Cllr Alastair Majury on the Allan Water Bridge in Dunblane
History of the Bridge
Dunblane Bridge, from 1409. This ancient bridge links the High Street to Stirling Road and Bridgend. The original bridge was a single-arched bridge of yellow dressed stone, built by Bishop Finlay Dermoch in 1409, relics of which may be seen from the N. It was widened to the S in 1849, in red stone, and pavements were added by the girder bridge that was superimposed in 1927.
One of the most important events in the history of Dunblane was the building of the bridge over the River Allan figure 8 in the early fifteenth century, on the instruction of Bishop Finlay Dermoch (1406–19). The original single arched bridge of yellow dressed stone was 12ft wide and approximately 42ft in length (3.6m x 12.9m) prior to its reconstruction in 1734. It is unclear whether the suburb of Bridgend was in existence before the building of this bridge, but this would prove to be a stimulus to settlement, being on an important routeway (seep 18). In 1849, the south end was widened with red stone. In 1927, a modern girder bridge with balustraded parapets was imposed on the original structure. Traces of the original structure can still be seen in the later fabric. The result of these works may have been to destroy all traces of the nether port, which stood on the bridge, probably at the east end.
Information from ‘Historic Dunblane: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1997).
Brief Recent Timeline for Allan Water Bridge Dunblane
· 2000 — Concrete extensions are assessed as weak during an evaluation of all structures in relation of their ability to carry 40-ton lorries. The bridge was narrowed to a single lane and bollards used to prevent vehicle access onto extensions.
· 2004/05 — Wire Mesh installed along concrete parapets. Assumption is that this was to close gaps between the concrete pilaster.
· 2014 — Design of new bridge extensions begins in May. The original extensions were built circa 1927, and had an assumed 100-year design lifespan, and were in a dilapidated condition. It was deemed that a full replacement was preferred over a shorter-term repair, and that this would be required to be completed before the Streetscape works commenced. Design works completed in June 2015.
· 2015 — Bridge construction begins 2nd November. Road reopens in time for Dunblane Fling on 28th May 2016.
· June 2016 — Streetscape works commence. Bulk of the works complete by Jan 2017.
· April/May 2019 — Final remedial works to the bridge completed
Estimated cost to strengthen the bridge, etc. Is over £500,000.
Remedial Works Identified in 2017 and Provided to Councillor Alastair Majury
1. Missing stone at pilaster at Riverside
2. Fix stonework above cellar door (Steel Angle)
3. Replace stones with clay inclusions.
4. Repair / remove staining on second pilaster from Riverside
5. Repointing generally. New pointing must tie in visually with existing.
6. Repoint bedding for pilasters — as above.
7. Tidy up concrete at the back of gate. (snagging)
8. Re-profile copestones
9. Water ponding on upstream footway.
10. Sealing of Drainage Kerbs.
July 2018 Update that Councillor Alastair Majury Received
With respect to Allan Water Bridge, Dunblane, a number of defects and some items of snagging are still outstanding from the original contractor. Based on poor workmanship, lack of adherence to instruction and extended periods of none activity I have commenced termination of the contract with the original contractor. The original contractor is now in agreeable with termination, however this termination has not yet been finalised, and as such you will appreciate that this is a sensitive time.
We have obtained a price from a separate second contractor to finish the works outstanding and rectify any defects/snagging items. The original contractor will pay for this new contractor’s work, as per the terms of the contract. Our procurement team have advised us not to issue instruction of award for the works to the second contractor until contract termination with the original contractor has been slightly further progressed.
There has been separate damage to the structure in that the pilaster been damaged and the facing stones dislodged. We believe this damage has been caused by a reversing vehicle. No police report exists for this damage.
Stirling Council has requested that the second contractor provides us with a price for repair of the pilaster damage and that this work can be done at the same time as the defects and snagging work.
This work would have enabled the bridge to have returned to how it was used pre-2000.
Overview of the Dunblane Streetscape Works
Excerpts From Sustrans — Source: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/case-studies/all-sectors/june/dunblane-stirling-street-redesign/
The ambitious project aimed to transform Stirling Road, linking the High Street to the railway station, into a place for people to visit, enjoy and travel slowly through.
Dunblane is an attractive, ancient city with a population of approximately 10,000 people and it provides services for neighbouring villages.
It is a compact town with main destinations within walkable distance for most people, but car use is high for trips to school, local services and local commuting. The train also attracts parking commuters from nearby communities. Traffic speed and volume is noted as a deterrent to walking and cycling on key roads.
Differences in pavement levels and the lack of a clear, high-quality pedestrian route meant access between Dunblane railway station and the High Street was a challenge for people with restricted mobility, people using wheelchairs and people pushing buggies.
People on bicycles were faced with many one way streets which made cycling to the station a challenge.
The quality of appearance along Stirling Road was not conducive for people to enjoy spending time in due to narrow pavements, lack of seating, and the dominance of concrete and cars.
The project looked to address access to the station, as well as improving the appearance and experience of the spaces outside of the station and towards the high street.
Network Rail had installed a new railway bridge at Dunblane Station as part of their ‘Access for All’ programme. Stirling Council used this opportunity to achieve further improvements to the area through a process of community-led design.
They approached Sustrans by putting in an application to the Community Links programme which provides grant funding for the creation of cycle network infrastructure.
The ambitious project saw the entire street transformed into vibrant spaces for people to enjoy and travel through. The design improved access to businesses on Stirling Road and created a space that people want to visit and spend time in.
Stirling Council led the detailed design process and the project was finished at the end of 2016.
Sustrans Scotland and Stirling Council have been recognised for this work in Dunblane alongside representatives of local community groups at the 2017 Cycle-Rail Awards, after the Stirling Road Access for All Project was awarded the top prize under partnership working.
Commenting on the award, Stirling Council’s Environment and Housing Committee Convenor, Councillor Jim Thomson, said:
“We’re delighted that the approach taken to developing this project along with the community has been recognised.
“Hopefully this project sets a good example of what can be achieved when the whole of a community is involved and works together.”
Dunblane Community Reaction to the Streetscape Works
In a survey by Councillor Alastair Majury where over 710 responses were received, 623 responses were completed online, and 87 paper surveys collected. 569 respondents identified as being a Dunblane Resident, 32 as being either a Dunblane Business Owner or an Employee of a Dunblane Business, 29 as a Regular User of Dunblane Train Station, 77 as a Regular Visitor to Dunblane, and 3 respondents skipped this question.
For context the recent consultations have resulted in:
· Cathedral Streetscape 2ndConsultation — Circa 300 survey responses
· Cathedral Streetscape 1stConsultation — Circa 500 survey responses
· Stirling Road Access for All Project Consultation — Circa 200 responses (80 detailed surveys completed)
Note as per the Cathedral Street Scape 2ndconsultation 60%+ will be used as a threshold to indicate whether or not what was asked was strongly supported or opposed, 50%+ will be used to indicate whether or not what was asked had support or was opposed. An additional level of 70%+ will be used to indicate whether or not a proposal has very strong support or very strong opposition.
Note as per the Cathedral Street Scape 2ndconsultation no possible sources of funding have been identified for anything that was asked here, which I believe is right as sources of funding should be identified once community support for a project has been obtained rather than vice a versa.
Excerpt of Results
Question 2- Now that the Allan Water bridge has had a substantial six figure sum spent on it bringing it up to full structural integrity that would be able to support having cars parked on it. Should the bridge be returned to a position where cars can park on the bridge?
Timeline of work relating to the Allan Water bridge:
Ø In the year 2000 — Concrete extensions are assessed as weak during an evaluation of all structures in relation of their ability to carry 40-ton lorries. The bridge was narrowed to a single lane and bollards used to prevent vehicle access onto extensions.
Ø In 2004/05 — Wire Mesh installed along concrete parapets. Assumption is that this was to close gaps between the concrete pilaster.
Ø In 2014 — Design of new bridge extensions begins in May. The original extensions were built circa 1927, and had an assumed 100-year design lifespan, and were in a dilapidated condition. It was deemed that a full replacement was preferred over a shorter-term repair, and that this would be required to be completed before the Streetscape works commenced. Design works completed in June 2015.
Ø In 2015 — Bridge construction begins 2nd November. Road reopens in time for Dunblane Fling on 28th May 2016.
Ø In June 2016 — Streetscape works commence. Bulk of the works complete by Jan 2017
Note that over £500,00 has been spent on strengthening the Allan Water bridge and related work.
Summary of Result:
62.11% support the bridge be returned to a position where cars can park on the bridge.
9.3% were unsure
28.59% oppose the bridge be returned to a position where cars can park on the bridge.
Given the strong support for this option that Stirling Council’s consultation on the individual parking management plan for Dunblane include a consultation on parking be restored on the bridge now that the completed work has restored the structural integrity to support this option.
Given that parking spaces are at a premium at the centre of Dunblane, and that the community has waited over a decade for the bridge to be returned to a position to support parking on the bridge, it is right that this option is presented to the community of Dunblane.
Perhaps outwith Stirling Council’s consultation on the individual parking management plan for Dunblane, the council could pick up with local community organisations such as Dunblane in Bloom in order to establish where permanent planters may be desirable, the wider community can then be consulted on any proposals for new permanent planters.
Question 3- Should Stirling Road (near the Post Office) be returned to a state that would allow parking on both sides of this road again?
As part of the £1.27M Stirling Road Access for all Project that was awarded the top prize at the 2017 Cycle-Rail awards under partnership working, an additional/third footway (pavement) was added to Stirling Road (as part of a wider piece of work) that reduced the community from being able to safely park on both sides of this road to only being able to park on one side of the road.
Leading to anecdotal evidence that people’s carbon footprint was increasing as due to being unable to park in Dunblane they travelled by motor vehicle to post offices and other shops in other communities with more widely available parking.
Summary of Result:
60.56% support Stirling Road (near the Post Office) be returned to a state that would allow parking on both sides of this road again
7.75% were unsure
31.69% oppose Stirling Road (near the Post Office) be returned to a state that would allow parking on both sides of this road again
Given the strong support for this option that Stirling Council’s consultation on the individual parking management plan for Dunblane include a consultation on Stirling Road (near the Post Office) be returned to a state that would allow parking on both sides of this road again.
This would increase parking capacity allowing people to return to using the local businesses rather than travelling further afield and hence reducing the overall carbon footprint of the community.
Question 4- Should the layout around the Dunblane Train Station be looked at to see if a Taxi / Drop-Off spot can return to being next to the platform entrance/exit again in order to maximise accessibility for all users including the elderly?
Originally there was a Taxi waiting area next to the platform entrance and exit that people also used to pick-up and drop-off passengers. Whilst the Stirling Road Access for all Project that was awarded the top prize at the 2017 Cycle-Rail awards under partnership working retained a Taxi waiting area this moved to be next to a shop opposite the train station entrance as opposed to the platform entrance. For elderly and less able bodied people whilst the distance is small in absolute terms it is large relatively speaking compared to the facility that was available prior to the Stirling Road Access for all Project was completed.
Summary of Result:
73.47% support the layout around the Dunblane Train Station be looked at to see if a Taxi / Drop-Off spot can return to being next to the platform entrance/exit again in order to maximise accessibility for all users including the elderly.
6.67% were Unsure
19.86% oppose the layout around the Dunblane Train Station be looked at to see if a Taxi / Drop-Off spot can return to being next to the platform entrance/exit again in order to maximise accessibility for all users including the elderly.
Given the very strong support for this option, and although given the pedestrianisation of the parking spaces that were previously at the station make this difficult. I recommend that council officers propose a layout that would allow a Taxi waiting area to be available much closer to the platform entrance as possible.
And then that Stirling Council’s consultation on the individual parking management plan for Dunblane consult on this proposed change to the layout.
Question 5- Should the council investigate options of converting the Millrow carpark to a multi-storey car park?
This idea has been around the community for a few years now, so was asked in order to gather community opinion as to whether or not this is a desirable idea to be pursued or not.
Summary of Result:
32.15% Support the council investigating options of converting the Millrow carpark to a multi-storey car park
9.21% were unsure
58.64% Oppose the council investigating options of converting the Millrow carpark to a multi-storey car park (of which 38.1% Strongly Oppose the proposal).
Given the strong opposition to this proposal that this is not included in Stirling Council’s consultation on the individual parking management plan for Dunblane.
It should be noted that Council Officers are investigating a site that would provide additional (non-multi-storey) commuter car parking, and that if this site is a viable proposition that this work should be continued. If timing allows that this be included in Stirling Council’s consultation on the individual parking management plan for Dunblane.
Part of the recommendations, which Stirling Council received a copy of was that “Request that Stirling Council consult on restoring parking on the Allan Water bridge.”
Community Reaction Continued…
In January 2018 and again in February 2019, Councillor Alastair Majury asked council officers if they could provide an estimate as to how much it cost to remove the new pavement opposite the Post Office, and return that section of road to having two pavements instead of the current three pavements. On both occasions this request was refused, with the February 2019 response to the request including the statement:
“Accordingly, officers have said that they are not aware of strong community support in favour of removing part of the scheme.” — This was after they had received a copy of the results of the survey that Councillor Alastair Majury had run in 2018
A regular user of the high street started a petition which I as a locally elected member support.
The petition wording is:
Dunblane Railway Streetscape Changes:
The total value of the streetscape improvement works was over £1.3 million. This figure includes for all design costs, construction and supervision as well as the new artwork incorporated within the project. Apart from a £55,000 contribution from Roads Maintenance for the resurfacing of some carriageways, the project was funded entirely by SUSTRANS (£1.275m). The streetscape changes were Dunblane Community Partnership led (Dunblane Community Council, Discover Dunblane, Dunblane Development Trust).
Stirling Council’s Key Priority E states:
We will create and implement environment and infrastructure improvements. We will deliver new ownership and delivery methods around energy generation, public transport and internet access, ensuring profits and services work to community, not commercial priorities.
While our citizens are the lifeblood of our communities, the environment and infrastructure are the arteries which allow us to function and flourish.
As the streetscape changes in Dunblane are contrary to creating an environment and infrastructure that allow the community of Dunblane to function and flourish, we request the streetscape be reviewed to create an infrastructure that is supportive to the community of Dunblane.
We the undersigned, request that Stirling Road (Post Office / Papa’s) in Dunblane be returned to a state that would allow cars to park on both sides of this road again as was the case prior to the streetscape changes, as quickly as possible. We also request that council investigate what else can be done to help the community of Dunblane recover from the overall negative impact of these streetscape changes.
Stirling Council Reaction to the Petition
Stirling Council had deemed the previously mentioned as being invalid, which Councillor Alastair Majury has challenged this decision.
Current Status of Petition
Councillor Alastair Majury received an update relating to the petition of the controversial Dunblane Community Partnership (which includes the Dunblane Community Council) led £1.3M ‘Stirling Road Access for All’ project is no longer deemed invalid by Stirling Council.
The official status of the petition is that it is now “On Hold”.
Stirling Council’s Sustainable Development Manager, has been in lengthy dialogue with the principle petitioner and the officer and a colleague met with her during the w/c 24 June. He followed this up with a letter setting out the content of their discussions and committing to looking at a range of issues which principle petitioner had raised. It has been agreed that the petition be kept ‘on hold’ until the agreed actions are worked through. Stirling Council’s Sustainable Development Manager committed to a further review in the Autumn when he would be in touch with the principle petitioner.
Councillor Alastair Majury is also querying to check whether or not Stirling Council has issued a full and unreserved apology for incorrectly stating that the petition was invalid.
The petition relating to the £1.3 million streetscape project attracted support from over 170 people.
In the petitions’ guidance Stirling Council states that the public petitions process is one way that a community, individuals, groups or businesses can be involved in what the Council does. The submission of a petition can have a positive outcome by creating informed debate which may result in the Council taking action to address the concerns raised in a petition.
Dunblane and Bridge of Allan Councillor Alastair Majury said:
“Given concerns that more and more people are becoming extremely disillusioned with the political system, including both politicians and councils, I believe that we should be applauding those who wish to participate in local democracy. I am extremely disappointed that the council has decided to simply reject these petitions rather than work with the principal petitions to ensure that their voice is heard, rejecting a petition should be the absolute last resort. I will continue to help my community have their voice heard, and that still includes using the petitions process to do so.”
Community Partnership “Access for All” Project Is Not Inclusive
A Dunblane taxi company has raised concerns, that the recently approved Dunblane Community Parking Management Plan (CPMP) proposals don’t resolve the ongoing issues with the new taxi rank created as part of the £1.3M streetscape changes. Local Councillor Alastair Majury, is working with the help of the Stirling Area Access Panel, to help resolve these issues.
Previously the taxi rank had space for three taxis, now there is only space for one. This means that if the taxi rank is occupied when the only purpose-built taxi that takes a wheelchair in Dunblane, arrives it has to move on. Even when there is space available, the rank is not suitable as due to the standard design of taxis is to load wheelchairs from the back-passenger side. However, there is insufficient space to allow a wheelchair to be loaded, at the taxi rank.
When the streetscape was being designed concerns were raised about whether the design would comply with BS8300 and the 2010 Equality Act, due to the disabled parking being moved further away from the station, and in general that accessibility looked worse. These concerns were not acted on as the proposal as implemented was likely to be the only way that the council could obtain funding from SUSTRANS in order to proceed with the streetscape changes.
Local Councillor Alastair Majury said:
“These streetscape changes resulting in the new taxi area, are very unpopular. Stirling Council needs to ensure that Dunblane has a taxi rank that is inclusive, and fit for purpose. This needs to be sorted out and changes made. The Council should not be chasing Sustrans money unless it can be used to deliver something that the community wants and actually works. This is just one example of why so many people want a petition heard by the Council and heard it should be.”
Councillor Alastair Majury has helped to facilitate a meeting with the Stirling Access Area Panel, Stirling Council, ScotRail, and NetworkRail in order to decide how the reduction in accessibility and inclusivity as a result of the Community Partnership (including Dunblane Community Council) led design can be addressed.
One Example of Issues Caused by Streetscape Design Around the Allan Water Bridge
Councillor Alastair Majury was grateful to the Stirling Observer printing Dave Whitton’s letter highlighting the poor design of the ‘Stirling Road Access for All’ project is not suitable for buses passing vehicles obeying the council’s parking restrictions that were known about as part of the design.
The community of Dunblane will need to wait and see what the results of Stirling Council’s Sustainable Development Manager discussions with the principle petitioner are.
Also, for an update on the discussions between the Stirling Area Access Panel, Stirling Council, ScotRail, and NetworkRail.
Councillor Alastair Majury recommends that the community try to keep the issues in the public arena by contacting the local press (Stirling Observer), and also by contacting the Convenor of Environment & Housing Committee (who did welcome the works) Jim Thomson, requesting that in his position, the issues are discussed at committee.
Alastair Majury resides locally in the historic Scottish city of Dunblane, and is a Senior Regulatory Business Analyst working across the country. Alastair Majury also serves on the local council (Stirling Council) as Councillor Alastair Majury where he represents the ward of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, topping the poll.