Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Frank Gilfeather: Whatever’s next for Aberdeen will take a long time to improve its serious decline

The pedestrianisation of Union Street has changed the city centre
The pedestrianisation of Union Street has changed the city centre

Just how serious is the decline of Aberdeen?

The efforts to keep cars off a tired Union Street, a shadow of its former self, are working. Take, for example, a drive down the city’s principal thoroughfare.

It can take an inordinately long time, thanks to bus lanes being closed and cars backed up behind buses as they stop to drop off or collect passengers, then can’t move on because there are other similar vehicles doing the same thing ahead of them.

And, you can always count the “for sale” and “to rent” signs to pass the time before you’re diverted on to the scenic route.

The snail’s pace of driving does allow you to notice just how badly the town has diminished

Somebody reckoned it’s better to allow a handful of people to stroll along the now pedestrianised part of Union Street and to reroute vehicles on to the heavily congested Guild Street. It’s there that queues of cars, vans and lorries are stuck behind a line of largely empty buses heading back on to Union Street, or destined for Union Square to see the most recent shop closures.

The pandemic has been a gamechanger for Aberdeen, but has change come too late?

The snail’s pace of driving does, however, allow you to notice just how badly the town has diminished and, while there has been a raft of major projects to bring improvements, the infrastructure remains a problem.

And before we hear: “What about the Berryden corridor?” let’s remember where that will take motorists – straight to the heart of that Guild Street bottleneck.

Aspirations are achievable – but might take a long, long time

Covid has been a gamechanger, but haven’t all the admirable plans currently working their way through to reality come too late for a city on a ventilator and without the status it once enjoyed? If investors can’t see a way to make money in Aberdeen, what does the future hold for the city?

Do we place too much importance on the need for a degree for jobs outwith the professions like medicine and law?

With the North Sea oil and gas industry having shed tens of thousands of jobs, employment opportunities for young people – many of them currently seeking a university degree to allow them access to the most menial of jobs – are dwindling. Do we place too much importance on the need for a degree for jobs outwith the professions like medicine and law?

Aberdeen and the north-east hit the jackpot when oil entered its economic veins half a century ago. Now, as it ponders the next few decades and continues to overcome the downside of its geography – travel and transportation are too expensive – it tries to reinvent itself as a place of eco and technological innovation.

Such aspirations are achievable, but it might take a long, long time.


Read more by Frank Gilfeather:

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.