The public invited and arrived and eventually filled the seating in the RBL Hall.

A public meeting of Oldmeldrum Business Association, last night, unveiled the results of a significant survey of residents, shoppers and users of the Town Centre in Oldmeldrum. The Royal British Legion club was the venue for the Association member Pat Robbins to present the analysis of the hundreds of responses to the survey gathered earlier in the year.

The meeting was well attended, including senior Council officials who gave a positive response to the presentation. Local Councillors Paul Johnston, Cryle Shand and Alan Hendry attended.

The detail of the survey was presented by Pat Robbins, a shop keeper in the town. She went through the results of the questions and gave some insight into the methodology behind each. We will publish the results of the survey in a later post. The survey also recorded ideas and views of the respondents.  Many of these were concerned with the issues of safety in the new layout. In particular,  for example, it is difficult to cross safely between the centre of the square and the butcher’s shop. Council officials at the meeting were left in no doubt of the level of unhappiness felt by many residents. Several residents expressed their concerns on issues including parking, difficulty crossing the street, slippery paving, uneven paving, lack of handrails on steps, rat runs, parking for residents, road signs, lack of road markings,  etc.. There was also some support for the new layout and also for the reduced volume and speed of traffic

One comment passed was that the Council has given some positive response at the meeting and has already been working with the business Association and the Community Council to find changes that will help. They had been urged them to look at reducing traffic speeds of vehicles entering the Square from each direction and measures to avoid rat runs and increase safety. Safety was an issue brought out clearly in the survey, which backs up the anecdotal evidence.

The survey has already led to changes. The Council had agreed to introduce car parking changes on South Road. The spaces created, will they believe, slow traffic movements on the road and increase the number of spaces for longer term parking especially for business employees in the centre. The Council is moving to consider 45min waiting or similar within the Square itself. recently, the meeting was told, the Community Council in response to the problems and supporting local residents down in Rosebank/Meadowbank, agreed to ask the Council to reverse the direction of the one way street outside Morris’ Hotel (Jocks) to stop rat running. This would be accompanied by a right turn only from Back Lane onto Rosebank.

Pat Robbins of the Oldmeldrum Business Association giving an expert briefing on the survey.

Council Officials also confirmed the intention to permit vehicles to exit the Baker Street Car Park back out onto Urquhart Road again, with a right turn only manoeuvre, ending the problem of the use of Baker Street as the sole exit past Nathalan Court and joining with the difficult Junction with the Cowgate.

People were however, critical of Aberdeenshire Council in failing to respond within reasonable time scales to the promised handrail on steps within the Square, previously agreed nearly a year ago.

There are two sets of steps that cause problems, those nearest the Urquhart Road junction were supposed to have rails installed as they remain dangerous for the disabled. People at the meeting were urging them to fit the rails as soon as possible.People also said the steps outside Stewart And Watson solicitors, needed to be looked as either removed or rails added as recent fall by elderly people indicated this was a problem.

The meeting approved of the suggestion of a further public meeting to look at progress once Council officials have had the time to review both the survey and complete works already planned.

The Inverurie Herald report this:

Oldmeldrum Square Public Meeting

Published on Tuesday 11 September 2012 16:59

Over 90 people attended a public meeting earlier this week to hear about a survey carried out by Meldrum Business Group to seek people’s views about the redevelopment in the town. Local Councillors and Council Officers were also there to respond to results andto comments made by local people.

The survey showed that, whilst the improvements to the town hall area of the town had been generally well-received, because it looked cleaner, tidier and more attractive, there was concern about the changes to the road system and the implications for road and pedestrian safety.

85 per cent of the people who responded to the survey felt that Oldmeldrum was not a safe place to drive, largely as a result of the new ‘courtesy’ traffic system in place at the main junction in the centre of town. Although this was introduced to slow traffic down, the majority of drivers found it confusing and it contributed to congestion, especially as cars have to reverse out of the car park into the traffic flow.

Since the change, more people have been using the bypass with fewer cars coming into the town. Of those who answered the survey, 43 per cent shopped less often in the town, 30 per cent used local services less frequently and 25 per cent did not come into the centre to meet friends as often as they used to.

On the positive side, there were a lot of suggestions about how the situation could be improved and the people had a lot to contribute in terms of their local knowledge and ideas. Of the potential solutions to the problems, the most popular was the reinstatement of road markings at the junction with 84 per cent support from the survey and a lot of agreement from the people present.

Council officers indicated that some of these issues, including parking in Oldmeldrum, will be discussed over the next few weeks and it was agreed that they would attend a second open meeting later in the year with solutions for discussion.

Jeff, Goodhall, Chair of Meldrum Business Group said: “Our group carried out the survey in the first place because people were telling us about the problems in the square, but we all felt that the Council was not listening and did not understand the problems. The survey results and the comments have helped to make those views heard, and we hope that the positive outcome of a further meeting will help to improve local communication in this area.”

Pat Robins, who carried out the survey, added: “We are very grateful to the people who took the time to fill in the survey, and who wrote so much about their concerns and ideas. It is obvious that people have very strong feelings about Oldmeldrum and they only want to see the problems sorted out so that the benefits of the renovations can be fully appreciated.”