|ISSUE||SK ORIGINAL POINT / QUOTE + DATE||RESPONDANT, QUOTE + DATE||SK COMMENT||UNTRUTH/OMISSION
|How many pre-printed postcards did ACC receive?||700 postcards printed. 50 or so still with SK; 30+ at Lush, more in circulation. However: 63 were handed in by SK one evening in September (a few days after the anti-cull meeting)||Valerie Watts letter of October: “The Council has received…In addition 35 pre-printed postcards have been received.”||I personally handed 63 cards in, and have photos of the addresses and individual comments people made. The guard I handed them in to at the Town House commented: “we got loada of these this week and loads last week.” This is almost verbatim what he said.||Why Does Watts say only 35 received? They are almost all with a writer’s address and comments – and the people who sent cards expect a reply.|
|The tree planting scheme is cost neutral||1. Re Phase 1 of scheme: ‘Aberdeen Gets Greened Up’ press release26/3/10,: “Aberdeen City Council has contributed £25,000 to the project. Aberdeen Greenspace has provided £62,000, the Community Woodland fund gave it £67,000 and the project also received a £180,000 grant from the Scotland Rural Development Programme.”
2. Phase 2 consultation document “The Tree for Every Resident Project, started in 2009/10, is being delivered on a cost neutral basis.”
3. D Ewen, Eve Express 30/09 “But a city council spokesman said today ‘it takes time for filter through’
4. City returned £43,800 for failed planting
5. Pete Leonard report of25/05/10“Update on A Tree For Every Citizen Project”:
“3. FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
This report has no additional funding implications beyond that reported and agreed in the previous report to Housing and Environment Committee on 11th
January 2010. The project is on target to deliver within budget. The funding package agreed at the previous committee is as below:-
Estimated overall costs £343,500
• Forestry Commission (Scotland) through SRDP £216,400
• Aberdeen Greenspace £62,000 as matched funding
• In kind contribution by ACC through the Aberdeen Countryside Ranger Service £40,000 to support the on-going community consultation elements
of the Planting Programme
• SURF Interreg IVB project up to £25,000 over three years to support the community/volunteer, schools involvement and consultation aspects of the
project and to develop linkages with local businesses. This funding is for sites within the SURF project area in the north of the City.
• Contributions from local businesses currently amounting to £2500.
4. Forestry Commission letter from Dan Cadle of2/3/11: “Onthe 4th November 2010we issued Aberdeen City Council with an invoice for £43,831.90 – the reclaim of monies paid out under the above contract. This invoice was to be paid within 30 days. The monies have not been received. This invoice is now accruing interest… if you fail to establish these areas of woodland then the council will be liable for a reclaim of up to £120,333.91”
|At present City is not commenting as to whether scheme has funding or not.
One thing seems clear – when the Phase 2 consultation was live and then closed on 28 January 2011, yet claimed a ‘cost neutral’ planting – the Forestry Commission’s demand for £43,800 had already been received (nov ’10). Thus any claim to a ‘cost neutral’ scheme was at best optimistic. And at worse, misleading.
|What caused the trees to fail?||The city’s position is that deer must be killed as they are the main cause of the failure of the trees to grow.||The soil report and other documents point to weeds as well as vandalism. It is only emerging to the public in late October 2011 that we need to spray weed killer for 2-3 years. Cost unknown.|
|Non-disclosure of the £43,800 repayment when asked||SK wrote V Watts in initial formal complaint “I would like to ask: is it true that the Council owes a sum for previous, failed planting? I was told that £44,000 approximately is owed by the City in this regard – please clarify.”
|1. Valerie Watts initial written reply of ____ ““Aberdeen City Council does not owe any amount to any organisation relating to a previous failed planting scheme.”
When confronted with the contents of the2/3/11forestry commission letter in writing by SK,Wattsreplied: ““The £43,831.90 you refer to does not relate in any way to the current Tree for Every Citizen Project. This as a grant repayment from a previous planting scheme from 1996 which failed due to deer damage and a lack of weed control. This amount was repaid to the Forestry Commission Scotland prior to your enquiry [so at the time of your enquiry dated20 May 2011, when you asked “if ACC owed £44,000” our response was correct as the re-payment had been made against the 1996 grant payment prior to this date”.
|SK NOTES S THE £43,800 WAS REPAID IN MARCH OF 2011 – ONLY WEEKS AFTER I ASKED MY QUESTION]||Clarification was asked for, but Ms Watts instead wants us to believe that she made the decision that the question I asked had nothing to do with the money owed to the Forestry Commission. In short, the £44K I asked for clarification on concerning a failed tree planting on Tullos Hill had, inWatts’ opinion, nothing to do with £43,800 repaid for a failed tree planting on Tullos Hill. This is not clarification: this is obfuscation.|
|Torry CC Objection: has it been made?||I attendedTCC’s meeting, and they voted unanimously to write to the City to oppose the cull.||Valerie Watts letter of October: “I’m afraid we do not have any record of a formal objection from Torry Community Council.”
1/11/11– 12:30 pm – Torry CC Secretary told me ‘we did send a letter to the Council, but they never got it’.
(Click to enlarge)
|So far we have this letter fromTCCnever reaching Valerie Watts. Valerie Watts never received some, possibly all, of the 63 postcards I personally handed in to the Town House Reception (who told me ‘loads came in this week and loads more the week before’. Valerie Watts first wrote to me by creating a letter addressed and sent to my home as well as emailing it. The second letter (in response to my points on the first letter), allegedly sent in July, was only sent by email. It did not have my address on it. To somehow prove it was sent, the City sent me a letter with my email address. They are unable to show me anything from their ‘sent’ email list to prove time and date sent. They consider the matter of this email closed. All very mysterious.|
|The public phase 2 consultation was ‘robust in the words of V Watts. It didn’t have to mention the deer because it was ‘not aboutmethodology’||The Phase 2 consultation goes into detail as to some methods, but ignores the deer: “Where necessary some sites will require rabbit
fencing to minimize damage from rabbits, but where there are existing desire line paths these will be retained and mowed during the summer season.”
|The description of the methods to be used to control deer lulled me and many others into a false sense that if other methods were required – such as weedkiller and deer killinbg – they would have been mentioned at the same time. We now know that while this consultation was live, theSNHhad already advised killing the deer in a letter of November 2010.||This is another instance of the City and its officials just repeating dogma again and again without answering straightforward questions. This is the same tactic that they use to rationalise killing the Tullos Hill deer when they constantly repeat the claim that ‘deer culling is normal management’.|