Jul 182013
 

By Bob Smith.

Eck Salmond he is maist upset
Wi the fowk at Muirfield links
He’s nae gyaan tae The Open
Membership policy he feels stinks  

Fer ‘ears an ‘ears iss golf club
An aboot iss they’re nae kiddin
Throwe the portals o the clubhoose 
The fair sex they are forbidden 

Is wee Eck noo a feminist
Or is’t jist a publicity stunt
Tae get aa the weemin’s votes
As independence he dis punt

Noo masel I hiv iss view
Golf clubs policy it shud be
Fer baith sexes tae jine up
An nae jist on the tee 

Bit Muirfield is a private club
So his a richt its ain rules tae mak
If it wints jist mannies only
We’ll jist hae tae cut some slack 

Maybe they’ve the richt idea
Fin aboot their game they’re braggin
Enjoyin the odd gin or twa
Free fae bliddy wifie’s naggin 

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
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Jul 122013
 

By Bob Smith.

The Donald wis on Panorama
Spikkin tae BBC’s John Sweeney
Aboot aa the gyaans  on
At his placie ower at Menie
.
The Sweeney hints tae Mr Trump
6000 jobs hinna cum tae fruition
The Trumpie lot war fair pit oot
An treated aa iss wi derision
.
Donald roared – Git rid o aat hoose
Tae the “P&J” editor’s wife
Says she it micht cause a stir
An reap ye lots o strife
.
Faa cares the mannie gabbit
A sure can dee fit a wint
It’s on ma lan quoth Donald
Tae the puir dementit bint
.
The hoose belangs tae David Milne
A chiel Trump disna much like
Bit David stuck twa fingers up
An said Trumpie tak a hike
A billie fae the Royal Toon Plannin
Thocht Trumpie’s case it wis unique
In aa his ‘ears in the plannin game
He’d seen nithing tae cause sic pique
.
Oor First Minister an The Donald
War eence on spikkin terms
They’ve hid a bit o a faa oot
Ower the plans aboot winfairms
.
Trump wis qizzed aboot his dealins
Wi a mannie fae the Mafia mob
Syne he up’s an leaves the interview
Hintin The Sweeney didna ken his job
.
Noo in the pages o “P&J” we read
Business pallies tae his rescue hiv rode
Eence mair tryin tae kid us aa
In the Nor’east the mannie is loed.
.
Birds o a feather flock tigither
A mynd aboot iss  auld sayin
Bit maist o us chiels ken they’re aa feels
Faa dunce tae the tune Trumpie’s playin

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
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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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Jul 122013
 

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

With the warmer weather, all sorts of undesirables are on the move in our area.  Recently these dodgy types somehow infiltrated the otherwise inaccessible Union Terrace Gardens, and havoc reigns.  Some of these people are so out of their heads on Ribena and Cola (‘coke’ to give it its slang term), that they have taken to lying down on blankets for hours, enjoying what they call ‘grass’ and ‘sun’.

Some of them are barely dressed, wearing shorts and sleeveless tops.  The sooner we get a web under construction, the sooner these miscreants will leave.

Thankfully, just as King Arthur will return to the people one day, Kate Dean has resurfaced.  Her triumphant return to the public eye surely presages her return to public life. 

The Press & Journal gave her a cover photo, and several pages to admonish us for not having the web of granite.  She is quite right in saying we will remember where we were on the day the web died.

As to me, I was in the city council chambers, listening to the likes of Jennifer Craw baying like wounded banshees when the web was kicked into the long grass.  Then I accompanied several other granite web refusnik  nimby-types, and celebrated with a few beers.  Where were you when Kennedy, Elvis and the City Gardens Project died?  If it’s not too emotionally distressing to share your Web memories, please do write in.

There was also a striking photo of Kate petting a cat, which in no way put me in mind of Ian Fleming’s Blofeld character.  Kate tells us she is now working for/with Remploy.  Many Remploy factories are set to close across the country; perhaps this is the time for her to campaign to help those with special needs and abilities to fight for their support services…

After months of research and interviews covering all sides of the Menie Estate saga, the BBC’s Panorama aired on Monday this week.  I joined a dozen or so people in a local pub to watch the programme’s first airing together.

Personally, I was very disappointed.  I’ve spent most of the past 5 months waiting for this programme, wondering what Sarah Malone Bates would be wearing on camera, and how her rapier-like wit would deal with reporter John Sweeney’s questions.  Alas!  I don’t think we got to see her at all!

What’s the point of being the Vice President if you don’t get to be on telly?  I wonder if the catch phrase ‘You’re Fired!’ ever enter her mind when she thinks of her TV star boss?

We can all learn a few public relations tips from his Panorama performance

First, it was awfully good of The Donald and his Mini Me to find time to talk to the Beeb, in between trips to Africa to kill leopards and dangerous elephants, hacking bits off  the carcases for lovely trophies.  I’m not the only girl to have swooned at the footage of the Trump clan braving the jungle to kill critters.  A woman sitting next to me turned very pale at the images of the dead things and severed tails in the Panorama clip; it must have been because the guys were so macho.

We can all learn a few public relations tips from his Panorama performance.  In case you missed it on Monday, here’s a handy link for future viewing:-  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b036yklf/Panorama_The_Trouble_with_Trump/  Inevitably, this week’s definitions are connected to the show.

Bromance: (modern English) Term used to describe a close friendship between two men.

Alex and Donald; Donald and Alex.  They met, they started a transatlantic bromance over lobster, oysters, champagne and planning permission.

North East Scotland was going to get 7,000 jobs (Trump says in the interview with John Sweeney) and a billion pound golf and housing complex.  In exchange Salmond was going to over-ride environmental protection and protocol.  Hand in hand they romped over The Great Dunes of Scotland (aka the Menie coastline).

It was all too good to last.  They broke up, and the dirty linen hit the headlines.

The bromance between Don and Alex has died; and no love is lost between Local Hero and Top Scot Michael Forbes and the Donald, either.  in the recent past Trump has called Forbes ‘a porker’ – heaven knows what precisely that means.  Let’s assume it means Forbes is not as physically pleasing as Trump – but then again, who is?  When John Sweeney asked Michael Forbes how he felt at being called a porker, Forbes responded:

 “that was pretty good coming from a clown.”

Sadly, I see no bromance brewing there, either.

Don’t look for a budding romance between Anthony Baxter and Donald Jr either.  Baxter was accused of being a criminal by Junior, quite understandably.  Film maker Baxter went (as directed) to Trump’s site office to discuss the loss of water to the properties; the Trump people accidentally broke a crucial water pipe and accidentally left the residents without water for 7 days.

Junior says Baxter went into a house uninvited with a camera over his shoulder.  That house was the site office, and Baxter was told to go there by Trump staff, all captured on film.

Quite rightly the police then busted Baxter and his pal on the Trump site manager’s say-so.  Now Junior says Baxter is a criminal; Baxter for some reason seems to think Don Jun is a liar. ( No valentines this year then).

To Read: (English – infinitive verb) to look at printed words and digest their contents.

The arguments between Salmond and Trump were at the height of acrimony on two topics:-

Did Salmond ask Trump’s support over the release of the Lockerbie bomber?  Did Salmond promise there would be no offshore wind farms?  The answers seem to be yes and no respectively.

Donald seems to have proof that Alex wanted a letter of support from Trump.  Trump tells us this would have hurt his popularity (as if such a thing were possible).

But what of Trump’s continued cries of foul over the offshore wind farm?

Trump states in his unabridged copy of the Panorama interview that George Sorial was present when Salmond promised not to allow offshore wind farms.  As unbiased a witness as one could wish for, it is a pity Sorial or someone in his office didn’t read the part of the 2008 Scottish Government Reporters’ planning report that referred to the wind farms.  For alas!  If our First Minister did make such a promise, it didn’t register with the government reporters; their report which gave approval for the golf complex reads in part:-

“21.106 “No particular concerns are raised about the coastal path network, landscape impact, links to the airport or the proposed offshore wind development. It was agreed that the only particular issue for the city council was whether the proposed housing would have an effect on the traffic in the city,  such as at the Bridge of Don…”  
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/212607/0067709.pd

Colour me over-cautious, but if a government report on my multi-million pound project came out, I’d have one of my legal guys read it.

If such a report made reference to ‘the proposed offshore wind development’ when I thought my pal had promised there was not going to be an offshore wind development, I’d probably look into it before building bunds, bulldozing the place and locking the gates shut.

I’m no lawyer, I’m no town planner, I’m no Donald Trump – but to me a report referring to a proposed offshore wind development would make me wonder if there were a proposed offshore wind development.

Easy mistake.  Perhaps the Trump people should hire some experts going forward to look at documents and legalities.  But clearly Team Trump wasn’t going to make any further mistakes, and so he decided to film the film makers.

Media Bias: (modern English) a condition of television/print media/radio to have a particular stance on issue or issues, demonstrated in the contents of its publications/broadcasts favouring one side of an issue. (Aberdeen residents won’t know much about media bias, but thankfully that left-wing, biased, socialist bastion which is the BBC provides one).

The Trump Organisation had a brilliant idea – Trump made his own video tape of John Sweeney interviewing him, and posted the ‘uncut’ interview footage on YouTube.  This would let the world see how biased the BBC is.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZlHvVbHqVI

It may be a hard concept for Press & Journal / Evening Express readers to grasp – but sometimes news reports can be slightly skewed to play up or play down particular stories at the whims of owners, or even editors of media companies.  The Donald wanted, per usual, to make sure he captured the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The Trump videotape begins by explaining that John Sweeney has a ‘lousy reputation’.  I’m sure the BBC are really sweating it now.  I’m sure if someone posted on a public website that Trump had a lousy reputation, Donald would just forgive and forget, and not launch any nasty lawsuits.  I guess we’ll see if Sweeney is as magnanimous as Trump.

No doubt the BBC created a wholly one-sided Panorama programme.  This is evidenced by the extensive interviews Panorama held with father and son.  Obviously, the only reason these gun-toting, slightly aggressive gentlemen look bad is because of how the BBC edited them.

So what does this video show?  What devious  Machiavellian twists of the BBC are laid bare?

The tape begins with Donald explaining how his mom / grand mom loved Scotland (aww), and how the only logical tribute to this love was to put up a few hundred homes and a golf course or two on The Great Dunes Of Scotland.  The interview was going swimmingly; I was starting to warm towards Trump myself, then bang!  The aggressive interviewer had the temerity to ask about a massive lawsuit and possible mafia entanglement.  Oh dear.

Unfortunately the Trump team’s camera failed to record this mafia/Ft Lauderdale section of the interview; the screen went black.  Mr Trump then had to leave immediately to go see a group of people, quite understandably.  The Trump-recorded tape ends with a black screen with text inviting the viewer to ‘notice the reaction of the producer in the back ground who expressed her disgust with Mr Sweeney’s unfair and biased interview.  Quite right.

As if Mr Trump having leased his name to a now-failed Ft Lauderdale development with over 40 people now filing lawsuits has any bearing on his ability to create a development here.  You’d almost think the poor man has a bad track record.

Some spoilsports who objected to granting permission for the development at Menie had expressed concerns with the Trump organisation’s track record and reputation.  But this wasn’t going to get in the way of his company being deemed suitable to have its way with The Great Dunes of Scotland.

Back in the day, the government reporters’ report referred to some of these objections:-

“We were passed some letters of objection from the public that contain offensive remarks about the applicant and his business; inappropriate comments directed at others; defamatory and personal comments about councillors involved in decision making in Aberdeenshire; and political statements favouring one party over another.

“None of these matters has any bearing on the planning merits of the case and such comments have been discounted from our consideration which is concentrated on those issues that are relevant to deciding an outline planning application.”

 We should all thank those unbiased government decision makers, not least the Aberdeenshire planning officers who brushed away these petty concerns.  Trump may not have brought the 7,000 jobs or the houses or the hotel yet, but that’s surely nothing to do with his track record.  It’s only the wind farms stopping us from having the world’s greatest golf course.

Next week’s definitions:  unaccountable, back-tracking, deceitful, scheming, exaggeration, manipulation – and other planning-related technical terms.

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Jun 142013
 

By Bob Smith.

Trumpie’s jaws are in overdrive
Sayin the economy o Aiberdeen
Is aa doon tae him biggin
The greatest gowf course ivver seen
.
Gweed sakes fit an affa chiel
As a blaw he’ll nivver be beat
Expectin aa the fowk listenin
Tae drap doon an kiss his feet
.
A wunner fit thrivin business fowk
Think o aa Trumpie’s blether
Some must be teerin their hair
Ithers near the eyn o their tether
.
Trump ignores  the efforts o
The billies livin in oor toon
Faa biggit up oor economy
Lang afore iss bliddy goon
.
Trump his got a new award
Fae sum American Academy
Fit ye shud a ken is iss
The Donald’s a main trustee
.
The chiel is off’rin an olive brunch
Tae Wee Eck as a token o peace
Iss symbol it is lang derived
Fae the customs o Ancient Greece
Iss offer his git strings attached
The bay windfairm it maun go
Else Trump’ll nae bigg his hotel
An hoose biggin wull be slow
.
Tae be pals eence again
Trump maun git his ain wye
The SNP billies are expectit
Tae eat bliddy humble pie
|
Wull Eck stretch oot his airms
Sayin, “Donald, lit’s hae a cuddle
A’ll move the turbines far awa
An sort oot iss affa muddle”
.
Wee Eck micht be mony things
Bit he’s nae aat bliddy daft
He kens he’d lose mony votes
As independence he tries tae craft
.
So Donald yer in a quandry
Tae bigg or nae tae bigg
Fitivver ye decide tae dee
Ye’ll aye be thocht a prig
.
.
.
.
Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
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May 262013
 

By Bob Smith.

“Wee sleekit cow’rin tim’rous beastie
O what a panic’s in thy breastie”
So said Burns aboot a moose
Afore Eck Salmond wis in Bute Hoose
.
Trump is nae a happy chiel
Thinks “Wee Eck” a bliddy feel
Accusin the billie o tellin a porker
Tae yon affa brash New Yorker
.
The Donald he is gyaan tae court
The winfairm micht spile his resort
Claimin it breaches Human Richts
He’s takkin iss tae great hichts
Noo he’s tryin the olive brunch
Askin Eck tae gie peace a chunce
If the winfairm project wid ging awa
Aathing he’s sure it wid be braw
.
The latest fae iss bliddy chancer
Is win turbines they cause cancer
Unless the winfairm it is scrapped
His hotel’ll nae be unwrapped
.
Wull Eck be proven man or moose?
Maybe he’ll vacate Bute Hoose
Or wull he tell DT tae bugger aff
An nae tae be sae bliddy nyaff

Bob Smith”The Poetry Mannie” 2013

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May 092013
 

Reminiscences of Gothenburg 1983 are appearing everywhere this week, and quite right too. At the time we thought such success would be forever. Now we know better but we have vivid, rainbow-hued, life-affirming memories never experienced by the plastic pretenders who would crow over us now.

It was quite a week thirty years ago. Here’s what David Innes remembers.

On Monday 9 May I went to the old Odeon cinema to see Local Hero, then just out but still relevant today when events just north of Balmedie are taken into account.

As I emerged blinking into the afternoon sun, the headline on the Evening Express mannie’s billboard proclaimed that Thatcher had called for the dissolution of Parliament.

Although the dissolution didn’t actually happen until Friday 13 May (feeling lucky, punk?), I still maintain that the Dons greatest triumph DIDN’T take place under the Tories since she’d already decided to go to the country. It’s just a pity that she didn’t go to one far far away from here.

We flew to Gothenburg early in the morning of Wednesday 11 May via one of the fleet of charter planes that Britannia Airways had laid on.

The airport was jam-packed with Dons fans, the duty free shop had queues a hundred yards long and all everyone seemed to buy was dreadful gold-canned Carlsberg and half bottles of Whyte and Mackays. It did the trick.

This was my first time in the air, unless you count the times that clogging midfielders of opposing Division V amateur teams dealt with my silky skills by decking me. Or maybe it was the other way round. Anyway, somewhere above Great Western Road, a gap in the cloud appeared. Through it, I saw an Alexanders yellow service bus looking like a Matchbox toy. I wasn’t happy, but a giant swig of the duty free worked wonders.

Gothenburg was overcast. It was still mid-morning local time. A few Real fans greeted us as we came off the airport bus. One of them was El Bombo, the geezer with the drum in the Ullevi later on. One of our crew swapped his Dons scarf for El Bombo’s purple and white Real one.

We had Carlsberg for lunch and went to explore the city. Reds awye, the strains of Here we go, here we go, here we go and The Northern Lights seeming to be in the air everywhere, along with that dreadful European Song.

It began to rain. Hale water. Hosing it doon. It was like every Monday holiday of the year rolled into one. I’m not sure that it’s stopped yet. My trainers are still sipin.

In the hotel, I changed into my new Dons shirt, bought in Simpsons Sports at the weekend. “A special one, wi writin on it”, the Simpsons’ shop quine had announced. I still have it. It’s worth a fortune due to its rarity, but it no longer fits me. I guess it must have shrunk in the wash. Or something.

Something historic and emotional and ace and fab happened out on the pitch

We gathered in the bar to await the bus to the stadium and got a rebuke from the BBC’s Gordon Hewitt who we’d accused of being an Old Firm gloryhunter. He wasn’t. He’d paid for his own trip as a Dons fan and had taken his nephew from Oldmeldrum with him.

We bought him beer after the game as an apology. He waxed lyrical about our full backs Rougvie and McMaster, both playing out of position, but his heroes of the evening.

It was raining outside. We smuggled our half bottles into the stadium. Others were allowed to bring in their entire beery carry-outs when the Swedish Police saw, “how much that beer means to you sir” as thrifty Reds decided to neck a dozen cans there and then rather than dump them in the skip. I was the beneficiary of my old friend from Keith, Beel Murdoch’s stash of McEwans Export, a welcome change from bloody Carlsberg.

Something historic and emotional and ace and fab happened out on the pitch, I think. Bedlam broke out around me at the final whistle. I removed myself from the mass greet-along, tear-athon terracing cuddle being simultaneously enjoyed by 12000 delirious Reds just to soak (aye…) it all in, to take a mental photo of the mental goings-on and the spectacular denouement taking place out there.

My sister’s kitchen still has a blurry Instamatic photo of the scoreboard reading Aberdeen 2 Real Madrid 1 in pride of place. It still gives me an emotional tug every time I see it.

Back in the hotel we drank Swedish beer, commiserated with the Real fans who were very decent people, celebrated with the locals who had taken the Dons to their hearts and asked about getting a shottie in the swimming pool, politely turned down. Maybe the hotel staff thought we were wet enough already, on the inside as well as the outside.

We stayed up all night drinking bloody Carlsberg, reliving the triumph, planning excitedly for future trips to European Cup finals and ended up playing football on a disused railway line across the motorway from the hotel at 0500.

A couple of hours sleep and off we headed to the St Machar Bar to celebrate with something other than bloody Carlsberg

Gothenburg Airport was like Merkland Road East. The spirit was akin to “the first Hogmanay aifter the war” as Scotland The What? Might have put it.

We greeted friends we’d only seen a couple of days before like heroes returning from El Alamein. We tried to offer them a drink. “Nae bloody Carlsberg?” they enquired before refusing politely.

We flew home and got to Dyce only half an hour after we’d left due to the time difference.

All the papers were bought, even the scummy sleazy salacious tabloids and right wing loonypress. They’re still in my loft. A couple of hours sleep and off we headed to the St Machar Bar to celebrate with something other than bloody Carlsberg. Jim Alexander, the licensee, even stood his hand, almost as remarkable as the Dons’ win.

Then we raced to Pittodrie and waited hours to see our heroes, who had taken forever to wend their way through the suburbs and a city centre crammed full of north-easterners delirious at the triumph.

We celebrated for weeks. Cans of Carlsberg seemed to multiply in the hastily-discarded kitbags we brought home. I doubt that another can of the goddam vile brew was ever drunk by anyone who returned with any.

We thought that this high would last forever, but it didn’t. Ach weel. We had our few years in the sun, skelping arses all over Europe, dominating at home and generally just being ace.

We’re still ace, of course. We are the chosen ones.

Now, about that something historic and emotional and ace and fab that happened out on the pitch…

Richard Gordon has written beautifully about the entire history of that battle campaign in The Glory of Gothenburg, and thanks to Black and White Publishing, we have two paperback copies to offer as prizes to readers of Voice.

Answer me this, Reds – Who tripped as he dashed from the dugout at the final whistle in the Ullevi Stadium and was trampled all over by his fellow occupants of the dug-out?

Post your answer to competition@aberdeenvoice.com .

The first two correct entries will get the books.

Please include your name and postal address when you respond to us, it’s really difficult for the postie to deliver to an e-mail address.

Come on you Reds.

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Mar 212013
 

By Bob Smith.

Lord McCluskey his recommendit
We shud regulate Scottish press
Iss his caused a richt ballyhoo
Fae Stranraer up tae Stromness

The press maun hae freedom
Tae tell us aa fit’s fit
Bit ower mony o oor tabloids
Jist print a load o shit

The SNP is noo thinkin
O publishin it’s ain paper
Mony fowk are nae in favour
O iss  propaganda caper

The opeenion column o the P&J
His been caain fer democracy
Thoosans o fowk wull be laachin
Aboot their bliddy hypocrisy

Aa iss fae oor local paper
Faa’s bias tae Trump’s weel kent
Yet views fae Tripping up Trump
They widna pit intae print

“Traitors” bawled the “Evenin Express”
At the cooncillors faa voted no
Fin Trump’s application wis thrown oot
“EE” condemnation wisna slow

A paper’s voice maan be heard
As lang’s they play bi the rules
An nae be thocht o nation wide
As “The Laird o Menie’s Fules”

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013

Feb 112013
 

Having previously looked at the people who can be considered heroes for their attempts to protect the environment or people, the focus shifts to the ‘villains’ in this fifth article in the Menie Estate Series.

By Suzanne Kelly.

Identifying the players in the course of events at Menie is key to understand what happened, and hopefully to preventing a repeat performance elsewhere.
The cumulative effect of the various pro-Trump factions, large and small, all helped make the development’s approval all but inevitable.

This article will take stock of the people, organisations and incidents that won the day for golf over natural heritage, existing planning policy and area residents.

Donald Trump

Ultimate responsibility for the loss of the SSSI and for the use of security firms in the area surely belongs to the man called ‘The Donald.’  While involved in litigation in his home country, the USA, with private individuals and local governments, our powers-that-be still accepted his fiscal health, his stated commitment to the environment, and his economic proposals at face value.

To illustrate, here are excerpts from one of the Scottish Government’s statements supporting the development:-

“The council understand the suggestion made by the various parties that a personal condition may be appropriate… that is not proposed…    Based on the evidence the council believes that the commitment shown by Mr Trump is genuine.” – http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/212607/0067709.pdf

Aberdeenshire Council decided that their ‘belief’ in Trump’s commitment was genuine and of more importance than existing planning guidance and the SSSI.  This faith seems to have been built on the economic case presented by Trump (later criticised sharply by a London School of Economics expert, who featured in the documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped’).

This faith also seems to have excluded any research into the Trump Organisation’s past form and apparent predilection for suing municipalities (for a summary of some rather worrying past Trump actions.
See donald-trumps-lawsuits-could-turn-conservatives-who-embrace-tort-reform

Scottish Natural Heritage suggested it would be possible to build great golf courses and housing without using the sensitive SSSI sites; however, Trump refused to compromise his plans.  Trump is the driving force in this situation, but whom and which organisations paved the way for him?  Are these people the real villains of the piece?

The mysterious Peter White – aka Neil Hobday

One thing the pre-Trump Menie residents I spoke to have in common is their shared love of the natural beauty in the area.  None planned to move home; none planned to sell up to Trump.   Every resident I spoke with his commitment to the integrity of the unique environment and its flora and fauna.

Another thing they have in common is that many of them reported being contacted by phone by one Mr Peter White.

The story ‘Peter’ told residents was basically this:  ‘Peter’ and/or his wife  just happened to be out driving/walking while visiting Balmedie, and fell in love with the area and wanted to buy a home to live in.  Resident Martin Bennett decided to check out the phone number Mr White left, and found it was connected to the name ‘Hobday.’  ‘Peter’ it transpires was Neil Peter White Hobday – the man who at the time was Trump’s golf course consultant.

When confronted, Hobday told Bennett that Peter and White were his middle names, adding:-

“If I had turned up and said ‘hello I’m from the Trump Organisation’”

Neil Peter White Hobday said to Bennett, while making a gesture Bennett believed was indicating flashing pound signs.

Had any of the residents chosen to pass their homes to this man on the false promise their home would be used and loved instead of potentially bulldozed (Trump has called the properties ‘slums’ and ‘pigsties’), they would have been very much mistaken.  But no one fell for this cruel ruse to gain property under a false pretext – which no doubt would have been sold at lower value than had any resident been aware of Trump’s plans.  Monetary gain or not, the residents wanted to stay put.

The mysterious anti wind farm protest that never was

Last month, some person or agency tried to hire protestors (at $20 per person) to stand in front of the British Consulate in Manhattan, and standing behind a few speakers, as if to act like they were genuine protestors opposed to wind farms in the UK.  When discovered by several pro wind farm groups, the ads were pulled, the media and consulate staff notified, and the protest was called off just as quickly and mysteriously as it had been organised (the excuse was the weather would be harsh).

Who would be interested in making the British fear a negative US reaction to wind farms in Britain?  Could it have been Donald Trump or his organisation?  Their objection to a wind farm off the Aberdeenshire coast has Trump threatening to pull his development.

More on this protest can be found here: cool-job-posting-earn-20-pretending-to-hate-wind-energy.

Some actually believe that Trump might just be, and might always have been, more interested in obtaining the permission for hundreds of homes, then selling the land (and the attached permission) on.

By this time politicians, consultants and anyone else who wanted a piece of the action were climbing on board the Trump bandwagon. Not least one Evening Express beauty contest winner

Sarah ‘The Face of Aberdeen’ Malone, now Mrs Damian Bates

Sarah entered and won a ‘Face of Aberdeen’ beauty contest in the Evening Express, sister paper to the Press & Journal, an equally pro-Trump periodical.  It would seem that she had a friendship with the P&J’s editor, Damian Bates, which turned to marriage in early  February 2013.

Sarah worked at the regional Gordon Highlanders museum in Aberdeen; a great museum but hardly a training ground for the project Trump proposed. She had no experience of Golf, no experience of multinational real estate developers.

She was hired by Trump who didn’t mind the lack of specific skills for his multi-million pound project.  Was it her local connections?  Her physical attractiveness?  She has since acted as the spokesperson for Trump International in Scotland, maintaining that all is well, and that tens of thousands of people have played/will play the course.

Evidence the course has been played that frequently is not shared by the residents, who insist the course would have to have very frequent tee times and many more visible golfers than they have ever seen.

She claims to have been spat at by a woman; treatment no one deserves.  The police investigated, but it seems no action was taken.  Protest groups disowned any such action, which is contrary to the ethos of the protest group Tripping Up Trump.

Malone accused Anthony Baxter of sneaking into an on-site press event (he had been issued a press pass), and that he deliberately blocked heavy machinery, a claim he denied.

Both of Sarah’s parents had worked at Aberdeenshire council; her father, Tom, is now a councillor.  Coincidentally he has had the opportunity to vote on six wind farm developments, and has turned them all down.  It seems he shares his daughter’s employer’s dislike of wind power.

In Malone-Bates’ words:

“We have a world-class developer whose brand is associated with luxury and excellence.”

Some might differ.

Dr Christine Gore

Dr Gore is Director of Planning and Environmental Services at Aberdeenshire Council.  Her impartiality was called into question when the Glasgow-based ‘ Spinwatch’ group did some research:-

“The documents, obtained by Spinwatch,  include e-mails and letters between Gore and Ann Faulds, an Edinburgh-based solicitor with Dundas and Wilson, a law firm hired by Trump. They show that in February, Faulds drew up a report justifying why compulsory purchase orders might be needed to acquire extra land on and around Trump’s estate. It was drafted in Gore’s name for distribution to council members, however the local authority says it was never used.

“David Miller, professor of sociology at Strathclyde University and head of Spinwatch, a Glasgow-based body which monitors public relations, said the documents raised serious questions about the council’s relationship with Trump.”
http://www.trippinguptrump.com/news/aberdeenshire-council-%E2%80%98too-close%E2%80%99-to-trump

Dr Gore’s impartiality also took a further beating (source Tripping Up Trump):-

In Gore’s letter, dated April 7, she writes:

“In terms of public relations and management of the inevitable media interest, I would request that we be given at least a week’s notice of your intended submission date. Thereafter, close liaison will be required . . . in order that we can have a managed approach to what is inevitably going to be a difficult and emotive reaction.”

The letter has prompted accusations of a “conflict of interest” from Spinwatch.  It has threatened to lodge a complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman if the council fails to carry out its own inquiry.

Even her words ‘difficult and emotive’ seem to display alliance with the developers over the existing homeowners.  In propaganda terms, implying that the other side is in some way illogical – like stating they are likely to be ‘difficult and emotive’ is a well-known tactic to discredit opposition.

We have seen this kind of name-calling often enough from Trump and his operatives in describing the pre-existing residents; but for the implication of an difficult/emotional, hence irrational, response from those opposed to Trump pretty much removes any doubt as to Gore being partial to Trump.

Ms Gore’s professional body, the Royal Town Planning Institute refuse to disclose whether or not the proposed complaint against Gore was ever even brought.  In that case, perhaps it is time a formal complaint is submitted.

Alex Salmond

Aside from transatlantic wining and dining with Trump while Trump’s application was still pending (which was deemed unethical – and which sent a tacit message that Salmond approved of Trump and his plans), it’s hard to know where to start on the role Salmond played.

Of course the step of calling in the rejected application was without precedent and is what gave Trump his victory.  Salmond used his powers to over-ride the decision of a local government by calling the application in, something that might not bode well for his model of Scottish independence.

The local authorities still had scope to negotiate with Trump over the nature of the development; this scope was whisked away by Salmond.

Salmond seems to have wanted a quid pro quo, and what a favour it was.  Trump was asked to back the Scottish Government’s repatriation of convicted Lockerbie Bomber Al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.  Trump probably realised this would be social suicide for him in New York (if not the rest of the world) and he refused.

Soon the relationship between the two men had soured over wind farms, and Trump went public with this sensational request over Al-Megrahi.  Trump also insisted Salmond promised no wind farms would ruin the view of the wealthy golf tourist.  Salmond denied making any such promise.

This dispute between the two figures is creating some amazing publicity, not least the advertisement Trump put in the Press & Journal (and other papers), showing decommissioned wind turbines (from Hawaii it seems) and linking in Salmond and Lockerbie. (more on the ad and the P&J to follow).

In a worrying development Salmond’s government is changing many pieces of legislation, not least the rules around Compulsory Purchase Orders. In another time, a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was basically meant as a last resort if land was needed for municipal projects. This is changing.

The Scottish Government co-hosted a full day CPO conference in October 25, 2011 in Edinburgh.  There were presentations which certainly seem to make it easier to obtain CPOs in Scotland for developments which promise economic growth.  Presentations included:-

Joe Noble, Macdonald Estates ” CPO in partnership with the private sector – a developer’s view” (3.2mb)

Patrick Layden QC, Scottish Law Commission ” Law reform – a look to the future” (0.05mb)

We will see what else Mr Salmond has in store for Menie and for Scotland in the future.

Aberdeenshire Council Clerk of Works and Communications Officer

In August of 2011 I wrote to the Aberdeenshire Council’s Clerk of Works asking about several of the issues highlighted in the national press and in the film ‘You’ve Been Trumped.’  I described the bunding by the Munro home.

I received a reply from (now retired) Communications Officer Gordon Lyon.  He advised that the

“…earth bunding we believe you are referring to was fully removed by April 5, 2011”.

The Munros, other residents and I all can state that the bunding is very much still in place.  In fact, where bunding exists there are fairly clumsy attempts to make trees grow on top of them.  If successful, this would leave both homes with little sun and no views of the shore at all.

It is not that likely the trees will grow (the sand, salt air and wind will play their parts, much as they are doing further down the coast at St Fitticks’s  and Tullos Hill, an ill-advised, largely unwanted forestry creation scheme which has already failed before).  The interesting choice of Sycamore trees for this man-made screen should interest natural heritage and ecological agencies; this tree is considered undesirable for being invasive and foreign.

Scottish Enterprise and Visit Scotland

On 27 September 2007 I attended a public meeting at which the Trump organisation played a video in support of their application.  This video featured the Scottish Enterprise logo, and featured footage of Jennifer Craw talking about tourism, development and so on.  She had been head of Scottish Enterprise at one point.

On seeing this video, the use of the logo convinced me that Scottish Enterprise approved of the project, a project which was still as I understood it, meant to be impartially evaluated by government.  The use of the logos and Craw’s presence made it appear as if SE approved of the plans.

If government quango SE approved, then so must government was the conclusion I reached.  The SE connection could have put pressure on  councillors, government employees and others who saw it, and could have easily led to the conclusion that SE approved.  But was this conclusion accurate?

I wrote to SE, and they stated that the Trump video had NOT sought their consent to use the clips of Craw or the logo.  Here are answers I received from Scottish Enterprise:-

“Neither SE, nor Ms Craw, has endorsed the Trump planning application. SE Grampian is supportive of the proposals but they have no role or remit in terms of the planning decision.

“Ms Craw gave an interview to STV in relation to a documentary on the Trump International plans for a golf leisure development on 26 June 2006.   Ms Craw was not made aware that the clip would be used as part of the Trump presentation at the public meeting.

“SE has not endorsed the planning application.  Any endorsement by Scottish Enterprise would not bind the Scottish Government.

“Donald Trump’s organisation has not received any funding from SE Grampian. A Preliminary Feasibility study along with a promotional DVD in relation to the Menie Estate Golf Resort was commissioned by SE Grampian in line with support for inward investment activity.  The cost of this was £30,285.

“SE Grampian PR support around the project announcement was given to the Trump Organisation in keeping with support offered to potential inward investors.  Please note there is no monetary value placed on staff time spent on projects.

It would appear that SE want us to believe that even though it spent £30k on a video to promote turning Menie into a golf resort, Scottish Enterprise was somehow totally uninterested in influencing the government on the point.

At the next opportunity I tried to speak out at a public meeting to say this video was giving a large and serious false impression by using SE material. I was, disappointingly, not allowed to speak.  I did explain that new, relevant information had come to my attention, and that as I had been a long-term objector to the scheme I wanted to exercise the right to address the meeting.  This was deemed to be out of order.

SE’s logo seems to be protected by copyright, and from what I can gather, it can be used in academic papers without any objection but other use needs permission.  Why no objection was raised to the Trump people, or more importantly why SE did not make clear to Aberdeenshire that it did not endorse the project and that its logo had been appropriated without consent remains a mystery.

We have a situation where one side was allowed to go against established procedures and hijack the implied approval of Scottish Enterprise, while the other side of the argument was not allowed any leeway at all.

The local Press

The Scottish Enterprise episode was just one of many pieces of publicity and propaganda designed to put the Trump golf project on course.  The local newspapers were filled with pro Trump stories.  No mention was ever made of his stateside business dealings, some of which seem to have ended in bankruptcies for stakeholders.

No mention was ever made of lawsuits brought by the Trump organisation against local authorities.  The councillors who stood up to Trump were vilified in the local papers, culminating in a photo of Martin Ford with the word ‘TRAITOR’ as the headline.

Other evidence of the local media’s bias is not too hard to find.  There have been many articles saying what a success the club is, and a total of two (as far as I can find) articles about Anthony Baxter’s documentary on the Menie Estate situation.

In terms of advertising, it may interest readers to know that the Friends of Union Terrace Gardens were refused permission to place an ad in the Press & Journal – well before any referendum on UTG was announced – on the grounds their support for the gardens being improved was ‘political’.

Fast forward to September 2012, and the same paper printed the full page anti-wind farm advertisement from Trump.  This  ad used photos of American decommissioned wind farms, and a photo of Salmond; it also chose to bring the Lockerbie Bomber into the picture.  Some would say that on balance this might have been slightly more political than saving a garden.

For more on the tie between Malone and her new husband, P&J editor Damian Bates, (and other individuals) see https://aberdeenvoice.com/2013/02/trump-exec-vp-weds-journals-ed-joining-the-dots/

There are other players who strove for the outcome we have today.

This series will have two more parts; a look at some of the government documents supporting the case, and a conclusion with a report and recommended actions.  One thing is clear.  All in all, it was clear the residents and the environment never stood any chance at all.

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Feb 052013
 

In her series of articles on The Menie Estate and Donald Trump’s planned resort. Suzanne Kelly has documented part of the course being eroded by the North Sea. She has documented the draconian security activities on the site, and the construction of huge earth bunds blocking existing residents’ access to sea views and sunlight. She has also documented deteriorating road surfaces.  Further articles will focus on key players in the Menie story, but a recent development has led her to write this supplementary article for Aberdeen Voice.

A wedding was solemnised this past weekend: Miss Sarah Malone married Mr Damian Bates. There are a few points which make this wedding of interest and importance to a wider circle than their family and friends.
Ms Malone was selected in the Evening Express’s beauty contest as the ‘face of Aberdeen’.  That was in 2007. Mr Bates was editing the paper from 2006, having started there in 2003; he is now the editor of sister paper, The Press & Journal.

Ms Malone was plucked from the relative obscurity of the Gordon Highlanders’ museum by Donald Trump to serve as a Vice-President for his controversial golf development on Aberdeen’s coastal Menie Estate. She has no previous experience of real estate developments, or of golf.

It’s wonderful when two people meet and fall in love.

It is not quite so wonderful when there seems to be a whiff of bias in favour of an editor’s wife’s business interests.

For those who don’t know, the DC Thomson papers in Aberdeen, the Evening Express and the Press and Journal have given a huge amount of positive press to Donald Trump and the real estate development of which Sarah is in charge. When Trump or relatives flew in or out of Aberdeen, front pages were decked with positive stories and large photos. The paper has supported the development from the start.

In doing so, it printed not only positive, glowing Trump articles. It also vilified Aberdeenshire councillors who voted against the scheme, which went against existing planning guidelines and meant the destruction of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the highest kind of environmental protection there is.  Andy Wightman puts it best in his excellent report:-

“Perhaps the most notorious example of this was following the planning decision on 29 November 2009 to reject the planning application. The Evening Express published the pictures of all seven councillors who had voted against the application under the headline ‘You traitors’.

“The paper’s editorial, ‘Betrayed by stupidity of seven’, described the councillors as ‘small-minded numpties’, ‘misfits’, ‘buffoons in woolly jumpers’, ‘traitors to the North-east’ and ‘no-hopers’.  …Furthermore, Aberdeen Journals have taken a conscious editorial decision to exclude critical voices from being heard in the Press and Journal and Evening Express.

“On 12 December 2009, the Press and Journal ran what it called an ‘Exclusive Report’  which alleged that the main critics of the development, a pressure group called Tripping Up Trump (TUT), consisted of many people with ‘tenuous or no connections with the Aberdeenshire coastline they claim to want to protect.’ Martin Glegg, one of the TUT campaigners, was alleged to be co-ordinating the campaign from Glasgow. And, in a bizarre interpretation of what makes a news story, the paper revealed that TUT’s legal adviser was based in Paisley.  [Note – Trump’s lawyers are in Edinburgh, but that was not deemed newsworthy]

“The Press and Journal editorial then went on to make the remarkable announcement that it would no longer be reporting what TUT might care to say.”
http://www.andywightman.com/docs/trumpreport_v1a.pdf

Wightman’s report also covers the planning aspects, boundary disputes and how the residents were treated; it makes for excellent factual reading.

For reasons of journalistic integrity, some might find this pro-Trump editorial policy a touch unseemly. 

There are some basic, albeit not legally binding principles of journalism which include accuracy, objectivity, truthfulness and the like. Can you be objective where your wife is concerned?

If a newspaper editor had been someone’s partner for months, perhaps years, and intended to form a marriage with their partner, would any financial gain their betrothed stood to make, such as having a highly-paid job on a multi-million pound project, also in effect be to the editor’s financial gain?

Bates, it should be added, is on the Press Complaints Commission’s Editors’ Code of Practice Committee.

Sarah and Damian Bates might have tied the knot legally, but many of the other players on the board are also interrelated. Here is a brief listing of how some of the players are coincidentally linked together.

Sarah Malone Bates – married Press & Journal editor Damian Bates February 2013

“[Resident David] Milne’s allegations of harassment are baseless and untrue …  His views are not representative of the ‘community’ … The course opened this summer with phenomenal success and glowing international reviews. It has enhanced the area and the environment immeasurably, and brought thousands of visitors from around the world to the north-east.”
http://local.stv.tv/aberdeen/news/196354-trump-opponent-pressing-for-fresh-inquiry-into-golf-course-handling/

Donald Trump“Sarah, I want to get rid of that house [David Milne’s home].”
Malone  Bates replies: “It’s going to create a bit of a stir but if we’re up for it let’s do it.”
http://www.andywightman.com/docs/trumpreport_v1a.pdf

  • face of Aberdeen for Evening Express beauty contest;
  • rumoured to be dating Damian Bates, formerly of Evening Express, now Press & Journal editor;
  • recruited from her job at Gordon Highlanders’ museum to be a Vice-President for Trump despite having no knowledge of golf;
  • was on a panel for Visit Scotland, a quango, and partner of Scottish Enterprise.

Damian Bates – married Trump Int, Golf Links’ Executive Vice President Sarah Malone in February 2013

“This newspaper has given a voice to all those who have wished to become involved in the debate about Donald Trump’s plans. That courtesy was extended to Tripping Up Trump in the belief that it was a bona fide group of local environmentalists. Today, it has been withdrawn.”   – Press and Journal 12 December 2009

“Newspapers like the Press and Journal….provide one of the few platforms for the little man to take on the big institutions”
http://www.kaimhill.net/?p=2729

  • Editor Press & Journal, formerly Evening Express editor;
  • his papers published only two articles on ‘You’ve Been Trumped’, both after the BBC screening, but nothing when it was first shown in Aberdeen nor when it won awards around the world;
  • the first of these articles, by David Ewen said that Anthony Baxter was not available for comment, when in fact he had spoken to the author on the same day the article came out. No subsequent correction was made in later editions;
  • the Press & Journal accepted a controversial full-page ad from Trump linking Salmond, windfarms, and Salmond’s attempt at recruiting Trump to support the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Al-Megrahi. Yet it rejected advertising, before any referendum was announced, by local group ‘Friends of  Union Terrace Gardens’, for being ‘too political’;
  • David Ewen, who had reported that Baxter was not available for comment in his first article on the subject, has authored a book with a foreword by Trump. Entitled ‘Chasing Paradise: Donald Trump and the Battle for the World’s Greatest Golf Course’, the book was available for sale in the Press & Journal shops and advertised in the paper;

Donald Trump

“I do play with the bankruptcy laws — they’re very good for me” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/04/24/the-trump-backlash.html

  • real estate developer with a past history including controversial developments,incomplete developments, litigation, and bankruptcy;
  • purchaser of Menie estate and developer of Trump International courses at Menie;
  • former alliance with Alex Salmond while the project was still in planning;
  • awarded an honorary degree from RobertGordonUniversity, amidst a high private security presence. RGU has Sir Ian Wood as its Chancellor.

Sir Ian Wood

“We are very pleased to honour you today in recognition of the significant contribution the Scottish Trump International golf resort will make to diversify the economy of the North East of Scotland.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-11493040

  • chancellor of RobertGordonUniversity, which saw fit to give Trump an honorary degree;
  • Former Chairman of Scottish Enterprise, board member of Scottish Enterprise;
  • Wood added Jennifer Craw, formerly of Scottish Enterprise, to the Wood Family Trust. Craw appeared in the Trump Organisation’s pro-development film in her Scottish Enterprise role, which also used the SE logo. SE never gave permission for this implied support for Trump and yet no formal complaint of this misuse seems to have been made. There will be more on this in a subsequent article.

Alex Salmond:

I believe that the economic and social benefits for the North-east of Scotland substantially outweigh any environmental impact”
http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/Article.aspx/919658

  • His government took the unprecedented step of calling in the Trump planning application;
  • Met with Trump representatives just before it was announced Scottish Government would have the final say on the billionaire’s plans for a golf resort;
  • Controversially wined and dined Trump on both sides of the Atlantic while the course controversy raged;
  • Asked Trump to back his government’s stance on Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi’s release;
  • Has a close relationship with Sir Ian Wood, rector of RobertGordonUniversity, and ex-Scottish Enterprise.

Image Credits:

The Ring © Andrei Mihalcea | Dreamstime.com 
Marriage For Money © Vangelis | Dreamstime.com
A Pair Of Padlocks © Ragne Kabanova | Dreamstime.com

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