Community group’s plea for help to boost Aberdeen’s ‘ghost town’ over summer months

Old Aberdeen
Old Aberdeen

A community group has called for action to be taken to make the oldest area of Aberdeen more attractive to tourists.

Old Aberdeen Community Council has urged the local authority to help businesses and local attractions make the most of the quieter summer months when students have left the area.

The move comes on the back of a public consultation which highlighted various options for improvements.

Local residents said the area becomes a “ghost town” when the last semester comes to an end at Aberdeen University.

Gordon Mutch, former chairman and now member of Old Aberdeen Community Council, said more needs to be done to attract people to the area.

And he called for the number of HMO (house in multiple occupation) licences to be limited to help increase the number of permanent residents living there.

He said: “When we ask councillors what the council has done for tourism in the area in the last 20 years, they come up with nothing.

“The biggest issue is having too many HMOs – there needs to be more of a place for the community.

“Tourists come to Old Aberdeen and they come to see St Machar’s Cathedral but there’s no help available for local people.

“A church of that size should not be managed by a relativity small congregation – they are constantly struggling.”

The community council highlighted that there was a lack of maps and information about tourism in the area. Too few public benches and places to leave bicycles were also highlighted as problems.

It’s also claimed there are not enough public toilets for visitors to use.

There’s only one toilet inside the cathedral and busloads of tourists often form long queues waiting to use it, leaving them unable to make the most of their time on their trip to Old Aberdeen.

Problems with fly-posting in tourist areas have also been flagged up and the matter is to be raised with the city council as well as Aberdeen Student Unions Association, Aberdeen University and relevant clubs.

The community council has put forward proposals to help improve the area in its new public newsletter called A Community Vision For Old Aberdeen.

It is hoped members of the public will help identify new ideas and suitable places can be found for more outdoor benches.

A council spokeswoman said: “Aberdeen City Council is contributing £260,000 in 2019-20 to promote the city to tourists.

“Council officers and partners work with the sector across a number of opportunities and would encourage businesses to engage with Visit Aberdeenshire and the council about moving any plans forward.”