Complaint made to Aberdeen City Council
Aberdeen City Council (ACC) has received numerous complaints from Kingswells residents who have reported that Kingswells Community Council (KCC) have not sought public opinion on the proposed stadium at Kingsford. This has caused the residents some concern.
KCC has also been accused of submitting an objection to ACC without carrying out a full consultation exercise, and the position adopted does not reflect the views of those who supported the stadium planning application.
ACC has requested that KCC consider withdrawing the objection to the proposal on the basis that residents believe it has been put forward without adequately gaining public opinion on the issue, nor adequately reflecting public opinion.
KCC Response to ACC
Conducting a meaningful consultation for a complex planning application, such as the AFC Stadium, by a Community Council is impossible with the resources available to KCC. With 164 documents and dozens of issues that result in a multitude of different views it could not be completed within the time constraints of a planning application. This would effectively duplicate part of the planning consultation conducted by ACC.
It is important to understand that this is not a simple consultation with a Yes / No answer, “Do you want a stadium or not?” Such a survey would not be competent as it does not address the planning issues associated with this planning application. Any meaningful survey should address the concerns of the whole community, not just one section of the community.
KCC recognises that for some residents a yes/no survey would have been their expectation no matter what other issues may be relevant to the Stadium Planning Application and these people have every right to submit a complaint as they have done.
We made the decision that the best way to serve our community was to present them with information in the form of pros and cons and to encourage the residents to make their own comments on the planning application directly to ACC. The information was posted on the KCC website and Facebook page which was seen by 4,694 people. In addition, KCC provided frequent updates in the bimonthly Kingswells News which is distributed within Kingswells.
KCC believes that Kingswells residents responding directly to ACC on the stadium planning application carries more authority and weight than a simple survey conducted by KCC. We encouraged the community to represent themselves.
KCC were aware that there were significant concerns with the planning application. The views of KCC members together with views received from members of the community prior to and during the consultation period were used to inform a vote taken by KCC. The result of the vote was 8 members were against and 2 were for the stadium planning application i.e. 80% against and 20% for. The Planning Subcommittee then prepared a document highlighting concerns for submission to the ACC Planning Department.
When the responses to the planning application were posted on the ACC website a count was recorded. Those submitted by Kingswells residents included 581 against and 124 in support of the stadium. i.e. 82% against and 18% for. Although we did not have the final tally before sending the objection to ACC, we did have regular updates which clearly showed the majority view was against the stadium. We concluded that the KCC view was indeed representative of the view of the majority of Kingswells residents who responded, and accurately reflected public opinion. Consequently, we were justified in making the submission to ACC.
We acknowledge that if the people who contacted ACC were in favour of the application, then the KCC view presented was not their view. It is clear from the number of responses sent to the planning department that the residents who complained to ACC were not representative of the views of Kingswells residents who expressed an opinion on the planning application.
KCC acknowledges that in submitting its response to the planning application that it did not reflect the views of the minority of residents in Kingswells who are in favour of the stadium planning application.
KCC do consult with the community as can be seen with two recent surveys on the buses. Historically, we have conducted extensive surveys. This was not considered the best way to represent the community or the best use of KCC resources in this instance.
Referring to the Constitution under Section 9 Meetings and clause
“4a The Council (KCC) shall call when they think appropriate, public meetings or carry out opinion surveys on issues on which they judge that the views of the public in the area of the Council should be ascertained, coordinated and expressed.”
As explained above we did not consider a survey was an appropriate thing to do in this case, and we could better serve our community by providing information and encourage the submission of resident’s personal views to ACC.
KCC considers that it has adequately represented the community albeit we have not conducted a survey, and we have justification to proceed through the planning process representing the majority view.