Jan 112013

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

An eventful and warm week has passed in the Granite City; many people settled back into their routine after the holiday break. Children were back at school, councillors were back at Marischal, people were back at work. Industry is booming.  BrewDog have lots of crafts beer on at their eponymous bar just now, and their shiny new factory opens on 19 January with the unusual fanfare you’d expect.

The car theft industry is thriving, too.  Career car thieves have been back at the coal face, and Grampian’s finest have likewise been busy, protecting us all from the likes of… Lesley Ross.

Ms Ross is considered dangerous – with a keyboard. After her Audi was stolen, she’d made posts on Facebook, according to the Daily Record, which were… offensive.

Apparently bad language was used! Off the top of my head I’m not sure if that has a mandatory custodial sentence or not.

She also wished that something bad would happen to the thieves!

The penalty for wishing ill on someone else was done away with after the last witch trials ended a few hundred years back, but with the ConDems in power and political incorrectness gone mad, expect witches to be hung in public sometime soon, along with ‘Lone Parents’ who have just seen their child benefits cut – that’ll teach them (but only the poor ones, mind).  The ConDems have released a document of their many triumphs; more on that later.

You might think that with thieves stealing in broad daylight and posting photos on Facebook there would be more arrests and convictions than we’ve seen.  Still, at least our finest men and women in uniform do have an interest in crime: they’ve racked up about three dozen past crimes between them.

They have convictions ranging from auto-related incidents to assault to (my favourite) perverting the course of justice.  I always think a little on-the-job training helps you do your job better, don’t you?

Finally, our guardians have managed to keep some 300 DNA samples taken from children.  Some committed crimes; some were completely innocent, yet the samples remain on file for all.  Never throw anything away they say; you never know when you might need it.  Good bye civil liberties and rights.

DNA samples don’t always do what they’re supposed to of course.  I recall a serious trial in Ireland.  The DNA found at the scene was cross-matched – and was found to belong to a young person who had absolutely no connection whatever to the crime or the crime scene; he just had a DNA profile similar to whoever was responsible.

there is some bad language on it in spots, and they’ll want to speak to people about it

Make sure you don’t accidentally leave your strands of hair on any public transport or in the street – you’ll be put at the scene of a crime before you know it.  Still, the innocent have nothing to fear; when was an innocent person ever convicted of a crime in the UK?

I hope Ms Ross has learnt her lesson. In the meantime, if the police have any free time from arresting journalists (like they did to Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney at Balmedie) or from keeping our streets the safe places they are, they might want to check out some Aberdeen Facebook pages.

There is one which tells you how to hotwire a car, and several which show stolen vehicles of all sorts. What will interest the police about this long-running site is that there is some bad language on it in spots, and they’ll want to speak to people about it. I guess Grand Theft Auto wasn’t a computer game after all, but training software.

Politicians and their changes of heart and mind have very much made the news; here in Aberdeen Willie  Young’s apparent U-turn over a new Bridge of Don crossing has eclipsed any national U-turns or reports on the coalition’s successes.  More on that later.

Here is a selection of relevant definitions in the news this week:

Coalition Audit Document: (compound Eng. noun) a report issued by David Cameron and Nick Clegg appraising their promise on their election pledges.   Found in libraries in the Fiction section.

As I mentioned earlier, the ConDems have put out a dossier of all their election pledges and how they’ve performed.  It has a lovely cover showing our happy, working multicultural Big Society in all its glory, and at only 122 pages is a snip to read.

If we needed any further stimulus to vote for them next time ‘round, here comes a little reminder of the great things they’ve done to us – sorry, that should be ‘done for us’.  You don’t even need to go further than the first page to see how they’ve succeeded:-

“We will reform the banking system to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, to promote a competitive economy, to sustain the recovery and to protect and sustain jobs.”

Result!  Job Done!  I think we’ve all noticed how well the recovery is going and just how competitive our economy is.

But mainstream media can be cruel – the BBC website points out an example of a pledge which was not fulfilled.  I’m sure it was probably the only such pledge and that this is just the liberal, left, biased media taking a pot-shot at our Big Society bigwigs, but here it is:

  • Coalition Agreement 2010: “We will replace Air Passenger Duty with a per-flight duty.”
  • Coalition Audit 2013: “We announced in Budget 2011 that we would not introduce a per-plane duty, given concerns over the legality and feasibility of this approach.”

It’s not as if they broke any promises that were important (or more accurately haven’t had a chance to fulfil promises yet, as I’m sure all will be honoured).

U-turn: (Eng. verb) To change direction 180 degrees, particularly in a car (probably a stolen Audi in this part of the world)

Perhaps this term is best illustrated with a few examples:

  • ConDems in U-turn over Bookstart – free book programme for children which was to be axed before outcry from writers and the public
  • ConDems in U-turn over the ‘Cornish Pasty’ tax – a genius scheme to get revenue out of people who want hot food.
  • ConDems in U-turn over plans to scrap a ceiling on donations to charity
  • ConDems in U-turn over secret courts, killing birds of prey, selling off our forests, caravan tax…

It’s almost as if to save money for bankers and defence spending they were trying to squeeze the people at the less rich sector of the Big Society, but I can’t believe that is their intention, can you?

If you want further information, see the Guardian’s list of circa 30 other ConDem U-turns at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/may/31/coalition-u-turns-full-list .  It should be noted that just because the Government’s done a few U-turns doesn’t mean it’s not going to honour its election pledges.  Eventually.

Third Don Crossing: (Proper compound Eng. noun) an Aberdeen City scheme to build a further bridge over the River Don.

Everyone’s favourite bastion of truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, our own Press and Journal have pointed out that Willie Young seems to have changed his mind.  Over the course of five years.  I wonder what could have caused this amazingly-swift U-turn on his part?

Well, we’re told he promised to prevent the Third Don crossing to be built when he wrote to a constituent back in 2008.

If you read the P&J story, it seems Willie also told said constituent that he couldn’t make any definite promise because he took the Labour whip (Grampian police are said to be investigating this case of whip-stealing).

Old Susannah is unsure whether or not this crossing is a good idea.  However, the previous government of Aberdeen was hell-bent on building on any green space we had in the city centre, or any patch of land they could flog for housing and offices, particularly if they could sell it at bargain-basement rates .

I’m sure they knew just what they were doing, such as when they approved 800 or so new houses at the Haudagain roundabout.  I can’t see any added traffic problems there, can you?

So here we are in 2013, with housing and offices springing up around empty offices and disused brown space.  Traffic is even worse than it was in 2008, and that’s saying something.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the brains (aka Kate Dean) in charge of planning in the previous administration ensured that there would be sufficient road infrastructure to deal with all the new builds or not approve them.  You could also be forgiven for thinking we’d have an affordable, reliable, frequent public transport system by now.  But we don’t.

I don’t have any idea why Young’s changed his position; but the intervening five years’ worth of development could play a tiny factor.

Perhaps Cllr Young should take a page from the ConDems’ book – or more specifically the Coalition Audit Document and not do any further U-turns.

That’s all there is time for, as I’m keen to get back to reading the Coalition’s little report.  You are too, I can tell, so here is a link to it courtesy of the BBC. 

In the meantime, don’t use any swear words, don’t wish ill on anyone, don’t let any of your goods get stolen, or the police will come calling.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

  8 Responses to “Old Susannah No. 108: Troubled Bridge Over Don Water”

  1. Your columns get better!

    Willie Young pledged at the last local election (merely Months ago) that he and his party were against the 3rd Don crossing, it’s the reason his party managed to scrape a coalition together as the areas around the proposed crossing all voted Labour. How can you as a supposed journalist be so blind as to ignore basic facts, fair enough it doesn’t suit your agenda as without Labour’s little white lie the SNP would have probably got into power and the City Garden Project would be happening but please don’t bend the truth.

    In your defence on another issue; I’m really surprised you didn’t fall on the side of the poor car thiefs, I thought you’d be saying they wouldn’t be thiefs if it wasn’t for the nasty tories, what other options do they have etc etc……..no doubt some of your champagne socialist friends have nice Audi’s!

  2. Susannah,

    I presume before writing your article you were aware Councillor Willie Young got voted in on the Bridge of Don ward, a ward of course that would have been particularly swayed by Labours manifesto pledge not to build a 3rd crossing and have all the extra roads through the ward that the bridge would have spawned. It makes your argument even more laughable that he only changed his mind after much thought due to the building work of the last Council, your argument isn’t even close to holding water infact its like a sieve with extra holes in it.

    Labour went back on a manifesto pledge that will see many families kicked out of their lifetime homes through no choice of their own and the best you can say is you’re “unsure whether or not this crossing is a good idea”!! It doesn’t matter if it’s a good idea it was in Labours manifesto that it wouldn’t happen.

    As an activist paper you see nothing wrong in this, shame on you, enjoy your brewdog beer tonight whilst more than a dozen families who were lied too worry what will become of them and their homes in the coming weeks.

  3. One wonders how this paper would be reacting if Sir Ian Wood, Donald Trump or Stewart Milne were behind this bridge plan, I think we all know the answer to that.

    Seems the blind mantra against certain rich people is more important than the real issues affecting real working class families in the area.

  4. It is generally accepted that a third Don crossing is required, the location of it is the problematic part. Is it wise to divert large traffic volumes through a housing estate? They could simply follow the seafront from The Black Dog or The Exhibition Centre, but that would lop a piece of a golf course – perish the thought – and be somewhat more expensive. Better to dump it on the deprived area of Tillydrone it seems.

    The point about the new build housing at Mugiemoss is well made Suzanne. I seem to recollect that a certain guy named Stuart, well versed in house building, mentioned the possibility of a railway halt being included in the project. That sensible idea seems to have been lost along the way somewhere. The planners even allowed building right down to the existing road, so no chance of widening that either.

    You forgot to mention the grandiose plans for George Square in Glasgow. Apparently they necessitate the re-emergence of that catastrophe proposed for Union Terrace Gardens. No doubt there will be an equally biased consultation and perhaps skewed referendum in Glasgow also. Labour won power, to a great degree, because they wanted to save the city from building any more carbuncles and the SNP lost. More than enough has been said on that dead issue. Strangely, the populace of Glasgow seem unimpressed with their traunch of “artists impressions.” where have we heard that before?

    The ConDems have certainly made a few u turns, not to mention told a few porkies not previously mentioned in their manifesto. The easiest and probably best solution would be an overwhelming vote for independence in 2014. We booted them out of Scotland en masse in 1997. Let’s do the job properly this time as they never seem to learn.,

  5. for a bit more clarity, this piece was specifically referring to the Press & Journal’s attack this past week on Willie Young for changing his mind from what it was in 2008. At the same time he voiced his opposition, he made it clear that he had to take the Labour Party’s line. Fast forward half a decade and a few hundred more homes later, and the picture has changed. I still can’t say I support this new crossing, but since we’ve permitted massive home building (more often than not on green space rather on brownfield), we do have to do something.

    I do try not comment on these pages, but I did want to clarify this point. Another point worth reviewing is that even the greatest among us can perform U-Turns. No less a person than George Smith himself posted this on Aberdeen Voice some weeks back:-

    “And that’s me done with this place, enjoy patting each other on the back in the future, I’m just an ordinary working man with a family that happens to disgaree with the way this paper has treated some people and the way it has campaigned against certain projects, if i can’t post without fear or favour then there is no point, my work wouldn’t take kindly to employing someone labled as a racist and I need work to pay the bills, thanks to all those who debated in a civilised manner.”

    Nice to have you back, George, even if this return does constitute a U-Turn

  6. No one voted me in to post here, that’s the big difference, I can change my mind at will. If I’d made a manifesto stating I’d never post here again I wouldn’t.

    You keep backing Mr Young and ignore the lies, it makes for fun reading seeing you try and defend the indefensible. .

    The families facing compulsory purchase orders won’t find it funny and this is why I’ll continue to post, I wouldn’t have the need if this activist paper was doing its job properly.

    The existing bridge at Persley should be widened to have twin lanes on each side and the road widened right up to the haudagain, the Parkway should also be widened, this could be done without kicking loads of families out of their homes and would avoid putting a major road through a housing estate.

    • I have to agree with your last points George. The land exists to dual The Parkway and The Persley Bridge could either be widened, or a second bridge built adjacent to provide for dualling there (this has been proposed for The Bridge of Dee for manys a long year). Of course, none of this is practical until The “Haudupagain” is resolved and there seems no hurry on that one either.

      Such a shame our planners and politicians (of all shades) hadn’t a bit more foresight fifty years ago. Had they pressed for a branch rail line from Woodside/Persley over The Don, to serve the burgeoning Bridge of Don Estates, many of the traffic issues would not have arisen. Even now, The Aberdeen Crossrail scheme keeps getting kicked in to the long grass, even when, at minimal cost, it could implemented, using existing infrastructure by simply extending trains from the North to Stonehaven and some of those from the South to Inverurie. New build halts at Bucksburn, Woodside, Cove and Newtonhill would only cost around £15m, much less than The City Garden Project and of much more use to Aberdonians.

      Willie Young is between a rock and a hard place. He knows something needs to be done and done fast, but he has to consider his constituents as well. I certainly wouldn’t like to be in his position.

    • George, rather than moderate this post and have you once again crying foul, We will simply point out to you and other readers that the role of Aberdeen Voice as an organisation has been explained to you on several occasions. As you appear to have some difficulty taking this information on board, we will state again.

      Far from being an ‘activist paper’, we are an online publication which is open to a wide range of writers and opinions associated with Aberdeen and the North East …. including those of ‘activists’.

      Our job has also been explained to you and can be read on our front page.

      We have in the two and a half years of our existence published almost every single article contributed, accomodating charities, artists, musicians, community facilities and events, historical pieces, environmental projects, sport, health and fitness, creative writing, humour, and much more.

      Bearing in mind that out of 1318 articles contributed, we have published 1297, I think we are doing pretty well – and all done by volunteers from top to bottom.

      Therefore it is surely clear that your judgement that we are not doing our job properly is utter nonesense, but as you are so fiercely defensive of your freedom of speech, we’ll leave it as is and allow others to make up their own minds on the evidence which is easily accessible to all.

      All the same, nice to see you back in the mix George.

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