Apr 282017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Construction work has begun on a £16 million student accommodation development in Aberdeen.
Focused on sustainability and technology this next generation of student accommodation will meet the needs of the newest university generation.

The development, is located on the former tyre depot at the corner of Willowbank Road and Hardgate, will serve both Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the University of Aberdeen, benefiting from good public transport links and close proximity to the city centre.

Carlisle-based Northern Developments has started work on a 222 en-suite student bedroom scheme which received planning consent in 2016.

Northern Developments has delivered more than 1,000 student beds across the North of England and bring 32 years’ experience in design and build delivery. This experience is reflected in the focus on sustainability of the building and ensuring that the experience of the students living in it will be of the highest quality.

Aberdeenshire sub-contractor Andrew Cowie Ltd has started groundworks on the site and the project will be complete in the summer of 2018 for September arrivals.

Eddie Ward, commercial manager for Northern Developments, said:

“We are very pleased to have started work on the Willowbank Road site and look forward to delivering this exciting development.

“It will meet the demands of modern student living in every respect and will be very appealing to the millennial generation who quite rightly expect high standards and the latest technology to suit their technological and educational needs.

“As a business we strive to use a local supply chain to both deliver the best in class development but to also support a local economy such as that in Aberdeen.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Nov 122015
 

DAK with bookBy Suzanne Kelly.

Dr David Kennedy – academic, educational reformer and educational observer. He is possibly best known as the former head of Robert Gordon University who handed his degree back in disgust and protest at the honorary degree handed to Donald Trump.

Honouring Trump seems more of a huge error in judgment, academically as well as moral, as each day passes.

Trump goes from disaster to disaster, having been linked to organised crime by the BBC’s Panorama, and having branded himself as a racist, nationalist, sexist self-publicist. Yet RGU stands by its decision. And Dr Kennedy stands proudly by his.

Dr Kennedy released a book in June on his experiences in Scottish education. What’s in a Name?

Stories of a decade in higher education is available from Amazon as hardback, softback, or electronic versions. It can be found here.

Kennedy gave me his book to read and gave me an interview in mid-August. Circumstances at my end have delayed my reading his excellent book and putting the finishing touches on our interview. I regret this for several reasons, not least being Dr Kennedy’s ongoing kindness towards me and his patience in explaining some of the more complex issues involved in the history of changes in Scottish education.

More importantly though, the changes in our education are having tremendous changes on our society, our values and our morals. Some say that we are hot-housing our children from far too early an age, separating infants and young children from their parents who need to earn money.

Are our children able to find education that suits their intellectual potential despite whether they come from rich or poor backgrounds? Are we stressing our children by too much school and too much homework? Are some subjects (phonetics, ‘new’ mathematics) unhelpful hoops we make children accept without question? Are we teaching children how to think and synthesise facts they discover themselves and how to structure logical arguments – or are we teaching them to memorise things temporarily to get good exam results?

And this is before we reach higher education.

When I wanted a higher education, I was interested in the liberal and fine arts; I wanted knowledge first, and any future earnings potential was a secondary consideration (if I ever considered money more important than knowledge). Now our higher educational system seems far more concerned with employment outcomes than learning outcomes.

Engineering degrees involve great specialisations. I know several financially successful engineers over the years who seem to have limited cultural, historic, artistic, ethical knowledge. Is it possible that an educational system which favours specialism and ignores history, classics, ethics, philosophy and arts contributing to a shallow, materialistic culture that is willing to sell the planet’s environmental future for profits today?

Perhaps we should ask Dr. Donald Trump. I know what I think, and look forward to discussing the issues with Dr. Kennedy.

We start our telephone conversation; I am reminded of our earlier interview when we discussed Trump and RGU. This time however, David has a huge amount of information he is eager to convey, and I don’t need to ask him any questions at all.

David: 

“The book expands over my experience of higher education in Britain; things I personally knew about. 

I think its relevance to the current situation in Higher Education (HE) lies in 5 issues:

  1. Significance of Higher Education for society, industry, and individuals
  2. Does “one-size fits all” apply to career education/training? [Relevant to student debt]
  3. Equivalence of Awards across subjects, institutions, and countries 
  4. Relevance of Research and Scholarship in HE [Both are essential learning activities for students]
  5. The gradual commercialisation of education and its significance in so many different ways.

The book was inspired originally by the fact RGU, originally RGIT, is very well known and certainly in Scottish education, everyone thought of it as being highly prestigious; with an enviable profile. It was regarded as the flagship of Scottish post-school education. At that time, Scottish universities considered themselves to be British rather than Scottish and argued strongly against coming under Scotish control.

I should say that there were different mechanisms of funding for tertiary education. One was through local authorities. Another was through a grants committee funded by Whitehall, but very much at arm’s length, run by a committee of academics. The third was direct funding by government and this was the case here in Scotland – education colleges and central institutions by the Scottish Office. This was unique to Scotland and highly relevant to what happened later on.

RGIT had a prestigious reputation. There were 14 central institutions in total in Scotland, and there were ten colleges of education. The central institutions were of two types – one a polytechnic type, the others monotechnic – examples are colleges of agriculture, domestic science colleges, colleges of art, of nautical studies, and so on. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen had polytechnic-type institutions; the monotechnics were spread around.

I was appointed principal of RGIT in November 1984 and took up post in May 1985. From the start, I knew things were not right. There was a lot internally that was wrong, but I never ever expected the mess to be quite as bad as I found it.

The early chapters of the book, which is semi-autobiographical, is a collection of short stories, all true, as experienced by me. They are clustered in ten chapters. The first is about the stresses of the job – it describes some of the outstanding problems I found on taking up the post.

Very early on, I discovered to my horror that if you are a boss, then other people perceive you as being something different, even if you think you are just like everyone else. Relationships are different, some deferential, some obsequious, some hostile, and others downright insulting.

One anecdote in Chapter 2 concerns the first day I arrived. There were great piles of papers that had accumulated over many weeks; some very urgent. The less urgent included a petition from staff about the food in the refectories. I decided to visit each in turn (there were 6 in all). On the second day, I went to a nearby refectory for lunch; there were a pair of staff sitting together in earnest conversation and a guy sitting on his own.

I sat with him and began to chat. He had little apparent interest in anything and I found it difficult to get him to talk. However, some of his colleagues joined us and an animated conversation took place.

A young woman sitting next to me asked where I was from. [I’m a Geordie; it’s a very recognisable accent]. I told her, ‘I’m from Tyneside. I thought you’d know by my accent.’ ‘No, where are you from in the institute?’ I said ‘The Principal’s Office’ . She thought she’d perhaps hear a bit of gossip and asked what I did there. ‘Well, I’m the Principal’. All eight of them upped and ran; it was like an explosion.

They perceived me as some terrifying being quite different from themselves; this was reinforced later, many times.

Chapter Two tells about students, colleagues, stratagems that were used to gain special advantage, or to do the Principal down!

Chapter Three is about oil-troubled waters. Far from pouring oil on troubled waters, this was about the oil industry and the problems it brought. I can’t really describe it all – you’d have to read the book. RGIT had a massive input into the oil industry; more than any other institute in the UK. It had a world-wide reputation for the work it did. Meanwhile, at the Scottish Office… well, there was massive and secretive manoeuvring going on.

I start the chapter by saying 1066 was probably the most dramatic year in history of Britain, while 1988 probably most significant for Aberdeen, with Piper Alpha, and for RGIT. It was a very dramatic year also for higher education because of political goings-on that we were told nothing about at the time. We found out later, to our cost.

Chapter 4 – Quis custodiet … (ipsos custodes)? – who guards the guardians?– is about the way public sector institutions are governed, and how control is exercised. The press often terms itself as the ‘fourth estate’ that casts light on those in charge, and particularly on wrongdoings; but does it do this both honestly and fairly? It provides facts about people who are given responsibility to run organisations on behalf of the taxpayer.

The chapter also describes some unfortunate consequences of media behaviour. 

There was always a shortage of accommodation and Aberdeen Journals would have stories about the hardships of students unable to find suitable accommodation.

There was an implied criticism of the institutions and their bosses, taking in too many students – for the money! In one year two Art students decided to sleep in tents on the banks of the Dee. They contacted the press about their ‘plight’. The press had a field day. It turned out these were rich kids, carrying out a prank. The media didn’t investigate, simply looked for good stories – and were strangely silent when the truth became known.

Chapter 5 – Night-flying. The English call it ‘flitting’; it implies something done in the dark. This chapter relates stories about people who’ve tried things on.  It’s about the misbehaviour of staff who were too entrepreneurial.

Chapter 6 – A Question of Quality. This recounts the operations of the Council for National Academic Awards, which awarded the degrees offered by the polytechnics in England and central institutions in Scotland. It was the biggest degree-awarding body of its day and set standards for courses and their delivery, for examination regulations and procedures, as well as for the awards themselves.

Everything was written out, purposes and processes made clear, with evidence and fact-driven judgements based on clear standards. 

I tried to explain its strengths and weaknesses. I played an active role in CNAA and assisted in more than 70 institutions of all kinds in Britain. CNAA was closed down by government in an act of educational vandalism. It was the biggest mistake by British government in higher education in the last 50 years.”

The interview will be continued shortly, with a review of the book ‘What’s In A Name?’

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 302014
 

By Ken Hutcheon.
marischal pic lo

People will be aware that there is a major development being proposed where the old council buildings are being demolished at Broad Street.

Several hundred went to see the exhibitions by MUSE (the developers) and indeed many put in their comments and often objections to the plans they saw.

The final plans have now been submitted to Aberdeen Council to obtain approval.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, MUSE did not take those approx. 1100 comments and objections into account when arriving at their final design. (See the web site below for a breakdown of the feedback responses given to MUSE at the first exhibitions). So now is the time to make your comments or objections really count.

A website has been set up at  www.marischalsquare.weebly.com which shows the wonderful perspective in Central Aberdeen we are about to lose for generations unless you object by following the links on the web site which will take you through to Aberdeen City Planning.

There you can view the latest plans and make comments or objections to the plans online while on their site. These comments/objections will form part of the report which will go to Aberdeen City Planning Committee and have to be taken into account when the Council make their final decision on the plans.

After some correspondence with Aberdeen City the cut off date for objections or comments has been changed from 06/06/2014 to 18/06/2014 so there is time to lodge your comments on the plans.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 092013
 

By Bob Smith.

Boxes, boxes, boxes
Is aa we nooadays see
The “darlins” o modern architects
Be it Aiberdeen or Torquay

Thingies like yon Rubik’s Cube
O a Uni Library biggin
Leukin like the pint his run
A think it’s bliddy mingin

Union Square, o michty me
It’s jist aa steel an gless
Oor toon’s in the hauns o Philistines
Creatin a maist affa mess

The city skyline is fair important
Says Aiberdeen mannie Eric Auld
Seen throwe his artistic ee
Marischal Square it leaves him cauld

Fowk noo are fair upset
At fit they see gyaan on
Aa in the guise o progress
In the toon twixt Dee an Don

“Progress is jist the exchange
O ae nuisance fer anither”
So wrote  yon Havelock Ellis
Writer, Doctor an life giver

Boxes are fer storin things
Bit nae the human race
Stop biggins fit are jist bland
Dinna chynge oor city’s face

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
Image credit: Corporate Tree 2 © Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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

Dec 062012
 

As we strive towards a fairer society, University of Aberdeen students braved the ice and snow this week to collect signatures for a petition calling on management to open up the University to 1“everyone who deserves it”. With thanks to Gordon Maloney.

A recent report by the National Union of Students in Scotland, 2Unlocking Scotland’s Potential, showed that of all the Scottish students at the University of Aberdeen just over 3% of them – barely 50 students – came from the most disadvantaged 20% of society, making it the second worst University in Scotland on access.

The petition is part of a national campaign calling on university principals to:

“Make a commitment to fairer access, retention and articulation and ensure they make real progress to really unlock Scotland’s potential.”

Noting that more needs to be done in this regard, Aberdeen University Students’ Association Welfare Officer Gordon Maloney said:

“Scotland has the worst record on access in the UK and Aberdeen is the second worst in Scotland.

“All the evidence suggests students from under-privileged backgrounds who get into university through access schemes often end up doing much better than fellow students from more wealthy backgrounds.

“What this means is that competent people are being denied a place at university, ultimately, because of their social class and that’s unacceptable.”

1 The petition can be accessed at http://www.unlockscotlandspotential.org/
2 Full report available at http://www.nus.org.uk/Documents/NUS%20Scotland/Unlocking%20Scotland’s%20Potential.pdf

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

 

 

Jun 282012
 

“THOMAS GRADGRIND, sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations….. Thomas Gradgrind now presented Thomas Gradgrind to the little pitchers before him, who were to be filled so full of facts.” (Hard Times, 1854)
The master of 19th century fiction may have caricatured imagination-free learning thus, but would have been heartened by the spirit of the questioning and discussion evident during the meeting of the nascent Aberdeen Dickens Fellowship on 26 June.

By David Innes, with thanks to Dr Paul Schlicke. p.schlicke@abdn.ac.uk

Illustrating very well the group’s desire to ensure that appreciation of Dickens’s life and work is enhanced in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and fun, Dr Paul Schlicke, an academic, who is anything but dry and who displays not as much as a single speck of dust, shared his globally-renowned knowledge of Dickens’s life with fellow travellers.

There were questions on the effects of economic circumstances and social class on the author, the influence of his travels on his writing and whether or not his finely-tuned populist artistic antennae would see him wrestling with Rhianna – definitely not ‘old, fat and toothless’ as Maria Beadnell described herself – for music chart supremacy were he celebrating his 20th birthday this year rather than his 200th

It was a fun evening, and it is the group’s intention that these will continue, with some plans already in place.

On Thursday 30 August, Miriam Margolyes will perform her one-woman show, Dickens’s Women, in the University’s Arts Lecture Theatre. Tickets are selling well, and can be had from Aberdeen Box Office, 01224 641122. www.boxofficeaberdeen.com

The next gathering of the group will take place in September and members will be invited to give a party piece, by reading favourite passages from Dickens. Our Parish, from Sketches by Boz, will be the group’s text for discussion.

On Thursday October 11, James Naughtie, Rothiemay loon, University of Aberdeen alumnus  and scourge of politicians on Radio 4’s Today, will lecture on Dickens. The topic and venue will be announced at a later date in Voice.

Dr Schlicke is negotiating with a renowned Dickens biographer to speak to the group and Keith O’Sullivan, Senior Rare Books Librarian, has offered to set up an exhibition of the University’s Dickens treasures, of which there are many. In fact, Aberdeen itself has one of the very best Dickens collections in the world.

There is unanimous agreement that there will be a future session devoted to the Downie Slauchter, the Aberdeen murder mystery featured in Household Words in1852.

There has been a call for a series of discussions based on Dickens and ********  topics and those on the mailing list have been invited to suggest such themes for future meetings. Add in further suggested Dickensian events and a schedule for the 2012-13 season is looking very viable.

The group aspires to become the first Scottish affiliate to the Dickens Fellowship and urges anyone with an interest in the author to join in the activities.
https://sites.google.com/site/aberdeendickensfellowship/

What larks!

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 222012
 

By Bob Smith.

A quine ca’ed Annie Lennox
His kickit up an affa stir
Rubbishin the “gairdens” plan
Some fowk are in a birr

Gweed on ye Annie quine
Fer ca’in the plans jist crap
Ye’ve ruffled a fyow feathers
Widdie’s gang are in a flap

Ye’ve ivvery richt ti hae yer say
An hark back ti the 60’s folly
Fin biggin bliddy concrete trash
Wis thocht maist affa jolly

St Nicholas Hoose fer a stairt
Faa drimt up iss ugly wart?
Syne they blockit aff George Street
Planners didna gie a fart

Yon college doon bye Holburn
Wisna pleesin ti the ee
It seenwis aa knockit doon
In case students hid ti flee

The fauchie new Uni library
Some think it anither boob
A square biggin made o gless
A muckle giant Rubik’s cube

Oor toon is in an affa mess
Fer ‘eers hisna bin weel run
Noo if things still gyang agley
Shout “Annie Get Yer Gun”

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012

  • Comments enabled – see box below. 
Jun 222012
 

By Nicola McNally. 

On Tuesday 26th June the Aberdeen Dickens Fellowship group will meet at the University of Aberdeen King’s College campus, to launch their 2012 programme of events.

The meeting will be hosted by Dr Paul Schlicke, honorary senior lecturer at Aberdeen University.

Dr Schlicke told Aberdeen Voice:

“The meeting will consist of an informal seminar discussion of Dickens’s life. No prior knowledge of the topic will be required and no preparation expected. I shall lead the discussion myself and will welcome questions and contributions from everyone present. There will be no charge for admission, and everyone interested is most welcome.

“Then in September we’ll hold our next event, when we will discuss the group of sketches entitled ‘Our Parish’ from Sketches by Boz, and members will be invited to read favourite passages from Dickens, chosen by themselves.

“Thereafter we plan to schedule a series of seminars on topics under the general heading ‘Dickens and’—that is, Dickens and Money, Dickens and Charity, Dickens and Education, etcetera.

“We’ll have one meeting devoted to Dickens and Aberdeen. He came to give public readings on two occasions, turned down an invitation to stand for rector of Marischal College, and published an article in his journal Household Words about the local legend of the ‘Downie Slauchter’. We also plan to have a viewing of Aberdeen University’s magnificent Dickens collection.

“The essential point is that we should meet in fellowship; it is not intended to be an academic organisation, but rather a meeting of people who simply enjoy reading and talking about Dickens and his works. Anyone is welcome to participate”.

To find the venue:

The MacRobert Building is the tall building on the corner of King Street and St Machar Drive . There is ample parking adjacent to the building, free after 4.30pm. The entrance is on the south side of the building (i.e., facing in the direction up King Street towards the city. On entering the building, turn left and then through the doors on your right, and down the corridor for lifts.

Future events which have been arranged will also feature the actress Miriam Margolyes who will be at the University presenting her one-woman show, Dickenss Women on 30th August. Tickets for that event are available from the Aberdeen Box Office on Union Street .

 

Mar 152012
 

Voice’s Old Susannah considers the upcoming council elections, the UTG referendum result, the happenings on Tullos Hill, International Womens Day, blogging beasties and generosity. By Suzanne Kelly 

Tally Ho!  The May elections are coming, and not a second too soon.  Some of our tireless (or is that tiresome?) councillors are packing up and preparing to move on.  Let’s hope they bring all of their talents to their new areas.

I hear that there is now a shortage of packing crates at the Fortress of Doom (aka The  Townhouse) as heroic councillors get ready to head into the sunset.  I hope they don’t let the doors hit them on their way out.

As to the UTG Referendum?  Well, I guess that’s it – it has been a totally above-board, fair-and-square contest.

The grapevine would have it that some of the rich and powerful secret members of the Vote for the City Gardens Project are less than pleased it’s cost so very much money to have such a small margin of victory, but they still got the result they wanted, if not the landslide they’d prayed for (or is that ‘paid for’).

In the next few days I’ll write about the dozen or so wee problems that some people have with the referendum and how it was run.

Did you know that over 300 votes arrived just a wee bit too late to be counted?  Did you know it would be totally illegal for any of the campaigning organisations to see the register as to how the votes went?  No, neither did I until recently.  I also have it on very good authority who some of the VFTCGP backers are.  Old Susannah is toying with the idea of naming them.

They would be free to deny the association – but why should they want to be secret in the first place, after all, they were the heroes behind the scenes helping us poor souls know how to vote.  Who could turn down their promise of 6,500 new permanent jobs or their £122,000,000 flowing into the city each year?  Think of all the parties and portraits that would buy!  Wow!

(You might be interested to know that PriceWaterhouse Coopers were asked by me if they had intended their projections about money and jobs to be used as the VFTCGP did in its propaganda.   PwC might have been expected to say they were delighted, and that they stand behind their projections 100%.  However, they said that as the projections were made for a ‘private client’ they can make no comment on them to me.  Of course the bills I’ve seen for PwC look like you and I paid for this great work out of our taxes, but there you go).

And other great news from Tullos  Hill.  HoMalone is having her way, backed up by impartial ‘expert’ C Piper (perhaps related to the CJ Piper firm which was already paid £42,000 for the bang-up job delivered on tree planting to date?).  Yes, the gorse is gone, and with it all those annoying butterflies, bees, moths, and insects.

The birds that would have eaten these critters and the small and larger mammals which lived in the gorse are homeless.  If only I had an environmental degree, then I could say we’ve interrupted the food chain and interfered with existing biodiversity on Tullos.  As it is, I’m not allowed to make any such observation, however obvious.

Any small mammals or deer rendered homeless should apply at Marischal College reception to declare their homeless status.  Of course these creatures are likely now to wind up as road kill.  Surely not even HoMalone or Ranger Bigboy will dare to claim any roadkill we see now will be due to overpopulation?  Well, we’ll see.

  Women around the world lack rights and comforts we all take for granted

Some of those animal-loving, meadow-loving radicals will be handing flyers out and collecting signatures on petitions this Saturday at 12:30 in front of Marks & Spencer Union Street.  The petitions apparently are to protest the use of school children to plant the 89,000 trees on Tullos.

Ms Malone indicates this will be an educational experience for the little mites, and I’m sure it will.

Having seen the state of the hill, they will learn about cuts, tetanus boosters, chemical pollution, industrial waste, and dead deer.  Thank you, Aileen.  I do hope she will make it to the hill to plant a few trees herself.  That would seem only fair to me.

For the paper petition, further info, and a PDF of the new flyer, visit:  http://oldsusannahsjournal.yolasite.com/

Finally, Old Susannah attended two events in the last week which celebrated International Women’s Day, a great Oxfam fundraiser held by Bead Crazy on St Andrew Street.  A dozen or so guests were treated to cocktails (thanks for the Black Russians), brownies and beads.  Everyone made pieces from recycled materials which was right up my street.

I’ve turned an old domino into a necklace that says ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, and a bottle cap into a brooch with an Oxfam fact.  Women around the world lack rights and comforts we all take for granted.  Thanks to Alex and everyone at Bead Crazy for the event.

Then at the Belmont last Saturday I ran into a collection of women celebrating Women’s day a bit differently.  They were all dressed as fairy godmothers, and were collecting wishes from the public as to what people would like to wish for our young girls’ futures.  My wishes didn’t include any granite webs or deer culls.  Thank you Merlyn and all the other women.

As well as a definition or two, this week I am pleased to announce that Aberdeen Voice has negotiated two new Celebrity Bloggers!  They will be featured in this column for the next several weeks.

And now – the first ever Millie & Cattie joint Blog!

“Hi I’m Millie, the Caterpillar!”

“And I’m Cattie the Millipede!  We’ve had a horrible, tragic few days:  our meadow home was destroyed and many of our friends with it.”

“Yes, sadly that’s true, Cattie.  Bulldozers showed up without warning to our Tullos Hill home, and ruined our wildflower and gorse home.  We had our rescue quite by chance.”

“That’s right Millie.  We were chewing on a Foxglove plant and suddenly it was ripped up and hurled into the air.  Sometime later the plant was found by a kindly passerby, and we were all taken to a safe house where we all now live.”

“We were both reluctant to launch this blog, but Old Susannah showed us the coverage Aberdeen was giving to a talking cactus, Morris the Monkey, and Jake the Ghost.  So we thought, ‘Why not try it?’   We know Spike the Cactus is very popular, and if people are willing to take voting advice from a monkey and a ghost (no offence), then people should know our story, too.”

“Yes Millie – we have a responsibility to let people know our beautiful home is gone, and an entire generation of moths, butterflies, bees have been wiped out.  What will become of some of our larger friends like the birds, small mammals and especially the kindly roe deer is our huge worry now.”

“Agreed Cattie.  We are grateful we were saved – we only hope our friends who haven’t been destroyed yet will be spared.  Got any lettuce?”

Cattie and Millie will give us an update next week and for the foreseeable future.

Charity:  (adjective) state of being generous, donating time or money to those  less fortunate.

While our very own local billionaire works selflessly to ensure his lasting granite memorial will bring his family continued and visible dominance over a certain city, a less savvy multi-millionaire has displayed a woeful lack of commonsense.

When it looked as if there would be some public outcry against his web, he calmly threatened to take his ball and go home.

J K Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter saga read the world over, has donated over £100 million to charity in the past year and a bit.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard hardly anything about her donations.  Where were the press cuttings, the headlines, the photos?  What did she get in return to show for it?

Ms Rowling has a lot to learn I fear.  Not only has she given enough away to nearly pay for the granite web we all long for, she’s dropped way down on the UK’s wealthiest list.

We will remember for quite some time how Sir Ian made his gracious £50 million donation to Aberdeen.  As long as we did what he wanted with it, and let unelected entities ‘manage’ our common good land, it was a great gift indeed.  When it looked as if there would be some public outcry against his web, he calmly threatened to take his ball and go home. Charity begins at home, and we’re going to take his charity, whatever form it takes, and like it.

Sure, Rowling may have made children all over the world discover the joy of reading,  and her books got people to read together in families and groups.   Her money may have helped countless people the world over across a wide variety of problems and concerns.  She may have made important points about the value of love, courage, kindness and friendship –  

But where’s the statue?  Alas, if there’s no granite monument and not a ton of press coverage bragging about the money, then the donations might as well never have happened.  Shame.  Perhaps a great PR firm could help…

One of the more radical points I picked up from these ‘children’s books of Ms Rowling’s ran along the lines of this (I deliberately paraphrase)  “One thing the tyrants of this world fear is that one day, one of the people they have oppressed will rise up against them.”  Can’t for the life of me think why that particular idea should spring to mind, but there it is.

New Acronyms!

Hooray!  We’ve more acronyms in this town than we know what to do with.  First it was the ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme or “T’FEC!’ as it is affectionately known in Torry.  The tree scheme’s supporters (all 3 of them) are so pleased with their recent successes that they have more plans up their sleeves, or so I hear.

‘Forget Allowing Citizens Anything for Free’  is a brainchild for the coming budget cuts which are  in the pipeline, reflecting the service cuts and support staff cuts.  It will be called ‘FAC AFF!’ for short.

If this proves successful, phase 2 may be launched.  Its working title is Forget Every Citizen Utterly – or ‘FEC U’ for short.

If you want to see these schemes enacted, then don’t rock the boat at the elections, and we will continue on our happy course.  See you down at the Granite Web or Monorail station soon!

Next week? – At this rate what our Council will dream up is anyone’s guess…

Mar 082012
 

The Council has taken a bit of a pasting recently, probably in Voice as much as anywhere. That’s what happens when we invite citizens to pen articles for us. One of Aberdeen Voice’s founders, Ross Cunningham, makes a welcome return by musing on some of the things that councils responsible for the city actually got right over the years.

Let’s face it, our city council is pretty woeful.
Hundreds of millions in debt, essential services cut, hair-brained schemes to revamp the city centre and deafness to those who wish to voice their opinions on the city itself.

But, was it always like this? Surely our great city’s leaders must have been competent once upon a time?

I’m sure there are many more fantastic schemes the council has facilitated over the years that I’ve left out, so please feel free to add to the list. But first try these…..

1. Raising Union Street to street level from Union Terrace to Castlegate

What a superb plan. It almost bankrupted the city when it was built in the 19th century but that was the problem of Aberdonians back then and not ours. Can you imagine having to go downhill and back up again to get from KFC to Poundland? No thank you!

2. Putting the Canal Street signpost on top of a pole instead of at street level

Brilliant! We were all tired of seeing people scoring out the C and S to formulate a crude and badly-spelled statement. To hell with delivery drivers unfamiliar to the area who may not have a TomTom to guide them. Someone needs to treat these things anally!

3. Britain In Bloom champions umpteen times

Being an ex-gardener, the floral displays in the city have always delighted me. Considering we are surrounded by grey, the colour and vibrancy the flowers provided were always a welcome sight. It looks like we may have a new place to show off our horticultural nous very soon. I’d rather we just did up the old one.

4. Revamping Marischal College

It’s amazing what you can do with a pressure washer nowadays. The granite sparkles with a freshness not seen for at least half a century – apart from the old church on the side – and it sits across the road from the recently-evacuated monstrosity. Still, the view from the never-ending queue to wait to discuss inaccuracies on your council tax bill is better than it ever has been.

5. Rebranding the city arms logo

Does anyone remember when the leopards on the city logo looked a bit too fierce and menacing? Surely not the sort of image the city would wish to portray? The answer? Make them look more like a cartoon drawn by an infant, with their tongues sticking out. Sorted.