More than £400,000 has been squirreled away to remove controversial physical distancing measures in Aberdeen, The P&J can today reveal.
Concerns around how much of a £1.76 million grant has been saved to lift the temporary measures have been aired since the huge works were undertaken in response to the pandemic.
Last month, Aberdeen City Council still had to make use of around £800,000 of the funding, which had already been used to pedestrianise part of Union Street and surrounding streets, install bike lanes along the entire beachfront and enforce one-way systems in Rosemount, the West End, Justice Mill Lane and around George Street.
The local authority was granted the cash to make the streets safer as lockdown was relaxed by providing more room for those travelling on foot or cycling.
Council leaders last week pledged to review the measures – which have been met with protest in nearly all affected areas – at the end of this month.
They also promised to publish an account of how the hundreds of thousands of pounds of the Scottish Government funding has been spent.
But The Press And Journal has obtained an early view of the local authority’s books through Freedom Of Information legislation.
At the start of last month, the council had committed £541,000 to Spaces For People works across the city.
But around a quarter of the £1.76m has been put aside to remove the white lines painted on the road, signs, cones and bollards.
A pot of £420,000 has been kept back to undo the work, whenever it is deemed safe enough to do so.
But the council has refused to outline spending in individual spots across the city, claiming many of the resources were bought in bulk.
Aberdeen Liberal Democrat leader Ian Yuill told The P&J his efforts to obtain a similar breakdown were yet to come to anything.
The Airyhall, Broomhill and Garthdee councillor said: “I asked some time ago for more detailed information about how the £1.76m allocated to Aberdeen was being spent – I am still waiting for that information.
“Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors support the aim of Spaces for People, although we have concerns about some of the individual changes that have been made.
“We are also very concerned about both the initial lack of consultation with residents and businesses about the changes.”
SNP group leader, Alex Nicoll, added: “From the start, there has been a complete lack of leadership from the Tory/Labour administration who have failed to listen to people and businesses and act to sort the poorly implemented mess they have created.”
Since the figures were compiled, a bus gate in Rosemount has been removed and new picnic benches were installed in the pedestrianised strip of Union Street, only for the council to – within days – rule they should be removed.
Council transport spokeswoman Sandra Macdonald said: “The measured approach officers have taken with the budget is to be commended.
“Another update at the end of the month will give a fuller picture about the measures that have gone in across the city.
“While some weren’t totally needed, I don’t think any were unnecessary.”