Jul 122013

By Suzanne Kelly.

As Blaikiewell Animal Sanctuary and Redwing Riding School continue to fight for a fair settlement, First Minister Alex Salmond has weighed in, suggesting the matter be expedited and handled fairly.

The sanctuary for 60 horses and its associated riding school sit in the path of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route; compulsory purchase orders mean they have to find more land.

Finding suitable grazing fields, stabling and habitat for the rescued animals is difficult, much more so when the compensation on offer did not take account of the needs of the sanctuary’s animals. 

Any new site has to offer as much grazing land as the present site; the cost of feeding horses is continuing to increase; grazing over the summer months helps alleviate the costs.

The increases in the costs associated with keeping horses and ponies has led to a nation-wide epidemic of vulnerable animals being abandoned.

When rescued, animals are often in need of immediate veterinary care and shoeing.

Bureaucrats even threatened to halt last Saturday’s annual horse show, even though they did not need the show grounds.  Negotiations have thus far not reached a compromise.

It seemed at one stage Transport Scotland was trying to treat Blaikiewell and Redwing as simply being a commercial entity; the truth is that Redwing exists to slightly offset the considerable costs of feeding, stabling, shoeing and providing veterinary care to more than 60 horses.

However, there is much public support for Blaikiewell, witnessed by several petitions, local politicians and concerned supporters and Alex Salmond sent a letter of support to Keith Brown, MSP, Minister for Transport and Veterans.

In this letter of 3 July, Salmond asks for Brown’s assurances that:

” …. both Transport Scotland and the District Valuer are engaging fully and properly with Ms Petrie and that all viable options for compensation and relocating are explored.”

Mavis Petrie said: 

“We are very pleased that Alex Salmond is looking into the situation and we will keep him advised of developments.”

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Apr 092013

STV News broke the story last week that popular, 40-year old Blaikiewell Horse Sanctuary could fall victim to the AWPR if suitable new premises are not organised.  This is a unique place which has rescued horses and other animals for decades, offered riding lessons and stabling – all due to the dedication of volunteers and founder, Mavis Petrie.  Suzanne Kelly talks to Mavis about the area, the animals and the AWPR.

The AWPR will inevitably cut a swathe through our constantly-dwindling greenbelt land.  Urban sprawl, increased pollution in green areas and loss of local green recreation areas are inevitable consequences.

There will be very real costs to wildlife, rural animals, and those who live there.

Incredibly, hundreds of people who will be impacted by the AWPR still have not taken the steps they need to take to ensure they will be compensated. 

One of the great frustrations for Mavis Petrie and those at Blaikiewell  Horse Sanctuary is that they have been writing letters to the AWPR administrators – but are not getting any correspondence back.  It seems the STV coverage may help; elected officials have also come forward to offer assistance.

Animal charities in our area get no funding from central government, despite performing an essential role; unlike other European/western nations they must rely solely on donations from the public or grants from local authorities.  With animal abandonments increasing dramatically due to the economic situation which also means spiralling prices, it is hard to simply keep going.

Blaikiewell’s is going to lose space.  The AWPR will be cutting through land it owns, and there will be a highway and a roundabout where retired, injured, abandoned animals currently have a home.

While waiting  briefly for Mavis, I talk to  Joyce.  Her husband was diagnosed with cancer; the sanctuary was able to take their horse during that difficult time:-

“There are very few  places like this.  I had been nursing my husband; it was such a comfort to us to know our  horse would be well looked after.  Blaikiewell’s is priceless; everyone mucks in and  helps.”

Mavis takes me on a tour of the sanctuary.

“I was always interested in animals, and I wanted a horse when I was young.” Mavis explains.

“I went to an animal auction in the 1970s.  There was a little 8 month-old foal.  The auctioneer said ‘come on; if nothing else it will fill up  your deep freeze.”   Mavis was appalled and bought the foal, which she named Bracken.  Soon she bought another, Willow, to keep Bracken company and things grew from there. 

“Others arrived; I couldn’t turn them away.  We started the riding school to try and raise money.  Then the riding school horses got old and retired here, and other horses kept coming.  We set up as a charity in 1997. 

“There is no help from the government; the SSPCA don’t have facilities for horses, and other charities are sending animals to me.  With losing 20 acres, I’ll have to cut down on taking animals in.  This week they’ve (AWPR administration) started talking to my brother about money.” 

Mavis is grateful to STV for the coverage, which she believes has helped to get things started.

We go to different enclosures and meet horses  Jaffa, Rum, Charlie and more; they all come to greet her.

One field she points out is flooded in part; this apparently happened when test drilling for the road happened.  It has cut down on land she can use, but there has been no compensation.

Finding another suitable ground nearby will be a problem; Maryculter land is not exactly cheap.

There are adjacent fields, but the asking price is apparently higher than the sanctuary can afford;  well over £400,000 would be needed.  There would be a lot more needed to bring new fields up to the standard of the existing ones with shelters, fencing and tree shelter belts.

It seems those who are in the path of the AWPR are being told to take 90% valuation settlements for their land and homes, and once accepting this offer, they can apparently negotiate for more money.  This seems like a rather unfair method of compensation; the more land you are to lose, the more money you will lose as well.  It is hoped that someone in a position of power who can look into this situation will do so directly.

Alex works at the sanctuary and riding school; she gives lessons and takes people riding.

There are many ways people can help Blaikiewell – donations of money, animal feed and so on are always welcome.  William Nichol (Aberdeen) Ltd. donated a much-needed one-year supply of diesel.  The website gives many more details; please visit here http://www.blaikiewell.com/

Our countryside and its animals are part of our heritage and our culture.  Once they are gone, they cannot be recovered.  Blaikiewell and all of our area animal refuges need our support; if you can help at all, then please get in touch with Blaikiewell.

Are you effected by the AWPR but haven’t taken action yet?  If so, it is highly recommended that you get in touch with your councillors, seek legal advice and/or visit a Citizen’s Advice Bureau immediately.  Aberdeen Voice has further information.

See:  https://aberdeenvoice.com/2013/04/awpr-coming-dont-lose-out-if-you-are-in-its-way/

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Apr 092013

Hundreds of  homeowners could be in for a nasty shock.  Transport Scotland has taken title on lands needed for the AWPR.  Like or loathe the idea of the new road, it is coming.  If you are affected by its progress, you cannot afford to sit by and do nothing.  Suzanne Kelly reports.

As reported in the Press & Journal, a staggering number of land/property owners have failed to take action to ensure they get compensation.

Do you live in the path of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR)?  Did you receive any correspondence from government or Transport Scotland?

If this applies to you, and you have not taken any action yet, you are urged to seek legal advice and/or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.

According to the Press & Journal article of April 5, Larry Irwin of Strutt & Parker said:-

“… less than 50% [of land owners] have so far submitted their claims for advance compensation under the 90-day notice form.  Affected owners can claim 90% of the provisional value calculated by the district valuations office.  It is important to note that this does not prejudice any further claim negotiations.

“Now that Transport Scotland has title to the land in question, previous owners re at a disadvantage if they do not claim as they no longer own the land or have any rights over it.  They will not receive any compensation unless they submit their 90-day notice form.”

Those affected who are unsure what course of action to follow first might do well to get in touch with either a legal adviser or their local Citizens Advice Bureau .

A CAB spokesperson said:-

“Aberdeen Citizens Advice Bureau is funded to provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to the citizens of The City of Aberdeen and its environs. The city boundary at that point is from the River Dee in the South and Easter Ord in the North.

“We will not advise on class actions but individuals are welcome to come to our offices at 41 Union Street where they will be helped by a trained advisor.”

Advice can be found online at:    www.adviceguide.org.uk/scotland   .  Additionally, there are three CAB offices serving areas potentially affected by the compulsory purchases which are being used for land in the path of the AWPR.

  • Aberdeen Citizens Advice Bureau,
    41 Union Street, Aberdeen, AB11 5BN
    Advice Line 01224 210510
  • Kincardine & Mearns CAB, 9 Cameron Street, Stonehaven.
  • Westhill & District CAB, First Floor, Westhill Shopping Centre, Old Skene Rd, Westhill

Appointments should be booked in advance.

A CAB representative said:-

“…the CAB network is organised along Local Authority lines.  Every CAB is separate and is funded by its Local Authority, and so can only help people who live in that Council area. So, the Aberdeen CAB – which is based in the city centre – serves anyone who lives within the Aberdeen City area.

“But those who live just over the boundary in Aberdeenshire would have to go to one of the CABs that is funded by that Council (there are a few of these: one in Stonehaven, one in Westhill, and 2 others further north). Obviously, all CABs work together, and the service you get is the same wherever you go, but it’s important that people know to go to the right one.”

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Sep 092011

By Bob Smith.

Noo the AWPR,  
Jist a ribbon o tar
Is bein built so fowk can gyang faister
Fae Stoney ti Dyce,
27 minutes they’ll slice
Aff the time on the clock fit’s oor maister

We maun get there quick,
Some spoot oot real slick
Time is money ye surely can see
Some steerin wheel huggers,
Are aa silly buggers
Fleein aroon fae the Don ti the Dee

We’ve aa heard the notion,
Aboot time an motion
Far fowk staun an peer at watch face
Ti see fit wye’s quicker,
Ti damage yer ticker
As fowk jine the bliddy rat race

The warld his geen mad,
Iss is affa sad
In a car some growe horns an a tail
Wi great bulgin een,
Rude signs ti be gien
Feenished aff wi a rant an a rail

Time ti slow doon,
Dee awa wi the froon
Live life at a less frantic pace
If ye maun drive yer car,
Ower iss ribbon o tar
Hae an attitude fit’s less “in yer face”

Een o life’s sins ,
Nae hae use fer yer pins
Can ye think o onything sadder
So git on yer bike,
Or gyang fer a hike
Or ye micht slither aboot like an adder

Some tak things ower far,
An worship the car
Car showrooms are noo the new kirks
Div the salesmen aa kneel,
At the eyn o each deal
Syne waak aboot wi satisfied smirks

A micht tak the piss,
Bit jist think o iss
A car’s only a box on fower wheels
We’re layin doon a tar bed,
Ti tak a  muckle tyre tread
Costin millions o poonds-we’re aa feels

 ©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011
Image Credit: © Morteza Safataj | Dreamstime.com 

Aug 182011

By Bob Smith.

The AWPR can ging aheed
Maist fowk hiv gien a cheer
They micht aa yet be greetin
If it turns oot ower damn’t dear

Awa back a fyow eer ago
Fower hunner million wis the cost
Aa doot iss wull be far awa
Fae the final figure we’re tossed

A’ve nithing agin the roddie
Apairt fae far it gings
Ower bliddy near the toon
Destroyin ony benefit it brings

Dinna believe me?  please yersel
Jist dee a wee bit speirin
Ye’ll  fin aa ither by-passes
Hiv biggins near them appearin

Doon the line aboot ten eer on
Mair hooses and big sheddies aboot
Cars an larries gyaan ti an fro
Cumin on an aff iss route

Ti tak the HGV’s past the toon
Iss thocht we aa maun broach
AWPR shud be biggit farrer wast
So developers they canna encroach

Biggin the roddie far they wint
Is a folly fair complete
A fear ma freens we’ll fin oot
The AWPR micht become obsolete

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011
Image credit: © Axel Drosta | Dreamstime.com