Aberdeen City Centre Footfall Plummets: Councillors and Campaigners Urge Action

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Aberdeen city centre has witnessed a significant decline in footfall since the introduction of new bus gates in August last year, according to recent data. The drop has sparked calls from both campaigners and councillors for urgent action, particularly as the new Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is set to come into effect on June 1.

Dramatic Drop in Footfall

Data from Springboard indicates that footfall in the city centre plummeted by nearly 1.1 million between August 27, 2023, and April 20, 2024. This decline contrasts starkly with the ten-week period before the bus priority measures were implemented, during which footfall actually increased by nearly 30,000. These measures, which restrict private car access on Market Street, Guild Street, and Bridge Street, have been met with criticism from local businesses, which argue that the restrictions are detrimental to their trade.

The data also highlights a seasonal impact, noting that footfall dropped by over half a million between October and April. This significant decrease raises concerns about the future viability of the city centre as a commercial hub.

Public Outcry and Opposition

The introduction of the bus gates has been controversial. In August last year, a petition against the bus gates garnered 6,689 signatures, but the council proceeded with the scheme. Public sentiment was further captured in the January Aberdeen Transport Survey, which showed overwhelming opposition to the council’s transport policies. Key findings from the survey included:

  • Only 23% support the LEZ.
  • 90% believe current transport policies are damaging the city.
  • 85% oppose the bus gates.

More recently, a survey focusing on the LEZ revealed similar dissatisfaction:

Voices of Concern

A prominent city campaigner, who organised the surveys, expressed deep concern over the drop in footfall. He highlighted that businesses and the public have repeatedly voiced their concerns, only to feel ignored by the authorities. The campaigner emphasised that despite the city’s potential and efforts to rejuvenate the city centre, current council policies are counterproductive. He called for the council to acknowledge these mistakes and reconsider their approach, particularly by removing the bus gates.

A local councillor echoed these sentiments, describing the reduction in footfall as a clear indication that the current policies are failing. He urged the council to reassess their strategies, remove the bus gates, and communicate with the Scottish Government about reconsidering the LEZ in Aberdeen. According to the councillor, the ongoing decline in the city centre should prompt immediate action from the authorities.

Another councillor added that the perception of difficulty in accessing the city centre, whether due to bus gates or the upcoming LEZ, could deter visitors and drive them to other areas. She expressed concerns that the council might not fully understand the reliance on cars in Aberdeen, which can make alternative modes of transport unfeasible for many residents.

Council’s Position

The council’s transport convener has faced criticism for the handling of the situation. While some argue that the measures are necessary for improving public transport and reducing emissions, the significant public opposition suggests a disconnect between the council’s policies and the desires of Aberdeen’s residents and business owners.

In a recent podcast hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce, the transport convener defended the council’s measures, asserting that they are crucial for the long-term sustainability of the city. However, campaigners and councillors remain sceptical, pointing to the stark data as evidence of the immediate negative impact these policies have had.

Future Developments

As the city braces for the implementation of the LEZ on June 1, the debate over Aberdeen’s transport policies is likely to intensify. The council will need to carefully consider the feedback from residents and businesses and assess the long-term viability of its current approach. Balancing the need for environmental sustainability with economic vitality will be crucial in determining the future trajectory of Aberdeen’s city centre.

In conclusion, Aberdeen’s city centre is at a critical juncture. The significant drop in footfall and widespread public opposition to current transport policies underscore the urgent need for the council to re-evaluate its strategies. Whether the implementation of the LEZ will exacerbate these issues or pave the way for a more sustainable urban environment remains to be seen. For now, the call for action from both the public and local representatives is clear: listen, adapt, and act to ensure the city’s prosperity.

Danielle Trigg
Danielle Trigghttps://newswriteups.com/
Journalist Danielle is a skilled journalist specializing in regional coverage across the United Kingdom. With her wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge, Danielle dives into the stories that matter to local communities. Her meticulous research and engaging writing style captivate readers, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic business landscape. Danielle's commitment to delivering accurate and thought-provoking news sets her apart, making her an invaluable asset to the News Write Ups team. danielle@newswriteups.com

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