Aberdeen’s Lord Provost Barney Crockett has been urged to “reflect” after accusing opponents of the pedestrianisation of Union Street of using people with disabilities as a “human shield”.
Members of Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources committee met to discuss the city centre masterplan – and among the issues being discussed was the permanent removal of traffic from the central portion of the Granite Mile.
Councillors heard submissions from parties both for and against the move, including Hussein Patwa of the city’s disability equity partnership, and Frank Whitaker of the Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association.
Pedestrianisation plans slammed
Mr Patwa hit out at a “lack of engagement” over the plans and called for a six-month delay, accusing the council of “putting the cart before the horse”.
He also claimed the plans in their present form would “exacerbate marginalisations” in society.
However, in debate, Mr Crockett hit back at opponents of the proposals, arguing it would be “quite wrong” for opponents of the pedestrianisation of Union Street to use people with disabilities “as a human shield”.
Comments ‘inappropriate and unhelpful’
The comments sparked criticism from fellow councillors who took issue with his choice of words, with Independent Alliance leader Marie Boulton – Mr Crockett’s administration colleague – branding it “inappropriate”.
Ian Yuill, leader of the Liberal Democrats, added: “I was disappointed by the use of the term ‘human shield’ and for someone who is usually so careful with his choice of language I think it was unhelpful.
“He might choose to reflect upon that.”
The plans to go ahead with the pedestrianisation were approved in a narrow vote at this afternoon’s meeting.
Councillors pledged to carry out engagement with disability groups over the coming months.