Oct 172014

Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly gets to grips with grippy politicians and businessmen both sides of the pond.

cultural hubIt was an interesting week as ever in Aberdeen, as this photo from our trendy, hip, happening cultural hub shows. Yes, it sensibly closes by 6pm, after all, culture shouldn’t overlap regular working hours. In the door of the former 1-up record shop, a blackboard helpfully tells people what is on in Aberdeen. With cutting edge technology like that, it really is a wonder that we didn’t win City of Culture.

I’m told that some of you  young folk use something called ‘the internet’ when you want information as opposed to going to the exterior of a closed shop to look at a blackboard – is this true?

In other news, Spear of Destiny came to the Moorings last Saturday; and all was largely marvellous. You never know who you’ll bump into in the Moorings, or who’ll bump into you. Very hard.

A bespectacled baldy man made a spectacle of himself as he stumbled into my friend and I not long after we arrived.

This was no mean feat as we were standing well out of the way of the crowd against the wall by the pinball machine, and he had to cross the floor to get to us before he careened off in the other direction towards the loos. I thought he must be tripping (or at least that seemed his intention); if it had been accidental, I’ll avoid whatever he’d been drinking.

For that matter, an ‘excuse me’ was a bridge too far for our man as well, but then again he looked so very cool that he probably didn’t want to spoil his manly style by an admission of fallability. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought it was a deliberate attempt to recapture playground (or prison) glory days on his part, but surely not. Obviously it wouldn’t have been someone with a grudge.

Whatever the poor lad’s problem was, perhaps it will peter out. But nothing was going to spoil that evening, and nothing did. The little stumble was reported later, well after a most enjoyable night.

Elsewhere in the Granite Deen, our councillors are considerably more sure-footed, keeping us right. These well-balanced people have voted to tear down Victoria Road School, which otherwise would have been doomed to some community-buy out scheme or other, and the building re-used for the benefit of the locals. Not a good way to make as much profit as possible, I’m sure you’ll agree.

In truth, I can’t say the councillors all voted to tear the school down. Some such as Jim Kiddie, voted to keep the building. Clearly he’s not as quick on his feet as Torry Tory councillor Alan Donnelly, who voted to demolish. I’m sure the grateful public will thank Alan appropriately.

Not all the councillors voted to demolish it’s true – one managed to not vote at all. Labour’s Yvonne Allan decided it was best to represent her local constituents by – not voting at all.

This must have been a hard decision to stand up for the people who have nothing to say on the issue. Torry locals who wanted the site saved signed petitions in the thousands. And we all know what a petition gets you these days in Aberdeen. More on all this after the next Torry Community Council meeting, which promises to be quite a love-in as the harbour board’s plans for Torry domination – sorry improvement – will also get an airing.

For some reason, David Cameron seemed eager to distance himself from Lord Freud’s rational ideas

Things are equally as cheerful on the national scene, where well heeled Lord Freud bravely spoke out against the money-wasting benefits system. We’re actually still supporting people who have different abilities, physical and mental challenges as if they were worth paying a full day’s wage to.

For some reason, Lord Fraud is softening his stance at present, but he had this to say initially:

“Now, there is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…”

If you haven’t guessed, with this sympathetic approach to giving people a living wage, Freud is our Welfare minister. And let’s face it – we have to admire his way with words.

I am trying to think hard if there are any other groups of people who don’t deserve a full day’s wage because they don’t do any proper work. If I do come up with any suggestions, I’ll lay them at Freud’s door.

For some reason, David Cameron seemed eager to distance himself from Lord Freud’s rational ideas.  I believe this is the same David Cameron who has done so much good for the disabled and ill with his ATOS assessment schemes.  I wonder why Cameron is against Freud – given Cameron’s track record, maybe Dave thinks £2 an hour is far too much salary.

But at this rate there will be as little room for definitions as there is for wildlife in the schemes being hatched. Therefore, on with a few timely terms.

Transatlantic Trade And Investment Partnership (TTIP): (Modern English collective noun) a suite of trade deals between the EU and America beneficial to business.

It’s such a shame that in the 21st century people are still so resistant to change. There were actually people protesting against these schemes last weekend in several capital cities.

People are always afraid of what they don’t understand, it’s a human weakness. Therefore, it’s best we allow the EU and US governments to just keep the details of these schemes under wraps; no sense upsetting people. Just because the governments involved won’t let you vote on these agreements or let you know exactly what’s in them is no reason to think there’s anything undemocratic going on.

The Independent, a left-leaning, anti-capitalist UK publication, has printed some hurtful claims about these agreements.

I just hope that no company’s profit margins suffer because of the piece.  Sure a few minor changes to the NHS, taxes, corporate domination over soverign governments, increased spying on private communications will take some getting used to, but I’m sure something good will be on telly to take our minds off of it.

Child Poverty Map: (Modern English compound noun) An interactive map created by End Child Poverty, showing the UK’s disadvantaged children by geographic area.

I think it’s very helpful that this interactive map has been created; now we know what horrible, dreary areas we should be avoiding. Here are a few stats for Aberdeen areas, which for all our oil wealth clearly demonstrate we still have child poverty issues.

Perhaps workhouses would help, coupled with Lord Freud’s helpful suggestion that a £2 per hour wage is too good for some of them.

Westminster Parliamentary Constituency: Aberdeen North
Number of children in In-work poverty 2013: 2,287
Number of children in Out of work poverty 2013: 1,402
% of children in low income families AHC, 2013: 23.89%

Westminster Parliamentary Constituency: Aberdeen South
Number of children in In-work poverty 2013: 1,410
Number of children in Out of work poverty 2013: 618
% of children in low income families AHC, 2013: 14.39%

Map DataMap data ©2014 Google

If only there were some wealthy people around here who had some money to donate; Wood I could think of anyone who cared about the less fortunate.

I’m sure our council does the best it can with its finances, but you have to prioritise things. We’ve got hungry consultants to pay for (isn’t that right Chris Piper?), after all, those deer aren’t going to shoot themselves, and nothing is more important than trying to grow trees on a windswept garbage tip.   PricewaterhouseCoopers has to put food on the table as well, and we didn’t even give them a million pounds last year.

There was always for instance the chance that Victoria Road school could have been given, as requested, to the locals to run as a community centre; people old and young could have used it as a resource. Not that I’m suggesting we should have done anything radical or trendy like having a food bank. Not in good old Torry, where the money flows like the effluent from the sewerage works we were gifted with a few years back.

Now the city, the harbour board and Scottish Enterprise want to gift us with a much larger industrial scale harbour, and all it will cost us is the remaining open free public spaces Torry has. But it will create jobs, so we’re told (never mind the air quality, house prices and quality of living). Then perhaps some of these little urchins can start earning their keep.

It’s not as if we are planning to school them for anything other than vocational work in the energy sector (that’s if they’re lucky).

So please do have a look at the child poverty map.  Another thought comes to mind – if we’re to keep having Primark priced clothes at our disposal, then we may want to start getting some of these poor kids into factory work over here, that would be more jobs creation. Happily, I’m sure we have people already looking into this.

Next week (perhaps) a further look at NHS Grampian, The latest in Union Terrace Gardens, etc. Or perhaps a word on UKIP hopeful, who starved over 200 sheep to death – possibly while testing out one of UKIP’s future plans for us.

PS – for some reason, people are saying the distance from Haymarket to Waverly stations in Edinburgh is the same distance as Aberdeen’s train station to the inaccessible, dank, under-used Union Terrace Gardens.

The distance is just under a mile and a half between the two Edinburgh destinations, some 2,400 metres. Here, the distance is between 700 metres (from the closest point) ranging to 1,000 metres to the gentle, sloping entrance by the theatre, filled with druggies, drunks and other undesirables. The Edinburgh train journey between the two stations takes 5 minutes.

A journey from Aberdeen station to a proposed new station in UTG (which would be the thin edge of the wedge to building in our gardens) would be less than 45 seconds. But you’ve got to have your connectivity, don’t you – otherwise we’d have people walking around. Some might say Edinburgh is a city that requires a bit of walking, but we don’t want that sort of thing here.

There seem to be some groups wanting a train station in the gardens: I can promise any councillors reading this, there are many people and a group or two who definitely won’t sit by for such a nonsense, even if NESTRANS were to want to spend millions on a station so close to an existing one. Do keep that in mind, won’t you?

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  6 Responses to “Old Susannah’s Journal No. 164 – Slips, Grips And Trips”

  1. “There seem to be other groups wanting a train station in the gardens.”

    Let’s make it clear that the Friends of Union Terrace Gardens as a group has not endorsed this idea. Our AGM last year firmly rejected the Halliday plans which had included plans for this.

    Taking the lead from our members we are opposed to any plan that involves building in the park. If any future proposal comes forward concerning UTG, we will take advice from our members and act accordingly.

  2. I’m confused Suzanne. And of course I may not have understood. I remember seeing, at some time, a Power Point presentation thingy that showed UTG with a station, a performance area and a cafe, with lots of shadowy folks strolling along the lower level – mostly on loc-bloc, and that this would encourage footfall etc.from the station, and that this was the way forward for the gardens. This was not a HFM idea. Was it?

    • let’s see – first there was a plan from Peacock to build some features into the gardens such as performance and gallery space. Then magically Scottish Enterprise ditched their support for Peacock and supported what Sir Ian Wood (formerly of Scottish Enterprise) wanted. This was illustrated as a street level, concrete plaza with one or two token trees in planters. Then there was a public consultation on that, with worthies such as Rita Stephen coming round to businesses, saying the Peacock plan was dead, and asking for opinions. We were then told that we hadn’t understood the plans at all, and it wasn’t going to be a square like that. Other plans came; then there was the consultation on six shortlisted designs, with the wackiest (and not most popular with the public) winning – an Escher-esque granite spaghetti junction in the air; with layers of parking (never mind the underground burn), magical pine forests, an outdoor performance area (great for those January evenings) with a concrete potato chip shape over the stage that somehow we were going to be allowed to sit on top of – none of which required safety railings or barriers – although a Christmas tree erected last year required such protection. Plans changed every other day; the public was kept away from trivialities such as how the shortlist vote went, or why they couldn’t just say no at that time. Hope this clears things up. ???

  3. Oops. Hope I haven’t posted twice. Trying to drink first coffee of the day and type at the same time. Thank you for the information Suzanne. The power point thingy I am remembering was much more recent, and for the life of me, I cant remember where it came from. But there was definitely a station, a performance place and a cafe. There were folk walking along a path paved with loc-bloc. Was this one of ACC’s projections. It wasn’t HFM’s because in their plan the lower level has gone, along with the trees, so it had to have come from somewhere. Perhaps it was another one of Prof. Prondynski’s projections. Well perhaps we will see, if as Cllr.Crockett has said there will have to be compromise on UTG.

    • Thanks Dorothy – I wonder if it wasn’t one of those Prondynski / AB+ presentations you are thinking of; I’d not seen this one. There may be plans being drawn up behind the scenes; would be surprised if there aren’t. However, whatever group that comes forward with plans for UTG had best expect a great deal of opposition for any plan that involves building. If Cllr. Crockett says compromise is required over the garden’s future (and I don’t doubt it), he’d best be meaning whether to have tulips or petunias, and nothing involving any trains, webs, buildings or other nonsense.

  4. Just remembered. Must have been the Sunday Times article that prompted the memory. A member of a local group said that it would enhance connectivity. Not sure what Urban Realm would make of that. Bang goes another bit of heritage maybe.! Interesting times indeed. Wionder what the PbJ will make of it tomorrow.

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