Oct 102014

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

DictionaryHope you’re enjoying the weather. The trains Stopped running further north, streets are flooded, and it’s chaos. Thankfully, none of the building we’re doing in the remaining greenbelt will have a negative impact on the ability of the soil to soak up the rains.

A mere 3,000 new homes in Countesswells  on what’s currently open land won’t make much difference to the environment and flooding; congratulations to the planners and developer (S Milne). Don’t worry about any additional road traffic either, the AWPR will have us all sailing down open roads very soon.

I wish an artist would make us a rendition of what the granite web will look like when it rains hard like it did on Tuesday. No doubt the levels of underground parking replacing the soil wouldn’t cause any  flooding.

In fact, the granite web would be great fun when the ground and ramps are frozen over, and we’d all sitting outdoors watching open air theatre.

Make no mistake, as sure as it will rain again, a certain billionaire hasn’t forgotten that web, and neither has his equally kind-hearted, socially-minded altruist friends. As long as the web story continues dominating the local printed press, the web  won’t be forgotten here. either.

Many other developments are afoot here in the dynamic Deen. The plan for the city’s museum to have its marble staircase hacked up, and a giant box put on the top of the building is going ahead. I guess those developers and architects who think this looks wonderful went to different art schools than I did. I’m sure it will be iconic.

Funny, London’s Tate decided not to ruin its beautiful original building; instead it renovated a disused building when it wanted to expand. If only we had some brown field land in the city centre that should be regenerated to really bring the city back to life. Can’t think of a single site though.

And it’s farewell to Victoria Road School in Torry. Councillors met in secret to vote on axing the site; so no real change in transparency there. Let’s see who buys the site, what they paid for it, and what will take its place.

The Harbour Board are so very keen on turning Torry into an extension of the industrial harbour may well have a hand in this. It will be for our own good when Nigg Bay is taken off our hands, and more lorries travel our roads. It will be a breath of fresh air. Or maybe not. But no doubt it will mean more jobs, the rallying call of all local development.

Never mind the fact we have plenty of work and low unemployment; if you want to build anything, just say you’re creating jobs, and permission arrives on a silver platter.

Some had the temerity to register to vote in the referendum

Moving vibrantly and dynamically along, it’s wonderful to see that everyone’s getting along so well after the referendum. People are respecting each other’s opinions and positions; and intelligent debate continues to dominate the social media sites.

Perhaps the only thing that Old Susannah finds more heart-warming than the post-referendum bonhomie is the riveting, electric Lib Dem party convention. And do those guys know how to party!  Nick Clegg was so cool that he wore dungarees one day!  I guess that sort of thing impresses most of you young people.

However, Kyle Joseph Wagner, a local writer and bon vivant had this to say:

“Nick Clegg delivering his conference speech yesterday in jeans and a navy-blue shirt with the top two buttons undone is funnier, sadder and more pathetic than any attempts I could make to take the p*ss out of him.”

I think Kyle is just jealous, but there you go. More on the wonderful work the Lib Dems did at their conference shortly, especially the important news that Clegg wore a suit on Wednesday – how dynamic is that?  He can be both cool/casual and businesslike and strong. I may yet swoon.

With all the excitement – party conferences, glass office buildings and so on, a few timely definitions seem called for.

Tax Evasion: (modern English compound noun) – the use of legal or illegal means to avoid paying duty on income.

I can’t possibly express how happy I am that poll tax dodgers may yet be called to account for their crimes against humanity. Some had the temerity to register to vote in the referendum. Thankfully, this might lead to these hardened criminals being found and forced to pay their just dues to society.

Perhaps these unwashed lawbreakers could learn a thing or two by looking to our betters for a good example and moral guidance.

Sir Ian Wood is a prime example of a man who pays his fair share. The Wood Group may be saving a few million by paying some of its workers via offshore companies, but that’s just good business senses.

SIW has £50 million sitting in a charity bank account free, but that’s going to eventually help Africans, who as we know need to grow more tea (perhaps he can help clear some of that pesky rain forest in the process). We’ll wait and see what he does.

Stewart Milne still has contracts worth some £10 million with the city

Good thing there aren’t any pressing issues in the African continent that could use any of his ‘venture capital (ist)’ brand of assistance. There’s little glamour in disease or starvation, and if you feed people, you probably won’t get much of a return on your venture capital investment. – if there’s no eventual return, why donate money?

Another shining example of paying one’s fair share can be found in Stewart Milne. No word yet on whether he’s paid the city back the money he owes. Like me you’re probably thinking it’s we who should be giving Milne money, but in fact he owes us some £1.7 million.

I’m sure he had a great reason for this transfer, even if to us less wealthy people it seems like a transparent ploy to avoid paying what he owed the city. Actually, after he appealed all the way to the highest court in the land, even the law couldn’t see why he needed to do that transfer, and he was ordered to pay the city some profit and interest.

I’m sure that with this newly-found enthusiasm for cracking down on tax avoiders, the police and local government mandarins they’ll be straight onto the rich who owe us a few million pounds eventually. But let’s go for the poll tax dodgers first; there’s no sense in upsetting of our wealthy worthies.

Since we’re on the subject of how cleverly the police can find the poll tax avoiders, I thought I’d let you know that alas!  They are unable to find any trace of the investigation they were meant to do when the Kate Dean administration sold parcels of land for peppercorn prices. Audit Scotland couldn’t decide if it was incompetence or fraud at work; the value was c. £5 million pounds, and the police were going to investigate.

Doubtless there were excellent reasons why our cash poor city was slashing services while doling out real estate parcels like sweeties; I’m sure it all made great commercial sense. To someone. Note: Stewart Milne still has contracts worth some £10 million with the city, awarded just around the time he was given that valuable land. Something about ‘leveraging’ comes to Old Susannah’s mind, but that can’t be right.

The courts are so stretched that we’re considering lopping off a few human rights and old legal rights that are way out of date (corroboration, evidence, little things like that).

The police claim to be so stretched they couldn’t possibly implement any form of control over air rifles, wildlife crime, burglaries and so on. Still, there is time to spy on private people’s emails and calls, and to infiltrate protest groups. I guess you have to figure out your priorities. But we’ll find time and money to go after the poll tax avoiding rabble.

of course nuclear energy is a big part of the solution

So let’s name and shame the people who didn’t chip in all those years ago. We had a fair taxation system, based on everyone paying a tax based on the value of the place they lived in.

This was also a great way to get those pesky older people out of valuable houses that they’d saved up for and bought; if they had been silly enough to buy a great home then the poll tax was going to make them pay for it.

Perhaps we should bring this tax back? Our council tax is great as far as it goes, funding all the great schemes we’ve paid for over the years – but I think that extra few drops of blood could be extracted if we went back to the poll tax. No tax payment, no vote. Now that’s democratic.

Clean Energy: (Modern English compound noun) Forms of energy which have little or no elements of waste, pollution health risk or environmental damage from their extraction through to their end products and waste materials.

One thing we can all be proud of is how we’re tackling our energy problems, and of course nuclear energy is a big part of the solution. We have had great successes around the world in Russia and Japan for instance, and if the odd trace of radiation from Chernobyl wound up in the Scottish Highlands, that’s no big deal.

Here in Scotland we have our own Dounreay plant a shining example of clean energy at its finest.

Granted, at present, a ship carrying ‘intermediate level’ radioactive waste from Dounreay caught fire, and is drifting around. An oil rig has been evacuated. But no fear: Police Scotland are monitoring the situation. (I particularly like the energy efficiency in sending these concrete-encased blocks of radioactivity sailing round the world, down road networks, and over rail lines. I’m sure this is all quite green).

Some detractors might have a criticism or two of this great plant; for instance the MOD was accused of covering up information on radioactive leaks. I’m sure they’d never do such a thing; here’s an article that I find very reassuring.

And here are some further articles that are nothing to worry about from Rob Edwards. So a few trucks were carrying radioactive waste when they were meant to be decommissioned, no harm done. And if further information is being kept secret, why worry. If we needed to know, they’ll tell us.

Remember, nothing can go wrong with nuclear power. Neither the police nor the MOD would lie to you; there’s no reason to think they would. But just in case something does ever go wrong, we can always ‘duck and cover’.

A Man For All Seasons: (English Idiom) a person who is very successful in a variety of activities / situations. See also Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg is surely our man for all seasons. This week he’s been leading his party’s conference with stirring speeches and setting the tone. He’s been making pledges for people with health problems to be seen more quickly – if only he had some power and could implement changes like that now.

But not only is he going to buy more with less tax money, he’s shown a few attractive sides to his personality that we’d not seen before.

Earlier this week, he shown us that despite his talents and position, he’s really one of us. He’s not just the unshakable, constant tough and attractive guy we all think he is. As mentioned earlier, he actually appeared wearing jeans. Some of the buttons on his casual but smart top were unbuttoned as well; he really knows how to let his hair down, and is just like us.

Then just when you think you know the man, he comes back to speak wearing a suit!  It was as if he was taking control; it was a very masterful moment, and I’m glad I’ve taped his performance to watch again and again. It’s amazing someone can have such diametrically opposed sides.

Then again, it was the same Mr Clegg who promised there would be no tuition fees when he got voted in as part of the LibDem/Conservative coalition that’s steered the nation to the great place it’s in today. I guess he doesn’t like to brag too much about his past successes. Either that, or there were too many to mention.

He told his party conference in Glasgow he would not “seek to distance” the Lib Dems from the coalition’s record. Well, he wouldn’t, would he?

And then, just as you think Nick is happy to be associated with the coalition which he is in, he makes a wee remark  that make you wonder if that’s true. Case in point comes courtesy of the guardian:

“Nick Clegg has instructed his leading ministers to “brutalise” the Tories …In a sign of how coalition relations have descended into trench warfare in the run-up to the election, the deputy prime minister has told senior Liberal Democrats to reach out to “soft Tories” by saying that the chancellor is taking Conservatives back a decade to the era of the nasty party.

“The instructions from Clegg, who accused the Tories of “beating up on the poor”, came as the opening of the Liberal Democrat conference was dominated by speculation about future coalition partners if voters elect another hung parliament in May’s general election.”

I’d be the last person to say that Clegg changes his positions as often as he changes his clothing, particularly as he looked so cool in those denims. Still, I sometimes wonder if the Lib Dems are every bit as consistent as they seem to be.

But all this talk of Nick is making me overheated. I’ll be off to BrewDog for some liquid refreshment to cool down a bit. But happy birthday to the Aberdeen BrewDog bar, and many more.

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  5 Responses to “Old Susannah No. 163 Selective Memories”

  1. I`ll share my thoughts 🙂

    I think there where 2 reasons the council sells land cheap
    1. Backhanders
    2. Future tax income – turning empty land into a rate generator. Which is fine (honest) but you need to build some Schools. Perhaps the original value of the land could have paid for this? But when your cash strapped your options seem limited – we all know this.

    Nuclear energy..

    Nuclear energy. wind and tide energy are the future – like it or not.

    Heres my logic

    WE are all addicted to hydrocarbons. Unless you walk or cycle to work, dont heat your home and have no electricity either at home or at work then you cannot argue this point.

    If we all decided tomorrow to switch to alternative power, the aeroplanes, ships trains and hgv still need to run, all this does is slow down the release of CO². How else is the bread going to get to the supermarket

    all green policies work to help elongate the life of hydrocarbon energy. Nobody is trying to save the planet here as the planet will be perfectly fine, its our enviroment that we will destroy. We are releasing CO² trapped in the earth from a time when we couldnt have existed. Buy an electric car and use led lightbulbs – ace, we have just extended hydrocarbon use by 20 yrs. See? Green parties are there to aid Goverment, not actually be goverment

    I say get it out of the ground and get it used up, the sooner the better. Dust off the rangerover and let the good times roll. Goverment imposing green taxes on less efficient vehicles? Utter nonsense, we are running out of a finite resource and they need to conserve it. Keep that in mind next time your hurtling down the M6. Look at all the cars around you, look at all the homes either side of you getting reading for a nice cosy winter, think of all the other M6`s there are in the world, the mind boggles..


    I think there will be a market opening up for CO² removal from the atmosphere and deposited in solid form somewhere, somehow.

    Anyhows, when we are finished with the offshore oil rigs, maybe these can be used as nuclear powerplants, will all the nasty stuff dropped down into the empty well, ready to be sealed off at a moments notice.

    Thats me done, hope nobodys offended :O)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Perhaps we do need nuclear – but if so, it has to be in a system which is not capitalist. When you are trying to get the most for your money with the minimal safety/quality checks, that is, IMO, what leads to the nuclear disasters we’ve seen, and what will probably a contributing factor if not a root cause to future disasters. Cleaner energy should be being made affordable and reliable. (I do have a carbon footprint like everyone else; but I don’t have a car, use public/rail whenever possible, don’t have central heating, and try to do my bit for reducing waste).

      • Agreed, the nuclear thing, what you said.

        No heating? not coming round your house for tea and cakes 🙂

        I generally cycle to work and drive an efficient diesel when its windy ( it will get windier methinks) My motives arent green, I like cycling and I like to save money. I like green things, people who dont like windmills annoy me. Free energy is fun (The price is just the price, as they say in the oil industry)

        Hydrocarbon age needs to run its course – then we can start to deal with it properly.

        Remember those frosty patterns that used to form on the inside of your bedroom window when you where a kid? Burrr, those where the days, Cuddle in… 🙂

  2. Thought provoking and informative as usual, as is the reply from John. The pros and cons of nuclear energy and the subsequent disposal of waste is something I seem to change my mind on frequently, mostly due to the conflicting information made available and my own ignorance.

    Stewart Milne and widespread allegations of corruption within Aberdeen City Council(ACC) are, however, a subject on which I am far from beset by such indecision. Given that the police can find no trace of the anticipated investigation into land deals between companies owned or part owned by Mr Milne and ACC, have they given any undertaking to carry out an investigation now and can anyone come up with an explanation for the inability of ACC to record information concerning multi million pound land deals and the apparent incompetence of Aiberdeen’s finest, other than what some might consider to be blatant corruption?

  3. I’ll repost in case the first one got lost.

    Great news you won’t be forgetting the CGP, was a complete travesty of justice why the people of Aberdeen were ignored in the referendum, a huge blow for democracy and a slap in the face for the majority who wanted it.

    The vocal minority lost, it should be built at the first opportunity.

    The labour shambles will be booted out at the first opportunity, another huge glass monstrosity now planned for our city, very strange where the vocal minority were on this occasion, would it be wrong for me to suggest that the lack of a well known rich person meant they weren’t interested in objecting to it??

    [ Bill, re. delay in approving your post. As volunteers, with other responsibilities in our lives, moderators are not always available when comments arrive. We do try and check in regularly, but there will be periods where delays are inevitable]

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