at a statement released by the Westhill and District Residents' Association opposing the stadium proposal.

In the statement, Ray Hetherington, vice-chairman of the association's committee, said: "Please record the formal objection of the Westhill and District Residents' Association to the Aberdeen Football Club proposal to site a sports development at, or near, Kingswells."

Among the Westhill residents' objections are: lack of infrastructure; breach of green belt; violation of Hazlehead Policies and the surrounding natural wildlife habitat.

They also claim it is an insensitive development, given the adjacent crematorium and gardens of remembrance at Hazlehead, and believe more suitable sites exist at Charlestown, to the south of Aberdeen. The 24-acre site chosen for the development is at Bellfield Farm and lies immediately to the south-east of the Kingswells roundabout.

It is bounded on one side by the A944 Aberdeen-Westhill road and on the other by the minor Kingswells-Cults road.

The entire complex would feature a sport-and-leisure village and hotel as well as the new 30,000-seat stadium, competition swimming pool and football academy.

The stadium facilities would include a museum and hall of fame and cost about £30million.

The Scottish Football Association chose Aberdeen Football Club as part of its bid to host the 2008 European chanpionships, but needs a 30,000-seat stadium to stand a chance.

Keith Wyness, chief executive of Aberdeen, said that it was very important for all the community's views be represented by a single voice to avoid a breakdown in the process.

He said: "We are listening to the concerns of Kingswells residents but in order to work together it is important that there is one voice which can honestly represent those for and against the stadium.

"Without a single voice it becomes impossible to sit down and hold discussions."

By SCOTT MACNAB AND CAROLINE PAGE 23 November 2001 (http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk)

Happy doggie walkers from Saturday 1st September (Picture by Mike Dunbar) I would like to express my grateful thanks to all those who participated in the "Doggie Walk" on Saturday, 1 September and who gave so generously. We all had a great time on a lovely autumn morning and, so far, the sum of £110 has been raised, with more to come. All those who took part rated it a super morning out and said they were looking forward to the next one! So we'll do it again, folks, later on. Watch this site for details. Thanks again from the Guide Dogs and myself. Lydia Martin.(Posted 2.9.2001)


Kingswells residents cry foul at stadium meeting About 200 Kingswells residents packed into the village community hall last night to oppose Aberdeen Football Club's plans to build a new 30,000-seater stadium in the area.

The public meeting was the inaugural gathering of the Kingswells Infrastructure First Group which has been formed to "pre-empt" the club's expected confirmation that it is set to move to the preferred Kingswells site.

The football club unveiled plans last month to build a £30million stadium as part of Scotland's bid to host Euro 2008 football championships.

The protest group announced last night that it would consult a planning expert who will help spearhead a campaign and that it had already started a website to keep locals informed of its progress.

Chairman of the group Derek Martin claimed that in a 30-minute telephone conversation with Dons chairman Stewart Milne, Mr Milne told him that local opposition could scupper the Granite City's bid to play a part as a host city in 2008.

Mr Martin led the meeting along with deputy chairman Mike Dunbar and retired local government officer Alistair Stark, who is to advise the group on the planning aspect of their campaign.

Mr Martin claimed that Mr Milne had told him that last night's meeting was "premature" and that the club was looking at other locations.

He told the meeting that Mr Milne had also told him: "If opposition in Kingswells get national publicity, the SFA might think that Aberdeen does not want to be part of Euro 2008.

"We would lose the chance of the stadium and people may see Kingswells as being to blame."

Mr Martin claims he was also told this may incur the "great displeasure" of all Aberdeen which was met with laughter from those gathered.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Stark said that a more suitable option was in Charlestown to the south of the city which had potentially better road links and a possible rail link.

Residents at the meeting claimed that the Euro 2008 bid was nothing more than a "red herring" and the switch was part of a long-term strategy at Pittodrie. Mr Dunbar confirmed: "Mr Milne has stated that relocation has been under consideration for the past four years and these European Championships may well be a red herring.

"You have to have suspicions about the machinations which are going behind the scenes in this."

The club is expected to choose a site, owned by Stewart Milne, on the road to Cults from Kingswells as their "preferred option" for relocation.

The meeting was also attended by city councillor Matthew Duncan of the nearby Myrtle ward.

He said he was unable to comment on the plans as it may bar him from a council vote on the matter, but said that he had opposed previous plans to build on greenfield sites in the city.

Aberdeen FC were not represented at the meeting last night, with a spokesman commenting that the meeting was "jumping the gun". by Scott Macnab http://www.thisisnorthscotland.com/

Councillors claim park-and-ride will fail: The £7.3million Kingswells park-and-ride scheme due to open next month will be a disaster, a councillor predicted yesterday.

"I am absolutely sure that in three months time it will become abundantly clear to everybody that this particular scheme will fall flat on its face," said Tory Jack Dempsey at a meeting of Aberdeen City Council.

Mr Dempsey, who represents Queen's Cross, supported residents in the Kings' Gate-Fountainhall Road area when they unsuccessfully campaigned against the park-and-ride buses going through their area.

And he renewed his attack when the council yesterday considered various matters in connection with the scheme, including a proposed agreement with operator FirstAberdeen to run the new service for a trial period of a year, with a review after six months.

The council was also being asked to agree a £12,000 annual subsidy to the operator.

Users of the new service will pay £2 - 40p more than the £1.60 charged for the existing Bridge of Don park-and-ride, which is also to go up to £2.

The route will be Kingswells-Lang Stracht-Anderson Drive-King's Gate-Fountainhall Road-Albyn Place-Union Street and then on to the Bridge of Don terminal.

Mr Dempsey claimed a more suitable route would have been past the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary complex, where there would be a demand for buses from staff and visitors as a result of parking charges going up and new parking restrictions being introduced in surrounding streets.

"People are saying that if there was a park-and-ride they would use it if it went down the other way," he said.

They were unlikely, however, to use buses going via King's Gate.

Tory group leader John Porter, the member for Midstocket and another opponent, described the scheme as "a shot in the dark" and moved no action be taken on the proposals.

Mr Porter claimed it was unlikely the Kingswells scheme would have the same success as the Bridge of Don one because it had a much smaller population in its hinterland and did not sit on a major trunk road like the latter. There were also no bus lanes on much of the route to speed the buses up.

His motion was defeated, however, as was one by Mr Dempsey that the monitoring period should be reduced to only three months.

A similar fate befell a motion from Oldmachar Liberal Democrat councillor John Reynolds calling for the proposed £12,000 subsidy to FirstAberdeen to be scrapped.

"With the increase in fares, based on the usage figures within the report, FirstAberdeen will increase its income by well over £52,000 in the first year," claimed Mr Reynolds.

"Extra revenue on this sort of scale does not in my opinion warrant a subsidy as well."

The proposals before the council were approved. (Posted 16.8.2001) Written by David Steele http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk


Protesters bid to KO super stadium: A pressure group is bidding to blow the whistle on plans to create a £30 million football super-stadium in an Aberdeen suburb.

The Dons have earmarked green-belt land at Kingswells for a 30,000-seat stadium to replace Pittodrie.

But the newly-formed Kingswells Infrastructure First group claims roads and public transport are not geared up to take thousands of fans to and from the west Aberdeen site.

Aberdeen FC wants to move into a new stadium to help Scotland's bid to host the Euro 2008 football championships. The country needs six big stadia to mount a successful bid.

The country already has four suitable stadia - and Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Kilmarnock and Falkirk are competing to build the last two. Land next to the Kingswells A944 roundabout is the club's preferred site. KIF spokesman Michael Dunbar, 44, said: "We are not a not-in-my-back-yard group. "We are quite happy to have the stadium - provided the infrastructure to accommodate it is in place first.

"Although there has been a considerable amount of talk and some pretty pictures, there hasn't been a lot of substance on the proposal yet."

The Scottish Executive was already scrutinising plans for a £12 million sports centre on green belt close to the proposed site, Mr Dunbar pointed out.

Ministers were likely to voice similar concerns over a £30 million green belt super-stadium. KIF intends to call a public meeting in Kingswells in the autumn.

Mr Dunbar - a Dons fan and former season ticket holder - claimed there was little support in Kingswells for the scheme.

"I have not heard a single voice in favour," said the computer programmer. A Dons spokesman said: "We are more than happy to allay any fears.

"We are not trying to railroad things through without consultation."

The groundwork for a meeting had already been prepared through local city councillor David Maitland, he added. The spokesman stressed that the stadium scheme was in its early stages and alternative sites were being studied. (Posted 15.8.2001) Written by Graham Lawther http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk


Park-and-Ride: The £7.3 million park and ride at Kingswells is scheduled to open on September 17 next month. Scottish Transport Minister Sarah Boyack will perform the official opening ceremony. Work on the terminal is expected to be completed early next month.

Users of the new service will pay £2.40 (more than the £1.60) charged for the existing Bridge of Don park-and-ride. But the later charge is also going up to £2.00, it was revealed. For that price, a driver and up to four passengers are entitled to use the park-and-ride and also have an onward journey else where in the city.

The bus lanes for the Kingswells service have been in existence for some time. The saturdays-only park-and-ride service from Woodhill House to the city centre will cease when the Kingswells one kicks in. Donald Murdoch, director of environment and property, wants the city council to enter into an agreement with FirstAberdeen to run the new service for a trial period of a year, with a review after six months. The council is also being asked to approve the increased charges and an annual subsidy of £12,000 to the operator.

The route will be Kingswells-Lang Stracht-Anderson Drive-King's Gate-Fountainhall Road-Albyn Place-Union Street, and then on to the Bridge of Don park-and-ride terminus. Mr Murdoch says the use of the Bridge of Don scheme has grown to around 500 vehicles and 900 passengers daily. He said: " Since its introduction in 1994 there has only been one increase in the cost of the service to the users to £1.60 in 1998."

Mr Murdoch also says that part of the success of the `Bridge of Don service has been the presence of attendants to deal with security and the concerns of the public. To provide the same support at Kingswells, Mr Murdoch is asking for permission to recruit two more attendants to oversee the park. Contribution by David Steele from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 10.8.2001


Keeping the community informed: At present, in order to satisfy the requirements of the Scottish Football Association, all we have done is identify a preferred site for any development. In addition, we are looking at alternative sites and both the City of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils are assisting with that.

Although we are hopeful of having control over the piece of land (located to the left as you are travelling west on the Aberdeen to Westhill road) no application for planning has been made.

We anticipate that the SFA will announce the applications which have been successful by the end of this month. However, even if Aberdeen is successful in progressing to stage 2, the SFA still has to convince UEFA that it has the best case for hosting the tournament in 2008. That decision won't be taken until 2003 and if it does not happen, then Aberdeen Football Club will revert back to the situation of full consultation with our fans as to whether we redevelop Pittodrie or relocate elsewhere.

The main message is that there is a substantial amount of water to flow under the bridge before any decision either way is finalised and that we will be keeping everyone informed as to any developments. As I mentioned we are meeting with Cllr Maitland this evening and will, at the appropriate time, be more than happy to speak to anyone who wants us to.

Hope that makes it slightly clearer - if you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to get back to me. Yours in sport Dave Macdermid, PR Manager (Posted 6.8.2001)


Kingswells its preferred option: AFC board members and staff from both the Club and its partners, (City of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Enterprise Grampian, Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board and the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce), was used to explain the North east of Scotland's vision for a new stadium, soccer academy and multi-sports facility. One which would not only be for the Euro 2008 Championship but become a centre of excellence for sporting achievement for the North east of Scotland for many years to come.

AFC revealed Kingswells as its preferred option whilst also explaining why Pittodrie is not an option for the Euro 2008 bid because of the lack of available space. Adjacent residential housing, the golf course and lack of transport facilities also featured among the answers to the question of "why not Pittodrie?" and a visual demonstration was provided by superimposing a stadium complex fulfilling the UEFA requirement over the present site.

With hopes running high, Aberdeen Football Club is looking forward to August when the SFA is due to announce its decision on a short list of three sites. In the meantime, the Club will be arranging consultation meetings with both fans and Kingswells' residents to further present its plans and gather feedback. (Posted 3.8.2001) Dave Macdermid at AFC Link to pictures of proposed stadium http://afc.imajica.com/2008/


Grampian Midweek brought their cameras to Kingswells on Wednesday (25.7.2001). They were filming a story about the web site and the different people in the community who use it. Thanks to Kingswells Pharmacy, the Brownies and the local Councillor willing taking part in the filming:-) Claire Burt
Countdown to beat gridlock as £7.3m plan nears start:
It's make or break time for Aberdeen's park-and-ride plans. A £7.3 million service from Kingswells to the city centre will start operating within a few months. Supporters and critics are waiting anxiously to see the take-up among grid locked drivers. City council principal roads engineer Derick Murray said: "We're going all out to make the Kingswells park-and-ride work. "I'm confident it will be a success as the incentives become clearer."

But while council chiefs are confident it will be a success, others are predicting it's doomed to failure. A spokesman for the pressure group Aberdeen Transport Forum said: "Park-and-ride has not been a great success elsewhere in Aberdeen and it is difficult to imagine that Kingswells will be any different.

"The £7.3 million would be better going towards sorting out some of the bottlenecks on our trunk roads system, such as constructing a flyover at the Haudagain roundabout, to get traffic moving again on the north side of Aberdeen."

The council is still in discussions with bus giant FirstAberdeen about running the service, which could yet include paying a subsidy. FirstAberdeen has pledged to match Government spending by providing new vehicles, services and facilities like real-time passenger information. The Kingswells scheme is being funded with a £5.3 million Scottish Executive loan, £900,000 of developers' money and £1.1 million from the city council. Around £17 million is being pumped into park-and-ride routes in total. Others are planned to the south, west and north of the city.

So far park-and-ride has enjoyed mixed success. In May, the south-of-the-city Calder Park Saturday service from Altens was axed after two years because it was under-used. The Woodhill House-city centre service was also due for the chop but was saved after a plea from the council.

Meanwhile, Stagecoach Bluebird was forced to slash fares on its Ellon-Aberdeen service to entice more customers. Veteran city councillor John Porter has already urged the council to think again about its commitment to the scheme.

The Midstocket Tory representative warned: "It hasn't worked in Ellon and to the south of the city and the sooner we stop wasting money on it the better." Market research carried out for the Evening Express showed just 3% of commuters would regularly use the Kingswells service. More than half said they would never use it - and a quarter said they would use it less than once a week.

Those in favour of park-and-ride point to the Bridge of Don service, which has 600 car spaces compared to the 950 at Kingswells. Business was very slow to start with, but six years later and the car park is over 80% full.

There has been no traffic growth on the King Street corridor when other routes have seen 2% a year. Bus boss George Mair said: "We would hope to see similar growth to that in the Bridge of Don, perhaps a bit quicker now that people are used to the concept."

Park-and-ride is there to reduce congestion and allow other bus services to run more reliably.

FirstAberdeen recently launched a high-frequency Over ground service within the city and passenger numbers are growing for the first time in many years. The council wants a third of commuters to use the bus in 10 years, instead of the current quarter. It will eventually put all its park-and-ride services out to tender - and hopes they can be run without subsidy like the Bridge of Don. A transport expert with The Robert Gordon University said we shouldn't expect people to change their habits overnight.

Dr David Gray of the Centre for Transport Policy predicted it would be a success - but only if the number of users continued to increase over the first few years. He also believes council bosses have got its location right so it will attract commuters. He said: "The park-and-ride concept is sound but it takes a number of years to build up patronage.

"It depends on word-of-mouth and people have to experience it for themselves." Dr Gray said people couldn't be forced onto public transport by making car use more difficult. "You've got to have carrots as well as sticks. The bus must be seen to be cheaper and quicker than the car.

"It's got to be more comfortable and less stressful." And he warned commuters that staying in the car would only make matters worse. "The closure of Grandholm Bridge showed what kind of congestion we will have in 10 years." Until then it's a question of watch that space - all 950 of them. Contribution by David Ewen from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 24/07/01


Public Inquiry To Be Held Into Plans For £12 Million Sports And Leisure Centre: Aberdeen City Council has been informed by the Scottish Executive that a public inquiry will be held into a planning application for a £12 million sports and leisure centre on the outskirts of Kingswells. Scottish Ministers have 'called in' the application after the City Council earlier this year expressed a willingness to approve the application by 27 votes to 15.

The notification from the Scottish Executive says that the decision has been taken because of "possible implications" for Aberdeen Green Belt and for policies contained in National Policy Guidelines dealing with 'sport, physical recreation and open space' plus 'transport and planning'.

The proposal is to build the leisure and sports at East Middlefield. It would have a main building containing seven tennis courts, a swimming pool, fitness centre, seven squash and badminton courts, a cafe, restaurant and bar. Outside would be another swimming pool, six tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, a trim trail and 300 parking spaces.

The application is from Queens Road Development Company Limited. The date for the inquiry will be set by the Scottish Executive Reporters Unit in due course. (Posted 23.7.2001)


Kingswells move bad for Dons, says planner: A planning expert has said he believes Aberdeen FC's proposed move to Kingswells would be a major mistake and says the club should relocate to the south of the city.The news was welcomed yesterday by residents of Kingswells, although Dons supporters say they would not be keen to move the club outside the city boundary.Mr Stark said: "In terms of transport, the Charleston site is very near the A90, which is convenient for supporters travelling from the South.However, Aberdeen FC Supporter's Association chairman Jack Douglas said: "Aberdeen supporters coming to support the club from outside the city tend to come in from the north or the west. (Posted 24.7.2001)
Executive calls public inquiry over leisure project.
A multi-million-pound leisure development on the outskirts of Kingswells is to be the subject of a public inquiry. Scottish ministers have called in the planning application after Aberdeen City Council expressed a willingness earlier this year to approve plans by 27-15.

The huge sports and leisure centre at East Middlefield would include indoor facilities for seven tennis courts, a swimming pool, fitness centre, seven squash and badminton courts, a cafe, restaurant and bar. There would be another swimming pool outside, along with six tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, a trim trail and parking for 300 cars. The project by Queen's Road Development Company would cost an estimated £12million to complete.

Last month, Aberdeen Football Club chairman Stewart Milne revealed the club was looking to build a 30,000-seat stadium costing up to £35million, possibly on a site also at Kingswells. The plan depends upon Scotland hosting the Euro 2008 football tournament.

The Scottish Executive said the public inquiry was being held because of "possible implications" for Aberdeen's green belt and for national policy guidelines dealing with sport, physical recreation and open space, plus transport and planning. The proposed leisure centre site lies off the A944 Westhill-Aberdeen road east of Kingswells.

The plans won the blessing of the city council in May on a majority vote.

Some councillors hailed the development &endash; which could bring 100 jobs with it &endash; as a major boost to Aberdeen's sporting facilities. But others claimed it would be an eyesore because of its large size and prominent position in the city's green belt. Area residents said it would bring much-needed leisure facilities to the commuter suburb.

Labour councillor David Maitland, whose Newhills ward includes Kingswells, originally moved approval of the scheme, despite a recommendation of refusal from city planning director Peter Cockhead.

Mr Maitland urged the Executive to process the application as soon as possible. "I can understand why a public inquiry has been called but I am very disappointed," he said. "There is overwhelming support for the development in Kingswells, the city and the North-east, which has been looking with envious eyes at places in the Central Belt with the major facilities now being suggested for here. "The vast majority of people were in favour of the scheme and will be looking for a very swift decision from the Executive because the area is screaming out for the facilities. "It's very rare for a development of this size to have so much support and I hope the public inquiry will take this on board. "Anything that delays the development getting the final go-ahead would be a great pity."

Objections to the original application were lodged by two couples whose homes lie near the site and Murtle Liberal Democrat councillor Matthew Duncan, whose ward includes the site. The complaints included the breach of green-belt policies, impact of the development on wildlife and scenery, potential traffic problems on the A944 and the impact on adjoining homes. No date has yet been set for the public inquiry. Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 16/07/01 More


The Public Inquiry has been postponed until January 2002. The joint session will commence on 21st January 2002, with the Gillahill site specific session commencing on 29th January 2002. This info just received today 10th July from the Inquiry Reporters Office. (Posted 10.6.2001)
Full speed ahead in plans for new stadium. Aberdeen Football Club chairman Stewart Milne believes the proposed new stadium will be a sports development of which the people of the North-east can be proud.Details are still sketchy on the £30-35million stadium proposed for a site at Kingswells. It may also tie in with a proposed £12million sports and leisure centre planned for near Kingswells, which recently gained the backing of city councillors." The Kingswells site is not owned by the Stewart Milne Group or the club. (Posted 29/06/01)
Game on for Euro 2008 bypass and stadium. Hopes were growing last night that Aberdeen could get its much-needed bypass and a new football stadium as part of Scotland's bid to host the Euro 2008 football tournament.Scotland's bid was launched this week by the Scottish Football Association with the backing of First Minister Henry McLeish, who said: "I would expect to see the North-east and Aberdeen play a key role as we take this project forward."If Scotland hosts Euro 2008, the bypass could be built as part of a £247million project to improve transport infrastructure, drawn up by Aberdeen and Grampian Local Economic Forum. Aberdeen councillor Allan McIntosh, vice-convener of environment and infrastructure, said a Euro 2008 bid could be the vital lever to securing funding for a western city bypass. Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 01/06/01

Catching a bargain - and losing it. Bluebird Buses run a service from Kingswells to the town centre and charge £1.50 return so First Bus had to charge the same because of competition. Returning home one evening I showed my return ticket to the driver to be told that the ticket was not valid to or from Bridge of Don. He added that it was only Kingswells to the town centre that gets a £1.50 return as there is no Bluebird Bus from Bridge of Don.Once again the people of Bridge of Don are being discriminated against by First Bus - I think Bluebird should run a few services out of Bridge of Don. Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 01/06/01

Drivers face speed curbs at Kingswells Speed limits of 50mph are likely to be introduced on the east and west approaches to the Kingswells roundabout on the busy A944 Aberdeen-Westhill road - used by thousands of commuters daily.The move, to be considered today by city councillors, has been sparked by the impending opening of the new Kingswells park-and-ride scheme, immediately west of the roundabout. A report to the environment and infrastructure committee by Donald Murdoch, director of environment and property, says the proposed speed limits would enhance road safety."The current speed limit on the A944 approach to the Kingswells roundabout is 70mph," states Mr Murdoch. Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 22/05/01


SPIKE (School Parents for Inclusive Kingswells Education) Update and reply to Cllrs Comments. More
Kingswells Sports Centre endorsed by Aberdeen City Coucnil planner. Cllr Maitland said. "I am delighted to say that the centre has this afternoon (2.5.2001) been supported and endorsed by the full council". More
A dangerous practice is now occurring at the shops. As people come out of the shops car park , it is now only possible to turn RIGHT only, as the one way street is in operation here. Regularly cars are coming out of the car park and turning left. This is effectively an offense of driving the wrong way down a one way street, even though it is only for a short length
Kingswells Community Council. Resurgence of interest in establishing the Kingswells Community Council. More mailto:rbge@buchan3.fsbusiness.co.uk
Kingswells Junior FC are looking for your support. (Click on the Sports Results)
Council accepts smaller village hall. Aberdeen councillors have accepted "with reluctance" that a planned community hall at Kingswells will be smaller than originally hoped. Developer Stewart Milne Homes has been given permission by the planning committee to submit amended plans for the hall. The hall was part of an agreement attached to the planning permission the company got in 1995 for its Kingswells Stage 2 housing development. The planning committee agreed the company could submit an amended application, reducing the size of the hall to accord with the agreed sum. Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 24/04/01
Greenbelt sports centre plan passes first hurdle. A proposed 12million leisure and sports centre on Aberdeen's green belt got the blessing of the city's planning committee yesterday. But the project, outside Kingswells, will have to stay on hold until two more hurdles are surmounted. Opponents succeeded in having the application referred to the full council for a decision. And, even if the council endorses the committee's decision, expressing willingness to approve the outline planning application by the Queen's Road Development Company, it will then require to be sent to the Scottish Executive for the views of ministers. More by David Steele of the Press and Journal Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 20/04/01
Approval of controversial community hall recommended. A long-awaited community hall at Kingswells could come a stage closer this week. Plans for the hall, changing facilities and playing fields were approved for a greenfield site on the northern side of the village in September, 1999. The development is to be provided by builder Stewart Milne Homes through a condition attached to the grant of planning permission to the company for its Kingswells Stage 2 housing development The company got the go-ahead for the hall, including toilets, baby-changing facilities, changing facilities for two sports teams, a meeting room and car parking.The community council claimed that the proposed hall would be too small and located too far from the centre of the village. Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 17/04/01
Charity loses planning appeal to set up animal rescue centre. An animal rescue centre planned for Aberdeen's green-belt has been turned down - despite the council breaching its own planning rules with a park-and-ride scheme nearby.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has lost an appeal to the Scottish Executive against the refusal of planning permission for the centre for abused animals on the outskirts of the city. But the city council's planning committee turned down the application last year on the ground it would contravene the green-belt policy.

The SSPCA and its supporters had argued that the council had already breached its green-belt policy by building the large Kingswells park-and-ride terminus, due to open this summer, near >where the centre was also proposed Councillor Kate Dean, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the city council, said last night she was disappointed the society had lost its appeal. Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 18/04/0


ANY NEWS ON THE LITTER FRONT? Can anyone suggest any practical ways to deal with the growing litter problem in the area. One group who actively seek to improve the area and have arranged various clean-ups, is the Kingswells Community Conservation Group (KCCG). The group is always looking for new members and volunteers. Their aim is to care for the natural and historic environment of Kingswells. Quiet a task, given the rapid growth of this popular residential area. For more information contact the local coordinator,Tom Straiton on 742943.
A Post office
now operates inside a pharmacy. It was officially opened by Aberdeen's Lord Provost on 21 April, 2001. Provost Margaret Smith unveiled a plaque and made a speech to mark the opening of the pharmacy in Kingswells Village Centre. The post office moved to the pharmacy after about 30 years in its former location at the Five Mile Garage. Mr Arris said: "It is not that unusual in Aberdeen to find a post office inside a pharmacy. (Posted 23/04/01)
Greenbelt sports centre plan passes first hurdle. The centre, proposed for a greenfield site at East Middlefield, would have a main building containing seven tennis courts, a swimming pool, fitnesscentre, seven squash and badminton courts, a cafe,restaurant and bar. Outside would be another swimming pool, sixtennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, a trim trail and 300 parking spaces. During the debate, which ended in a 10-five vote in favour of the application, the committee heard thedevelopment would breach the green-belt policies in the council's development plan.

Liberal Democrat group leader Kate Dean referred to a recent decision of the committee rejecting a scheme by the Scottish Society for the Protection of Animals for an animal refuge in another part of thegreen belt at Kingswells farther along the A944 Aberdeen-Westhill road. She also highlighted the park-and-ride terminus being built by the council in the green belt at Kingswells. "I am wondering if we have two types of green belt, one suitable for these types of development and one not suitable for animal centres," she commented. Mrs Dean said she was concerned at the prospect of such a large development on a fairly tight site in the green belt. Liberal Democrat councillor Matthew Duncan, Murtle, urged the committee to go along with arecommendation of planning officials that the application should be refused because of the green belt breach, lack of accessibility to the centre except by car, and the undesirable precedent that would be set. "I am particularly concerned about a development of this size in the green belt and also about the impact of the development on local traffic," he said. "The A944 is a particularly busy road, carryingcommuters to Kingswells and beyond."

Labour Councillor David Maitland, whose Newhills ward includes Kingswells, moved the application be approved."It can only be described as a fabulousopportunity for Aberdeen as a whole, but in particular for the west of the city," he said. "I do not agree with the arguments presentedabout transportation, with 200 buses passing the doorevery day and a multi-million-poundpark-and-ride just up the way."Mr Maitland said he wanted commonsense to prevail so the city would not lose such a major sports and leisure opportunity.

Tory councillor Jack Dempsey, Queen's Cross, also called for approval. "There is a dearth of facilities in the west endf the city, despite that fact that not that long ago, justover three years, I brought to this council a petition signed by 2,000 people, complaining about the lack of facilities in the whole area," he said. Committee convener Councillor Brian Rutherford, who moved refusal, said he had no doubt there was a demand in the city for the facilities that would be offered. But he claimed there were many sites which were more suitable and the centre did not need to be built in the green belt.

by David Steele of the Press and Journal Contribution from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk 20/04/01

Bus firm denies being taken for a ride by tickets scam by Angela Taylor

BUS firm FirstAberdeen has denied some passengers managed to operate a ticket scam at the new park-and-ride scheme.

A company source claimed some passengers, who were travelling alone, took five tickets from the machine when paying their fare. They then passed the tickets to colleagues who do not use the service, allowing them a free bus trip.

Picture courtesy of Aberdeen City Council by Norman Adams, Photographer,
The park-and-ride service allows users to travel through the city centre to the Bridge of Don and make an onward bus journey. It costs just £2 per car, which could be carrying up to five people.

In order to combat the scam, the source said, drivers had this week started punching a hole in the corner of the tickets.

However, Tom McGivern, FirstAberdeen director of service delivery, denied there had been any scam in operation. He said some people had been taking five tickets from the machine by habit.

He said: "I would not say that's a major problem. It's not as if we've been alerted to a major scam and we are going to go all out to nail this thing."

As passengers board the bus, he said, drivers are punching a hole in the ticket using an electronic paper punch linked to the bus's ticket machine, to count the number of passengers using the service.

They should have been doing this since the service began operating, but had to be reminded to do so.

He said: "If the car is parked and five people get on the bus, five tickets are punched regardless. If it's only two people getting on the bus two tickets will be punched."

He said: "It's to give us a better idea of the number of people using the service."

Ticket machines did not give a reliable indication as to the numbers using the service, Mr McGivern said. The drivers needed to punch each ticket individually.

If someone attempted to use an unpunched ticket on an onward journey the driver would ask why it had not been punched. http://www.thisisnorthscotland.com/ (Posted26.9.2001)


Residents take dim view of all-night lighting by Angela Taylor

THE new park-and-ride scheme at Kingswells continued to court controversy this week as a debate about the overnight lighting of the site raged on.

Residents are puzzled as to why the £7million traffic project is bathed in light throughout the night when they say parts of their community are left in darkness.

But the council say the lights are an important security measure - even though there are no cars parked at the site and no one uses it at night.

Kingswells Park and Ride Service during daylight hours.

Picture courtesy of Aberdeen City Council by Norman Adams, Photographer,
Resident Kenneth Walker described the lighting as "a blooming waste of money".

"It's all lit up like a Christmas tree," he said. They would be better lighting up the rest of the dual carriageway. Having them on all night is a complete waste of money."

Another resident, Jill Reid, said the money could have been ploughed into the town's school.

She said: "I think it's a complete waste of time, space and money when we've got our primary ones in portable buildings and the council saw fit to pay for park-and-ride.

"I've not spoken to anyone in Kingswells who is happy about it."

Alan Morrison said he and his family found the lighting "obtrusive".

He said: "We moved to Kingswells 11 years ago because it was a village and now it's just going crazy. We're just not happy about it."

Prospective Kingswells community councillor Barrie Buchan said she was more concerned about light pollution than the "waste of money".

She said: "I think more and more people are going to become aware of lights at night.

"I would prefer to see it closed at night so the undesirables could not get in and the lights could be switched off."

On the bright side, however, Mrs Buchan said local youngsters were having a great time using the site as a skate park.

The city council's head of road services, Hugh Murdoch, said the lights were left on as a pro-active security measure.

He said: "The council has left them on because we have high resolution CCTV system in operation.

"We are constantly monitoring any activity that might be going on in the car park.

"We've gone for energy-efficient equipment in terms of the lighting.

"CCTV has proved beneficial. Around two years ago we had the waiting room hut for the Bridge of Don park and ride set on fire and, having CCTV systems in place, we were able to pass the information to the police and they (the culprits) were apprehended."

Mr Murdoch said the option of employing a night watchman at the site was discounted as it would bring up issues of lone working and patrols.

The site is manned and maintained by council staff during the day, but left empty at night.

Mr Murdoch could give no indication as to the cost of the lighting.

Kingswells and Newtonhill councillor David Maitland was surprised by the complaints.

He said: "I was contacted by constituents who were nervous about it being used by undesirables. One of them in particular tipped me off that youths in cars were planning on using the facility as a meeting place and for other activities."

He said he was reassured by the security measures, including regular security patrols, to deter undesirables.

The CCTV system would not be effective without the lighting, Councillor Maitland said. "People won't be so inclined to go into it because it's lit and it's visible."

He does not believe the lighting will cause problems for residents living nearby.

In its second week of operation the Kingswells park- and-ride service did not appear to have attracted any more customers than last week.

Mrs Buchan believes the service, which operates every 10 minutes during peak times and every 20 minutes off-peak, attracted roughly the same amount of customers (200) yesterday as last Tuesday, when they travelled free.

However, at 4.45pm yesterday there were only 46 cars in the car park, which has a 950 car capacity, and just two people got off the bus which arrived at 5pm - they did not share a car. The overspill car park was empty.

About 500 passengers used the service on Saturday. http://www.thisisnorthscotland.com/ (Posted26.9.2001)


KINGSWELLS COUPLE caught up in the devastating terrorist attacks in New York were finally making their way home today.

The first of four British Airways flights from the stricken US city landed at Dyce Airport at 8:45am.

Tales of survival began to unfold as holidaymakers were re-united with their families.

Two young Aberdeen couples told how a bizarre twist of fate saved them from being caught up in the terrorist attacks.

Euan Keith and Lesley Crichton, both 25, of Great Northern Road, and Alison and Duncan Wood, of Kingswells, had both planned to visit the World Trade Centre on the morning of the tragedy.

Euan and Lesley were saved because they got on the wrong train.

Alison and Duncan Wood decided at the last minute not to visit the building because Alison was suffering sore feet and blisters.

Euan's parents, Catherine and Mike, today spoke of their relief.

Catherine said: "I'll never forget how close they came to being lost. If they hadn't got on the wrong train - I don't even want to think about it."

Catherine first heard of the New York tragedy when she was phoned at work.

"My daughter-in-law called to ask where Euan and Lesley had went on holiday. I thought it was a strange question and when I told her New York she started to cry.

"When she told me there had been a plane crash at the World Trade Centre I just went numb. I was sure their hotel was nearby and I remembered them saying it would be one of the first places they would visit.

"My work colleagues took me home and when I got there my husband was watching the news. Neither of us could believe what was happening."

The Bridge of Don couple had to endure an agonising four-hour wait before they had any indication that their son had not been hurt.

While scouring the Internet for a New York street map, a message was left on their answering machine.

It said: "It's me - trying to contact you but you're obviously not there."

Catherine explained: "We couldn't be sure if it was Euan - he and our older son, Scott sound the same."

Finally their prayers were answered in the early hours of Wednesday morning when Mike was able to contact them.

Catherine added: "It really brought it home for me - it was only because they got on the wrong train that they weren't there.

"They had been trying to call us but the phone system in New York had gone into meltdown. Whenever they picked up a phone they could hear hundreds of voices screaming and shouting."

Mike added: "Their hotel is actually inside the cordoned-off area not too far from where it all happened. They can't get away from all the terrible scenes that you see on the news - they are just relieved to be coming home.

"We can't forget that they are the lucky ones. So many people were hurt or killed and we are all just so lucky that they are coming home." http://www.thisisnorthscotland.com/


Revised Arrangements For New Park And Ride Aberdeen City Council today approved revised arrangements for the new Kingswells Park and Ride service which opens next Monday (September 17).

Members of the Resources Management Committee were told that First Aberdeen had informed officials that they had received approaches from the hospital authorities asking for the new service to pass adjacent to the Foresterhill site.

The bus company said that if the route was changed to pass the hospital it would be run as a commercial operation and there would be no need for the City Council to subsidise the operation.

The route First Aberdeen proposed was: Lang Stracht; Westburn Road; Camperdown Road; Midstocket Road; Craigieloanings; Albert Street; Rubislaw Place linking with the terminus of the existing Bridge of Don Park and Ride service.

Donald Murdoch, Director of Environment and Property, said in a report: "In order for this service to become operational on the opening of the service on September 17 the Council would have to indicate its support for this service in writing to the traffic commissioners. This would be on the basis of the provision of a subsidised service being replaced by an alternative commercial service.

"It would be the intention to look at the wider provision of park and ride services and on-going monitoring of the service from Bridge of Don and Kingswells.

"These issues would be reported to the appropriate committee in due course. Any agreement at this time would have to safeguard the future need to consider the long term provision of Park and Ride services across the city."

Members voted by 11 votes to five to accept First Aberdeen's proposals. (Posted 12.9.2001)

The Public Meeting on Thursdays (15.11.2001) caused huge interest. The community centre was at capacity by 6.45pm and many people were unable to get in to hear the discussions. With 300 people in the hall another 75 were unable to see the presentation and hear strong views and opinions expressed by residents.
It is hoped a list of all the questions asked on Thursday and their replies will be available for posting on this site soon. Claire Burt (Posted 16.11.2001)

Residents making their views known.

Residents left out in the cold

Thanks to everyone who took part in the poll. The poll has run for one week and the questions asked was

Are you in favour of AFC proposed stadium?

The results were as follows:

1269 respondents

25% are in favour of the stadium

72% are NOT in favour of the stadium and

2% are undecided.

 

Cllr Maitland chairing question time.

Presentation from AFC
Kingswells tells Dons: You're not welcome: by Michael Howie http://www.thisisnorthscotland.com/

ANGER erupted last night over Aberdeen Football Club's plans to build a 30,000-seater stadium in Kingswells. The club's management and council bosses faced the wrath of hundreds of residents.

The club's chairman, Stewart Milne, was the target of much of the resentment at a meeting which at times threatened to collapse amid chaotic scenes.

Outside, police officers tried to maintain order as about 100 furious residents were locked out of the packed Kingswells Community Centre.

Inside the hall, the club and Aberdeen City Council were greeted by a united front of opposition from 300 people who heckled throughout.

The event was chaired by local councillor David Maitland, who had organised the hearing of residents' views. The club had hoped to win over opponents.

Mr Milne was joined from the club by chief executive Keith Wyness and general manager David Johnston. The panel also included, from the council, leader Len Ironside, chief executive Douglas Paterson, Gordon MacIntosh, director of economic development, Graham Wark, assistant director of arts and recreation, and Hugh Murdoch, head of roads.

The club last month ended months of speculation by lodging plans for a £30million stadium at Kingswells as part of Scotland's bid to stage Euro 2008.

It is also proposed that the site, on farmland south of the suburb, house a 120-room hotel, football academy, swimming pool and fast-food outlet, as well as commercial and community developments.

Residents expressed grave concern over the implications for traffic, public order and how much the local community would really benefit. Many voiced fears that local opposition would be swept aside.

Asked whether his building company owned the site, Mr Milne made it clear he did not. The club had an option on the land.

One resident said the plans included car parking for 11,500 fans and asked how other fans could arrive at the stadium without causing congestion.

"Can anyone explain to the residents of Kingswells where the thousands of other people are going to park their cars? They will be parking in Kingswells, on our doorsteps."

Mr Milne responded that, by 2004, the city would have an integrated park-and-ride service.

Another resident, Les Taylor, of Coull Gardens, feared that Kingswells would become a flash point for violence if a stadium were built.

"Police resources will be stretched five miles back to the city centre. We haven't heard anything about what the police think about all this," he said. Mr Johnston said the present situation at Pittodrie was already a cause for concern with home and away supporters mixing. He said the new stadium would have the coach parking facilities to separate fans.

James Ironside, of Wellside Gardens, summed up the mood of the audience when he claimed local people would be steamrollered into the plans.

"We are going to be the ones that lose out - after paying a great deal of money to move to Kingswells in the first place."

Before the heated question-and-answer session, Mr Wyness gave a presentation on the plans and insisted the North-east could benefit to the tune of about £40million.

The main alternative site - at Charlestown, south of the city - would cost more as it had been zoned for industrial development, whereas the Kingswells site was on green belt.

After the meeting, Mr Milne said: "I'm disappointed that people have come here with a lot of preconceived ideas."I understand people have got concerns but I hope they can lift themselves above them and see the potential benefits to the North-east as well as the benefits to Kingswells."

Mr Milne would have to give thought to how last night's meeting was conducted - a different format for future meetings might be needed.

Outside the community centre, one resident claimed the club and council had been evasive. "It was just a put-up job. The whole night was nothing more than a flag-waving exercise."

Mike Dunbar, founder of the Kingswells Infrastructure First Group - which is opposed to the plans - said: "I think it's an overwhelming endorsement to go forward in opposition."

He claimed: "It was a shabby attempt at flimflam. I didn't hear anything of substance."

 

Last SPIKE UPDATE 10TH JUNE 2001

On Friday 8th June, SPIKE made a presentation to the Building Project Team and were afforded a lengthy question and answer session. Our proposals to site the H block configuration at the main school were accepted as being technically feasible, but the decision to proceed with portacabins at the old nursery was reconfirmed.

SPIKE has now fulfilled its mandate to carry forward the views of the parents to the Education Department. We have invested a lot of time and effort, but in the end have been unsuccessful and we apologise for being unable to deliver the desired outcome. This is probably the only apology you have received during this affair. Thanks to everyone for their unstinting support and encouragement.

Ultimately, it was not possible to overcome 8 months of incompetence in only a few weeks.

Those of us with children already at school know the high standard of education they receive. For many parents the portacabins saga is their first dealing with the school and will inevitably taint their view for some time. The Council have lost the opportunity to heal the upset caused in the village through this situation. While we will have to make the best of it, it is unlikely that the resentment will fade away as people trudge past the school each day on their way down to the H Block a mile away.

It is up to parents to take up their individual concerns regarding safety, logistics and integration with the main school, however SPIKE signs off with a few thoughts on the way forward.

It is unreasonable to expect parents to spend upwards of ten hours per week walking back and forth to school &endash; there are part time jobs with less hours required than this! Transport must be made available to everyone who wants it.

Bulletins should be issued over the summer to advise parents of progress towards opening the H block on the first day of the new session

A guarantee must be given that the new school is only for houses already built at Kingswells and not used as a door opener to new developments.

Thanks to SPIKE's campaign the School Board are represented on the Building project team &endash; this representation must continue throughout the new school project. They must demand visibility of a plan that shows the steps from today all the way through to the entry date. Parents are entitled to see regular updates of progress. A SPIKE member will be standing for election to the School Board in the Autumn. SPIKE has got the communication going, lets keep it up.

Finally, we have formed close associations during the past six weeks, lets continue to work together to support each other, the teachers and especially the children over the forthcoming year.

SPIKE UPDATE 4TH JUNE 2001

Parents Meeting 31 May 2001: The meeting at the school was well attended and the parents loudly and clearly voiced their :

· dissatisfaction with mismanagement by Aberdeen City Council

· support for Head teacher and her staff

· opposition to portacabins at nursery site

· wish for temporary accommodation to be sited at main school

· scepticism over new build ever becoming a reality

Response to latest issue of 'Kingswells News' : SPIKE has tried to remain non-political and focus on our aim of keeping all of the primary school children together at the one school site. However we were shocked and disappointed by the inflammatory anti-SPIKE diatribe from Councillor Maitland in the current 'Kingswells News' which is full of inaccuracies, innuendo and unfounded rumour. An official complaint has been lodged with the Chief Executive of Aberdeen City Council.

The Councillor believes that he has "heard all of the facts, arguments, views and opinions" and wants "to put recent events behind us". If he has already made up his mind, why is he participating in the meeting of the Building Project Team on Friday 8th June to decide the future of our childrens' education at Kingswells? As a result of our lobbying, a school board representative has been co-opted on to the team to which SPIKE has been invited to make a presentation.

It is our passionate belief that all the children can be educated at the main school, through the use of temporary accommodation and other measures to realise additional space, for a couple of years until the promised new school is ready. We will do our utmost to present a compelling case on Friday.

SPIKE UPDATE 24th MAY 2001

In line with our objectives to keep parents informed, here are the events since our previous update on 17th May. (see below)

In response to suggestions that SPIKE was not truly representative, we have now received written pledges of support from 60 out of 61 Prospective P1 parents we have been able to contact. This appears representative to us! Thanks for your fantastic support.

On Thursday 24th May, SPIKE met with the Council's property and architectural experts with the objective of investigating the technical issues surrounding the alternative solutions raised in the SPIKE report issued to them on 8th May. This proved to be a major disappointment as the Council were unable to respond with any factual reasons why our proposals to optimize the existing site, which we illustrated on scale CAD drawings, should not proceed. They did not provide drawings, calculations, costings or reasons to back up their claim to have already investigated and rejected these ideas.

They eventually agreed to ask Councillor Thomaneck to reconvene the Building Project Team (including SPIKE representatives) within the next week to properly consider these alternatives. This defers what we were supposed to do for yet another week.

The Council will issue a detailed written response to the other questions raised by SPIKE. Some of these resonses which they shared with us at the meeting include :

Contary to what was expressed in the recent Kingswells Newsletter, funds for the new build School have not been "secured" - it is merely an addition to a future Capital Plan proposed to the full Council on 28th February.

An order has not yet been placed for the portacabins at the nursery site. Drawings do not exist of the proposed configuration but it was advsed that it will be a stand alone, secure unit, possibly second hand . It is unclear whether planning permission is required as the contractor will be responsible for obtaining the necessary consents. The Council are concerned that if there are any delays to the planning process, then it is not certain that the temporary accommodation will be in place by the start of next session. However the school has put in place a "fall back postion" which will be advised to parents directly in due course. The Council minuted that delays in their tender process are completely the Council's responsibility and are independent of any SPIKE activity.

The Council confirmed that the P1 parents meeting will be held at the school next week &endash; we pointed out that people need to make arrangements for babysitters and altering shifts etc and required due notice. To date you have been represented by SPIKE &endash; this meeting represents your chance to be heard &endash; we look forward to seeing you there.

SPIKE UPDATE 17 MAY 2001

When it emerged that the August 2001 P1 intake at Kingswells Primary School were to be housed in portacabins at the Nursery site, SPIKE (School Parents for Inclusive Kingswells Education) was formed, on 27th April at a meeting of concerned Kingswells parents, as an action group to present their views to the School and Education Department in a cohesive manner.

Our concerns over safety, environment, integration and education and are shared in part by the Education Dept who in their objection to the proposed housing development at Gillahill state "From an Educational point of view, it is not satisfactory to have a split site provision". SPIKE believe this is not necessary.

The breaching of the official school capacity of 360 is not a new issue. Annual forecasts published by Aberdeen City Council have predicted that it would be exceeded in 2000 since 1998 &endash; at the same time as the expansion site adjacent to the school was sold to Gt Western pre-school. The current roll is 379 with a further 40 pupils expected by August 2001. The Council took the decision to go ahead with portacabins at their meeting on 31 October 2000. It was decided to inform parents of this decision at a meeting of parents scheduled for the first week of May 2001, some 7 months later.

Applications for 2001/02 intake at Kingswells Primary School (not some remote annexe) were submitted by 15th March. Parents made major decisions on their children's future based on mis-information.

The portacabins are to be in place for a minimum of 3 years until 2004 (by which time the roll is forecast to be 470 just short of the following year's peak of 472). This affects the wider Kingswells community not just next year's P1's.

The parents meeting on 2nd May was cancelled by the School and Education Department, as a result of unfortunate misunderstandings, regarding possible attendees and questions. These have been subsequently clarified &endash; SPIKE did not expect answers to all questions of a "legal and technical" nature, only a commitment to revert in a reasonable timescale. SPIKE suggested that representatives from the School Board may wish to attend, but otherwise recognized that the meeting was for prospective P1 parents.

The parents meeting has been re-scheduled for week commencing 28th May and in the interim the SPIKE Committee met with representatives of the Education Dept, School, School Board plus local councilor on Tuesday 8th May. SPIKE's objectives for the evening were achieved when the Education dept gave a firm commitment to revert with answers to all questions posed and to hold a technical meeting with the Council's experts to investigate the alternative solutions put forward in the SPIKE document. These ideas represent an exciting menu of options, which can be formed into a package which offers immediate solutions and cost savings, resulting from the most efficient use of all resources. These include for example optimization of the existing site and establishment of a campus around the existing site.

On Tuesday 15th May SPIKE addressed the Leisure and Education Committee of Aberdeen City Council at the Town House. This presentation was well received and the Convenor gave a commitment to investigate the lack of consultation with parents and to urgently address the SPIKE proposals.

On the same day SPIKE observed a meeting of the School Board who are monitoring the situation.

Our local MP, Malcolm Savidge and MSP Elaine Thompson are holding a surgery at the school on the morning of Saturday 19th May. This represents an excellent opportunity to get your points of view on this and any other issue across.

The technical meeting to conduct a detailed study of the SPIKE alternatives is now set up for Thursday 24th May with the Council's architectural and property team.

We understand that the meeting of parents is scheduled for the following week commencing 28th May.

A lot of progress has been made in a short time &endash; the Council appear to be taking the alternatives seriously as they can save cost and offer better accommodation solutions. Much will happen over the next fortnight.

Thank you for the tremendous support to date &endash; we will keep you advised of continued progress through further newsletters and on the excellent Kingswells website www.kingswells.com. Feedback your comments there or in person to members of the SPIKE Committee.

ROD BUCHAN - LORNA DONALD - DEREK MITCHELL - TIM MORTON - VICKI BOWLER

BARRIE BUCHAN - SONIA McCARTHY - ALAN SHERRIFF - ALAN BOWLER


If you can provide assistance or information with any of the above please contact me at: info@kingswells.com A credit will be given to anyone submitting articles and photos used on web site. Claire Burt Web mistress

 
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