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Council’s culture tsar vows to push for action on Woolmanhill and Broadford Works if re-elected – while switching stance to support Bon Accord Baths

Marie Boulton has set out her stall as she seeks re-election to Aberdeen City Council.
Marie Boulton has set out her stall as she seeks re-election to Aberdeen City Council.

Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokeswoman has vowed to push for action on historic buildings if re-elected this week.

Marie Boulton is aiming to retain her Lower Deeside seat following a stormy few months that saw her quit her role as lead of the city centre masterplan.

She later led the fight against her administration cohorts to waylay the permanent pedestrianisation of Union Street.

Mrs Boulton later suggested £225,000 of funding was pulled from improvement works she had championed at His Majesty’s Theatre in revenge.

Now, the current planning and capital convener has unveiled a last-minute portfolio of pledges less than 48 hours before the polls open.

How does leading councillor believe Union Street should be pedestrianised?

On the Granite Mile, Mrs Boulton says the council needs to be “more creative than its naysayers” by ensuring access for disabled people before cementing any sort of traffic ban.

BHS work under way on Union Street today. Photo: Kenny Elrick/DCT Media

Just hours after Aberdeen Inspired issued a plea for councillors to back the pedestrianisation of Union Street, Mrs Boulton outlined her hopes for the future.

Mrs Boulton said: “I believe we should be much more creative than the naysayers, who argue that to simply pedestrianise is the answer to all our ills.

“On Union Street itself, it would be great to introduce zones created by interesting lighting, by day these could provide interesting sculptural forms.

“Bus stops could have green/sedum roofs which would be both aesthetically pleasing and have environmental benefits.”

The central section of Union Street will soon be used once more by buses and taxis.

Marie Boulton says many Aberdeen residents are glad council is lifting bus ban

Mrs Boulton added: “Many have welcomed the return of buses to the full length of Union Street ‘so we can get back into the city, meet friends for coffee, and to go back to Marks and Spencers’.

“If we create the right conditions, have a full understanding of who uses the city centre when and for what, then I feel sure we can restore the desired mixed offering to Union Street.”

Bon Accord Baths pictured here last June

Councillor’s flip-flop over pool restoration

Last August, Mrs Boulton was one of five councillors who narrowly outvoted four SNP and Liberal Democrat rivals on including Bon Accord Baths in the council’s £150 million vision to revamp the heart of Aberdeen.

However, she is now pledging to fight for the art deco pool to “form part of the city centre masterplan”, describing the 1940s building as having “a special place in the history and hearts of our city and its people”.

As well as bringing the Justice Mill Lane landmark under the umbrella, she would also include a “reimagined Mither Kirk and Kirk of St Nicholas” in the blueprints.

Marie Boulton also wants Aberdeen City Council to play an active role in reviving Broadford Works.

What other sites does Marie Boulton want to redevelop?

Another historic building Mrs Boulton has her eye on is the former Woolmanhill Hospital.

The 18th century site is in private ownership, with CAF Properties shelving £10m hotel plans until at least the end of the year.

But the Lower Deeside hopeful is eager for the council to intervene in its “redevelopment”, saying it could become a museum.

Broadford Works is also privately owned, but Mrs Boulton would push for it to be “redeveloped” as well.

Marie Boulton with Aberdeen City Council co-leaders Jenny Laing and Douglas Lumsden in 2019 at the revamped Art Gallery. Picture by Kath Flannery.

‘People make cities come alive’

Mrs Boulton added: “Much of what I have mentioned above may appear to be about buildings.

“However, a building is just a building, it is people and activity that makes cities come alive.

“I believe we need to create a financial model that will allow businesses to start and flourish in the city.

“We should seriously consider a system that establishes a full package of support for businesses to our city, especially start-ups.”

Mrs Boulton’s election promises did not mention anything in the Lower Deeside ward, incorporating communities such as Cults, Bieldside, Peterculter and Milltimber.

The other six candidates in the ward are:

  • Mohammed Tauqeer Malik, Aberdeen Labour
  • Duncan Massey, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
  • Sue Mulkerrin, Scottish Liberal Democrats
  • Ewan Ritchie, SNP
  • Gillian Tebberen, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
  • Daniel Verhamme, Scottish Green Party

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