Mar 282014
 

Aberdeen-forward2With thanks to Ed Walker.

Aberdeen Forward’s next Big Giveaway Day will be held this Saturday 29th March 10am-1pm at Aberdeen Forward Ltd, 2 Poynernook Road (just behind Union Square, opposite Kwik-Fit).

Aside from a huge range of FREE furniture, craft resources & stationary, our charity & trade stands will be running alongside our famous raffle with prizes including:

  • A meal for 2 at Handmade Burger Company
  • 1 Place on an award winning Aberdeen Forward upholstery course of your choice (evening or weekend)
  • Various Lush cosmetics gift sets worth over £65
  • A meal for 4 at Nando’s Aberdeen
  • A round of golf at Murcar links golf course, Aberdeenshire.
  • A mystery Cath Kidston Item

Tickets for the raffle cost just £1 and are available now from Aberdeen Forward.

The Giveaway day will be held at Aberdeen Forward on 2 Poynernook Road between 10am and 1pm and is open to schools, individuals, groups and everyone in between. Feel free to come along to browse our massive range of free resources, have a look at our range of great local craft stalls and enjoy some tea, coffee and other light refreshments. Entry cost is £3 (free to under 16’s).

Aberdeen Forward Ltd.
2Poynernook Road
Aberdeen
AB11 5RW

01224 560360

Mar 202014
 

Aberdeen forwardthm174With thanks to Ed Walker.

Want to Save Money and Reduce Your Food Waste?

Come along to our Free Cooking Demonstration and learn some creative ways to use leftovers from the Foodie Quine

St Bridget’s Hall, Stonehaven Dunnottar Church

Saturday 22nd March, 10.30am – 1.30pm

Please contact Karen or Gillian on 01224 560360 email kwood@aberdeenforward.org to book a place

Sep 052013
 

AbForwardGiveawayAberdeen Forward, your local environmental charity, are once again holding the Very Big Giveaway Day on this Saturday, September the 7th!

As usual, individuals & schools can access FREE office furniture, stationery and arts and craft resources.

There will also be a book stand and various drop in craft stalls running throughout the day, including a handmade cosmetics stand, ‘Beadpop’ stand, an oil & glass stand and ‘Stencil’ handmade crafts!

There will also be a raffle (tickets £1 available now) with a range of excellent prizes from local businesses including a Meal for 4 at Nando’s, various Lush cosmetics gift sets, a round of golf at Murcar Links Golf Club, Coffee for 2 at Books and Beans, A glass fusing workshop with Oil & Glass Aberdeen and a FREE lampshade making course!

In addition, The Nappy Laundry will be running a pop-up nappy shop where you can get expert advice and access to a great range of real cloth nappies. Further to this, the Aberdeen Forward Baby Shop will be open, providing access to an excellent range of low-cost, high quality baby items from prams and nursery furniture to pushchairs and cots.

Entry to the Big Giveaway Day is £3.00 for adults, children under 16 are free. Any questions, queries or requests, get in touch with us by clicking here or calling 01224 560360.

May 092013
 

With thanks to Robin Li Laing, Marketing & Events Manager.

The next Monthly Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market will be at the Hilton Treetops Hotel, Aberdeen on Sunday 12th of May, 10.30am to 1.30pm. This community organisation was set up to help Scottish families with the rising cost of raising children.

Faced with the ever-rising cost of bringing up a child, Aberdeenshire parents are selling and bartering in a bid to reduce the cost of raising children.

The last monthly Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market saw 415 savvy shoppers bagging some spectacular jaw-dropping prices on quality baby & kids gear.

53% of sellers made £100-£200, 21% made £200-£350, with the top selling stall making over £330

It costs £90,000 to raise a child up to age 11, an increase of 15% over the past 5 years, according to new figures released by Halifax, whose economist, Martin Ellis, says the figures have “added to the already considerable strain on household finances during the economic downturn”.

But, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. As the cost of raising children soars, an increasing number of smart money mums have beefed up their selling and bartering skills to make and save money.

A trend is emerging where mums and dads are now much happier to choose selling and shopping at local car-boot sales and market days, as a cost-effective alternative to the high street for what their children need. Over a third of parents are now choosing to buy and sell second-hand, according to recent figures.

One organisation Aberdeenshire parents have turned to is The Jack & Jill Market which runs monthly nearly-new baby & children’s markets in Perth and across Scotland  for families, with the emphasis on quality goods.

The Jack & Jill Market is so swamped with demand from mums wanting to make and save money, that new locations are being set-up all the time in an effort to meet this demand.

Recent research has shown that UK adults can have up to £581 worth of useable but unused items; for a two-parent family this can add up to more than £1000, much of it locked up in buggies, bikes, cots, clothes, toys, all the all the rest that still have plenty of life left in them, so it makes smart money sense to release this money into the family budget.

Several of these community events are now fully-booked up to 3-4 months in advance for sellers, and are now seeing up to 1000 mums and families through the doors in a 3-hour period, looking for high quality items, at a fraction of the retail price.

There has definitely been a cultural shift in attitude. Thrift is the new cool as mums look for ways to reduce the cost of raising children. The change is especially obvious in first-time mums who have traditionally opted for predominantly new items when setting up for their new baby but are now looking for a smarter alternative.

The next monthly Aberdeen Jack & Jill Community Market will be held on Sunday 12th May, at the Hilton Treetops Hotel, Springfield Road, Aberdeen 10.30am – 1.30pm. Then again on Sunday 16th of June.

For further details, visit: www.jackandjillmarket.co.uk

Apr 122013
 

With thanks to Robin Li Laing.

Faced with the ever-rising cost of bringing up a child, Aberdeen parents are selling and bartering in a bid to reduce the cost of raising children.

At last month’s Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market, 423 savvy shoppers saved hundreds of pounds.

39% of sellers made £100-£200, 35% made £200-£350 and 8% made over £350,  with the top selling stall making a fabulous £519.50!

According to new figures released by Halifax, it costs £90,000 to raise a child up to age 11, an increase of 15% over the past 5 years which their economist, Martin Ellis, says have added to the already considerable strain on household finances during the economic downturn.

But just as the tough get going when the going gets tough, so an increasing number of smart money mums have beefed up their selling and bartering skills to make and save money as the cost of raising children soars.

A trend is emerging where mums and dads are now much happier to choose selling and shopping at local car boot sales and market days, as a cost-effective alternative to the high street for what their children need.  Over a third of parents now choose to buy and sell second-hand, according to recent figures.

One organisation Aberdeen parents have turned to is The Jack & Jill Market which runs monthly nearly-new baby & children’s markets in Aberdeen and across Scotland, solely for local families, with the emphasis on quality goods.

The Jack & Jill Market is so swamped with demand from mums wanting to make and save money, that new locations are being set-up all the time in an effort to meet this demand.

Recent research has shown that UK adults can have up to £581 worth of useable but unused items.

For a two-parent family, for example, this can add up to more than £1000, with much of it locked up in buggies, bikes, cots, clothes, toys, all the all the rest that still have plenty of life left in them, so it makes smart money sense to release this money into the family budget.

80% of mums and families selling at the markets make £100-£350 in 3-hours of selling, with a significant number of mums making up to £550 and our top selling mum to date making £800.  This is money that can then be re-invested back into the family budget to help with the on-going costs of raising a family.

Many baby and kids items are barely, or never, used and are on offer at the markets at up to 90% off the retail price snd with over 13 million toys still ending up in landfill each year, it makes perfect sense to recycle and save money.

Commenting on the markets a couple of local mums said:

“We had a great time!  Hoping to do another one early next year. – Laura Letts

 “I got some great bargains that I am over the moon with” – Charlene McConnachie

The next two local Jack & Jill Markets will be held from 10.30am to 1.30pm on Sunday 14th April and Sunday 12th May, at the Hilton Treetops Hotel, Aberdeen.

For further details, visit: www.jackandjillmarket.co.uk

Mar 142013
 

With thanks to Robin Li Laing.

Faced with the ever-rising cost of bringing up a child, Aberdeen parents are selling and bartering in a bid to reduce the cost of raising children.

At last month’s Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market, 574 savvy shoppers saved hundreds of pounds.

31% of sellers made £100-£200, 44% made £200-£350 and 23% made over £350 with the top-selling stall making a fabulous £583!

This month’s local Aberdeen Jack & Jill event will be on Sunday 17th March at the Hilton Treetops Hotel in Aberdeen.

It costs £90,000 to raise a child up to age 11, an increase of 15% over the past five years, according to new figures released by Halifax, whose economist, Martin Ellis, says the figures have,

“added to the already considerable strain on household finances during the economic downturn”.

But, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. As the cost of raising children soars, an increasing number of smart money mums have beefed up their selling and bartering skills to make and save money.

A trend is emerging where mums and dads are now much happier to choose selling and shopping at local car-boot sales and market days, as a cost-effective alternative to the high street for what their children need. Over a third of parents are now choosing to buy and sell second-hand, according to recent figures.

One organisation Aberdeen parents have turned to is The Jack & Jill Market which runs monthly nearly-new baby & children’s markets in Aberdeen and across Scotland, solely for local families, with the emphasis on quality goods.

The Jack & Jill Market is so swamped with demand from mums wanting to make and save money that new locations are being set up all the time in an effort to meet this demand.

Recent research has shown that UK adults can have up to £581 worth of useable but unused items; for a two-parent family this can add up to more than £1000, much of it locked up in buggies, bikes, cots, clothes, toys, and all the rest that still have plenty of life left in them.

It makes sense to release this money into the family budget.

80% of mums and families selling at the markets make £100-£350 in three hours of selling, with a significant number of mums having made up to £550 and our top selling mum to date making £800.

This is money that can then be re-invested back into the family budget to help with the ongoing costs of raising a family.

Many baby and kids items are barely used, or never used, and on offer at the markets for up to 90% off the retail price. And with over 13 million toys still ending up in landfill each year, it makes perfect sense to recycle and save money.

Local Mum Laura Letts said,

“We had a great time! Hoping to do another one early next year

Charlene McConnachie said,

“I got some great bargains that I am over the moon with”

Jack & Jill Community Market
Sunday 17th March,
Hilton Treetops Hotel,
Aberdeen,
from 10.30am – 1.30pm.
( Then again on Sunday 14th April. )

For further details, visit: www.jackandjillmarket.co.uk

Feb 182013
 

Two senior youth councillors have welcomed the Aberdeen City Council administration’s budget for 2013/14, hailing investment in education and sport.

Youth council spokesperson Kenneth Watt said:
“The youth council has seen first-hand the effects of devastating cuts that have upset education in the city over the last decade. The commitment to investment from council leaders is very pleasing to a generation that has suffered a lot recently.

“I am particularly happy with the increased funding for Additional Support Needs. Past cuts to numbers of Personal Support Assistants has had terrible effects on the most vulnerable children in the city.”

“The new schools being built and existing ones being upgraded – such as Tillydrone – will have a really positive effect on the community.”

Barry Black, chair, added:

“Our generation is fed up of cuts to education and sport. I believe this is one factor in the recent surges in youth crime in the city and by investing in facilities such as the new pool and the city of culture bid more activities will soon be on offer which the city has been lacking in over the past few years.”

Mar 152012
 

Voice’s Old Susannah considers the upcoming council elections, the UTG referendum result, the happenings on Tullos Hill, International Womens Day, blogging beasties and generosity. By Suzanne Kelly 

Tally Ho!  The May elections are coming, and not a second too soon.  Some of our tireless (or is that tiresome?) councillors are packing up and preparing to move on.  Let’s hope they bring all of their talents to their new areas.

I hear that there is now a shortage of packing crates at the Fortress of Doom (aka The  Townhouse) as heroic councillors get ready to head into the sunset.  I hope they don’t let the doors hit them on their way out.

As to the UTG Referendum?  Well, I guess that’s it – it has been a totally above-board, fair-and-square contest.

The grapevine would have it that some of the rich and powerful secret members of the Vote for the City Gardens Project are less than pleased it’s cost so very much money to have such a small margin of victory, but they still got the result they wanted, if not the landslide they’d prayed for (or is that ‘paid for’).

In the next few days I’ll write about the dozen or so wee problems that some people have with the referendum and how it was run.

Did you know that over 300 votes arrived just a wee bit too late to be counted?  Did you know it would be totally illegal for any of the campaigning organisations to see the register as to how the votes went?  No, neither did I until recently.  I also have it on very good authority who some of the VFTCGP backers are.  Old Susannah is toying with the idea of naming them.

They would be free to deny the association – but why should they want to be secret in the first place, after all, they were the heroes behind the scenes helping us poor souls know how to vote.  Who could turn down their promise of 6,500 new permanent jobs or their £122,000,000 flowing into the city each year?  Think of all the parties and portraits that would buy!  Wow!

(You might be interested to know that PriceWaterhouse Coopers were asked by me if they had intended their projections about money and jobs to be used as the VFTCGP did in its propaganda.   PwC might have been expected to say they were delighted, and that they stand behind their projections 100%.  However, they said that as the projections were made for a ‘private client’ they can make no comment on them to me.  Of course the bills I’ve seen for PwC look like you and I paid for this great work out of our taxes, but there you go).

And other great news from Tullos  Hill.  HoMalone is having her way, backed up by impartial ‘expert’ C Piper (perhaps related to the CJ Piper firm which was already paid £42,000 for the bang-up job delivered on tree planting to date?).  Yes, the gorse is gone, and with it all those annoying butterflies, bees, moths, and insects.

The birds that would have eaten these critters and the small and larger mammals which lived in the gorse are homeless.  If only I had an environmental degree, then I could say we’ve interrupted the food chain and interfered with existing biodiversity on Tullos.  As it is, I’m not allowed to make any such observation, however obvious.

Any small mammals or deer rendered homeless should apply at Marischal College reception to declare their homeless status.  Of course these creatures are likely now to wind up as road kill.  Surely not even HoMalone or Ranger Bigboy will dare to claim any roadkill we see now will be due to overpopulation?  Well, we’ll see.

  Women around the world lack rights and comforts we all take for granted

Some of those animal-loving, meadow-loving radicals will be handing flyers out and collecting signatures on petitions this Saturday at 12:30 in front of Marks & Spencer Union Street.  The petitions apparently are to protest the use of school children to plant the 89,000 trees on Tullos.

Ms Malone indicates this will be an educational experience for the little mites, and I’m sure it will.

Having seen the state of the hill, they will learn about cuts, tetanus boosters, chemical pollution, industrial waste, and dead deer.  Thank you, Aileen.  I do hope she will make it to the hill to plant a few trees herself.  That would seem only fair to me.

For the paper petition, further info, and a PDF of the new flyer, visit:  http://oldsusannahsjournal.yolasite.com/

Finally, Old Susannah attended two events in the last week which celebrated International Women’s Day, a great Oxfam fundraiser held by Bead Crazy on St Andrew Street.  A dozen or so guests were treated to cocktails (thanks for the Black Russians), brownies and beads.  Everyone made pieces from recycled materials which was right up my street.

I’ve turned an old domino into a necklace that says ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, and a bottle cap into a brooch with an Oxfam fact.  Women around the world lack rights and comforts we all take for granted.  Thanks to Alex and everyone at Bead Crazy for the event.

Then at the Belmont last Saturday I ran into a collection of women celebrating Women’s day a bit differently.  They were all dressed as fairy godmothers, and were collecting wishes from the public as to what people would like to wish for our young girls’ futures.  My wishes didn’t include any granite webs or deer culls.  Thank you Merlyn and all the other women.

As well as a definition or two, this week I am pleased to announce that Aberdeen Voice has negotiated two new Celebrity Bloggers!  They will be featured in this column for the next several weeks.

And now – the first ever Millie & Cattie joint Blog!

“Hi I’m Millie, the Caterpillar!”

“And I’m Cattie the Millipede!  We’ve had a horrible, tragic few days:  our meadow home was destroyed and many of our friends with it.”

“Yes, sadly that’s true, Cattie.  Bulldozers showed up without warning to our Tullos Hill home, and ruined our wildflower and gorse home.  We had our rescue quite by chance.”

“That’s right Millie.  We were chewing on a Foxglove plant and suddenly it was ripped up and hurled into the air.  Sometime later the plant was found by a kindly passerby, and we were all taken to a safe house where we all now live.”

“We were both reluctant to launch this blog, but Old Susannah showed us the coverage Aberdeen was giving to a talking cactus, Morris the Monkey, and Jake the Ghost.  So we thought, ‘Why not try it?’   We know Spike the Cactus is very popular, and if people are willing to take voting advice from a monkey and a ghost (no offence), then people should know our story, too.”

“Yes Millie – we have a responsibility to let people know our beautiful home is gone, and an entire generation of moths, butterflies, bees have been wiped out.  What will become of some of our larger friends like the birds, small mammals and especially the kindly roe deer is our huge worry now.”

“Agreed Cattie.  We are grateful we were saved – we only hope our friends who haven’t been destroyed yet will be spared.  Got any lettuce?”

Cattie and Millie will give us an update next week and for the foreseeable future.

Charity:  (adjective) state of being generous, donating time or money to those  less fortunate.

While our very own local billionaire works selflessly to ensure his lasting granite memorial will bring his family continued and visible dominance over a certain city, a less savvy multi-millionaire has displayed a woeful lack of commonsense.

When it looked as if there would be some public outcry against his web, he calmly threatened to take his ball and go home.

J K Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter saga read the world over, has donated over £100 million to charity in the past year and a bit.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard hardly anything about her donations.  Where were the press cuttings, the headlines, the photos?  What did she get in return to show for it?

Ms Rowling has a lot to learn I fear.  Not only has she given enough away to nearly pay for the granite web we all long for, she’s dropped way down on the UK’s wealthiest list.

We will remember for quite some time how Sir Ian made his gracious £50 million donation to Aberdeen.  As long as we did what he wanted with it, and let unelected entities ‘manage’ our common good land, it was a great gift indeed.  When it looked as if there would be some public outcry against his web, he calmly threatened to take his ball and go home. Charity begins at home, and we’re going to take his charity, whatever form it takes, and like it.

Sure, Rowling may have made children all over the world discover the joy of reading,  and her books got people to read together in families and groups.   Her money may have helped countless people the world over across a wide variety of problems and concerns.  She may have made important points about the value of love, courage, kindness and friendship –  

But where’s the statue?  Alas, if there’s no granite monument and not a ton of press coverage bragging about the money, then the donations might as well never have happened.  Shame.  Perhaps a great PR firm could help…

One of the more radical points I picked up from these ‘children’s books of Ms Rowling’s ran along the lines of this (I deliberately paraphrase)  “One thing the tyrants of this world fear is that one day, one of the people they have oppressed will rise up against them.”  Can’t for the life of me think why that particular idea should spring to mind, but there it is.

New Acronyms!

Hooray!  We’ve more acronyms in this town than we know what to do with.  First it was the ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme or “T’FEC!’ as it is affectionately known in Torry.  The tree scheme’s supporters (all 3 of them) are so pleased with their recent successes that they have more plans up their sleeves, or so I hear.

‘Forget Allowing Citizens Anything for Free’  is a brainchild for the coming budget cuts which are  in the pipeline, reflecting the service cuts and support staff cuts.  It will be called ‘FAC AFF!’ for short.

If this proves successful, phase 2 may be launched.  Its working title is Forget Every Citizen Utterly – or ‘FEC U’ for short.

If you want to see these schemes enacted, then don’t rock the boat at the elections, and we will continue on our happy course.  See you down at the Granite Web or Monorail station soon!

Next week? – At this rate what our Council will dream up is anyone’s guess…

Mar 092012
 

The black calendar of Aberdeen’s civic history has a new entry: 2nd March 2012, the day that its citizens, evident sufferers of apathy and myopia, handed both its natural heritage and its economic future to a cabal of businessmen.  Arthur Taylor writes.

The fight to retain and improve Union Terrace Gardens hit the buffers on that day when the public – or rather 27.5% of them – voted to support the plans to destroy this unique piece of the city’s heritage and replace it with a concrete monstrosity – presumably confused by the smoke and mirrors of the PR campaign which branded it “The Granite Web”.

Whether the battle turns into a war, protracting the debate, and driving further wedges between parties already badly divided, remains to be seen, but it is hard to see a rapid healing of the wounds that this process has created.

It is also difficult to stop the passion that fuelled the Retain campaign from dissipating, before all avenues of challenge are exhausted against a process labelled as democratic – but which in reality has been anything but that.

What is clear is that events from 2008 to now should be reviewed and recorded for posterity, so that future generations when looking back can seek to understand a number of things:

  • why we allowed our heritage to be given away to a clique of egoists and nepotists, who deluded the public and maybe even themselves into believing that they were altruists and philanthropists
  • why the local authority whose primary function is to act in the citizenry’s best interest handed control to an unelected quango, immune from public scrutiny
  • and why we allowed the city’s future to be mortgaged on the most questionable of business cases, flagged up as high risk by Audit Scotland in the final days of the campaign – when most votes were already cast.

Not that this was a revelation: Friends of Union Terrace Gardens had identified the risk months before, but their claims were played down in the media.

The last two months have seen a referendum conducted by a returning officer who sought to have the campaigns run to a fair set of rules.

The dominance of the local print media in forming and steering public opinion, and its incestuous relationship with local business, is deeply concerning.

While it appears that the retain groups stayed within their £8000 budgets, the pro groups – aided and abetted by the collaborators in the local media – spent an estimated £1,000,000 to buy the votes of the people of Aberdeen. Their cynical campaign saw radio adverts dressed as public information broadcasts, and a drip-fed daily editorial in the local press, with each day’s evening paper offering more extravagant promises than the last, as part of a fawning hysterical clamour.

That the retain groups, variously composed primarily of grey-haired men, beardies, tree-huggers and an enthusiastic schoolboy, ran the referendum right to the wire, losing by such a slender margin, is testament to their energy, enthusiasm and resourcefulness. That they did this against a campaign co-ordinated by the BIG Partnership, Scotland’s largest PR agency, is little short of a miracle.

The dominance of the local print media in forming and steering public opinion, and its incestuous relationship with local business, is deeply concerning.

The public need a source of true facts rather than propaganda dressed as objective reporting.

That said, there have been two positives to emerge from the press coverage of the campaign: the amusement derived from watching the Evening Express contorting itself like an India-rubber prostitute in a bid to champion the development, while not entirely abandoning its habitual council-baiting; and the emergence of the STV Local site as a place where all parties can present their voice without editorial bias.

It is hard not to see the future of local journalism as lying in hyper-local online spaces, as counterpoint to the shrinking of print to the point of complete insignificance.

the dead-eyed, gape-mouthed novelty-seekers who lurch zombie-like through the malls

Returning to the proposed development itself, it should be remembered that Union Terrace Gardens is the only part of the city where one can see the original topography of the land on which the city is built.

Sadly the local authority in the last century has allowed almost all traces of the city’s history to be erased like some embarrassing legacy instead of retaining and celebrating its character. Compare this with Edinburgh’s old town or York’s centre.

We are now confronted by the effacement of the final part of our history in order to satisfy the dead-eyed, gape-mouthed novelty-seekers who lurch zombie-like through the malls that have brought about the systematic homogenisation of the city centre and obliterated all individuality and character.

If we do not continue to challenge this proposed act of civic vandalism, by:

  • opposing the planning application,
  • challenging the use of Common Good land,
  • exposing the business case as one which will leave the city bankrupt (as it was last in1817)  when the TIF scheme plays out as feared,

then we should at least ensure that we record for posterity the names of the businessmen who proposed this vanity project; note the politicians and faceless unelected quango-ists who eased its path to realisation; and ponder the many, many idiotic consumers who swallowed the hype, without challenge or analysis.

If we do nothing else, we should record those names on the black calendar’s page for 2nd March 2012.

Feb 242012
 

Peter Veritas makes the case for voting “Retain”.

1.  There is a very real danger that the City Garden Project will bankrupt Aberdeen.

The City Garden Project (CGP) is planned for a greenfield site which would require substantial excavation. It is a five acre, five storey, underground construction that would span both a main road and a railway track

It’s roof would be required to hold approximately ninety thousand tons of topsoil, the same weight as the worlds largest aircraft carrier.  It is projected to cost £140M.

Union Square, which is of a similar size, was built on a flat brownfield site with good access. The final cost was £250m.

Marischal College is a much smaller existing building that was recently renovated.  No major construction was performed.  The final cost came to £65M.

Given that context, how can we be expected the believe the estimate for The City Garden Project is realistic? Should the City Garden Project experience a similar scale of overspend to the Scottish Parliament Building or the Edinburgh trams, then the shortfall could conceivably be of the order of £360M.  The city, which is already £560M in debt, would be liable for this overspend.

It could not be rolled up into the existing loan, and would require immediate payment.  Failure to cover the overspend would result in us being left with a dirty hole in our city centre.  The only options open to the council would be to auction off it’s remaining assets, such as the other parks, to property developers, and to increase council tax  massively.  Public services which have already suffered severe cuts would be totally decimated.

2.  Aberdeen has suffered badly from previous developments.

St Nicholas House, the New Market, The Denburn dual carriageway, the Denburn Health Centre, The St Nicholas Centre, and Virginia Street are all universally acknowledged as failures that now blight our urban landscape.  Aberdeen lost many beautiful buildings to clear the way for those developments.

The people who campaigned against those architectural and planning atrocities are also campaigning against The City Garden Project.  They’ve been proven right time and time again. Perhaps it’s time we listened to them?

3.  We already voted against this Project under a different name.

There is something sinister about the City Garden Project.  It was originally conceived as the City Square Project (CSP), and envisioned as a five acre flat concrete piazza.  That proposal only emerged after Peacock Visual Arts were given planning permission to embed an unobtrusive arts centre into the hillside of Union Terrace Gardens.  Sir Ian Wood pledged £50M to build The City Square, but promised to scrap the Project if the public rejected it.

That was then put out to a flawed public consultation, in which the public voted against by a substantial majority, despite the online survey mysteriously defaulting to a “yes” vote.  Sir Ian then reneged on his promise and continued to push the concept, the council ran roughshod over the electorate, and by the casting vote of the Lord Provost, consigned the Peacock plan to the dustbin.

Sir Ian has consistently stated that he will only contribute his £50M to this particular proposal and nothing else, and that if we reject his proposal then he will divert the money to Africa.  His behaviour is baffling.

4.  There has been an air of deception around The City Garden Project.

The City Square Project was rebranded as The City Garden Project.  During the Project’s second coming the public were presented with six designs and invited to vote on them. None Of The Above was not a option.

Aesthetically, the public appeared to favour the Winter Garden design.  From a conceptual perspective The Monolith design was arguably the most cohesive.
The appointed panel then refused to release the outcome of this public vote and instead selected The Granite Web, a design for which very few people acknowledge having voted, and which many people considered to have been among the weakest.

CGP propaganda has continually claimed that Union Terrace Gardens are a dangerous place, but Grampian Police crime figures reveal that they are actually among the safest places in the city centre. Neighbouring Belmont Street, which the plans propose to connect to the Granite Web, is statistically the worst area for street crime.

Under the rules of the referendum, registered campaign groups are limited to £8k spending to maintain a level playing field.  However a mysterious group of anonymous business people has allegedly ploughed £50K into sending pro-CGP propaganda to every home in Aberdeen City.  This is not within the spirit of the referendum and is arguably a breach of the rules.

It has been claimed numerous times that the 250 year old elm trees in Union Terrace Gardens are diseased, but a recent report by a tree surgeon has given them a completely clean bill of heath.  These elms are among the last surviving in Europe, and they flourish both due to their isolation from other elms, and because the pollution of the city prevents Dutch Elm disease from spreading to them.  These trees are all covered by a preservation order.

5.  Those arguing in favour of the City Garden Project are mostly connected to it in some way.

Scotland’s top public relations firm were engaged to promote the Project, which may be why the majority of stories that have appeared in the local press have been fawningly in favour of the CGP.

Those who have argued the merits of the Project, both in the press and on-line, are interconnected people with an as-yet unknown agenda.

In addition to the numerous PR professionals being paid thousands of pounds each day to present the case, there are several property developers, the owners of assorted the premises on Union Street, and various oil company executives.

No fewer than three city councillors, who backed the Project, recently announced that they intend to stand down, and have also revealed that they are planning to leave the city.  Virtually all of those involved are members of Acsef, Scottish Enterprise, the Institute of Directors, and The Chamber of Commerce.  The same dozen people feature time and time again in the groups which have come out publicly in favour of the Project.  The same people wearing different hats.

6.  The economics have no basis in fact.

Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) is intended to fund the redevelopment of brownfield sites.  Businesses which later setup in and around those sites pay increased business rates which repay the cost of the development in a similar manner to a mortgage.  The business case for this Project bends the rules since the increased rates will not be gathered for the site itself, but from two new industrial estates, located several miles away and for which planning permission has already been granted.

The 6,500 jobs and £122M of projected annual revenue are a product of these new industrial estates working at full capacity. This is almost  guaranteed to occur anyway without The Granite Web.

Furthermore, the paid author of the reports is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which has recently been fined £1.4m for audit failure.  PWC rates the TIF case at Risk Level 3, where 4 is the highest risk.

7.  To save the architecture of the Denburn Valley

None of the Granite Web mockups, artists impressions, or video, have addressed the issue of the rear elevation of Belmont Street.

This is home to some of Aberdeen’s most spectacular architecture, descending right down to the level of Denburn Road.  Architecture which will be obliterated when the CGP connects to it, some five storeys further up.

Most of these buildings are either local businesses or publicly owned concerns, and several of them have picturesque balconies below the finished level of The Granite Web.

8.  To retain our sheltered park.

Union Terrace Gardens lie in the Denburn Valley which offers shelter from the wind and urban pollution.  Raising the area up to street level would turn it into a wind trap.

The wind would howl round the concrete walkways and other architectural features of the granite web, plants would struggle to survive, and people would avoid the area, preferring instead to travel along the relatively sheltered confines of nearby streets. It’s a fallacy to claim that this development would enhance connectivity.

9.  Union Terrace Gardens have been cynically starved of funding – in order to ‘pave the way’ for this redevelopment.

Union Terrace Gardens was the centre piece of Aberdeen’s famous successes in the Britain in Bloom contest.  Over the course of the past eight years the council has cut funding, with the result that the Gardens are no longer maintained at previous award-winning levels

The beautiful Grade A listed public toilets were closed, the famous giant draught boards were ripped out, the winter skating rink was no longer installed and concerts and other public events were discontinued

A modest investment would both regenerate the Gardens, and improve access to them.  There is no need to risk bankrupting the city for what amounts to no additional benefit

10.  The curse of Corbie Haugh.

Back in the seventeenth century, the area where the Gardens now stand was a wood called Corbie Haugh. The ancient Scots word for crow is corbie and the wood was named after the crows which gathered in the grassy valley and within the bank of elm trees. The elm trees in the Gardens date back over 250 years to that eighteenth century wood.

An ancient legend, The Curse of Corbie Haugh, holds that when the crows depart, the city will be ruined. If the elms are chopped down, the crows will indeed depart, and if they city ends up burdened by an additional £360m of debt, then it shall indeed be ruined!

SAVE OUR CITY FROM DISASTER BY VOTING TO RETAIN UNION TERRACE GARDENS.