Sep 052018
 

Duncan Harley reviews Alan Stewart’s new book.

Five years in the making, Alan Stewart’s new book ‘North East Scotland At War’ will appeal to anyone even remotely interested in the history of the North-east of Scotland.
There are plenty of books out there which record the difficult years between the Chamberlain peace accord and the Soviet conquest of Berlin. Osborne’s ‘Defending Britain’ and Gordon Barclay’s ‘If Hitler Comes’ are the classics.

But this book is slightly different and there is certainly room for further historical accounts of the dark days when Hitler threatened our shores.

With a decidedly local slant, North East Scotland At War launches the reader into the minutiae of the defence of the North-east against what was, for a brief few years, perceived as the Nazi threat.

The archaeology of those distant times is laid bare and many of the official documents which record the difficult days inhabit the pages.

A ground-based Invasion never came. But preparations were firmly in in place and Alan’s finely researched history brings the day to day story of those difficult times sharply into focus.

Fougasse – developed by the Petroleum Warfare Department as an anti-tank weapon, Dragon’s Teeth and Railway Blocks feature in this book along with the stories of the stop-lines, the Home Guard roadblocks and of course that secretive plan to harry the invaders using suicide squads tasked with assassinating both their own commanders – who might betray them under torture – and German officers.

Air crashes also inhabit these pages. Alongside the enemy casualties, and they were in the hundreds, Alan details the stories behind some of the Commonwealth gravestones which litter the cemeteries of the North-east.

Training accidents accounted for many of the casualties.

A Czech fighter pilot killed when his Spitfire spiralled into the ground, an air-sea rescue crew lost in a collision with railway wagons on the perimeter of RAF Dyce Airfield and the gravestone of Flight Lieutenant Wheelock – killed attempting an emergency landing – again at Dyce – are featured.

This is one of those books which is difficult to set aside. The minutiae of the location of pill boxes and the stark reality of the bombing maps, feature alongside some difficult tales of children killed on the local sands, not by the Germans, but by the very defences intended to keep them safe.

Landmines and barbed wire were as much a hazard as air-borne bombs and machine gun bullets.

Alongside the difficult descriptions of civilian carnage, Alan has included a number of images of official documents which give a flavour of the times. In a memo marked TOP SECRET, a Colonel Geddes, commander of Aberdeen Garrison, expresses his concern regarding the vulnerability of Tullos Hill.

“I am a little uneasy” he writes, 

“about the defence of TULLOS HILL – Area 4624. This is a very commanding feature, on which the following units are located: A.B. 2 Site, Heavy A.A Bty, Detachment 319 Search-Light Regiment, RAF Wireless Installation and Royal Observer Corps Post.”

And there are literally dozens of such so-far hidden documents sprinkled throughout this account of the time when the invasion of our shores seemed such a certainty.

Profusely illustrated and replete with a plethora of new information gleaned from both local and national records, this is a local history book which I am pleased to include on my bookshelves.

North East Scotland At War – by Alan Stewart is Available from http://www.cabroaviation.co.uk/book.html at £21.99 + £3 P&P

ISBN 9781527215689
Cover image © Alan Stewart

Aug 112017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

ITCA Training provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.

An Aberdeen-based apprenticeship training company is seeking applications from the engineers of tomorrow for its specially tailored course.
In recognition of the looming skills shortage due to an aging workforce, ITCA Training, which is based at the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, created the Skills for Engineers course (S4E) to provide in-depth training for learners aged 16-18 who have left full-time education.

ITCA deliver a mixture of practical workshop based training with classroom based studies over the 16-week course, which is funded through the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) employability fund.

The course offers in-depth training in a wide range of disciplines including general workshop skills, health and safety awareness, hand fitting, service engineering, assembly skills and welding. 

Following 12-weeks at ITCA, learners then complete a four week work placement to build on their skills in a working environment. 

June Jones, managing director of ITCA, said:

“It is important that businesses address the issue of a potential skills gap, before it becomes a serious problem for the North-east in the future. In the current market, it is more important than ever before to have relevant experience and an industry standard qualification when applying for a job.

“The aim of S4E is to give learners the training and workplace experience required to get a foothold in the engineering industry, build their confidence and raise their understanding of safety in the workplace.

“This type of hands-on experience instantly gives S4E participants an advantage over other jobseekers in an extremely competitive market. Since the establishment of the S4E course, we have seen a high number of learners gaining full-time employment at a number of different companies, not only in the oil and gas sector, which is extremely positive.”

To apply for the course or find out more information, please email info@itca-training.com or visit www.itca-training.com. Next intake will be before the end of August 2017.

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the North-east since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com.

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May 122017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

Graeme Johnson and June Jones from ITCA, alongside four of the pupils and Turriff Academy depute rector, Jane Bisset.

A leading apprenticeship-training provider is calling on North-east schools to prepare youngsters for the workplace through an industry initiative aimed at plugging the engineering skills gap.

For the second year running, Aberdeen-based ITCA Training offered pupils from Turriff Academy the opportunity to gain an industry standard accredited qualification.

Six pupils, aged 16-18, successfully completed units in health and safety, machining, lathe work, fabrication, welding and general engineering hand skills at ITCA.

ITCA is now calling on other secondary schools to follow in the footsteps of the school by providing additional skill development opportunities for pupils.

Managing director of ITCA Training, June Jones, said:

“It is extremely promising to see a secondary school so focused on the development of its pupils. I can only hope that other schools follow suit by providing even more young people with the opportunity to gain useful skills and additional qualifications that add to their SCQF points.

“At a time when recruitment in the North-east is low, it is now more important than ever to provide promising young engineers with the skilled training and support they need to pursue a career in this field.”

Jane Bisset, deputy rector at Turriff Academy, said:

“We are very appreciative of the partnership between ITCA, Turriff Academy and Aberdeenshire Council. The initiative is very beneficial for our pupils, as they are able to gain an industry standard qualification whilst still in secondary school.

“This qualification stands alongside their academic achievements and will instantly give them an advantage over other jobseekers in a very competitive market.”    

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the   North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.      

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com  

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Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

Ace Winches Apprentices.

A specialist training company is calling on employers to adopt an apprentice after a number of young learners were made redundant from a deck machinery company.
ITCA Training, which is based at the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, is urging businesses to consider taking on one of the apprentices and providing them with the opportunity to complete their apprenticeship qualifications.

A group of ten apprentices are now looking for employment after being made redundant from Ace Winches in Turriff earlier this month.

The boys, who are aged between 17 and 20, were all working as apprentice engineers, with the exception of one fabricator/welder.

The head count reduction at the firm is another major blow for vulnerable apprentices in the region, as it comes just seven months after 17 apprentices were made redundant from the now defunct Enterprise Engineering Services (EES).

ITCA is hoping that a £5000 incentive from the Scottish Government will encourage employers to recognise the benefits of training young talent. The incentive is part of the Adopt an Apprentice scheme, which aims to get redundant apprentices back into work as quickly as possible.

Recent figures show that the North-east currently has the highest number of redundancies for apprentices in Scotland. As well as this, the number of new apprenticeship starts in 2016 dropped by 40% in Aberdeen and 14% in Aberdeenshire compared to the year before.

June Jones, managing director of ITCA, said:

“It is very alarming that another business is shedding a large number of apprentices that have yet to complete their training.

“The figures indicating the high percentage of apprenticeship redundancies in the North-east, as well as the drop in the number of new starts, are extremely concerning. If this carries on much longer then it will result in a skills gap and a severe shortage of skilled workers in the future.

“We appreciate that the market is incredibly tough at the moment, but it is the responsibility of businesses to employ and grow their own talent.

“We hope that employers will come forward to claim the £5000 incentive by taking on an apprentice. By doing so, they will enable a young learner to complete their apprenticeship and will help to safeguard the future of home-grown talent in the North-east.”

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the  North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.     

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com

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Dec 012016
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

june-jones-and-rachel-elliot-1A leading North-east apprenticeship-training firm has been awarded a gold level accreditation for meeting the standards set by Developing the Young Workforce’s (DYW) Quality Accreditation.

ITCA Training, based at the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, Aberdeen, received the accolade for its commitment to training and developing young talent.

Established in 1989, the firm provides a large number of learners with the opportunity to train in a wide range of disciplines, such as welding and fabrication, business administration, mechanical engineering, and logistics operations management.

Through its Skills for Engineers (S4E) course, ITCA provides training to young learners aged 16-18, who are no longer in full-time education. The programme is designed to prepare young people for the workplace, as it helps to boost confidence, improve their practical skill set, and provide them with health and safety awareness.

ITCA is currently working closely with three local schools to help pupils gain an industry standard qualification. By attending ITCA’s premises one day a week, pupils gain skills and experience in engineering disciplines and will achieve an SVQ Level 1 Performing Engineering Operations qualification. The eight-month initiative is now into its second year, with ITCA hoping to expand the initiative by developing links and working collaboratively with more schools in Aberdeen City and Shire.

As well as school pupils and school leavers, ITCA also works with young learners in full-time employment, as the firm offers bespoke training courses and framework to businesses with graduates or Modern Apprentices. These programmes give young people the opportunity to earn whilst they learn, gain new skills, and achieve a qualification that will help advance their career.

June Jones, managing director at ITCA Training, said:

“We are always happy to be recognised for the work we do with all our learners, as we cover all different types of participants and age groups and are dedicated to providing the highest quality training programmes. The accreditation is an acknowledgement of the hard work by all staff at ITCA to prove that we are indeed providing gold standard training.

“We work very hard to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to young people. University and college is not for everyone, so it is important that businesses are providing adequate training and development opportunities for their current and future employees. We need to all work together to ensure there is a future workforce.”

Rachel Elliot, manager at Developing the Young Workforce, said:

“We would like to congratulate ITCA on receiving DYW’s Quality Accreditation at gold level, so far they’re only the second business to be awarded gold in the North-east of Scotland.”

“We were extremely impressed with ITCA and the work that they do with young learners, as they were able to demonstrate that they provide training and development opportunities to a significant number of young people.

“With businesses often challenging young people to have better communication, numeracy and group work skills, it is encouraging to see that ITCA has all the right programmes in place to help young people develop these skills.”

 

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the North-east since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.   

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com

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Aug 312012
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

When big hearted Dons fan Danny Robertson discovered he had an AFC Club Shop voucher that he’d forgotten about, he contacted Pittodrie to see if it could be put to good use.
The Club then contacted Inspire who nominated Dyce teenager Ross Milne who is supported by them and attends their Holiday Activity Scheme.

Danny (24), who lives in Alford, said:

“As I have all the replica gear that I need, I’m delighted that Ross is able to benefit and it was great to meet Craig Brown too.”

Apr 062012
 

If you are of the opinion that the City Garden Project controversy was all about what flavour of city centre park Aberdeen should have – think again. There seems to have been a much bigger picture involved here, and the politics are murky.  Mike Shepherd writes.

The power of the print media in shaping opinion

The public referendum has been held, and the City Garden Project won by the smallest of margins: 52-48%. Feelings are still poisonous in the city, as it is clear that a marginal result was swung by dubious means.

On the City Garden Project side, unregistered groups spent a disproportionately large sum of money on campaign material, whereas the officially registered groups were restricted to spending about £8,000 only.

Some of the claims made by supporters of the City Garden Project were outrageous and substantially misleading. One newspaper advert is now being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Even Aberdeen Council were responsible for punting a justification for the City Garden Project with the questionable claim that a new park could create 6,500 new jobs in the city.

The local papers showed a bias in favour of Sir Ian Wood’s project and framed their reports to show one side in a much better light than the other (“Yes, vote for change” or “No, don’t vote for change”). Ludicrous claims were accepted uncritically – such as oil companies leaving Aberdeen if the scheme did not go ahead.

I had been advised by an expert that:

 “Newspapers are very powerful at shaping public opinion”

and:

 “You will need the support of a PR company during the campaign.”

It was very good advice, but in practice not something that a campaign group of limited influence and funds could realistically put in place. Yet, it was clear from canvassing in the street that the combined effort of relentless advertising, the glossy brochures and the press bias was having an effect.
Whereas many would stop and give me a considered analysis of how they would vote, a large minority were reflecting City Garden propaganda back at me, phrases recognizable from glossy brochures or Evening Express headlines.

Our society today is witnessing a battle between democracy and political lobbyists / PR companies. Out of this, democracy is not doing that well. It’s a shock to see this writ large in Aberdeen, but at least the Gardens Referendum result has made this crystal clear to any thinking person in the city.

Local politics

After two years of campaigning to keep the Gardens, I have been able to observe how local politics works. It is clear that the current council administration is very business friendly and they will tend to make decisions that primarily favour business interests. At just about every council meeting you will hear the phrase “Aberdeen is open for business.”

Local democracy commonly involves a conflict between what business wants and what is in the interests of the general public. For example, if Aberdeen Airport is allowed to land flights at night, Dyce residents will get woken up by the noise. The conflict between business and public interests came to the fore after the consultation on Sir Ian Wood’s scheme two years ago. Over 50 local businessmen wrote to the council asking for the result to be ignored:

‘due to misunderstanding of the project among the public’

and an ‘inability’ to appreciate its impact. The council – to their shame – did this. The current Council administration (an SNP / Lib Dem coalition) appears to favour business almost every time.

There are a number of reasons why business gets its own way with the council. Many councillors are instinctively business friendly and will tend to support projects that are favoured by local commercial interests. This is certainly true of the Conservatives on the council and of many councillors from the other parties too.

There is also a powerful business lobby. Businessmen make up two thirds of the Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Forum (ACSEF), a “public-private partnership that drives economic development in the region”. Funded by both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils, ACSEF is a non-elected body that have been given a significant degree of control over local economic policy. There is no doubt that ACSEF exerts power and influence over the activities of both councils.

  advanced societies work by a system of checks and balances between moneyed interests and the public regard

ACSEF were involved with the City Garden Project in the early days and described it as one of their flagship projects. Two of the board members, including the Chairman Tom Smith, are directors of the Aberdeen City Garden Trust, the group that organised the architectural competition and who hope to take the project forward to completion.

Extensive networking appears to go on amongst the “great and the good”. Politicians, local businessmen, council officials and senior figures in local organisations turn up and meet at parties, functions, charity events and business meetings. One Freedom of Information request gives an indication of how much hospitality is provided to council officials for instance:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/76531/response/199821

To the worldly wise, this will not come as a surprise. However, advanced societies work by a system of checks and balances between moneyed interests and the public regard. This does not appear to be working too well in Aberdeen.

The SNP and the City Garden Project

The SNP have been intimately involved with the City Garden Project since its inception. Alex Salmond was present at the project launch  in 2008.
http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/Article.aspx/933616

But only recently have both Alex Salmond and Callum McCaig, the SNP leader in the council, explicitly endorsed the City Garden Project.

Yet, the majority of SNP councillors have supported it throughout (the notable exception being Clr. Muriel Jaffray). This is clear from the voting records every time the project has come up for debate in the Council. The SNP support has been instrumental for the progress of the City Garden Project through successive council votes.

  Major businessmen such as David Murray, Brian Souter, Jim McColl and Martin Gilbert have now endorsed the SNP.

The SNP have a reputation for populist politics and it may seem surprising that they have embraced such a controversial project for the city. I believe that there is a much bigger picture here, and one that takes precedent over local politics. The SNP are essentially a single-issue party; they want independence for Scotland. The realpolitik of the SNP is that much of what they do is focussed towards this end.

A key aim for the SNP has been to secure the support of major business figures in Scotland. This is partly financial; the party has no natural source of funds apart from membership fees, but they are also trying to secure influence leading up to and beyond any independence date. Major businessmen such as David Murray, Brian Souter, Jim McColl and Martin Gilbert have now endorsed the SNP.

Sir Brian Souter, founder of the bus company Stagecoach, caused controversy when he donated £500,000 to the SNP in 2007. Shortly afterwards, the SNP dropped an election commitment to bus re-regulation, although they denied that there was any connection to Sir Brian Souter’s donation.

Sir Ian Wood has not given open support to the SNP, yet the SNP continue to court the billionaire’s favour. Not only has Alex Salmond given his own backing to the City Garden Project, the machinery of Government has also been used to bankroll the scheme.

Scottish Enterprise funded the public consultation two years ago and also allowed grant money to be used for the technical feasibility study. Although the public rejected Sir Ian Wood’s project in the consultation, it didn’t stop Scottish Enterprise from giving Aberdeen City Garden Trust £375,000 of public money from its available funds for major infrastructure projects.

Another niggly problem has been the concerns of Audit Scotland

The Scottish Government are keen to provide investment money for the project through TIF funding. Yet it has been established that the initial proposal did not rank very highly by comparison to other investment and infrastructure projects elsewhere in Scotland.

The Scottish Futures Trust, who carried out the ranking, has refused to make their calculations public in spite of Freedom of Information requests to do so. Another niggly problem has been the concerns of Audit Scotland, who have questioned the long term capability of the indebted Aberdeen Council to pay back a risky loan for the project.

The proposed use of valuable investment and infrastructure funds for something as trivial as building a new park is shocking. The business case is dubious and the council can’t afford the risk. Political considerations seem to have taken precedence to a strict business evaluation on the Aberdeen TIF case.

Sir Ian Wood discussed independence recently and gave an indication of what he wants from the Scottish Government:

“The Wood Group will not endorse a Yes or No vote on independence. But Sir Ian added: “What’s key is the extent to which our clients, and to some extent ourselves, anticipate that a Scottish Government would continue with a similar oil and gas policy to the UK.

“The suggestion right now, from the discussions I’ve heard, is that there’s a lot of overlap between the present Scottish Government’s thinking on the development of the oil and gas industry and the UK government’s thinking.”

He went on:

 “What’s important – and I think the First Minister realises this – is that they must provide as much clarity as possible over the next two years towards the vote in 2014, so that we minimise the uncertainty.”
http://www.scotsman.com/captains-of-industry-and-finance-join-clamour-for-clarity

I have no doubt that this will happen.

The SNP are hoping to secure a majority at the council elections on May 3rd. This is possible, but as a one-issue party they tend to do better in national elections than local elections. They are also heavily identified with the Union Terrace Gardens issue and this appeared to have cost them votes in the Scottish elections last year.
https://aberdeenvoice.com/2011/05/the-election-the-utg-effect/

If they do not get a majority, this raises the intriguing possibility of an administration run by a Labour-SNP coalition. The Lib-Dems are likely to see their vote collapse outside the West End of the city. The Labour group are vehemently opposed to the City Garden Project and it could be that a condition for agreeing to form a coalition is that the scheme is dropped.

The “Union” in Union Terrace Gardens refers to the union of the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1800. Perhaps it is ironic that the park has ostensibly become a pawn in the big game of Scottish independence. It would be immensely sad if this was the case. Aberdeen’s heritage could end up sacrificed for the sake of political wheeling and dealing.

This would not bode well for a future Scotland. As Paul Scofield, playing Thomas More, said in A Man For All Seasons:

“I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

Jan 242012
 

With thanks to Iain Richardson.

Campaign group “ Common Good Aberdeen ” will demonstrate at 10am outside tomorrow’s special Council Meeting. Councillors will be voting on proposals to progress the City Garden Project.

Common Good Aberdeen campaigns for better stewardship of the Common Good Lands, of which Union Terrace Gardens are a prime example.

Common Good Land is owned by the community and should managed on their behalf by the Council.

The campaigners believe these proposals are flawed because:

  •  1. Union Terrace Gardens are Common Good Land. The Gardens are a highly valuable asset owned by the people of Aberdeen. It is wrong for the Council to vote these development proposals through, before the citizens of Aberdeen have had a chance to vote.
  •  2. A report costing £100000, paid for with taxpayers’ money, has failed to demonstrate a business case for the City Garden Project. The “TIF Business Case” report was released to Councillors only last Friday. It lumps together a total of 10 development proposals. These include two large industrial zones in Dyce and Bridge of Don. The report forecasts job creation and economic gains for all 10 projects. There is absolutely no evidence for economic benefit arising solely from the City Garden Project.

Councillors should reject all proposals at the special meeting. They have been given misleading and unclear information about the supposed economic benefits of the City Garden Project.

The Council has no mandate to decide the fate of Union Terrace Gardens ahead of a public referendum. As no economic case has been provided for the City Garden Project, Councillors have no choice but to reject these proposals.

For more information, contact:
Iain Richardson, info@commongoodaberdeen.org, tel 07833 453961

Dec 012011
 

Last year Aberdeen City Council proposed the complete closure or privatisation of Aberdeen Instrumental Music Service. After a strong campaign, the council was persuaded of the senselessness of its proposal. We were assured that the existence of the Music Service would be safeguarded, provided the Music Service made cuts requested by Aberdeen City Council. It did. The service was saved for a year, but it is once again under threat. Kathryn Reid tells Voice about the Come and Play Protest

On Tuesday 6 December, the Council’s Finance and Resources Committee will meet to discuss Priority Based Budgeting: Draft financial budget 2012-2013 5-Year Business Plan budget.

Once again it contains a proposal to ‘withdraw music tuition’.

We want to demonstrate to councillors how much musical talent is thriving in Aberdeen thanks to the Aberdeen Instrumental Music Service, and we aim to do this in the most obvious way – by playing and singing!

We are planning a Peaceful Playing Protest in Union Terrace Gardens, from 12noon to2pm at the same as the budget meeting is taking place. We are inviting as many people as possible to attend so we can really make an impact. If you are a member of an instrumental or vocal musical group, please come along with your friends and lend your talents.

More information and details are available from rona.h.cook@gmail.com

A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER…

This is a peaceful protest. Bring a smile and your best behaviour!

Union Terrace Gardens doesn’t have facilities for an orchestra, so take along music stands if you need them.

Neither chairs nor a PA system can be provided, so remember this when planning your performance.

Union Terrace Gardens managers have been kind enough to let us use the space, let’s show our gratitude – don’t leave behind litter or damage the area!

It’s Aberdeen, and it’s December….wrap up warm!

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP…

Write to councillors on the Finance and Resources Committee giving your point of view

Write to your MSPs

You can find addresses and links for councillors and MSPs at
http://www.friendsofaberdeeninstrumentalmusic.co.uk/
 

Sign the online petition at:
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/no-withdrawal-of-music-tuition-in-aberdeen.html

Tuesday 6 December,
12noon – 2pm.
Union Terrace Gardens, 

HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL THERE!

Nov 142011
 

With thanks to Kathryn Reid.

Here We Go Again! (not) Happy As Can Be!
It was extremely disappointing to read in the newspaper that Aberdeen City’s Instrumental Music Service is again under threat by the proposed budget cuts.

After the demonstrations and campaign of last year, assurance was given that the Music Service was safe – albeit with a massively reduced budget. Once again, it seems that an important educational service is back on the table as a possible cut.

The Music Service in Aberdeen costs less per child than in any other Scottish music service. Compare this with the fact that more than 40% of the children taking part in National Orchestras, Brass and Jazz bands come from Aberdeen City – value for money indeed!

Last year the Music Service had its budget slashed by £520k – not the £170k claimed in the new Priority Based Budget on the ACC website – and it now operates on a budget of £789k from Aberdeen City Council for its 3000 pupils.

For clarity it should be noted that the Music Service and the Music School (ACMS) are two separate entities receiving their funding from different sources. ACMS, which is based in Dyce Academy, receives an annual grant of £1million from the Scottish Executive for its 40 pupils. It receives no funding from ACC.

Although the ‘Withdraw Music Tuition’ option is below the red line and is therefore under the heading of “ undesirable to progress,” it is precariously close to the red line and would become a very real option should any of the cuts above it fail to get approval.

Aberdeen’s excellent Instrumental Service should be protected and taken off the table as far as making budget cuts are concerned. Withdrawing Music tuition completely will impact on many of our children’s lives. The vision for Music in the recently introduced Curriculum for Excellence for Scotland is “Performing and creating music will be prominent activities for all learners.”

The Aberdeen City Council’s proposal to withdraw Music tuition is thus completely at odds with the Scottish Governments stated entitlement for children.

More information re.  F.A.I.M. (Friends of Aberdeen Instrumental Music), and how you can help, can be found on their web site:
http://www.friendsofaberdeeninstrumentalmusic.co.uk/

STOP PRESS: A petition has been launched in opposition to the withdrawal of music tuition in Aberdeen.
Sign the petition here: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/no-withdrawal-of-music-tuition-in-aberdeen.html