Grubby deeds in Golden Square

Golden Square.  Sounds quite exotic doesn’t it ? A classical granite square just off Union Street in Aberdeen, but all is not well in Golden Square as we witness yet another chapter in the shameful transition of Aberdeen from Granite City to Grabbit City.

So what’s the deal this time I hear you ask ? Well let us begin by having a wee neb at the Aberdeen City Centre Development Framework and see what it says about this Golden Square (Section 3.6.6 of the document).

the classical character of the Square has been destroyed with an over dominance of parking. Golden Square should be developed into a space that focuses on pedestrian movement and activity, celebrating the statue of George 5th * whilst balancing the needs of vehicular movement

[* the statue is of George, 5th Duke of Gordon ].

Sounds good … the framework looks like it sets out to swing the balance in favour of the pedestrian in a city centre that is severely lacking in public open space, but wait there’s more

Better use of Golden Square could be achieved by

(among other things)

Removing cars from the central space

Introducing greenery, formal planting and seating into the central space”

Sounds really nice … now bear in mind that this City Centre Development Framework is “live” and part of the material from the Aberdeen Local Development Plan with feedback invited by 5pm on 17th December 2010.

The document available on-line is credited to the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee of Aberdeen City Council (ACC) – remember the name.

Two sides to the tale

Now you would think that the major issue here is that the “central space” in the square is currently used not as a commercial car park but as a charity car park by the Aberdeen branch of the Royal British Legion for raising money – through donations – to help ex-servicemen.

A dilemma indeed. It would be a real shame to see the ex-servicemen and their chosen charities lose their revenue, but it would be nice to have the central bit of the square back with a focus on the pedestrian and creating some new public open space with seating in the city centre – especially at a time when the City Council are intent on destroying nearby Union Terrace Gardens, the much loved green heart of Aberdeen.

… but this is Aberdeen

Oh yes but this is Aberdeen and things always get more complex.

Now while the Aberdeen Local Development Plan is still a live consultation process, Aberdeen City Council has annexed the ex-servicemen’s charity car park not for creation of a new central square with seats but … wait for it … for a car park !

From Monday, 18th October, the Council will impose their own parking regime on the square (at the Council’s commercial rates – far higher than the donations that the ex-servicemen asked for).

From the Press & Journal (15th October)

“Local Authority to get benefit of facility that raised cash for ex-soldiers”

A bit of delving and we see from this report that Aberdeen City Council has coveted this car park for a while and has evidently made considerable effort to secure it … why ? Is it perhaps, to quote the report that :

“There will be a setting up cost of £20,000 which could be funded from the Non-Housing Capital programme for machines, signing etc. The anticipated revenue income from the car park over the period of a full year is estimated at £160,000.”

Apparently the council will give the Royal British Legion some share of the money but this will reduce on a sliding scale to zero over a few years.

When I read this next bit of the council minutes I wasn’t moved to comment, I was near enough moved to tears :

“RBL (Aberdeen Branch) uses the monies received from the car parking donations towards charitable contributions to other organisations and to support local ex-servicemen and their families. Recent examples of supported organisations are: Erskine Homes, Gurkha Welfare Trust, local Salvation Army, Air, Army and Sea Cadets, local RNLI, Gordon Highlander Association. The RBL also provide assistance to local ex-servicemen and women, make home and hospital visits and provide a small bereavement grant to families on the death of one of its members.”

… but this is Aberdeen

Oh yes and this being Aberdeen … lets take another look at the P&J

“Councillor Kate Dean, Head of the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure committee which decided to take over the car park, defended the decision.”

Hold on … that wouldn’t be the same Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee that are credited with the Aberdeen City Centre Development Framework (dated August 2010) and which forms part of a live consultation with feedback invited by 17th December 2010 ?

You know, the one where it says

“Better use of Golden Square could be achieved by

(among other things)

Removing cars from the central space

Introducing greenery, formal planting and seating into the central space”

Is this Aberdeen Local Development Plan consultation set to be just another sham consultation that eats up public funds and delivers feedback that the council ignore and do what they wanted to do anyway?

At the end of a week when a survey of citizens – initiated by the council – indicated that the recent actions of Aberdeen City Councillors  had damaged public trust in democracy one wonders what the public will think of the councillors who took the ex-serviceman’s charity car park away … just a month before Remembrance Sunday.

We will remember them.

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4 Responses to Grubby deeds in Golden Square

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

  2. Did you hear about the Trevipark plan for Golden square?
    http://www.trevipark.co.uk/after-intro.html

  3. Pingback: The Aberdeen Civic Car : A Civic Disgrace? | Moved to comment

  4. Pingback: First Bus transforming Park & Ride for Offshore Europe | Moved to comment

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