Apr 162012

Old Susannah reflects on the probability of  the Tullos Hill deer cull having been carried out, examines the role of key players, and presents some definitions we may become more familiar with as the local election looms.

Well, it’s been another interesting week in Aberdeen. I hope everyone had a pleasant Easter vacation, and things were as vibrant and dynamic (or otherwise) as you wished. I spent some time in the Coventry and Evesham areas, where all sorts of interesting things were going on.

I went to a pub where people played backgammon, cards and/or played folk music. I went to a meadow in the hamlet of Inkberrow, where the Plantlife charity is protecting some important wildflowers and animals in a delightful meadow.

I went to a bluebell wood near Evesham where deer, people, dogs and trees all managed to coexist without shotguns. This part of the world even has road signs to warn motorists that deer may cross the road – what an idea.

Sadly, even if the Council cut down on hiring consultants and throwing parties for itself, we might not need any deer crossing signs at Tullos – the number of deer which have been killed is unknown, but in a report I received a few weeks ago, buried on page 67, are the plans to kill off virtually all the bucks and most of the does we have.

The pre-planting cull happened, with a jolly hunter explaining to a hill-walker source of mine that deer ‘are basically rabbits with long legs’.

Might as well just shoot everything; we’d probably be able to make money from it somehow. Sigh. I guess we’ll just have to accept that the City and paid deer-kill supporter/tree planter CJ Piper know what’s best. We’ll just have to leave the main forces behind the cull (Aileen Malone, Pete Leonard, Ian Tallboys and Chris Piper) to get on with it. It would be a shame if any upcoming protest would add to the sea of newspaper and TV new items which have brought this situation to a larger audience.

Why do I pick these four people out, you might wonder?

Aileen Malone has always been the poster girl for the deer kill/tree scheme, appearing in press when it was just going to be a tree plantation. Did you see the lovely picture of her this week in the Evening Express? She had on a hard hat (you might think that was unnecessary) and was behind the wheel of a mechanical digger. Glee was in her little face.

However, when the cull became public knowledge, she suddenly became camera shy.

Chris Piper is  our expert who, having been paid £44,000+ so far, is confident we can plant trees successfully! Result!

Pete Leonard must have writer’s cramp from all the emails he’s put out repeating that ‘the consultation was robust’ and ‘deer need to be culled’.
He also managed to find time to singlehandedly determine that no funding was available for keeping Tullos as a meadow (which it already is).

Leonard wrote that a meadow would be more expensive than another tree planting, even though the tree scheme cost you and I at least £87,000 so far.

Old Susannah just found out that we are paying £480 pound per day for clearing the site, and the work is ongoing. Chris Piper is our expert  who, having been paid £44,000+ so far, is confident we can plant trees successfully! Result!

CJ Piper & Co might not show up in Companies House when you do a search, but they show up as author of a paper as to why we need the trees (it’s for the community you see, and to save a tiny bit of C02 – eventually). Writing a paper to keep the cash coming in, he’s endorsing the proposal which will make him more money: another result!

Ian Tallboys is a bit of the strong silent type – when it came to building at Loirston Loch and in the fields at Cove anyway. He’s certainly standing up for his right to use his licenses (shooting and meat management) when it comes to these trees. There is little evidence that rangers or anyone else maintained the weed-choked trees dying in tubes at St Fitticks and on Tullos (and at Seaton) – but everything will be fine this time. Sure it will.

But now on with some definitions. The elections loom, and with elections come a number of strange beasts…

Butterfly ballot: (noun) – a type of paper ballot in which the actual voting is done on a folded page, pamphlet-like ballot (the two open pages are like a butterfly’s wings; the voting is done where the butterfly’s body would be).

Let’s remember (as covered in this column a long time ago now) that your ballot is totally secret, so there is no need for any folded butterfly style paper. You are assigned a number, you get a numbered slip of paper when you go to the poll, and a list is made. Absolutely no way anyone will be able to track how you vote. Voting is just as safe and private as sending an email.

But back to butterflies. We won’t have to worry about butterflies very much going forward, as we’ve destroyed most of their habitat for housing (while existing properties sit empty), for trees ( which aren’t going to grow), and for a football stadium (which might not exactly be what the fans want).

Rumour has it that a certain city employee, meant to safeguard nature, is about to apply to cut down some ancient trees on their land. This is very surprising – Old Susannah would have thought the man in question would have skipped getting permission and just chopped the offending trees down straightaway. More on that another time.

Dark Horse: (Noun) – a relatively unknown candidate, seeking victory over their more established and better known rivals.

Well, the upcoming Aberdeen elections have no shortage of underdog, dark-horse candidates. The ballot papers are awash with Independents (including yours truly). It’s almost as if some people have had quite enough of party politics. The phrase ‘dark horse’ had to do with keeping details about your horse’s abilities secret before the animal raced.

I wonder if we have any candidates who like to keep secrets about animals from an unsuspecting public? Am I Malone in thinking we might?

Stalking Horse: (phrase, English)

1. person or thing designed to hide someone’s real intentions.

2. a candidate wanting to change the leader of a political party who stands only in order to provoke the election so that a stronger candidate to come forward.

3. a hiding place traditionally made in the shape of a horse behind which a hunter hid when stalking prey.

We can’t have an election without a stalking horse, can we? All sorts of interesting tales reach Old Susannah about how HoMalone became head of the LibDems. Was a stalking horse involved, and if so, who? Who was a weaker candidate that Malone?

Putting all that aside for now, we all hope that Aileen and Mr McCaig have mended their fences, kissed and made up. Their coalition was in peril not that long ago, and in pre-election skirmishes in the past both political parties have been less than kind to each other.

Whatever happens this time at the poll, let’s just hope we can get the same, sound, reliable, honest coalition we’ve been enjoying here for these past few vibrant, dynamic, smart, successful years.

As to the third meaning for stalking horse, well, we could always ask Ranger Bigboy how his deer hunting has been going, and if he favours the use of a cardboard cut-out, two-dimensional figure to hide behind. Not that I am insinuating that Ms Malone is a stalking horse in this sense of course.


(noun – modern English) A vehicle used by a party to transport its leader or other senior figures around the country to rallies or to meet the people.

Some candidates go around in open top cars. Some of course travel in style, like when our shy and retiring (well, retiring anyway) Lord Provost gives his LibDem heir apparent lifts in the Civic Car. Much classier, even if the taxpayer picks up the bill for any emergency candidate trips to schools to pick up children.

On the subject of our Lord Provost, he has been a very busy man of late. No, not with his trip to Nagasaki to visit one of Aberdeen’s many twin cities (oh, the dreary pains of fulfilling office). Our LP has been handwriting dozens and dozens of letters, exhorting his constituents to vote for candidate Steve Delaney. This was later referred to by Delaney as ‘an error of judgment’.

Maybe one of the servants should have been despatched for the child in question so that the canvassing could continue.

Well, that’s all the definitions we have space for. Remember, you only have about a week to get yourself on the electoral register. Get all the gen from http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/lgelections2012/

Next week: More Freedom of Information requests and hilarious answers