The controversial new bandstand in Peterhead’s Drummers Corner has split opinion in the town – with its resident busker refusing to go near it.
Following the revelation that Aberdeenshire Council has spent almost £400,000 regenerating the town centre spot, I headed to the Blue Toon to hear what locals thought of it all.
It’s a bright but chilly Thursday morning in Peterhead, with a cold wind whistling through the new town centre structure.
Drummers Corner could be ‘packed’ if there was live music
Craig Watson is a regular sight in Drummers Corner, playing various tunes on his guitar to passers-by – everything from Abba to REM.
He tells me he watched the project progress from day one as he was out busking most days.
But what does he think about the new bandstand?
“I don’t like it.”
“It’s taken so long to do and everyone says to me, ‘why don’t you go underneath it?’ but it’s too windy.
“I’m quite happy here,” he adds, gesturing to his shop doorway performance space.
‘Those silly seats are an accident waiting to happen’
Craig echoed the views of locals who are concerned that freshly installed glass-backed benches could prove hazardous.
He added: “I think the general opinion of the town is they don’t like it.
“Those silly seats, that’s an accident waiting to happen with the glass backs on them.
“The money would be better spent on roads and pavements, because the pavements here are terrible.”
He adds: “They had a basic bandstand before that served its purpose,” before pointing to the new structure and stating: “That is just nonsense.”
Craig doesn’t think the bandstand will be used that often but could see it come alive with activity during Scottish Week and around Christmas.
Drummers Corner bandstand could bring trouble to town centre
After taking a walk up Marischal Street I bump into Dion McKay, owner of Kai’s Curiosities on Backgate, out on a walk with her ferret, Goose.
She thinks the bandstand is “nice” but believes the money should have been spent elsewhere.
“With the cost-of-living crisis and folk quick to moan about all these shops shutting, why put half a million into that when they could have funded businesses?” she says.
The 19-year-old antique shop boss told me her store has only been open for two years but she has faced some struggles.
Dion is also fearful it could be a magnet for unwanted behaviour.
‘When it is used, folk are drinking in it’
She said: “Don’t get me wrong, the old bandstand was just as bad.
“Then all of a sudden the centre of the town was shut because they spent a year and a half building that, what’s the point?
“It took them so long to build it, it’s rusted already. By the time they put the glass in, they’ve already smashed a panel.
“When it is used, folk are drinking in it, or worse. Nobody wants to be near that.”
Dion even says Goose “hisses” at the bandstand when they go out on their walks around the town.
Drummers Corner works ‘killed’ the town centre
Colin McKay described the structure as a “monstrosity” and believes the lengthy construction period kept shoppers away.
“It took that long to do it, folk would rather they just do away with it.
“It’s done nothing for this town, it hasn’t helped the people of Peterhead at all.
“If anything, everybody stopped using the town centre because it was constantly blocked up.”
Bandstand ‘completely out of place’
Two fellow town residents, who asked not to be named, also had strong opinions about the changes.
One said it was “an absolute waste of money, especially when everybody is struggling”.
They believed the project cost was “crazy” and doesn’t think it will be long until the glass panels are smashed.
One fumed: “It’s ridiculous, we need things for our kids in the town, not things for Scottish Week and Christmas.”
Another anonymous local said the bandstand was “completely out of place” in Drummers Corner.
Praise for nod to Peterhead’s fishing heritage
But there are some Peterhead folk who think the bandstand is a benefit for the town.
Billy Bruce thinks it’s a vast improvement on what was there before.
“I think it’s a beautiful structure and it says a lot for the fishing industry, the town and it has a local theme.
“I’ve got no problem with it.
“I like the Peterhead theme with the ships.”
Billy even suggested the council should put another bandstand elsewhere in the town such as nearby Broad Street or up at Catto Park.
And he reckons the new features could be used well, but only if there were shops to go along with it.
But does he think it is a good use of public money?
Meanwhile John Buchan said he liked the structure but the cost, not so much.
“If it was £150,000 fine, not half a million.”
Support for ‘bonny’ bandstand
Finally, Sandra Morrison hopes the new regeneration work will help bring more people into the town centre.
She said: “I think it’s pretty nice.
“They’ve taken a few years to get this done, but hopefully it will stay nice and doesn’t get smashed.
“During Scottish Week, this area was packed and I think it’s really bonny, I like the glass on the seats.”
Read more about the beleaguered project here: