Town centre plan
Keiller leads campaign to revive faded Union Street
Former oil industry and development agency executive Bob Keiller is heading a new community-led initiative to revive one of Scotland’s faded city centre streets.
The ex-CEO of energy services company Wood Group has agreed to lead Our Union Street, which will seek to bring new businesses and activity to Aberdeen’s principal shopping and commercial thoroughfare.
The organisation is currently raising funds and will have its own premises on Union Street which has 47 empty shop units.
A website – ourunionstreet.com – has been set-up to allow residents and businesses to share their thoughts.
Mr Keiller, who was part of the team which rescued and turned around mattress company Glencraft following its collapse in 2009, hopes to build a community which can deliver “a thousand small steps for the city centre that, collectively, can make a big difference for Aberdeen”.
He said: “Union Street is not what it used to be, it’s not what it should be, and it’s not what it can be.
“People care about the state of Union Street; they care that many retail units sit empty and uninviting, they care about graffiti, litter, dirty buildings, weeds growing on balconies and the general upkeep of the street.
“They want Union Street to be a safe, busy, energetic, thriving thoroughfare that compares favourably with the best of UK’s small cities.
“To date, there has been no single body that has the remit to take on these challenges and opportunities. That’s what the brand-new organisation is for.”
Mr Keiller, who is a former chairman of Scottish Enterprise, has agreed to provide his services for free. He will seek to build an army of volunteers to help arrest decades of decline in the city centre.
“I have not stepped forward because it sounds easy – I have chosen to get involved because it will be hard.
“We cannot go back in time and change shopping habits, or change decisions that have been made in the city centre. We can only start from now and make changes that improve the future.”
The initiative sprang from an emergency Union Street summit last November and the organisation is being set-up by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen City Council and Opportunity North East, with additional support from Shell, which recently relocated to the street.
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