Aberdeenshire town centres very much open for business thanks to safe physical distancing measures

Aberdeenshire town centres remain very much open for business as the North east continues to emerge from the Covid 19 lockdown.

That is the message from Aberdeenshire Council following discussion of its Spaces for People initiative which provides vital physical distancing measures in towns.

Members of the council’s Infrastructure Service Committee heard on Thursday (Aug 20) that the measures, fully-funded by Sustrans, in Banchory, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Inverurie, Peterhead, Stonehaven and Turriff continue to provide safe spaces to support the suppression of the coronavirus.

The measures which have been introduced are temporary, flexible and allow for minor adjustments to be made in some locations where appropriate.

Infrastructure Services Committee chair Cllr Peter Argyle said: “We have seen some wonderful positive messaging from our towns – particular from the business improvement groups in Inverurie and Peterhead – who are saying they are very much open for business.

“Our message not only to residents but visitors from far and wide is that our town centres have an abundance of shops, we have free parking and, thanks to our ongoing physical distancing measures, you can walk round our towns safely and enjoy the shops and attractions they all continue to offer.”

Committee vice-chair Cllr John Cox added: “Although the prevalence of coronanvirus is currently low throughout Aberdeenshire, it’s vitally important that we continue to take adequate precautions to reduce the risk of resurgence of the virus.

“The lockdown has had a major impact on businesses in our town centres and it is important that we continue to support the recovery with measures to ensure that people feel safe to return to our town centres.”

Ewan Wallace, Head of Transportation with Aberdeenshire Council, said: “We have sought to create space in town centres to try and give people some more confidence when visiting them.

“The approach we have taken has been fully supported by Public Health colleagues who have been right behind us in terms of our response to the current emergency. We’ve kept all of the measures under review on a weekly basis, with regular monitoring by officers and potential changes considered each week.

“Clearly the emergence from lockdown has taken longer than we expected but we have maintained our professional rigour and consistency to consider the changes we can put in place at different locations.”

Mr Wallace added that the council is currently considering feedback from businesses and communities to identify if there are additional alterations which can be made to the temporary measures, particularly in light of the return of schools which brings significant numbers of pupils into town centres at lunchtimes.

Although Spaces for People includes some form of traffic restrictions, town centres remain accessible to all modes of transport and off-street car-parks continue to be in operation.

For full details of the temporary measures that are currently in place, visit https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/town-traffic-management-plans-for-social-distancing/