£500,000 boost for Blue Toon

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PETERHEAD has been served up a half million pound boost to regenerate its town centre.

Including an in-depth £20,000 feasibility study, the cash comes in the first round of major project funding from Aberdeenshire Council since the May elections.

Also agreed at last week’s Policy and Resources committee meeting were allocations of £200,000 apiece for the New Deer all-weather sports facility and the multi-purpose community centre at Mintlaw.

Cruden Bay’s Ladies Bridge gets a little over £12,000 for improvements while £100,000 has been assigned to the completion of a new St Combs Hall after the previous premises were destroyed by a blaze in 2009.

Similar funding has been agreed for Buchan neighbours Fraserburgh to assist with its ailing town centre.

Peterhead councillor Alan Gardiner welcomed the major financial undertaking within Buchan, and described the funding package for the Blue Toon as “excellent news” for the whole town.

He told the Buchanie: “This really is proving the point of Peterhead councillors being at the top table of Aberdeenshire Council for once. The Alliance Administration has made a strong statement of intent to support our communities at a time when they really need it and I am delighted to have played a part in that decision-making.

“Myself and my fellow independent councillors said we would beat a drum for Peterhead and Buchan as a whole and we are doing just that.

“The investment in the feasibility study gives a particularly strong indication of the value we are placing on the regeneration of Peterhead. This will be a far-reaching survey which will look into wide-ranging elements of the town centre.

“It will examine which streets – if any – we need to look at re-opening, which way traffic will flow round the town, and how we can deliver the best possible shopping experience for local folk and visitors alike. This strategic study will help us support our existing businesses and, I am sure, help develop a town centre which will become far more attractive to future investors.”

Central Buchan councillor Norman Smith was equally delighted with the investments made at Mintlaw and New Deer, saying it heralded the start of big things within the community.

“Having been deeply involved with the MACBI community centre project at Mintlaw for many years it is a real delight that this £200,000 funding package has been agreed by the council,” he told the Buchanie.

“This multi-purpose centre will become a focal point for social and sporting activities of all kinds – involving all ages and every aspect of the wider community.

“The community of New Deer has also been driving hard for many years to get an all-weather sports facility created in the village and to see £200,000 being invested by the council is superb.

“I think the allocations made by the Alliance Administration shows the deep understanding it has of the North-east’s social requirements and I cannot wait for work to begin on all the schemes in Buchan.”

Councillor Edie Chapman said: “It’s fantastic that we have been in this position to support this worthy community led project.”

In a repeated statement from last week, the SNP’s shadow council leader Hamish Vernal said while individually and collectively the projects were “very worthy” he maintained the monies were only available as a result of the previous council administration’s “failure to deliver on their planned budget”.

In response, Cllr Gardiner said: “As someone who did not represent his community on the council on the previous administration I cannot comment, suffice to say that we have made substantial investment in Peterhead, Buchan and throughout the Shire to bring about much sought after change and improvement.

“Decisions made in the past belong in the past - I would urge all councillors to now join us in the fresh opportunities that beckon and to work with us for the benefit of all or communities.”

Also included will be improvements to Fraserburgh town centre and to Macduff and Banff.

Proposals to assist small businesses include an independent study on the whitefish processing sector, a one-stop advice and information telephone number of all business enquiries, an apprenticeship scheme in agriculture and a power cable into Fraserburgh harbour to support future business growth.

Schemes have also been put forward to support the tourism and hospitality industry, including investment in the Formartine and Buchan Way and coastal paths, and the creation of a place brand for Aberdeenshire.