Sep 262019
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

On one side of the pond people are waking up to the shenanigans of the Trump empire.

Donald J Trump is being impeached with some six congressional committees looking at a myriad of potentially serious crimes he’s committed.

In Aberdeenshire however, where – despite ‘oversight’ by planners two SSSI sites were irreparably damaged at Menie – the council voted today 38-24 in favour of him building 550 homes.

David Milne, Menie Estate resident, issued an impassioned, logically and legally compelling video days ago as to why the permission should not be given.

“Overall, it’s devastating.” he told Aberdeen Voice.

Hundreds have watched it so far – it can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntztSr6_K1w&list=FL3ali7Onfmv9EXPrkrCdiqQ

Only three letters were sent in supporting the controversial application; people wrote to the shire to object in their thousands.

“I can confirm, I voted against. I am sorry not more councillors agreed with me,” councillor Vicky Harper posted on the Aberdeen Voice Facebook page,

“I wish we could have done more. I am sorry to the residents who will feel the biggest impact.”

Cllr Harper is not wrong.  Anthony Baxter’s first film in his trilogy of all things Trump and golf show the absolute environmental devastation of the first golf course being built.

Not over yet.

None of the campaigners against Trump’s development have run out of steam, not by a long shot.

“I’m not one to give up,” David Milne said.

And there is something of an ace in the hole, or ace in the bunker to be specific.

The road to the Bunker.

Councillors have forgotten the attempt made by the Trump organisation to buy the residents’ properties by stealth:  in other parts of the world this would have been prosecuted as an attempt to defraud.

To refresh memories, Neil Hobday, using an assumed name (based on his middle names) visited several of those who refused to sell their homes and pretended to be an average American tourist.

His story was that he and his wife ‘fell in love’ with the area and wanted to buy their home – at a price which was far below what the value of homes wanted by a huge developer would be. No one fell for it.

Did the police pursue this crime? They were too busy arresting Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney for ‘a breach of the peace’.

The two journalists, working on You’ve Been Trumped, had simply gone to the site office and asked when the Forbes family would get their water line, broken by Trump contractors, repaired. They were thrown in cells.

The underhanded behaviour by the Trump organisation in trying to get that land made people take an in-depth look at the estate’s land ownership.

A fly in the ointment was found which may yet prove a stumbling block and today it seems more important than ever.

The Bunker.

Land ownership can be a complicated thing, and as a supreme act of campaigning, Tripping Up Trump has quietly had an ace in the hole: ‘The Bunker’. 

On the estate, the land fondly called The Bunker by protestors is a small patch of land. It may be relatively small:  but it is now legally owned and registered to a staggering, unprecedented ten thousand – yes 10,000 people.

As the Tripping Up Trump website advises:

“The Tripping Up Trump campaign acquired some land right at the heart of Donald Trump’s planned private housing and leisure development.

“The reason TUT has done this is to help protect the families who have forced eviction (by means of Compulsory Purchase Orders) hanging over their heads.

“The families of Menie have again and again stated they do not wish to leave but still Trump and Aberdeenshire Council won’t withdraw the threat of using CPOs if the families don’t agree to sell ‘voluntarily’.”

If someone wanted to buy that land, if the government decided to try a compulsory purchase, legally it must contact all of the owners.

Every. Last. One.

Aside from occasionally having a Mexican flag flying over it (an act of solidarity from Trump’s prejudiced attack on Mexicans), the bunker has not been hugely used.

Read more about the Bunker here:
http://www.trippinguptrump.co.uk/the-bunker/

Perhaps it is time for the owners to start making better use of their land?  Just a thought for Tripping Up Trump – and 10,000 people. Time for a party? Building application – perhaps a refuge for refugees?

Don’t Mess With Mother Nature.

The sand dunes may be nearly stabilized – but if Trump International Golf Links Scotland is banking on a coastal property in North East Scotland being immune from the elements, they have short memories.

The photo (of me on my first visit to Menie) shows part of the course wiped off their little course map. A winter storm – and by far not the worst one Scotland has ever seen – ruined the place.

Keen-eyed visitors will notice that the greens are fighting the sands, constantly blowing through the course.

The keen-eyed visitor will also notice that a fair amount of the fairways have been dyed a sickly blue-green colour.

There will be more showdowns between Trump and Mother Nature – place your bets on the eventual winner now. Sadly, the new homes mean the displacement of wildlife if they are ever built.

The End- not.

There may be some smug congratulatory words at the clubhouse today, and some champagne corks popped.

But the celebrations are premature: Trump is not likely to last his presidency, may well be jailed, and as happens – his property could wind up being seized if it is found to be purchased with laundered money.

If Scotland’s crime task forces could start investigating now, that would be nice – it’s not as if they haven’t been asked and presented with evidence.

The bunker however, is now a bunker and a beacon. A creative, proactive and canny move, it may well throw a spanner in the works.

Here’s hoping – and here’s to making it so.

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Sep 242019
 

David Milne issued a video last night explaining what is wrong with Trump’s plans for Menie,  He talked to Suzanne Kelly about the video and the vote.

Campaigner, Menie Resident, and published author, David Milne released a video last night explaining all the reasons Aberdeenshire Council should not vote to approve further development of the Menie Estate.

The plans go before Aberdeenshire council this week.

From his former coastguard cottage home, David Milne gets a daily view of the Trump International Golf Links Scotland parking lot.

Most of the time – it is sparsely used. People are not coming here in droves to golf and stimulate the economy, whatever promises were made for the elitist course, where a round can set you back £200.

Many residents, ecologists and environmentalists are still reeling from recent revelations that the SSSIs at Menie – a moving sand dune system unique to Great Britain – was destroyed despite Trump’s promises it was fine.

An environmental clerk of works and a group, MEMAG, were meant to ensure the SSSIs were protected – despite assurances from Aberdeenshire Council Planning and MEMAG (disbanded by Trump unilaterally) the dunes and their ecosystems were fine, they are now permanently damaged.

Even recently George Sorial, an officer of the Trump company, claimed the dunes were ‘95% untouched.’ This serious breach alone should stop the council proceeding: the deveoper simply cannot be trusted.

Mr Milne described a number of flaws in the plan:- lack of suitable infrastructure, inability of the current roads to handle 550 new homeowners and their cars, and the fact that the first Trump golf course failed to bring anything near the projected financial benefits were among those flaws.

Watch the video here:

Donald Trump Jr previously said that Russian money was involved in many Trump projects. The council’s Planning department deny that they have any responsibility to be concerned about potential money laundering.

When confronted some years back with irrefutable proof Mr Trump is associated with organised crime figures, Planning accused Aberdeen Voice of ‘slandering’ the developer (it is not slander or libel if it is true).

On Thursday 26 September the council will vote on whether or not to let Trump build 550 more homes. Menie would never be the same again.

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Oct 132017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Two planning enforcement notices have been served by Aberdeenshire Council on Avant Homes in respect of the former Kingseat Hospital development near Newmachar.
The action by the Council’s planning service follows a report on Kingseat, instigated by East Garioch councillor Martin Ford, that went to the Garioch Area Committee in June.

Cllr Ford has welcomed the decision to serve enforcement notices. He said:

“I am very pleased by the response from the Council’s planning service to the Member Promoted Issue report on Kingseat discussed at the Garioch Area Committee in June. Actions are now being taken that will put real pressure on the main site owner to complete at least some of the outstanding planning requirements.”

The planning enforcement notices served relate to the storage of spoil and materials and failure to install a play park, required from the developers as part of the overall Kingseat planning permission. The developer has 12 weeks from 20 October to clear the spoil storage area and create a new open space including play equipment.

If the developer wishes to appeal the enforcement notices, it must do so by 19 October.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“Under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, councillors are not allowed to press for particular planning enforcement actions. Such decisions are for officers in the planning service. The decisions officers have now taken regarding Kingseat have my wholehearted support.

“I do think Aberdeenshire Council was far too passive for far too long in dealing with the stalled development at Kingseat. Of course, the Council cannot simply order the developers to complete the whole development, it doesn’t have that power. But the Council can proactively pursue obligations the developers have under the legal agreements associated with planning permissions, and take enforcement action over non-compliance with those permissions.

“There is clearly now a new determination to use the powers the Council does have to try to force the main site owner to undertake further work stipulated by the permissions granted and agreements signed. That has got to be very welcome.”

Aberdeenshire Council hopes Avant Homes will comply with the enforcement notices. In the event of non-compliance, officers in the Council’s planning service will decide what action to take. This could include the Council undertaking the work required and recovering costs from Avant Homes and reporting Avant Homes to the procurator fiscal for non-compliance.

The Council is also reviewing other options for action to get work progressed at Kingseat, including Avant Homes’ obligations under Section 75 legal agreements.

In order to preserve the historically important former hospital site, Aberdeenshire Council granted planning permission for a mixed use development at Kingseat in December 2004. The first new homes at Kingseat were completed on 21 February 2006 – so some residents have now been living in an unfinished development for over eleven years. The lack of a play park is just one very obvious failure by the main site developer.

The Council’s long-standing policy on preserving the historic buildings at Kingseat is reflected in the agreed development brief for the site.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The goal has to be to get the whole development finished and see the fine buildings that are currently derelict brought back into use.”

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Aug 252017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

An Aberdeen-based family support charity has issued an urgent plea for new volunteers to help it achieve its target of recruiting 30 new volunteers within 30 weeks during its 30th anniversary year.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been supporting families who are vulnerable, or who may be at risk of isolation, for the past three decades.

This support is largely provided by volunteers, who are trained by the charity and matched with a family whom they visit on a weekly basis.

Home-Start Aberdeen now plans to run a further two volunteer induction courses in August before hitting its 30-week deadline in September.

The charity launched the 30 in 30 volunteer recruitment campaign in February this year in a bid to reduce its waiting list of families who are in need of support.

Georgette Cobban (pictured), scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen said:

“No formal qualifications are required to become a Home-Start Aberdeen volunteer, however we are looking for people who have a keen interest in the wellbeing of families or who have parenting experience themselves.

“Families who are referred to us may be struggling with a variety of issues such as post-natal depression, isolation, physical health problems or bereavement. We prepare our volunteers – and carefully match them with a family – so that their own life skills and experience can be of benefit to others.

“In addition to the initial preparation course, our volunteers receive ongoing support from their Home-Start Aberdeen co-ordinator, plus regular opportunities for further skills development. All we ask for in return is a commitment of 2-3 hours a week to provide a city-based family with emotional and practical support in their home surroundings.

“Although we are bigger than ever before – with around 100 volunteers – the need for our service continues to grow, as do our waiting lists. I would urge anyone who thinks they might be able to help to get in touch for a no-pressure chat.”

Over the past three decades Home-Start Aberdeen has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Home-Start schemes, providing over 220 families and 360 children with around 27,500 hours of support each year. Families are referred to the charity mainly by health visitors and social workers, however they can also self-refer. The support provided is completely free: families must have an address in the city and one child under five years old, otherwise there are no barriers to access.

Home-Start Aberdeen’s next volunteer induction courses commence on Wednesday, 30 August. Each course incorporates eight weekly sessions, with daytime and evening options to suit different schedules.

For further details, or to arrange an informal chat, email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or call 01224 693545. Additional information is also available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Jul 062017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

A local family charity has received a two-year pledge of support from the Aberdeen branch of Rathbones, a leading investment management company.

Home-Start Aberdeen has recently benefited from a £5,000 donation towards its work with vulnerable families in 2017. This donation will be repeated in 2018 after the scheme was selected by the Rathbones Aberdeen as its nominated charity.

Employees from Rathbones also plan to augment the initial donation by getting involved with additional fundraising activities over the next 24 months.

Meera Dennis, investment director at Rathbones said:

“We are aware of the work that Home-Start Aberdeen does to support families in our local communities, who may be struggling as a result of various challenges and circumstances beyond their control.

“The cause resonated with many of our team members and we are looking forward to deepening our involvement with Home-Start Aberdeen – and our understanding of their various support services – over the coming period.”

The support from Rathbones comes at a pivotal point in Home-Start Aberdeen’s history; the charity is currently celebrating 30 years of support for families in the city, however it faces the challenge of a growing waiting list.

Georgette Cobban (pictured), Home-Start Aberdeen’s scheme manager said:

“This new pledge of two years of support from Rathbones is incredibly welcome and very much appreciated.

“Home-Start Aberdeen currently has over 100 volunteers, who are working with more families than ever before, but we still desperately need to recruit and train more. Our third volunteer preparation course of the year is set to take place in August. The amount donated by Rathbones will enable us to deliver this crucial training with a view to helping families on our waiting list as soon as possible.”

Home-Start Aberdeen supports around 220 families and 360 children each year and is one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK. Its trained volunteers work with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their communities and enjoy family life again.

Further information is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

 
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Jun 022017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

An Aberdeen-based family support charity is using Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June 2017) as a springboard to successfully conclude its 30th anniversary campaign to recruit 30 new volunteers within 30 weeks.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been supporting families who are vulnerable, or who may be at risk of isolation, for the past three decades.

This support is largely provided by volunteers, who are trained by the charity and matched with a family who they visit on a weekly basis.

Having started life as a small project operating from a box room within Mastrick Church, Home-Start Aberdeen is now one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK.

The charity provides over 220 families and 360 children with around 27,500 hours of support each year, however it continues to operate a growing list of those who are in need of help.

“We have had a tremendous response to our 30 in 30 campaign since launching it in February,” said Georgette Cobban, scheme manager (pictured).

“Our second new cohort of volunteers are currently undergoing training, which will bring our tally to 20 out of the 30 new volunteers we would like to recruit by September.

“We plan to run our next volunteer preparation course in August and we would urge anyone who thinks they might be interested to get in touch for an informal chat. Full training is provided by Home-Start Aberdeen – all we ask for is a time commitment of 2-3 hours per week to provide a local family with emotional and practical support in their home setting.”

For further information on volunteering opportunities with Home-Start Aberdeen, email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or telephone 01224 693545.

Home-Start Aberdeen is a voluntary organisation, offering support and friendship to vulnerable families. Its small staff team trains and co-ordinates over 100 volunteers who provide families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. Those who are referred to the charity must live within the city and have at least one child under five years old, otherwise there are no barriers to access. To find out more, visit www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

An Aberdeen-based family support charity is using Mother’s Day to highlight the important role that experienced parents can play in supporting new mums and dads.
Home-Start Aberdeen works with families in the city, with at least one child under five years old, who may be vulnerable or suffering from
isolation. 

It provides these families with weekly support, which is delivered in their own home by a trained home visiting volunteer.

The majority of Home-Start Aberdeen volunteers are parents themselves, who understand the challenges involved in bringing up a family.

Now one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK, Home-Start Aberdeen supports over 220 families and 360 children each year. Isolation remains one of the most common reasons for referrals and the charity has a waiting list of more than 30 families who are in need of help.

Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen said:

“Many of today’s new parents don’t have immediate access to a solid support network.

“People move around a lot more, meaning that extended family are not always available to give a helping hand, or to provide new parents with a break.

“Our home visiting volunteers help to fill that role, by providing a regular presence along with advice and encouragement on how new parents can get involved with community life. As we approach Mothering Sunday, we hope that experienced parents might consider reaching out to others.

“The Home-Start model works very well as the relationship is equal. It is all about parents supporting other parents and we know that our volunteers, as well as our families, get a great deal from it.”

Now in its 30th anniversary year, Home-Start Aberdeen has launched a ’30 in 30’ campaign to recruit 30 new volunteers within 30 weeks. Volunteer induction courses are taking place throughout the year, with the next course starting on Wednesday, 3 May. For further information, go to www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk or email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been working with communities in the city for 30 years. The charity provides vulnerable families with practical and emotional support in their own homes. Support is provided by trained volunteers, with supervision from a small team of coordinators. Families must have at least one child under five years old and live within the city, otherwise there are no barriers to access.

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Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

An Aberdeen-based charity is marking thirty years of support for vulnerable and isolated local families by hosting a 1930s-themed afternoon tea fundraiser.

Organised by the Friends of Home-Start Aberdeen, the event takes place at The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa on Sunday, 21 May.

Those who attend can look forward to an afternoon of opulent nostalgia from the era, including Rat Pack-inspired music and dancing.

Guests will be greeted with a welcome drink on arrival, with the opportunity to browse a variety of stalls. Refreshments and entertainment will then follow in The Marcliffe’s ballroom. Well-known master of ceremonies Doug Duthie will preside over the afternoon’s activities, which include exclusive prize draws and a charity raffle.

“This year’s afternoon tea is set to be particularly special, as it coincides with Home-Start Aberdeen’s 30th year in the city,” says Ally Cartwright, chairperson, Friends of Home-Start Aberdeen.

“The 1930s theme is a wonderful one to work with and we hope that people really get into the spirit of it. While there is no obligation to dress according to the era, we’ll be delighted if guests choose to do so.

“Home-Start Aberdeen has experienced phenomenal growth over the past three decades, however a list of families awaiting support continues to exist. All funds raised by the event will go towards recruiting and training new volunteers so that we can reach these families more quickly.”

Tickets for the 1930s-themed anniversary tea cost £30 each, with tables arranged in groups of 12. Orders can be placed by emailing admin@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or by telephoning 01224 693545. Guests are also being encouraged to bring along a bag of unwanted clothing or accessories; these will be collected on-site for Home-Start Aberdeen’s George Street charity shop.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been working with families in the city for 30 years. The charity provides families who may be vulnerable or suffering from isolation with emotional and practical support. This support is provided by trained volunteers, who spend two to three hours per week with a family in their own home.

Those who need help, or want to help, can find out more at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Feb 242017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

Georgette Cobban

A local family support charity has received a welcome 30th birthday gift in the form of a substantial donation from a major energy company.

Nexen Petroleum U.K. Limited has made a recent donation of £5,000 to Home-Start Aberdeen as the charity prepares to celebrate its thirtieth year of supporting families in the city.

Home-Start Aberdeen is a voluntary organisation that offers families who may be vulnerable, or suffering from isolation, with emotional and practical support in their own homes.

The charity has just launched a ’30 in 30’ volunteer recruitment drive to coincide with its 30th anniversary year.

It aims to attract and train 30 new home visiting volunteers in 30 weeks, to allow it to reduce the number of families that are currently waiting for support.

This latest donation from Nexen’s community investment fund follows a series of previous funding gifts. Home-Start Aberdeen has received £19,000 from the energy company since 2013; Nexen has also provided Home-Start in Hillingdon, which is located nearby its London headquarters, with funding support.

Ray Riddoch, Nexen’s managing director UK & senior VP Europe said:

“Nexen is committed to helping to strengthen the communities where we live and work. We focus on supporting initiatives that build inclusive, safe and thriving communities. Home Start provides opportunities and resources for families who need a step up, often helping them before they reach crisis point and in the safety of their own homes.

“Their mentoring programme delivers long term, positive effects for the families they help, resulting in stronger and more resilient communities across the areas where they work. We’re delighted to be able to continue to support Home Start in 2017.”

Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen, said:

“Nexen’s generous support has made a genuine impact on our work in recent years. We have experienced a significant increase in demand from families during this period and Nexen’s funding has enabled us to grow to meet these demands. Home-Start Aberdeen takes a great pride in the quality of training that we offer our volunteers, as this training ensures that our families receive the best possible support.

“We currently have over 30 families on our waiting list. This latest donation will help us to run additional volunteer preparation courses so that we can reach these families more quickly.”

Home-Start Aberdeen’s 30th anniversary year commenced on Monday, 13 February 2017. The charity, which supports around 200 families and 300 children each year, works with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their communities and enjoy family life again.

Further information is available at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Jan 272017
 

By Wendy McEwan

Shelter Scotland is a charity that supports many people who are struggling with homelessness and bad housing.

We offer advice and support through our online services and face to face in our many advice centres.

We campaign to make homelessness a thing of the past.

If you would like to be part of this charity, we are looking for volunteers to help in our charity shops in Aberdeen.

No experience is needed as we will provide all necessary training until you are confident with the work involved. All that we ask is that you give us a few hours of your free time on a regular basis.

Although we are looking for general helpers, we are actually in great need of Volunteer Supervisors. People who will be willing to take on that little bit extra and be trained up on everything from opening the shop, all till procedures including refunds and voids, sorting donations, pricing stock, displays, cashing up at the end of the day and just general supervision of the shop.

As we are a charity who only employs a Manager, we count on our volunteers to keep the shop running smoothly and would never manage without them.

They are the heart of the shop and all contribute towards the charity with their gift of time.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or would like to find out more information then please pop into our shop at 179 George Street, Aberdeen and speak to Wendy or email Abergeorgeshop@shelter.org.uk

Thank You, I look forward to meeting you.