Oct 152016

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

DictionaryGreetings belatedly; sorry for the late-running of this service; I’ve been busy. For one thing – Result! TV Smith played Krakatoa on 8 October with Fred Wilkinson opening. Fred, or ‘Wilkinson’ as beloved LibDem Aileen HoMalone refers to him, played a lovely song about fashion called The Ghosts of Cable Street. I’m not really sure what it was about, but I think it had to do cable-knit jumpers and something about black shirts not being very popular at one time.

Fashions do have a way of coming around again, and I think there are more than a few blackshirt-lovers out there right now.

Smith played some old-fashioned, quaint ‘protest music’ – although heaven knows, we really have nothing to protest about, except maybe all those foreigners Amber Herd wanted named and shamed for taking British Jobs.

I wonder why she changed her mind? Could there be any link between the pound plunging to a new 31 year low, Brexit, and Amber’s anti-foreigner stance? I doubt it.

I am guilty of not being born in the UK. I am taking the unpaid job of some poor satirical British columnist who otherwise could be labouring for free. Yes, naming and shaming the companies that hire people from other countries seemed like the way forward. But I digress. Smith sang about modern poverty (no doubt caused by foreigners), state surveillance, and other such lefty concerns. Just as well we’ve nothing to protest about here in the Deen.

I understand Torry residents are planning a parade to celebrate all the jobs creation coming our way. We’re getting an incinerator – sorry – waste to energy plant! Result!

We’re going to get rid of the under-used Bay of Nigg so that cruise ships filled with rich visitors can stop by for a bet at Ladbroke’s and some Spar shopping. Result! Of course we’ll have to make a few sacrifices for creating these jobs.

A few protected wildlife species in the Bay, clean air (which we enjoy so greatly now thanks to the sewerage plant) and the wishes of local people – many of whom are foreign! – should not stand in the way of making the Harbour Board richer or getting a good old-fashioned British firm busy burning rubbish next to the school in Tullos. While the house prices here will plummet, a clear message is sent: Scotland is Open For Business.

We are open to taking American fracked gas; a great tanker sailed to Scotland filled with fracked gas, while some Americans in Pennsylvania begged Scotland not to take it.

If it will make us money, at least the considerable pollution will be happening far away – foreigners do have their uses. (The energy efficiency of creating fuel in the US leaving pollution in its wake and shipping resultant gas to Scotland is a little hard for me to understand, especially with gas here having been at considerably low prices for years. Still, if there’s money to be made, we can’t be seen to be closed can we?)

We’re also open for business at Marischal Square, where in keeping with the look of the city, Granite will be the main cladding material. That The Granite City is importing granite from China, where there are a few equal pay and workers’ rights issues is not an issue. We are Open For Business. The council says it’s not their business where the granite comes from – a huge comfort to the veritable slave labour that will be quarrying it.

John Forbes of Bon Accord Granite said:

“What people don’t understand is we haven’t built a major building out of north-east granite for the last 30 years, at least. It’s down to price. If I don’t supply Chinese granite, others will.” 

Thanks John for helping the project’s carbon footprint, Chinese workers’ rights, the government’s push to use UK labour forces – all while making a tidy profit. Nice one.

I get it – the position seems to be ‘if I don’t exploit unfair labour practices in China to supply material cheaply, someone else will’. Good code of ethics there then. So – foreigners = good source of labour to exploit as cheaply as possible – as long as the blighters don’t actually come to Old Blighty.

When the much-loved Marischal Square building is clad in Chinese granite, the much-loved Press & Journal is set to take a year’s free rent to grace us with its presence.

In order to figure out how this equates to being ‘Open for Business’ as opposed to, shall we say, giving the paper a bone so that it won’t unleash its investigative new hounds (if any left) onto juicy city council stories (not that there are any unless you count the cremation scandal, the Torry carve-up, Marischal Square..), Old Susannah lodged a freedom of information request.

We do know the key players at the Town House in this genius free rent scheme are the Head of Finance, Head of Land and Property Assets, Asset Management Manager. The city refuses to comment on these ‘commercial negotiations’ because:

“Release of the information at this stage would influence the negotiating position of parties wishing to occupy space in the development, to the obvious detriment of the Council’s commercial interests.

“Furthermore, disclosure of the requested information at this stage is likely to weaken ACC’s position in a competitive environment by revealing sensitive information of potential usefulness to competitors. ACC must maintain good working relationships with reputable companies to enable it to obtain value for money and so releasing commercially sensitive information could potentially damage ACC’s reputation with such third parties, dissuading the third parties from engaging with ACC.”

“The discussions in relation to the proposals for the AJL terms have involved the advice of external property agents, the Council’s development partner and a number of Council officers.” 

So if I understand correctly, the competition would get wind of us giving a years’ rent free in a new building to the press (normally expected to investigate just this kind of eventuality in some cities anyway), and they would give a better deal, or other people would want free rent like the P&J too.

Perhaps we should pay the P&J to grace the city centre, and breathing new life into the beating heart of the civic centre in a vibrant and dynamic manner.

The phrase ‘Value for Money’ worked its way into the FOI response. Older readers might remember when the previous administration sold property owned by the taxpayer for millions of pounds less than market value, and was investigated by Audit Scotland (the report was meant to be investigated by the police – but they didn’t do anything. When I asked for an update, it was explained the paperwork could not be found, and as it was only a few million pounds’ worth of potential fraud, it wasn’t really a big deal).

We also gifted Stewart Milne lots of land, at the same time he won a few sweet contracts totalling £10 million – he’d underbid the competition – possibly a feat made a bit easier by having a nice parcel of land as a handy asset. But again – I digress. Just as well though that the taxpayer isn’t propping up a hugely biased, outmoded pseudo-newspaper.

Not that there are any juicy city council stories of course, but in light of how the city’s officers are involved in a few slightly questionable activities, I set out to take a look at the register of officers’ interests. I was to meet someone from Legal and democratic services to take a look at the register. A few hours before the meeting, the legal team from the city decided that a FOI request was required.

Now in theory FOI requests should not have to be made to see information that is held – but they were apparently fearful that there might be ‘personal data’ in the register.

This register should be parallel to the register held on all the councillor’s interests and hospitality – which you can view right now on the website. It’s almost as if the officers had more power and influence than coucillors but surely not. The FOI service complains from time to time that it has too many requests to handle (which might be why it is late with a huge portion of responses).

If the other departments had this ‘transparency’ we’ve heard so much about, the FOI team wouldn’t have to suffer so greatly doing its job.

Democratic services? Transparency? Freedom of Information? Clearly not as important as being open for business. More on this soon.

While waiting for any of this information to ever get to me, liquid refreshment at BrewDog helps sustain me and pass the time. Old Dog (as I now call the Gallowgate bar, the first ever BrewDog bar) has been doing some wildly popular craft courses and a once-monthly fun event, Drink and Draw.

I have learned so very much from BrewDog. Did you know that it’s Robert Plant’s son Logan is behind the remarkable Beavertown Brewery? I hadn’t any idea. One of my favourite non-BD libations is Beavertown’s flavour packed Gamma Ray (American Pale Ale). And yes, I’m one of the 10,000 BrewDog shareholders, and still proud of it.

Finally, Anthony Baxter is making another film about ladies’ man Trump, although I can’t think of any recent news developments these past 12 months that would warrant any such documentary. However, the details are here for those who would like to chip in. Expected Aberdeen release 3 November at the Belmont. (And by way of disclosure, there is every chance I’ll be in it).

At this rate there won’t be time for definitions, so with no further hesitation, here are some career-related definitions for the wonderful people who bring so much to Aberdeen.

Spokeswoman: (Modern English noun) a female who undertakes public relations duties.

Sarah Malone has been enjoying a Trump salary these many years; this and husband Damian’s salary will no doubt be helping the Jimmy Choo purchase fund.

In order to get a paid gig dealing with the media as a spokeswoman for a multinational property developer, aspiring spokespersons would have to have style, flair, the ability to think quickly, analyse information and respond swiftly with tact and intelligence. This no doubt is why I toil for free. As a recent example illustrating the calibre of response such a professional spokeswoman would be expected to come up with, I offer the following recently issued by Sarah Malone-Bates, aka from now as Sarah Baloney:

“We have not seen the so-called film and have no interest in it.

“Anthony Baxter is not a credible journalist or filmmaker. He has no interest in the facts or the people of north east Scotland.

“He has propagated lies and nonsense about the company for years in an attempt to make a name for himself off the back of Trump.

“We operate a highly acclaimed, five-star golf resort and enjoy a great relationship with the local community and all of our neighbours with the exception of a few who have fought the project since its inception.”

Old Susannah can’t – however hard I try – write like this. For instance, if I had to use the compound-adjective ‘so-called’, I might have said ‘so-called journalist’. That would have opened up a debate on whether or not award-winning, acclaimed journalist Baxter is credible or not. Obviously we trust a Trump spokesperson’s word for what is and isn’t credible. However, ‘so-called film’ opens up the debate as to whether or not the film is a … film. I think even I could win that battle of wits with Sarah.

She is calling Baxter a liar – a daring PR move which of course could have legal consequences should Baxter want to sue Trump. I hope she’ll share the specific list of these lies with us; I promise I’ll ask for it.

As to that ‘great relationship with the local community’ – well, obviously that’s as true as anything else this professional, well-paid spokesperson said. Just because protestors raise Mexican flags, 580,000 people sign a petition against her boss coming here, the local university rescinded his honorary degree and he’s no longer a global Scot is no reason to think Mr Drumpf is in any way unpopular. And no doubt the relationship with this community is unshakeable…

Star: (modern English term) someone of celebrity status, admired and well-known.

Donald Trump is a star. How do I know? He said so in a conversation about the perks of stardom.

To attain star status, having superior genes is important; modestly Drumpf admits what we already know – that he has superior genes. Somewhere, in some obscure history lesson, I almost remember some other political figure being interested in genetic superiority. Perhaps it’s fashionable to talk about this again?

Perks of stardom include ‘just start kissing’ beautiful women ‘doing anything (to women)’ and ‘grabbing them by the pussy’. Oh those lucky, beautiful young women. Something in the nature of 1 in 5 American women can expect to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

And with that, I find the last satirical inclinations leaving me, and so I will sign off. Let’s hope nothing will dent that community appreciation Drumpf enjoys here in our little corner of Scotland.

Next week – more on other FOI requests, a look at the rosy future of Torry – and a DIY Investigating kit

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

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

May 232014

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

DictionaryTally Ho! It was a particularly good week for arts and events, a bad week for local Labour, a grim week for the environment, and a grimmer week still in the field of freedom of information.

On the positive side, the Aberdeen Artists Society show is up and running; it’s a hit by all accounts.  But the best event locally for ages in the arts was the Aberdeen Art Gallery’s “After Hours/ Creative Invasion” evening.

Over 500 people came together to participate in a blend of art, writing, history, music, socialising and fun. The central theme was World War I, and its wee impact on society.

Thankfully, these days there’s no danger of any  conflicts brewing in Europe which could lead to any wars.

Anyway, the evening was great, and I am still thinking about a postcard I read as part of Graeme Milne’s writing workshop.

It was written by a man (or likely boy) named Jamie to his mother on Christmas Day 1914 while he was stationed in Italy. I’m sure he had a jolly time in the trenches.

I am minded that Michael Gove, our Education Secretary, criticises shows like ‘Blackadder’ for being critical of ‘The Great War’ – Gove thinks those lefty types are trying to make WWI seem like a bloody, futile, cruel exercise (how could they?). More on the event and the text of the card can be found here.

Elsewhere in the Deen, Craig Adams (aka Flash of the Moorings) is leading the charge to reopen Bon Accord Baths.

With virtually no notice, Adams managed to muster nearly 100 people for a photo call for the BBC, Northsound and STV (and Aberdeen Voice – story here). All the different political parties seem to want the baths to run again, and I’m certain the city’s new Chief Executive will want to get as many sensible, workable community-led initiatives like this one going to rejuvenate communities.  For some reason, a number of simple, desirable proposals have been turned down to date that other cities and towns would have welcomed.

The people want the baths; the politicians want the baths. Could there be someone in a position of power who’s blocking this and other initiatives with red tape, needless delay, and an agenda of their own? Surely not – but if there is such an officer, perhaps they’d best put on their MacIntosh and Gord on the next bus out of town. Just a thought.

But has warfare broken out in the hallowed halls of Aberdeen’s Townhouse?

Depending on your perspective and who you’ve spoken to, either Labour is in complete meltdown with backstabbing and intrigue worthy of a particularly gory Game of Thrones episode – or after discussions and strategising, Barney Crockett is simply no longer council leader – although he is very much still a councillor.

The way the P&J put it, you’d have thought Young Willie and Crockett were going to be duelling with pistols in UTG. But it’s not like the P&J to exaggerate. Surely there are no previous cases of Aberdeen Journals Ltd. bending the facts to make headlines? Perhaps a definition is called for.

For some reason, no one seems very fond of the plans for replacing ugly glass block St Nicholas House with a newer, shinier uglier glass block. Few people are thrilled either with the building of yet more homes over the greenbelt, what’s left of it.  Fewer people still are on board with plans for the  persecution of people who beg for money.

As for the building work going on, I’m sure anything going up will be as iconic, dynamic and brilliant as St Nick’s was.

After all, this  steel and glass curtain wall style of skyscraper is the last word in architectural style; there’s nothing cheap, nasty, dated, brutal (or lame) about putting up glass box buildings all over town and country. They just show us how outdated things like the Citadel, Tollbooth and Provost Skene’s house really are.

Surely people will flock here to live in an iconic Stewart Milne Home in some nice, sanitised suburbia close to a dual carrigeway (formerly wildlife habitat and recreation ground), and work in iconic glass box buildings which they drive to in iconic cars. And if we get resultant loss of green space, even poorer air quality, lack of biodiversity and urban sprawl, just lie back and think of the money.

As to the kind of people we’ll be attracting, they’ll surely not want to see any signs of poverty. We’re doing what the Tzars did – covering empty buildings with false fronts (this ploy of covering up problems in a town with a thin veneer was laughably called a ‘Potemkin village’) and clearing the poor out.

We seem to be keen on clearing the streets of the poor, while the gap between rich and poor grows. Get rid of the poor, hide any squalor or empty  buildings behind false fronts, and hang up some bunting. I’m sure it will make us all better off, after all, look how things worked out for the Tzars.

But at this rate there won’t be time for any definitions, so on with it, or I’d tell you about the nice drinks I’ve had at BrewDog, where I attended yet another well-run, fun tasting event.

Begging: (Eng. gerund – form of noun) – to solicit money or aid of some sort when in need.

We are one of Scotland’s wealthiest cities. We are one of Europe’s wealthiest cities. It’s bad enough people from other countries want to come here; now we’ve got people who aren’t satisfied with our generous minimum wages, food banks and quality doorways to sleep in; they also want to ask for money.

Well, this is obviously what’s stopping us from enjoying our shopping trips to malls and the West End. Being asked for money while trying to buy a new pair of Jimmy Choos is, well, trying. Thankfully, some of our wiser people in power want to ban begging. And just the thing to make begging  go away would be to fine beggars for begging.

No one’s got any reason to ask for any help; it’s not as if there is a growing gap between haves and have-nots. It’s not like our taxes are sky high – for those who aren’t smart enough to put their money in fake charity accounts, offshore schemes, or other avoidance vehicles.   It’s not as if those who are cleverly avoiding tax are depriving others of services the taxes should be paying for, and it’s not like there is anything immoral about not paying your fair share.

It’s not as if our Ma and Pa high street shops suffered when we gave multinationals sweeteners to open yet another shopping mall at Union Square. No, if you’re poor, it’s your fault.

Apparently we also have ‘aggressive’ beggars. I hear these aggressive beggars are upsetting the fine upstanding citizens who regularly throw up, brawl, shout, rob and intimidate people of your average weekend night in town. I’m very glad we’ve prioritised the kind of criminal activity the hungry and cold perpetrate as compared to our traditional thieves, fighters and drunks, who sometimes seem just a tad aggressive.

Complaints have apparently been made to ACC about begging: a whole handful. It’s time the city sprang into action, just like it did when it had complaints over the half-baked idea to destroy Tullos Hill’s ecosystem and deer. Three thousand of us complained we didn’t want the deer killed, or the wildflowers destroyed (and with them the existing animals, bees and butterflies).

Well, we know what effect that had. Beggars beware! Just go and get yourself a job; what could be easier?

Press & Journalism: (modern Scottish compound noun) the type of reportage and editorial policy as practiced locally by Aberdeen Journals Limited.

Not since the outbreak of WWI, WWII and the Sinking of The Titanic have we seen such a massive story with giant, emotive, shocking headlines. Well, not since ‘TRAITORS’ was the headline over pictures of those who decided to vote against Donald Trump taking over the SSSI sites at Menie for a golf club.

‘STABBED IN THE BACK’ was the headline in single quote marks over a photo of Barney Crocket at the time of his relinquishing the role of council supremo. Did he say he was stabbed in the back? Er, no. This quote was a bit of speculation.  The word ‘OUSTED’ was used quite a bit, despite the man not actually being ousted.

Has the P&J previous form in mixing fact, fiction and in hiding inconvenient truths? Of course not.

During the referendum it printed on one of its front covers a box labelled ‘facts’.  These ‘facts’ included tidbits such as building in Union Terrace Gardens would not cost the taxpayer anything, and 6,000 jobs would be permanently created if we put two giant granite clad ski slopes over the poor sunken garden.

The Press Complaints Commission had complaints on this ‘facts’ box (in fact, nearly the same number of people complained about this as people complained about aggressive begging in town). But the PCC decided that if people read the full article, spread over several pages, they would have realised the box marked ‘facts’ were not, er, facts.  And of course everyone reads every single word in a P&J piece.

So, facts aren’t always facts; this seems clear to me. I wonder if Mr Damian Bates, P&J editor and member of the PCC team had a hand in coming to the conclusion the article wasn’t misleading?

The P&J’s stable mate, the Evening Express, once had a front page with headlines blaring ‘DEER FOUND DEAD AHEAD OF CULL’. On further investigation, it emerged the deer that were found dead had died – two years before the proposed cull of deer for trees. Somehow, this minor detail was not initially published  on the paper’s website –who exactly planted this story, and why was never cleared up?

I may write a piece  ‘Mastodon found dead ahead of last ice age’ or similar.

And who could forget how conveniently both papers supported Mr Donald Trump, how they vilified the Menie Estate residents who wouldn’t sell up to Trump, and how they ignored award-winning film maker Anthony Baxter, whose documentary ‘you’ve been trumped’ won awards round the world.

It was almost as if they chose to run photos of Turnip and his luxury jet because that was great news and not because Bates’ Mrs works for The Donald.

For some reason the AJL circulation seems to be dropping these last few years. I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Perhaps tomorrow’s free copy of Metro, awaiting me on my bus to work, will offer some clue.

I wish I had time for more definitions, but duties at home have taken over for now.  As mentioned at the start of this piece, it’s been a bad week for press freedom and for freedom of information.  More on this next week.

Next week: another look at the police, some local crime info, and more on our council.

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

Sep 172013

read_all_about_it-2With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

The state of the EE has proved divisive in our area.

Some see a dark hole that should be rid of druggies and alcoholics. Some think it is a waste of space, empty of any meaningful content.

Some see a cute place to look at baby picture competitions.

Have your say on the future of this once-loved institution.

Answer questions which are in no way leading, and have your say.  Participate in this survey, the completely scientific results of which will be shared with government, Star Fleet Academy, and even ACSEF.

The survey can be found here  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PYSMBQ2

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 062013

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

DictionaryTally Ho! It’s been such a pleasant summer in the Deen, and there is no sign yet of the great weather retreating. The Braemar Games are set for this weekend, and it should be another great year for these particularly enjoyable games.

Thanks this week to the brilliant team at Swan Vets for dealing with my ailing cat; they are compassionate, efficient, benevolent and plain speaking.  As such, they are unique in almost any field of endeavour. If only we had more people like this in the public sector (or printed press).  If only everyone respected animals as much.

For instance, things are as bad as it gets for any cetacean life near to Taji Cove, Japan – the Japanese have started their annual slaughter and hunt of these intelligent, family-orientated animals. 

We now know that dolphins communicate on a very sophisticated level; they have identifiable names for individual animals in their pod.

The Japanese however want to slowly butcher these animals (you don’t want to know how slow and painful their death is) – or worse, after being weakened and starved, some are flown (courtesy of Japan Air Lines or China Air) to aquariums around the world. Against this backdrop of unnecessary violence and sadism, India has stood up and passed new legislation against the slaughter and transport of dolphins.

This was an important and bold step; cetacean charities and experts around the world applaud this move. More information here http://www.wdcs.org/

Closer to home, the badger cull continues; science is again thrown out the window, just as it was with the ‘contiguous cull’ which saw millions of livestock destroyed, now admittedly a horrific, unnecessary act of a desperate government.

As pointed out, vaccines were an option; American technology could have seen portable diagnostic equipment used.  Instead, we had massive bonfires and animals often destroyed inhumanely, and completely unnecessarily. http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/news-analysis/foot-and-mouth-10-years-on-culling-was-pure-madness/37404.article

We need to re-examine how DEFRA and other animal/environmental agencies always leap to culling as the solution when vaccination and other remedies to animal-related problems exist and are possible.

There is a poisoning of a bird of prey being reported nearly daily now; endangered, rare species are being deliberately targeted. Given the plight of wild animals in the UK, you’d almost think a powerful pro-hunting/culling lobby existed that pressured these organisations from the outside and infiltrated them, working inside them to make pro-culling policy take precedence.

It must be very gratifying writing these endless pro-city garden project stories

But surely not. As long as you’re not a seal, a badger, an ailing cow which could have been inoculated, a bird of prey or any form of deer, this is a great island to be a wild animal. (I hope to get back to my series on ‘cull of the wild’ soon, but recent developments at Menie and UTG have kept me a touch busy).

It’s also been a confusing week, with free paper Metro reporting a decrease in support for the ‘YES’ campaign, and our very own Evening Express claiming the reverse.  It’s almost as if you can’t believe what you believe in some papers sometimes.

The EE’s chief reporter David Ewen went on an investigative journalism binge this week. He’s broken the story that John Michie, owner of avant-garde chemist Michie’s on Union Street wants to build in the garden. Hard to believe that Michie has come down in favour of such an act; after all there was barely any sign of enthusiasm from him for the previous proposals (except for the frothing at the mouth).

More on this altruistic Aberdeen Journals Ltd. campaign to ‘mend our broken heart’ (ie building something in UTG) shortly.  With his command of economics, city planning, environmental issues and surgical spirit, we’re as good as saved now. He’s of course been on ACSEF for years, a fact that the EE neglected for some reason.

It must be very gratifying writing these endless pro-city garden project stories; I do wonder whether the editor subtly suggests them to his reporters, or if they all clamber to be the one chosen to write more pro web prose. More on that in a moment.

Finally, that poor Mr Cameron hasn’t managed to convince his own MPs let alone Parliament that the best way to help the Syrian people is with airstrikes. In fact there was open hostility when the idea of intervention went to the vote. You could be forgiven for wondering if the LibDem / Conservative coalition has a few stress fractures. But don’t worry, the ever-strategic Ken Clark is coming to Cameron’s rescue.

So, nice weather and nice veterinarians aside, perhaps it is time for some definitions with that.

Military Action: (Mod Eng. compound noun) Waging battle, physical intervention in a problem. (Clearly not waging war of course)

That poor Mr Cameron; he’s going to start wondering who is friends are. All he wanted was a bit of support in the House of Commons from his fellow Torys to help the Syrian people – with a little bit of military action.

Children in Syria are being tortured, starved, orphaned, and recently burnt to death in a school. Old Susannah would love to tell you how this amounts to a ‘civil’ war, or indeed what wars have ever been civil. Over a million people have been made homeless; unknown numbers have been killed, tortured, disappeared.

Clearly what we need to do is bomb them.

Some weak-livered hippies think we need to be sending medical aid, shelter, food, rescuing people and working round the clock for a diplomatic end to this civil war. How disappointing that some of this ilk seem to have got into the House.

Poor Cameron must have been feeling down as dozens of his own MPs voted against him. Luckily, that nice Mr Clarke as come to the rescue. He’s said Cameron was only doing what the Americans wanted him to do by raising the vote.

“Mr Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio, has disclosed that the Americans “wanted us to make this vote very quickly”. He said that the Government “did not have time” to ensure that it had enough support from MPs to win the vote. “

 Well, the coalition may have lost control of the House, but thankfully, the Americans are still setting the House’s agenda. Phew. For anyone who thinks blankets rather than bombing is the answer (with food and medicine thrown in), more info here. http://www.redcross.org.uk/syriacrisis

Broken Heart Campaign: (modern Aberdonian media propaganda phrase) To make everyone in Aberdeen happy by building something – anything in UTG.

When all is dark, when you can’t get a good VAT deal on regenerating brown field sites (which we have just a few of in central Aberdeen), when billionaires aren’t getting their way by commandeering common good land  for their cronies to manage, who ya gonna call? Evening Express!

Using all of its muscle without a thought of trying to sell more papers or keep its advertisers happy, Damian Bates’ organ is going to mend our broken heart! I didn’t know we had one, but there you go. Shops will fill up – we just have to build in the garden.

Perhaps a train stop makes some kind of sense for accessibility obsessives, but then again, if wheelchair users can get in the gardens now, what is the point.

When we have some specific actual architectural drawings, we can see what they’re on about. These, unlike those pretty web drawings, will show any safety features, HVAC details, and any underground structures (which will be opposed if they alter the park). However much cheerleading Wood, Michie and their pals do, there are just a few minor obstacles to consider.

There will be adherence to EU and UK procurement procedures. Aberdeen City Gardens Trust is not going to automatically get control of so much as a blade of grass: the whole thing is going out to tender (architecturally too, Halliday Fraser  Munro take note).

There will be environmental impact studies. There will be a public design vote with completely transparent results, which will include the chance to vote for improving the gardens, not building in them.

There is a difference between mending a broken heart and fixing something that’s not broken

There will be, unlike the lovely web, something called a project. A project, for the benefit of any ACSEF members still reading, requires a defined scope of the work to be carried out, a timescale for the work, and (sorry ACSEF) a detailed budget which will be adhered to.

There will be no further expenditure by ACSEF or any other quango on propaganda (we spent £125 or so on a photo ‘showing the gardens are inaccessible’ just for openers) and no more public money doled out to consultants (if you want to know more about the half million pounds of public money swallowed so far for this proposed land grab – sorry heart-mending project – is, have a look at  https://aberdeenvoice.com/2012/02/the-great-city-gardens-project-gravy-train/ )

The moral authority of the Evening Express is beyond reproach – or is that beyond the pale? Considering Mrs Bates makes her money from the much trumpeted Trump course which the EE and P&J are always happy to talk up, you have to wonder. Perhaps there is a Bates uncle or auntie on ACSEF? Is it the advertising revenues and the dwindling circulation rate that’s behind this heart propaganda?

I think we should be told (but we won’t be).

There is a difference between mending a broken heart and fixing something that’s not broken. Lower the business rates, start some initiatives to give our talented fashion, craft and arts students and practitioners empty store space to regenerate the town centre, stop building new stores (the mall didn’t exactly help the high street, and a first year economic student could have told us that).

But we need that green space, and what’s more we own it. We don’t need Smith managing it for us. Regenerate the brown field and in so doing stop the urban sprawl.  No open heart surgery required.

One way or the other, EE involvement, ACSEF involvement or not – there is going to be no more cronyism, no more secrecy and no more propaganda. And that’s a shame for a few people. Sorry.

Well, if they’re going to continue with the monomania, so must I.

Next week:  more on recent Trump-related developments, possibly some city of culture bid skulduggery uncovered too…

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