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Blackdog residents urge rethink on bus stops as they feel ‘caged in’

Residents living in a small north east village claim they are being “kept like prisoners” after their only bus stop was demolished during AWPR works.

Blackdog residents are being forced to walk more than a mile to the nearest pick-up point at the trunk road junction and want to see buses return to the centre of their village.

Long-term resident, 85-year-old Edna Booth, used to enjoy her weekly shopping trip into Aberdeen, or would “think nothing” of getting a bus to her doctor’s appointments.

Now she says she feels “like a prisoner in her own home”.

“The bus was virtually door to door,” she said.

“Now it is just too far for me to walk to. It has completely changed my life. I hardly go out at all now.

“I feel we have been left completely stranded.”

Two north and southbound bus stops have been placed on the slip road to the AWPR junction, just north of the village, and the old entrance to the settlement has been fenced off – preventing anyone accessing the main road.

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Alistair Rose has lived in the village for 16 years and said the situation was “disgraceful”.

“They have taken away people’s freedom and everybody is up in arms about it,” he said.

“We feel like we have been caged in. There has been no thought about us in any of this.

“It’s a complete joke that they can build bridges for wildlife but nothing has been considered for pedestrians.”

The neighbours canvassed the quiet Aberdeenshire settlement to see which of their neighbours feel buses should be reurned to their streets and collected 160 of their 211 fellow residents’ signatures.

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“Some people weren’t in when we went round or I think we would have had a lot more signatures,” said Blackdog resident Beth Jeffrey.

Desperate for help, the residents enlisted MP for Gordon Colin Clark to lobby the Scottish transport minister on their behalf.

Mr Clark wrote to Michael Mathieson urging him to investigate the matter and said: “I do hope that they can come up with a local solution.

“At the end of the day the residents have been really inconvenienced.”

Mr Clark also sent his letter to Stagecoach North Scotland’s regional director, Daniel Laird.

Mr Lair responded and said: “The decision to relocate these stops was regrettably outwith our control and we have tried to address the needs of our customers as a much as possible.

“It would not be practicable or commercially sustainable for us to reroute services into the centre of the village – as to do so would have a detrimental effect on journey times for other customers.”

An Aberdeenshire council spokeswoman said: “Council officers and elected members are meeting with Stagecoach next month.

“The aim of that meeting will be to discuss options for ongoing public transport provision for Blackdog.

“We appreciate that there are commercial reasons why it may not be currently viable for the operator to serve the village.

“However we are working very hard to do what we can in order to consider the public transport options and to find a way forward.

“Meanwhile, because of the new road layout, it would not be possible to put the bus stop back to its previous location.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said councils and bus operators had been consulted on the best locations for new bus stops.

Last night a Stagecoach spokeswoman confirmed a meeting had been arranged next month between themselves, Aberdeenshire Council and some local councillors.

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