Nov 102016

martinford-kintore-crossing-tall2With thanks to Martin Ford.

As Aberdeenshire Council embarks on its budget setting process, the Democratic Independent and Green Group of councillors (DIGG) has identified road safety as one its budget priorities. 

“Speeding on local roads, and the road safety issues it causes, come up again and again at community council meetings and in individual representations to councillors,” said Cllr Paul Johnston. “It’s an issue that never goes away.”

“Although the Council is facing severe financial pressures, we believe the Council needs to look at increasing the resources put into traffic calming and other road safety provision,” said Cllr Martin Ford (pictured).

“The DIGG is keen to include an increased allocation of up to £250,000 per annum in Aberdeenshire Council’s revenue budget for ‘traffic calming and speeding reduction’ to keep up with the need to put additional measures in place in communities across Aberdeenshire.”

Aberdeenshire Council is expected to have to make significant savings in its revenue budget for 2017/18 and in subsequent years. At this stage, before the Scottish Government grant settlement is known, there is considerable uncertainty about the amount the Council will have to save to balance its budget for next year.

However, based on reasonable assumptions, additional spending cuts or other savings totalling over £10 million are expected to be required, over and above the savings already identified in the draft 2017/18 revenue budget published last February.

“With further significant savings required in next year’s budget, there’s going to be no new or spare money for anything,” said Cllr Paul Johnston.

“So to find increased funding for priorities, the only realistic option is to shift funding from something less important.”

“The DIGG is looking for a way to redirect funding towards helping reduce speeding traffic on our rural roads and in our towns and villages,” said Cllr Ford.

“And we need to do that without cutting some other vital service.

“The DIGG aim to have a range of draft budget proposals ready for the November full council meeting, and will welcome the opportunity to get feedback and comment on these before the Council sets its revenue budget for 2017/18 next February.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Nov 042016

MartinFordatUTGWith thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford have welcomed support from sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland for the re-opening of the Buchan rail line to at least Ellon.

Writing to Councillors Johnston and Ford, Paul Tetlaw, rail spokesperson for Transform Scotland, said:

“In our view Aberdeen is very poorly served by rail and cities of comparable size in continental Europe would most likely enjoy a suburban rail network and some form of tram or metro system. So we would certainly support plans to re-open the railway from Dyce at least as far as Ellon.

“You are in the fortunate position that the former track bed is largely in local authority ownership. In contrast large parts of the Borders railway had been dispersed into multiple ownerships and it is estimated that as much as 40% of the cost of re-opening the Borders line was incurred through having to retrieve and suitably re-instate the sections of the route that had been lost.
“There are other lessons to be learned from the Borders line – and these may well have parallels for you. The passenger forecasts for the re-opened stations in the Borders were hopelessly pessimistic. Indeed it is probably true to say that of all the recent rail re-openings across the UK the projections for the stations at Tweedbank and Galashiels were by far the most inaccurate.

“Passenger numbers at Galashiels have in reality been five fold those projected while those at the Tweedbank park and ride site are ten fold the projections. Clearly such errors in the projections led to a poorer business case for the railway and politicians found themselves needlessly having to defend the case for the re-opening. Had the correct projections been used then it would have been clear to all concerned that the railway would be a great success and would be much welcomed by people in the Borders.
“The parallels that I would draw in your case are for potential stations in Ellon (Galashiels) and a park and ride beyond (Tweedbank). It is interesting to note that from day one the car park at Tweedbank has been full and overflowing – clearly demonstrating that people are quite prepared to drive in from surrounding towns and villages and then leave their car and take the train into the city.
“As a final point I would draw attention to the declared ambitions at both national and local government level to increase the use of public transport and decrease the reliance on the car. It is therefore clear that only a scheme that improves the public transport offering will deliver on these ambitions, any further road building will simply ensure yet greater car use with all the negative impacts on air quality, public health and congestion.”

Mr Tetlaw came to Aberdeen last week for a meeting with Nestrans but also met Cllr Ford and Cllr Johnston during his visit.
Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The very positive comments from Mr Tetlaw highlight that re-opening the Buchan line presents less of a difficulty than other lines where the track bed has been sold off piecemeal to multiple owners. Also, that we must not underestimate the potential for park-and-ride when forecasting likely levels of use.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“The proposal to re-open the Buchan line to at least Ellon is gaining more and more support.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Oct 152016

MartinFordatUTGWith thanks to Martin Ford.

A new option is to be included in on-going studies looking at the possibility of re-opening the former Buchan rail line from Dyce to at least Ellon.
The suggestion of re-opening the Buchan line as far as a park-and-ride station just north of Ellon was put forward by East Garioch councillor Martin Ford at the North East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Nestrans) meeting on 30 September.

The Dyce to Ellon section of the long-closed Buchan rail route has been regarded as the most likely to meet value-for-money criteria for possible re-opening.

In making the proposal for a short additional length of line at the Nestrans board meeting, Cllr Ford cited the passenger numbers on the re-opened Borders line. While overall levels of use of the new Borders Railway during its first year have been well above predictions, passenger numbers have been highest and most above forecast at Tweedbank, the park-and-ride station at the end of the line.

“The unforeseen popularity of long-distance park-and-ride on the re-opened Borders Railway is noteworthy,” said Cllr Ford.

“The success of Tweedbank as a park-and-ride station has contributed disproportionately to the overall success of the Borders Railway.

“The Borders line experience suggests it is well worth looking at the possibility of replicating the model of re-opening to a terminus that provides a convenient park-and-ride facility for the area beyond.

“For the Buchan line, that could mean continuing the railway to a station just beyond Ellon which is easily accessed from the north by bus and car.”

The A948 north of Ellon passes close to the alignments of both the former Boddam branch and the Formartine and Buchan line to Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I believe there is a good case for re-opening at least the southern part of the Buchan railway, but it’s crucial to identify the option with the best benefit:cost ratio to maximise the chances of getting the go-ahead.

“The continuation of the Borders Railway two miles beyond Galashiels to provide a popular park-and-ride facility at Tweedbank has made a major contribution to the success of that rail re-opening. We need to investigate whether doing something similar at Ellon could boost the case for re-opening the railway from Dyce.”

The Nestrans board at its meeting on Friday agreed to continue feasibility studies into future transport options for the Aberdeen/Ellon/Peterhead/Fraserburgh corridor, and to include re-opening the Buchan rail line from Dyce to a park-and-ride station just north of Ellon as one possible option for consideration.

Mid-Formartine councillor Paul Johnston welcomed the Nestrans decision.

“Park-and-rail evidently has potential not just for north of Ellon but also for the B999 corridor at Udny and the A947 corridor at Newmachar. So it’s important to look at all the options,” he said.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 162016

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford.

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Campaigners in favour of re-opening the Buchan line railway at least as far as Ellon are demanding that fair forecasts of passenger numbers are used to evaluate the projected benefits of rebuilding the line.
In response to the announcement that the re-opened Borders railway has carried its first million passengers in its first year of operation, East Garioch councillor Martin Ford commented:

“There must be no bias against re-opening the rail line to Ellon or beyond in the evaluation of future transport options for the Fraserburgh/Peterhead/Ellon/Aberdeen transport corridor,”

While the verified passenger numbers for the whole of the first year of operation are not yet available, it is clear the re-opened Borders line is far busier than the forecast levels of use predicted when re-opening was being considered.

“The passenger numbers using rail stations and lines that have re-opened have generally been above – often well above – the forecast numbers used to decide whether the re-opening was a value-for-money investment,” said Cllr Ford.

“Essentially, the predictions of passenger use have been, pretty consistently, far too pessimistic.”

The North East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Nestrans) reports that following re-opening passenger numbers at Laurencekirk station were more than double the projected usage.

“The pessimism in the forecasting of expected use amounts to a bias against rail re-openings and risks seeing proposed schemes blocked when they would be successful,” said Cllr Ford.

“Fortunately the Borders line re-opening went ahead anyway despite the poor forecasts of passenger numbers. But hopes for re-opening the Buchan line must not be put at risk by underestimating its attractiveness to passengers.”

Cllr Ford and Mid-Formartine councillor Paul Johnston have now written to Nestrans director Derick Murray seeking assurances that better methods of predicting passenger numbers will be used to quantify the expected benefits of re-opening the Buchan line railway to Ellon or beyond.

“The business case for re-opening the railway, as opposed to other options, must not be unfairly damaged by underestimating the number of people who would opt to travel by train if that choice was available,” said Cllr Paul Johnston.

“No-one expects passenger number forecasts to be exactly correct every time. But the pattern of repeated underestimates strongly suggests the methods being used are not accurately reflecting actual behaviour. So lessons must be learnt from the success of the Borders line re-opening and revised methods for forecasting expected passenger use applied in future.

“The desire to bring back the Buchan line must not be derailed by faulty forecasts,”
Cllr Ford Added:
“There is every reason to believe a re-opened railway to Ellon would be a great success.”
  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Aug 262016

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


BANFF & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has spoken following further meetings with Stagecoach managers and bus manufacturers Plaxton regarding the accessibility of the buses serving the Buchan area.
Back in May, Dr Whiteford put forward complaints and suggestions on behalf of constituents with mobility impairments, less agility, and those travelling with small children.

Representatives from Plaxton showcased design proposals which will attempt to resolve the majority of access related issues by refitting the internal stairs to ensure they are less steep and of a more uniform height and depth.

Further proposals include increasing the provision of handrails, more push bells and improved stair lighting. Once the designs are finalised Stagecoach hopes to have the improved fleet on the Buchan route early in the new year.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“I very much welcome the significant movement from Stagecoach which represents real progress. I hope that feedback from bus users, once these improvement s are implemented, will be positive.

It will make a big difference to those with mobility impairments and those travelling small children and make the buses safer for all passengers travelling on this rural route. I would pay tribute to Councillor Jim Ingram who has lobbied consistently for these improvements and thank Stagecoach and the manufacturers for listening to the voices of bus users in Buchan.”

East Aberdeenshire MSP Gillian Martin added:

“I’m encouraged to see that Stagecoach have taken on some of the comments on the new buses from our constituents, many of whom rely on the bus service as their only means of transport.

What I would like to see is consultation with users and disability lobbying groups at the design stage in future, and I was glad to hear today that Stagecoach and the representatives from Plaxton acknowledged that this was something they would seriously consider”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]


Aug 182016

The countdown has begun to Deeside’s first ever speed hillclimb course on Sunday at the picturesque Kincardine Castle, Kincardine O’Neil.With thanks to James Parker.

2 D Type Jag Morag Yule with Car of the Day champayne (Tony Yule)130 hillclimb cars and bikes will take part, including the 1956 Ecurie Ecosse D-type Jaguar (which has just won Car of the Day at the Ballater Week parade) and motorcycling legend and 8 times Isle of Man TT winner Charlie Williams, on his 1974 Maxton Yamaha.

In all, 400 cars will participate.

A broad cross-section of over 60 static cars will be displayed, including a Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari F50, and AC Le Mans Coupe, Colin Macrae’s MKII Ford Escort rally car, and the Charlie Bang slingshot dragster.

Tesla To Bring The Model X.

We heard from Tesla today that they will be bringing their Model X to their stand at RDSF!

The Model X will, for the first time, be north of Edinburgh and is the 1st Model X out on the road in Scotland.

Model X is the safest, fastest and most capable sport utility vehicle in history. It is, however, ludicrously fast, accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in as quick as 3.2 seconds. With all-wheel drive and a 90 kWh battery providing 303 miles of range, Model X has ample seating for seven adults and all of their gear.

18 car clubs with 240 cars will be attending, representing Ferrari, Ford, MG, Aston Martin and Subaru, to name a few.

Tesla will have a special display of their Model S electric luxury cars. Park’s Motor Group of Hamilton head up an enviable array of trade stands with their McLaren, Maserati and Bentley, including McRae and Dick (Honda and Ford); Murray Motor Group (Lotus); Pentland Land Rover Elgin are coming, and also Shirlaws (Kawasaki and Triumph).

Passenger rides on our off-roading courses are to be recommended. The Flowline-sponsored Landrover Experience will offer a thrilling ride tacking the ‘The Rocky Road’, ‘The Toblerone” and “Willie’s Drop”, and a scenic ‘off-road safari’ will be run by the Buchan Off-road Drivers Club.

4 charlie williams 04 charlie NortonThe Clan BMX Stunt Team will be there to take centre stage with their death-defying stunt shows throughout the day, and our Festival Marketplace in the walled garden will showcase food, drink, crafts, beauty products and local businesses.

Kids can enjoy a climbing tower, carousels and bouncy castles.

The finale of our event will be the Westburn Finance Soapbox Derby allowing gravity (along with a few twists and jumps) to prove the thrilling does not necessarily mean engine-powered!

The Event supports the charities Children 1st and Help for Heroes.

Royal Deeside Speed Festival,
Sun 21 August 2016:  09:45am- 5:15pm

Kincardine Castle, Kincardine O’Neil,
Aboyne, Aberdeenshire AB34 5AE

Adult £15, Child £12.50, Family £50 (up to 3 children).

Advance sales via website or cash only tickets on the gate. Free parking.

For further information please visit our website or follow us on Facebook (royaldeesidespeedfestival)

Jun 102016

With thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing & Events Organiser, Grampian Transport Museum.

Alford Spedfest 2011 004Now in its third year, the popular AllFord at Alford event returns to the Grampian Transport Museum on Sunday 21st August.

An established annual fixture, AllFord celebrates all things ‘Fordie’ from 1908 to the present day and in 2015 over 200 such examples descended on the North East village.

One of the largest gatherings of Fords in Scotland, this year’s event will pay tribute to a number of key milestones. The Ka, Ford’s hatchback city car, was first introduced in 1996 and this year celebrates its 20th birthday.

The Fiesta, now into its seventh generation and having sold over 16 million examples, celebrates its 40th birthday – a milestone which is shared with the second generation Escort RS2000.

However, taking centre stage this year and marking its golden jubilee is the Ford Cortina MK2 – a car which will also be paid a fitting tribute at His Majesty’s Theatre in the Lyric Musical Society’s production of Made in Dagenham, with a run beginning on Wednesday 24th August. 2016 also marks 50 years since the Ford GT took the top prize at LeMans, completing a hat trick of first, second and third place.

The organising committee are keen to hear from owners of any of these examples, to ensure they can be included in a special celebration at this year’s AllFord. Entry forms for the event can be downloaded from the museum website or collected from GTM in Alford and Overton Dismantlers, Dyce.

Trade interest is also at a high, with Arnold Clark bringing along a selection of the latest commercial vehicles for display and North East Scotland college making a welcome return with information on a range of opportunities available to new and returning students.

Sandy Dalgarno, chair of the AllFord organising committee commented:

“Last year’s AllFord was exceptionally good with some fantastic cars including, of course, the immaculate MK2 Cortina which Adrian Evans brought up all the way from Birmingham. This year is going to be even better with some notable vehicle anniversaries which we plan to celebrate and already over 100 vehicles confirmed to attend!“

AllFord at Alford returns on Sunday 21st August 2016 at the Grampian Transport Museum.

Jun 032016

Martin Ford Cycle path featWith thanks to Martin Ford.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford is asking Aberdeenshire Council to choose a route and build a cycle path between Kintore and Blackburn – as part of delivering a cycle route all the way from Inverurie to Aberdeen.

Cllr Ford has written to Aberdeenshire’s head of transportation, Ewan Wallace, pointing out that other parts of a cycle path between Inverurie (Port Elphinstone) and Aberdeen are either built, planned or work is at least underway to identify a route. (See letter)

“Kintore to Blackburn is the ‘missing link’ in the plans for delivering a continuous cycle route between Port Elphinstone and Aberdeen,” said Cllr Ford.

“Cycling on the A96 is really horrible, and very few people are going to choose to do that. An alternative is needed for those who would like to cycle, or walk, for example between Kintore and Blackburn.”

A cycle path exists between Port Elphinstone and the Thainstone roundabout and one has just been built between Kintore and Kintore Business Park.

Aberdeenshire Council is planning to build a cycle path on the east side of the A96 to join the cycle path from Port Elphinstone at the Thainstone roundabout with Kintore Business Park. Aberdeen City Council has just been awarded £30,000 by Sustrans towards the cost of route identification and preliminary design work for a cycle link between Blackburn and Aberdeen.

At its budget meeting in February, Aberdeenshire Council allocated an additional £250,000 to ‘Active Travel’ in its revenue budget for 2016/17. (1)

Cllr Ford said:

“Active Travel is a priority for Aberdeenshire Council which can deliver health benefits, help reduce traffic congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions from road transport.”

A report at the most recent meeting of Aberdeenshire’s Infrastructure Services Committee showed an allocation of £210,000 for active travel projects ‘yet to be identified’. (2)

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I’m pleased Aberdeenshire Council has allocated additional funding for active travel and pleased work is planned on delivering other parts of a cycle route between Inverurie and Aberdeen. So I believe it’s time for Aberdeenshire Council to identify a route for a cycle path between Kintore and Blackburn and progress that.

“There is certainly a need for a suitable cycling route all the way between Inverurie, Kintore, Blackburn and Aberdeen.”


1. The additional money for active travel is a condition of the ‘confidence and supply’ agreement between the Democratic Independent and Green Group councillors and Aberdeenshire’s coalition administration.

2. Infrastructure Services Committee meeting 12 May 2016, Item 8 ‘Programme for Active Travel and Road Safety’, page 11. The report is here.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Jun 022016

Eilidh meets with Stagecoach managers and local residentsWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

BANFF & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has spoken following further meetings with Stagecoach managers regarding the new buses serving the Buchan area.

The meeting follows dozens of complaints from constituents regarding the accessibility of the buses, which have been causing problems for passengers with mobility impairments, less agility, and those travelling with small children.

The vehicles, which were introduced last year, have sparked a campaign for more accessible public transport in the constituency.

Dr Whiteford met with the designers of the bus, Stagecoach representatives, and constituents affected by the problem, on Friday May 20.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“It’s quite clear that Stagecoach have made a mistake in choosing this particular model. While it may meet the statutory requirements, I continue to receive complaints from bus users. Given the number of older people, disabled passengers and parents of babies or toddlers relying on the buses, it’s important that our public transport is accessible to all parts of the community.

“In terms of the legislation, I will be seeking a debate on bus accessibility at the earliest possible opportunity.

“I will also continue to maintain pressure on the company to come up with a solution to this problem. Our public transport needs to be fit for purpose. ”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

May 272016

Martin Ford Kintore3With thanks to Martin Ford.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford is delighted that Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch Area Committee is to decide this Tuesday (31 May) on supporting a funding bid to the Scottish Stations Fund for the proposed station at Kintore.

Cllr Ford has been campaigning for a new station at Kintore for many years.

He said:

“Assembling the funding package to enable a Kintore station to be built is clearly an essential step towards delivering that goal. And an application to the Scottish Stations Fund has always been seen as a key element in the expected overall funding mix.”

The report to the Garioch Area Committee highlights the strength of the business case for building a station at Kintore.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“There is a very strong case for prioritising the proposed Kintore station for funding. All the investigative studies have concluded a station at Kintore will be well used, with a good benefit:cost ratio.

“A station at Kintore looks like a sound investment and good value for money.”

Cllr Ford has also welcomed some new and updated information relating to the planned delivery of the new station.

“In the emerging timetable, it looks like there will be 3–4 trains per hour serving Kintore,” said Cllr Ford.

“And to fit with the overall construction strategy for the upgrading works being undertaken along the line, the planned opening date for the new station at Kintore has been brought forward slightly – from March 2019 to December 2018. This is certainly good news.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]