Feb 222018

A three-year, £350m Aberdeen Harbour expansion project chalked up a broken leg and a serious head injury in the first two months of construction. By Suzanne Kelly

Spanish firm Dragados is contracted to deepen and industrialise the Bay of Nigg, and is keen to keep a lid on its mounting problems.

According to one contractor: 
“Everybody is told at the beginning, ‘There is a group of people against the project

“We encourage you not to talk with these people in any manner, social media included.'”

Despite frequent verbal threats to would-be whistle-blowers, mounting injuries and near-misses are encouraging people to speak out.

One worker described the lead-up to the broken leg:

“On 6 December 2017 an Eastern European broke his leg when a supervisor for Dragados – with no risk assessment, no toolbox talk – instructed a forklift driver to move steel ten meters long (a practice which is frowned upon by others more experienced).”

While the steel was being moved it either hit or fell on the injured party who was rushed to hospital.

The injured man left the UK and is said to have been paid a hefty settlement.

Another person was hospitalised after someone opened the door of a lorry into their head.

One source said:

“I’d say 90% of the workforce don’t know what’s to be done as there are no plans in place.”

They claim safety material is not routinely translated for non-English speakers.

“Some of the management’s English is that poor they don’t understand certain documents.”

The HSE confirmed only one of these two accidents was reported (they would not confirm which incident this was, but they requested materials and are investigating).

One whistle-blower said:

“Dragados are now contemplating sub-contracting out most of the work as they will be unable to complete it; they simply do not have the safety systems in place.”

Javier Buron, Community Engagement Officer, Aberdeen Public Relations and Communications for Dragados SA UK & Ireland, had no idea whether he could even release the company’s Health and Safety Policy – something most companies publicise widely and are proud of.

Mr Buron promised to send a statement, but did not express concern on behalf of Dragados for the injured.

When chased for lines for publication Mr Buron said:

“We cannot issue any of these documents [no documents were requested].

“It is [for] internal use. It is illegal to share it.”

His posting to this multi-million-pound project is something of a leap; his Linked-In profile gives his previous experience as working for Aberdeen’s International Youth Festival (which is about to lose its £100k yearly council funding).

There seems to be as haphazard an approach to supply management as there is to safety and public relations.

Several sources claim 40 tonnes of non-specification stone was imported from Norway, only to be rejected as inferior.

Dragados now has to get rid of the stone and make up the financial loss.

Disenchanted workers are watching to see how this plays out while scratching their heads as to how Dragados became the preferred bidder in the first place.

Work is due to complete in 2020. No one working on site believes this is possible.

The impact of this expansion on the dwindling number of salmon, sea birds and cetaceans is another matter which doesn’t seem to have troubled Scottish environmental authorities sufficiently to make them object; time will tell the impact on wildlife.

Sceptical locals are promised cruise ships will dock. Whether well-heeled travellers will disembark to spend money in Torry’s pubs, betting shops and off-licenses is doubted.

As one source summed it up:

“It’s a complete joke.”

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Jun 082017

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

It is in the heart of the city and as one of the busiest ports in Britain, has more than 6,500 vessel arrivals each year and handles around four million tonnes of cargo.

As the centre of activity for the offshore oil and gas industry’s marine support operations in North-west Europe, Aberdeen Harbour is a crucial thoroughfare.

Ensuring the port is operating according to the marine safety management system is a regulatory requirement, and a job that is undertaken every three years by Keith Falconer of Seacroft Marine Consultants (pictured).

A marine specialist with the company, which is based at The Roundhouse, Keith also acts as the Designated Person for the Aberdeen Harbour Board.

He is tasked with providing independent assurance to Aberdeen Harbour Board that their Marine Safety Management System is fit for purpose and that it complies with the requirements of the Port Marine Safety code.

He said:

“Every three years the Duty Holder, in this case the Board of Aberdeen Harbour, is required to inform the UK Government via the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that they are compliant with the Port Marine Safety Code.

“The Port Marine Safety Code is in many ways similar to the Highway Code, it may not be law in itself, however breaching it is not advisable.”

The Code is broken down into four main sections covering everything safety related to the operation of a port, and the process undertaken by Keith to ensure compliance is a continual one carried out over the course of a year.

With more than thirty-seven years at sea, the majority of which was spent in the offshore industry, Keith’s experience is invaluable in this role, which he has held since 2012.

Keith added:

“This position is a privilege to hold and one that I enjoy tremendously. Aberdeen is a fantastic port to operate in and plays a vital role in the commercial success of the city.

“Being able to utilise my skills in the industry in this way is great and the perfect fit with my work at Seacroft.”

Launched in 1995 by Captain Roderick MacSween, Seacroft has been owned and operated by the founder’s daughter Jennifer Fraser and technical director Michael Cowlam since 2004.

With a team of 14 staff and more than 70 consultants, the company has built its reputation in the marine assurance and consultancy sphere.

Seacroft Marine Consultants’ expertise includes marine assurance packages, OVID and CMID inspections, marine warranty work, rig move services, International Safety Management audits, safety audits and inspections, incident investigation and dynamic positioning assurance as well as simulator training in ship handling and bridge team management and specialist recovery and rescue assurance services.

For further information on the full range of Seacroft Marine Consultants services please visit www.seacroftmarine.com.

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May 052017

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.

Eilidh Whiteford with local fisherman John Clark.

Eilidh Whiteford, SNP candidate for Banff and Buchan, has renewed calls for a re-think on Aberdeenshire Council’s proposals to end Macduff Harbour’s Night Watchmen service.
Dr Whiteford joined local fisherman John Clark aboard the Banff-registered Reliance II on Wednesday night to see for herself the importance of the watchmen, and the challenges of piloting commercial vessels safely into Macduff Harbour.

Speaking after the visit, Dr. Whiteford said:

“I have already raised this issue with the council, but this evening I was able to see for myself exactly why the watchmen at Macduff need to be retained.

“This is primarily a safety issue. Even in daylight with perfect weather conditions, the entrance to Macduff Harbour is challenging for vessels. The harbour entrance can also be deceiving for skippers less familiar with the port, due to the remnants of the old harbour wall. 

“It’s also a commercial issue. Landings in Macduff have increased greatly since landing restrictions were lifted last year, and it is probably the single most important development towards regenerating economic activity in the town.

“At a time when the council has been putting huge efforts into regenerating Macduff and the surrounding area, it would be entirely counterproductive to undermine these efforts by removing essential personnel who enable commercial fishermen to land safely.”

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May 052017

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith has welcomed the upgrade to the footpath linking Morrison Place with Braehead Drive in Cruden Bay, an important access to Port Erroll School.

Following complaints late last year that the existing steps – which had been constructed from wooden logs by the developer of Morrison Place many years ago – were rotten and presented a slip hazard during wet weather, managed to get replacement steps installed by the council’s Landscape Services department.

Commenting, Cllr Stephen Smith said:

“This is an important footpath as it serves as a safe route to school and means primary school children avoid the busy A975 which runs through the village.

“The steps had served well since the developer installed them at the time Morrison Place was constructed but I was receiving complaints they were not only past their best but were now presenting a slip hazard during wet weather and were also rotting away.

“I contacted the council’s Landscape Services department asking them to assist and I’m pleased to say they have done a really excellent job in renewing and upgrading the steps.”

Fellow ward councillor Stuart Pratt added:

“This is a job well done and means that the most regular users of the path – the pupils and parents at Port Erroll School – can continue to have a safe route to use, away from heavy traffic.”

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Jan 132017

By Anne Foy.

Doctors have issued a warning published in a British Medical Journal, that grapes are a ‘choking hazard’ to small children after two Scottish children have died choking on the fruit in the last few years.
45 deaths in Scotland in 2015 among people of all ages were due to choking on food.

Parents already know not to give toddlers under three years old, toys with small parts.

Every mum and dad is well versed on the dangers of marbles and tiny building blocks but foods often aren’t given the same consideration. 

Hotdogs, Grapes and Sweets Risk

The top three foods that children choke on are hotdogs, grapes and sweets because they are exactly the right shape to obstruct an immature airway. Not only do sweets cause dental problems, they are a major choking risk to children. Cherry tomatoes are also a problem and if parents don’t slice them into smaller pieces, they can become lodged in the throat. Babies and under 5 year old’s are at much greater risk of choking accidents because their trachea is so small.

Aberdeenshire Boy Dies

Five year old Aberdeenshire boy, Louis Emaho died in 2012 after choking on grapes at an after-school club. Staff at the club attempted to dislodge the fruit when it became apparent that he couldn’t breathe. He was suctioned by ambulance technicians and given CPR but despite their efforts was dead on arrival at the hospital.

17 Month Old Toddler Dies

In another case, a 17 month old boy died died when he was eating lunch with his family after choking on grapes. His parents attempted to clear his airway but were unsuccessful so they dialled for an emergency ambulance. Initial attempts at CPR failed because the fruit was still blocking the airway so paramedics met the ambulance crew on route to the hospital and were able to remove it via laryngoscopy (a telescope that allows the doctor to see into the back of the throat and extract objects). 

Medical staff were unable to revive the little boy.

A Lucky Escape

A third child narrowly escaped death when he began choking on grapes in the park. An ambulance crew was already nearby and were on the scene within minutes. They were able to remove the grape and the child began breathing again, although he had two seizures as a result of the oxygen starvation and signs of brain swelling. After being placed on artificial ventilation for five days. Just six days following the removal of his vent, he was well enough to go home. Miraculously, he showed no signs of any disability.

Advice for Parents

Due to these infrequent but tragic incidents, NHS Health Scotland has updated their childcare guidance and now suggest that parents chop up fruits like cherry tomatoes and grapes into tiny pieces, remove any pips and stones and avoid whole nuts. They also advise that it is safer to cut larger fruits into slices rather than chunks, as this makes them thinner and less likely to get stuck in the throat and they urged that parents supervise their young children when they are eating.

What To Do If Your Child Chokes

  • Check your child’s mouth for blockages and remove any you can see. Don’t poke your fingers down their throat or you could push it down even deeper and make the situation worse.
  • If your child can’t cough due to the blockage, place him face down across your lap and slap him in the middle of his back between his shoulder blades, five times in succession. If he is a baby under one year, make sure you support his head with your other hand.
  • If the blockage isn’t dislodged, begin chest thrusts. In an older child, you can do this by kneeling behind him and putting your arms around his upper waist, under his arms. Make a fist and place it between the ribs and the navel, then place your other hand over your fist and make a forceful inwards and upward thrust. Do this five times and then check your child.
  • Babies need a different type of thrust. If your baby is under one year, you can perform chest thrusts by placing him face up on your lap, along your thighs and put two fingers in the middle of his breastbone. Push sharply five times in succession. 
  • If your child has lost consciousness, dial 999 and use speakerphone so that you can still do back thrusts or CPR until help arrives.


Picture courtesy of Selovekt used under Creative Commons license.

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Oct 152016

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

howard-and-ann-johnson2A leading provider of fire control and safety solutions has been presented with a prestigious accolade by a major industry body in recognition of its innovative supply chain operations.

Blaze Manufacturing Solutions (Blaze), which was established in 2006 to serve the global oil and gas and renewables markets, was presented with the Energy Industries Council (EIC) Supply Chain Breakthrough 2016 Award at the ceremony held at the Natural History Museum in London on Thursday (13 October).

The accolade, which recognises member organisations that have demonstrated excellence within the energy supply chain, was presented to Blaze for its operations involving its Flameshield 300™ fire protection deluge pipework system solution.

Blaze, which is headquartered in Laurencekirk, offers fire safety protection, detection and loss prevention solutions for harsh and challenging environments including offshore production platforms, drill rigs, floating production units, onshore oil fields, terminals, refineries and petrochemical plants. For the past ten years, the firm has been at the forefront of fire control and safety systems technology.

Its signature fire safety protection system, Flameshield 300™, offers the delivery of a jet fire resistant, blast resistant, corrosion resilient fire protection system with a 20-year design life, eliminating corrosion problems for the client during its lifetime operation. The system has increased levels of reliable fire protection and safety, saved many millions of pounds in potential lost production, and extended the life of valuable offshore assets helping to play its part in OGA Maximise Economic Recovery (MER).

Ann Johnson, finance director at Blaze Manufacturing, said:

“We work very hard to ensure that our supply chain operations are of the highest standard, alongside all of our fire control and safety systems. It is an honour to have been recognised by the EIC and we’re very proud of our dedicated team who are committed to striving for excellence in all aspects of the business.”

Blaze Manufacturing Solutions, a leading provider of Fire Safety Protection, Detection and Loss Prevention services for Safety Critical Solutions, is an accredited distributor for Xtralis; manufacturer of the market leading VESDA Aspirated Smoke Detection systems.

Xtralis has an established worldwide network of certified distribution partners to serve customers seeking world-class, early warning life safety and security solutions. Blaze has over 20 years’ experience in the Design, Supply, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of VESDA systems worldwide for a vast range of clients.

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Jul 082016

VisitAberdeenshire, the organisation responsible for attracting both leisure and business visitors to the area, has been instrumental in securing a new conference for the north east of Scotland. With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

LiftEx2016-large2LiftEx2016, the UK’s only exhibition and conference dedicated to overhead lifting and safe work at height will be held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on 23 and 24 November 2016 following subvention funding from VisitAberdeenshire.

The subvention support has been match funded by VisitScotland.

The VisitAberdeenshire subvention fund aims to increase the numbers of high profile events held in the city by providing a degree of financial support to increase the city’s competitiveness within the conference and exhibitions market.

It enables the city to draw together the best possible bid for attracting high yield conferences which have synergy with Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s areas of expertise; further enhancing the city’s reputation as a world class conference destination. VisitAberdeenshire is also the official provider of accommodation for LiftEx2016 and is offering preferential hotel rates for delegates.

Peter Medley, business development director of VisitAberdeenshire says,

“Despite the current situation in the oil and gas industry, Aberdeen remains one of the most influential, innovative and proactive global energy cities and securing this event shows the confidence which the supply chain has in the industry’s future. Over 100 trade exhibitors are expected to take part in LiftEx2016 with around 1500 industry professionals visiting the event taking part in conference sessions and discovering innovative new products.

“Our team has worked closely with Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre to secure this valuable event for our area.”

“I’m delighted that we are taking LiftEx2016 to Europe’s ‘Energy Capital’ for the first time in its history,” said Geoff Holden, chief executive of Lifting Equipment Engineers’ Association (LEEA) which organises the event.

“The energy, offshore and maritime sectors are all heavily reliant on overhead lifting, and LiftEx2016 offers the professional community an outstanding opportunity to catch up with recent developments in training, accreditation, legislation, products and services.”

LiftEx Industry Conference will bring together an impressive line-up of respected speakers on topics related to safe, legal and efficient overhead lifting. The popular innovation fast pitch event also returns, giving visitors a quick-fire introduction to the latest technologies and applications in this industry sector.

In addition to end users and suppliers of lifting equipment, LiftEx is highly relevant to professionals working in fields such as health and safety, training, plant engineering and maintenance.

Peter Medley continues,

“Our area is a vibrant business tourism destination, with a host of new developments in progress. Aberdeen International Airport’s £20 million expansion is well underway, and new flight routes – including those to the USA via Icelandair –are opening up the area to a wider global audience.

“The £333 million relocation and upgrading of the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, coupled with the renovations of Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Music Hall – worth £30 million and £7 million respectively, will also provide a welcome boost to the area’s conferencing and events offering.

“Room rates in Aberdeen are now lower than they have been for a number of years, and with the newly expanded range of hotels on offer the area is a very attractive conference and exhibition proposition. We continue to work with partners across the region to bring further high profile events to the north east.”

Delegates can register for LiftEx2016, a free event at www.liftex.org.

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Jun 102016

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

Eilidh Whiteford In boat (small)

Dr Whiteford met with Lifeboat volunteers, and joined the crew on a training exercise

BANFF & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has joined members of Fraserburgh Lifeboat crew to mark the launch of the Royal National Lifeboat Association’s summer campaign to raise awareness of staying safe by the sea.
‘Respect the Water’ aims to spread awareness on safety at sea, particularly during the summer months, and decrease the number of deaths at sea by half by 2024.

Around one-hundred and ninety people die at Irish and UK coasts each year, and the majority of these people do not intend on entering the water.

Dr Whiteford visited the Lifeboat station in Fraserburgh on Friday to meet Coxswain Vic Sutherland and other Lifeboat volunteers, and joined the crew on a training exercise off Kinnaird Head. She also met with representatives of the RNLI at the group’s reception at Westminster to launch the campaign yesterday.

Speaking afterwards, she said:

“Everyone in Banff and Buchan needs to know about safety on the water and around our coastline. With so many local livelihoods dependent on off-shore industries, most folk already have a healthy respect for the sea, but every year preventable incidents put lives at risk.

“Speaking to local lifeboat crew members, there are particular risks at this time of year with dinghies and other inflatables. Strong rip tides on some of our most popular beaches, and our windy weather, can cause real dangers to swimmers and those involved in other water sports. Another well-documented risk is people falling in harbours late at night having left pubs or clubs. 

“Everyone wants to have fun on these fine Summer days, but we all need to be sensible and aware of the risks

“For nearly two centuries, lifeboats have set out along the Buchan coast, and last year alone, Scottish lifeboats rescued over a thousand people. Since the RNLI’s establishment in 1824, it has saved more than 140,000 lives. Even allowing for the timeframe, that’s an absolutely astonishing level of heroism, and the men and women who volunteer to crew our lifeboats deserve enormous gratitude and support.

“We can all do our bit to support the campaign by being aware of the risks.”

Crew (small)Respect the Water have identified that the main risks originate from three separate factors. These entail: shock, rip currents and waves, and suddenly falling into water. The shock that cold water brings to the system takes air from the lungs and causes people to feel helpless leading to a panicked state.

The unpredictability of the water is a highly influential factor in the cause of drowning, as currents can pull even the strongest of swimmers far into the sea.

Lastly, people can drown by tripping, slipping or falling into the water unexpectedly.

Studies have shown that out of the total number of deaths, two-thirds are male. The campaign is targeting men aged between sixteen and thirty-nine years old in particular, who are the most likely demographic to die at sea. The RTW campaign found that last year, on average, fifteen per cent of people in the UK recognised Respect the Water and a higher percentage of twenty-one per cent of males had acknowledged the campaign.

This shows that RTW had successfully raised awareness throughout the UK after being a national campaign for under a year.

Eilidh Whiteford Showing support (small)This year, Respect the Water will advertise its campaign in several different ways, including poster advertising. From August 2016, RTW posters will be put up on billboards all around the coast, in male lavatories and pubs situated near water.

By the end of this month, the RTW campaign will introduce an interactive video to social media sites which will put people in a water related scenario and have them choose what to do next.

For more information on the campaign, visit: http://rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water/Pages/Safety.aspx

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Apr 292016

A team of apprentices from Scottish fund management firm, Aberdeen Asset Management have been rewarded for their efforts in raising thousands of pounds for Scotland’s National Children’s Charity, Children 1st. With thanks to Beverley Tricker, Tricker PR.

Dragons Glen raises £150K for Children 1st Charity

(L to R) Scottish Entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn presents AAM apprentices, Constance Barelle, Maja Omorczyk, Stevie Low, Abbie Skene with their award in Edinburgh.

Five dedicated apprentices raised over £13,000 in just 6 weeks of fundraising as part of the Children 1st’s Dragons’ Glen initiative.

Dragon’s Glen is an entrepreneurial challenge for Scottish businesses which sees teams from across Scotland pitch for an investment of £500 and mentoring from a selected Dragon, who include some of Scotland’s most influential business leaders.

The team, comprising of Stevie Low, Maja Omorczyk, Abbie Skene, Constance Barelle and Phoenix Megginson received a special commendation for raising the largest amount of money in the shortest amount of time, collecting their award from Scottish entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn at a ceremony in Edinburgh on 20th April.

The Aberdeen Asset Management team reached their total of £13,527 by rolling out a number of fundraising activities in both their Aberdeen and Edinburgh offices. These included a Bonfire Night sponsored Fire Walk in Aberdeen, Office Bake Offs, Pub Quizzes, Friday Breakfast Rolls and a Team Piggybank Challenge. The funds raised by Aberdeen Asset Management, combined with the efforts of 16 other leading Scottish organisations, reached a grand total of £150,703.

Constance Barelle, one of the Aberdeen Asset Management apprentices, said:

“This whole experience has been an incredibly valuable and rewarding one for the whole team. To raise that much money in such a short space of time has been a real challenge, so we are really proud to have won this award and helped contribute to a fantastic total going to a great charity.”

The money raised will go towards supporting the work of Children 1st across Scotland. Children 1st provides practical advice and support to families in tough times and, when the worst happens, supports the survivors of abuse, neglect and other traumatic events in childhood to recover.

Lynn Brown, Apprentice Advisor at Aberdeen Asset Management, said:

“This challenge has been a great opportunity for the apprentices to work together towards a common goal.  They raised an amazing amount in such a short time and everyone in the office is very proud of their achievement”

Dragons’ Glen is a unique opportunity for companies to engage employees and support them to develop a range of skills. 92% of participants report an improvement in communication and 95% an improvement in entrepreneurship.

Barbara Kidd, Director of Fundraising for Children 1st said:

“The amount raised by Dragons’ Glen is phenomenal – enough to provide six months of support for 250 children and families who need help to overcome abuse or make homes safer for children. We could not do this work without our corporate partners.”

Since its launch in 2012, Dragons’ Glen has raised over £280,000. It continues to grow in popularity and now takes part in five cities across Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Children 1st is now accepting entries for the 2016-17 challenge, which starts in September.

To find out more about Dragons’ Glen, please visit www.children1st.org.uk/dragons-glen

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Dec 312014

Mid-Formartine councillor Paul Johnston is backing Green calls for cycling routes in parallel to the A90 from Balmedie.

BikePaulA90web2Local Green campaigner Debra Storr said: “As part of the AWPR and Balmedie-Tipperty dualling, there has been talk of providing an adequate cycle route alongside the A90 into Aberdeen and out to Ellon.

“But there is nothing from either Transport Scotland or in NESTRANS’ latest Business Plan that would start to put infrastructure on the ground.”

“It is time to stop spending money asking people to walk and cycle more and to actually provide the infrastructure needed. 

“There are hundreds of millions of pounds being spent on the AWPR and the Balmedie-Tipperty dualing.  A tiny proportion of that would deliver a safe cycling route.  Cycling into the city will get much worse along the A90 with the two grade-separated junctions at Balmedie and Blackdog being particular hazards.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“It is clear from NESTRANS’ own monitoring report that their efforts over the past decade have been fruitless with an increase in cycling from 2% to 2.5% modal share in the City called a ‘notable achievement’.  But as they do no monitoring themselves and rely on the local Cycle Forum, even these figures are doubtful.

“The more robust census result show continued drops in people cycling to work with cycling less than 1% and falling.  The current spend on promotion is clearly pointless without the infrastructure on the ground to match.”

Debra Storr continued:

“I asked both Councils about their existing cycling infrastructure in April.  Aberdeen City Council believes it has about 100km of shared cycling/walking paths, 67km of advisory on-road cycle path and a couple of km of off-road and mandatory cycle paths.  Aberdeenshire doesn’t even keep records of this.

“I think this speaks volumes of the priority given to cycling and unless both councils focus on providing cycling infrastructure that people want to use, cycling will remain the preserve of a few very brave souls.  The only way to encourage everyone to cycle more is to make space for cycling and that needs dedicated cycleways that are safe for everyone.”

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