Four-month delay to pedestrianise Aberdeen street

Work to pedestrianise a busy Aberdeen city centre street will be completed four months later than originally expected.

Broad Street will not be fully pedestrianised until November 12.

Last month finance convener Willie Young assured the Evening Express the road would be finished by July – in time for the opening of the Marischal Square development.

But today Cllr Young blamed delays in appointing a contractor – and political opponents – for the late opening.

He said: “We had issues with appointing a contractor. The plan was to get it all done by July.

“But the SNP, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats all voted for more consultation work to be done on Broad Street just over a year ago which delayed all the works we needed to get done and that has put it back.

“It was a longer consultation because the other parties wanted further consultations. We wanted to move forward with it at the time.”

He added: “These things are always frustrating but the most important thing for us is that when it opens to the public around about November, the whole project will be finished and no more works will be needed on Broad Street. It will look absolutely fabulous.”

The closures are part of the £3.2 million scheme to transform the road into an area used only by buses and bicycles.

The project forms part of the 25-year city centre masterplan, which aims to boost footfall in the area.

The Broad Street work will include the creation of water features, trees, benches, improved lighting and a raised grass area in front of Marischal College.

Even once it is pedestrianised, Broad Street will remain closed until Saturday, January 13, for the Christmas Village.

Councillor Alan Donnelly, of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “I’m disappointed at this. It gridlocks the city centre for longer than necessary.

“We did say the summer. These things happen in the real world.

“I want it reopened as quickly as possible. As a Conservative, I’m sceptical on pedestrianisation, full stop.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill added: “The Liberal Democrats don’t accept this.

“We believe it’s never a mistake to consult and listen to people.

“The extra consultation certainly didn’t delay the process by anything like four months which the Labour party is desperately claiming.

“It appears they said July even after the consultation.

“I think frankly it’s disgraceful by the Labour party.”

A First Aberdeen spokesman said: “First Aberdeen has already put in place alternative operating arrangements for the ongoing works in Broad Street.

“We will be in discussions with Aberdeen City Council about these forthcoming works, with the aim of minimising disruption for passengers.

“We will also meet with council officials to discuss alternative arrangements during operation of the Christmas Village and will notify customers of any required changes at the earliest opportunity.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “The Broad Street works will take several months to complete.

“The council is still awaiting a detailed programme from the contractor but the works are expected to finish in November.

“It was decided to combine the Broad Street traffic regulation order with a second one, which takes effect from November 13 to allow for the construction of the Christmas Village, to ensure seamless operations.

“The start of the Broad Street works has been delayed because of extended contractual negotiations with the contractor. The period of consultation with stakeholders was also extended.

“The potential for delay was highlighted earlier this year in a report for the finance, policy and resources committee.”