Council petition over bus service loss

The petition is due to be delivered ahead of the full council meeting
The petition is due to be delivered ahead of the full council meeting

A 1200-strong petition is be handed over to Aberdeenshire Council complaining about the loss of a Sunday bus service in Upper Deeside.

Braemar Community Council chairman Alasdair Colquhon will invite council leader Jim Gifford to receive the petition ahead of Thursday’s full meeting of the local authority.

The protest is over the withdrawal of the 201 Sunday service to Braemar, contained in the announcement last week that a number of council-supported bus services around Aberdeenshire are to be withdrawn or reduced from April.

The decision follows budget pressure on the authority’s transportation service.

The petition, signed by Braemar residents, businesses and visitors, calls for the cuts to be delayed pending proper consultation at the end of the 2019 summer tourist season, and support for the community in finding a sustainable service.

Mr Colquhon said: “We all understand that public sector budgets are tight and savings have to be made, however the decision is based on historic usage of the route which has been poor. and Braemar is now ‘The Place To Be’, having attracted literally millions of pounds of private investment.

“We would like Councillor Gifford to understand the strength of feeling and the risk posed to our economy which is why we are inviting him to receive the petition in person.”

Local Councillor Geva Blackett, who has lived in Braemar for 25 years, said; “Following the huge volume of concern demonstrated to me in the past week I really do hope that the council’s administration find some way of ensuring we have a regular and appropriate Sunday bus service this summer.

“I will certainly continue lobbying for all round support on this front from both officers and colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett claims Braemar will be “marooned” on Sundays as a result of the cuts.

Mr Burnett has written to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing over the move.

He said the loss of the Sunday service will have a major effect on people in the village who rely on public transport - and on Deeside tourism.

The MSP added: “I have been approached by constituents who are very angry at the withdrawal of this vital service.

“They have been marooned. It’s not good enough.

“I’ve asked Fergus Ewing to consider what his government can do to support rural communities at risk of being cut off in this way.

“Councils across Scotland are finding it impossible to bear the financial responsibility for many non-statutory services.

“He should know the effect this can have on rural communities.”