Jan 182013

When Donald Trump bought the Menie Estate, it was the end of a peaceful life in the countryside for the existing residents. Anthony Baxter captured incidents in his award-winning documentary You’ve Been Trumped which caused outcry here and abroad. In Part 3 of a series on the Menie Estate, Suzanne Kelly finds out how life is now for Trump’s next-door neighbours.


There are certain absolute rights UK citizens are supposed to enjoy, including the right to privacy and a right to go about their lawful business without interference. In Scotland, access to the countryside – whoever owns it – is guaranteed by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

This act and the related Scottish Outdoor Access Code give responsible countryside visitors (and residents) the right to access hills, woods, grass fields and field margins, beaches, lochs, rivers and canals.

There are special provisions for golf courses; walkers must not interfere with play, keep dogs on a lead and so on.

Here is a paragraph from a brochure entitled Enjoy Scotland’s Outdoors published by Scottish Natural Heritage:

“Respect the interests of others.

“Respect the needs of other people enjoying or working in the outdoors and follow any reasonable advice from land managers. Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind. Avoid causing alarm to people, especially at night, by keeping a reasonable distance from houses and gardens or by using paths or tracks.”

So much for the theory; here is the reality in Balmedie.


David Milne, Susan Munro and other residents shared their recent experiences with the AV team when we met. Artist and photo-journalist Alicia Bruce has also written of her recent experiences.

  • A local resident wanted to visit the Forbes family, who live on one side of the golf course.  While walking towards the Forbes property, a security guard stopped the walker from going any further, even denying there were any buildings where the Forbes have long lived.  The walker was forced to accompany the security guard to the ‘temporary’ clubhouse. In the walker’s own words:

“Eventually, after about 20 minutes, I was speaking to a chap named Eric over the phone. He eventually agreed I could walk along this track. I was wanting to go along and visit Mike and Sheila [Forbes].

“The security guard denied there were any houses. I said, ‘Yes, there are; you must drive past them several times a day’. Eric eventually agreed I could walk, but I would have to be followed by the security guard in his truck.”

  • Visitors to the estate can expect the third degree as well.

In one resident’s words:

“Friends were harassed by a greens keeper… walking down the track… one of the greens keeping staff saw them, approached them and apparently he was absolutely ballistic – they thought he was going to have a heart attack. ‘If you take one step off that path, you are breaking the law,’ he was saying.”

Another resident nods in agreement, telling me that they have heard variations of that story. Alicia Bruce has had a similarly aggressive run-in; details can be found at http://www.aliciabruce.co.uk/news/trump-security-duckrabbit-the-daily-mail/  . Alicia was threatened, and called the police.  In this instance, the police cautioned the Trump security people.

Susan Munro is watched by security with some frequency when driving, and even when she is on her property. She has been a Menie Estate resident for over 30 years and as such should be well-known to security, as should the cars her family owns.

Nevertheless, she is often stopped by security, interrogated and identification demanded of her. This can be to the extent that when she returns from work late at night, men on foot will jump in front of her car from out of nowhere, and then demand ID. As she succinctly put it:

“I finished work last night and was stopped by security. It’s horrible when they jump out at you in the pitch black. They alarmed me. I am sick fed up with security hassling me.”

Susan has to use the Trump road at present as her own access road is, at the time of writing, completely out of use (see article 2 in this series – The Road’s A Ruin).

It must sit badly to have your own road in a state, and be accosted when using the only road available, one which is completely smooth and perfectly finished. However, that is not the end of Susan’s woes. They will be addressed shortly.

There are more such anecdotes, old and new. It is worth mentioning that some residents report run-ins with friendly security. While the ‘friendly’ security guards may not be unpleasant, what they are doing questioning the people who live on this estate is a mystery.

No one who has seen You’ve Been Trumped can forget the scene in which Baxter and Phinney are arrested for an alleged breach of the peace. They had filmed themselves visiting the estate manager’s office to ask when residents could expect their water supply to be restored.

They are unceremoniously dismissed (the estate personnel even makes an odd comment about the value of their equipment, which can be seen as a veiled threat). The film documents the arrest of two well-behaved journalists on the hearsay evidence of a billionaire’s employee.

We condemn such abuses of power in the third world, but it’s happened here in Scotland with absolutely no proper subsequent independent investigation. (More details can be found at https://aberdeenvoice.com/2012/10/bully-for-you-trump-threatens-suit-against-filmmaker/

Guns ‘n Woes

On top of years of intimidation and questionable tactics, at least one security firm previously employed (there have been at least two) used guards armed with pellet/air guns.

These guards would engage in target practice. One witness also saw a guard and a man with a rifle.

So we have residents constantly being stopped, harassed, and ‘jumped out at’ by ill-tempered and aggressive guards – some of whom used to have air guns.

It is almost as if the Trump organisation and its security firms use the SNH outdoor access policy as a laundry list of ways to bully.

The residents and I believe Trump’s security guards have acted in the above situations well beyond their legal authority. We also believe that security operatives are meant to display badges prominently. The residents confirm they have hardly ever seen any such badges; and none of us recall seeing any in the film You’ve Been Trumped either.

The security firm currently operating is Izon. A sign bearing their name appears at a locked gate which prevents cars from entering, which seems in contravention of free access laws. Anyone on foot, on bicycle or even on horseback should be able to access this (or any other) road.

Izon has been asked to comment on these issues and whether its operatives carry air/pellet/other types of guns. The company’s response will be reported in due course.

Visiting these people, living as they do with all sorts of imposed and unnecessary hardships, hits me hardest when we go to Susan Munro’s house. Walking down the damaged road (see Menie Series Pt 2) was bad enough.

But as we walk down towards the Munro house, a bund – an artificial, steep, and very high earthwork rises alongside the road, blocking out any views of the sea and landscape the Munros previously enjoyed.

The Trump Organisation has also used a similar tactic at the Milne property. Trump’s landscapers have attempted to put a row of conifers along the property boundary. If they were to grow, then Milne’s view of the sea would be gone. As it is, the trees are unable to grow in sand.

“Your first clue that they won’t grow is that there aren’t already any here,” is how David Milne puts it.

It is as if ‘The Donald’ thought he could stop the tides as well as make trees grow in sand.

Life goes on for the residents. At the time of writing it is understood the damaged roads are to be repaired. Aberdeen Voice will report when the ‘temporary’ bunds come down and when security stops accosting residents and visitors. I am just not sure when that will be.


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Jan 162013

Things are seriously amiss at the Trump International Golf Course and Menie Estate, as Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly and photographer Rob discovered. Inspired by Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney’s You’ve Been Trumped film, Kelly has followed developments at ‘the world’s greatest golf course’ with interest. On a recent visit, residents showed our team around the site and shared stories. In the second instalment of a series of articles, Kelly looks at the demise of the road infrastructure.

There are signs of flooding all over the Balmedie area. Damage to the course is dramatically illustrated in the article:

Menie Estate Series: Crazy Golf

But the course damage is only one aspect of how the estate is faring this winter; the residents have more practical and urgent problems.

Susan Munro has lived on the estate for decades. Alongside her house runs a road which had until recently been a smooth path.

It slopes gently down to Susan’s house on the north side, and now the golf course on the south.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and this is the worst it’s been,” Susan says.

She is shaking her head, standing in the doorway of her home. At her feet are signs of flooding; a wet, sandy, muddy substance covers concrete slabs and seems sure to cause her drains to overflow. She is, however, mainly talking about the only access road to her home.

The road is virtually unusable.

When Trump came it was with ambitious plans and an assortment of construction vehicles. The access road had quite a lot to cope with. While it may sit on Trump-owned land, historically it served the residents as an access road.

It has, in the writer’s opinion (and that of several residents), been damaged badly as a result of construction vehicles and the run-off pipe or pipes.

Then the plastic pipes appeared, carrying run-off from the golf course area. One such pipe is clearly visible near the road on the opposite end from the Munro residence. This pipe seems to be carrying run-off from the course directly into the side of the road.

There is no drainage for this road. Already badly rutted from course construction traffic, it is being further eroded.

Not helping the matter is the construction of giant bunds – tall, steeply rising mounds of earth built along the length of this road and on the east side of the property border between Trump and Munro. (More on these bunds in a future article; they deserve a great deal of description).
Water runs down this now badly rutted dirt road, and as the road ends in the newly-constructed parking lot, a short gradient channels yet more water off the new parking lot tarmac onto the dirt road.

Finally, the Trump organisation has dug two gravel pits in a field between the Munro house and David Milne’s home; the field slopes down towards the road.

The idea seems to be that the first pit, filled with gravel and then covered would catch water, with the overflow going to the second pit.
The only place from there for water to go would certainly seem to be the damaged little access road.

It is unclear that any of these additions – run-off pipes, bunds, drainage pits, and slope from parking to the dirt road – had been given specific, clear planning permission.

In fact, I was promised the bunds were temporary when I wrote to Aberdeenshire Council in 2011. Temporary is a long time in this part of the world, it seems.

It would also seem no one from Aberdeenshire Council is making regular visits. It would seem obvious the council should ensure residents can access their historic road.

Considering that most of us living in the North East would have to apply for permission before changing the type of windows we have in our homes, why are such damaging, major modifications to the landscape being allowed with virtually no sign of proper approval process or assessments?

There is no suggestion on any part that these modifications are done to deliberately make life difficult for the residents. The fact remains though: this is just what they are doing.

The road is now so bad that Susan Munro cannot use it any longer.
In fact, if you had a 4×4 you would still face difficulties trying to drive down this road, not least because of the seriously dangerous gap which has opened up near its lower end.

This has had a few token objects such as a bag of building material (unopened) unceremoniously dumped into it, as if that were a remotely adequate or safe remedy to this dangerous situation.

Walkers would find nothing to warn them of the dangers of walking this road, either.

Fixing the road should not be too difficult; it should, in my opinion, be done quickly, by the council, and paid for almost exclusively by the Trump Organisation.

Trump is quick to condemn area residents who keep their property in a state he doesn’t like, yet this road is now a massive eyesore and can’t be used.

Perhaps if it were visible to his golfers it would be a different story, but that ‘temporary’ bund shields players’ eyes from this unpleasant reality.

At the end of this series of articles, a summary report of findings will be sent to relevant organisations including Trump International, Aberdeenshire Council Clerk of Works, councillors, and not least – the Health & Safety Executive.

In the meantime, Susan has to use the Trump parking lot and new road (with a perfectly smooth tarmac surface) to get off the estate.

How has that been working out for her?

How is she coping with the bunds? What are things like for her?

The answer is probably worse than you might imagine.

Residents’ experiences will be covered in the next article in this series on Friday morning.

* * ** ** **** STOP PRESS **** ** ** * *
 Estate residents have just been advised Leyton Farm Road will be closed 17 and 18 January.  They believe this is for road repair work.  Aberdeen Voice will report on the repair work once completed.
* * ** ** **** ****** ***** **** ** ** * *
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Jan 142013

Things are seriously amiss at the Trump International Golf Course and Menie Estate, as Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly and AV photographer Rob discovered. On a recent visit they spoke to several residents and spent hours walking the area. Aberdeen Voice shares their findings in a series of articles.

King Canute demonstrated that although he was a wealthy king, he could not hold back the tides by standing on the shore as the tide came in. Trump did not get this memo.

There are signs of flooding all over the Menie Estate; this is not surprising as the North East is experiencing some of its wettest weather historically speaking.

But are things worse than if Trump hadn’t been there?

An arcane system of visible plastic pipes installed by the Trump organisation is not exactly helping things – well, not for common access roads and the residents, anyway.

Unlike some conservationists who objected to the golf course, the Trump people didn’t foresee what could happen when the weather got wild. How would the course hold up with the recent storms the North East experienced?

Aberdeen Voice and some locals took a walk to find out. We set out through the ‘temporary’ parking lot (which seems to lack specific planning permission) and headed to the course to investigate.

The path in question has the (formerly moveable) sand dunes and the North Sea on the east, and the course on the west.

In places, the course is very close to the sea indeed.

On our walk we found a large section of dune had crumbled.  A World War II pillbox was newly covered by the falling sand and marram grass, planted to stabilise the dunes.

I guess Mother Nature hadn’t got that memo.

In some cases, children planted marram grass as part of a PR exercise.

The damage was striking.

While continuing our walk towards the fourth hole, we discovered a set of traffic cones ahead of us on the path.

It is just as well the light hadn’t yet faded – or we might have fallen several feet into a newly-opened chasm.

Approximately four feet of the golf course path has simply fallen into the sea at Blairton Burn. It is as if Mother Nature took a bite out of the course.

A large pipe leads out into the sea at this point.

Presumably if this pipe is being used for water runoff, it has been approved in advance by Aberdeenshire’s environmental and planning experts?
The pipe had no foundation, just sand around it.

The cross section of ground clearly visible from the course collapse shows that there is a thin layer of turf directly over the sand.

How safe and secure this can be right on the edge of the North Sea is a concern.

Photographs illustrate this dramatic gap eloquently.

While there are cones warning of the huge gap, there is no protective fencing.

Even more worrying is that other sections of this portion of the 4th hole might likewise be ready to fall into the sea.

In the news this past week a couple bid £80,000 to come and play here, including transportation, meals, etc.

We wonder in what state they will find ‘The World’s Greatest Golf Course’ when they arrive.

As the dunes shift, and the course crumbles (in one place anyway), how are the residents faring?  Not very well, as a subsequent article will demonstrate.

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Dec 112012

Aberdeen Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (AbSPSC) has organised an evening of protest/political tunes and poetry to help fundraise for the Plant-a-Tree in Palestine project. With thanks to Mike Martin.

Thousands of Palestinian families in the West Bank are being displaced, losing their land to make way for illegal settlers supported by the Israeli state.
Tens of thousands of olive trees have been destroyed in the process, many of which have been cared for by the same Palestinian families for generations.

The Plant-a-Tree in Palestine project seeks to assist Palestinians in their struggle to rebuild their livelihoods by providing the means to plant trees indigenous to Palestine’s natural environment and agricultural life.

Plant-a-Tree in Palestine is a joint project between the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) and the Palestinian Farmers Union

The evening will feature the music of Mark Ayling, Simon Gall and Maze McPunklet as well as the poetry of the marvellous Hilda Meers!

Entry: £6 – and for an additional £6 you will also receive a certificate to say you’ve donated a tree to Palestine.

Thursday 13th December
From 7:30pm

Cellar 35
Rosemount Viaduct

Nov 202012

Following the latest, ongoing outbreak of Israeli violence against the people of Gaza, citizens of Aberdeen demonstrate their solidarity and support for those under attack.  With thanks to Dave Black.

On Saturday 17 November, some 50 people gathered at short notice to show their support and solidarity for the people of Gaza, who are facing daily massacres at the hands of the Israeli Defence Force.
Meeting in Aberdeen’s St Nicholas Square, many carried flags or banners stating “Stand With Gaza” and “End Israeli War Crimes,” while shouts of “Free Palestine” rang in the air.

Powerful speeches were delivered by Brian Carroll (Aberdeen TUC President) and Tommy Campbell (Unite Regional Officer).

Veteran pro-Palestinian activist and member of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace Hilda Meers gave the crowd a moving rendition of her poem Erasure – Death-Dance for a Palestinian Child.

Many passers-by stopped and took the time to sign a petition demanding Alec Salmond immediately halts any political and economic relationships with Israel until the oppression of Gaza has ended and the human rights of Palestinians are recognised.

Plans for taking forward solidarity with the people of Gaza will be progressed at a public meeting upstairs at the Belmont Cinema this Thursday 22 November at 7.30pm.

The agenda will include building towards an Aberdeen-Gaza Skype link-up at 2pm on 08 December at the University of Aberdeen’s MacRobert Building (room 613). This event is aimed at hearing directly the experiences of people in Gaza, forging links between activists and interested groups/individuals in Aberdeen and Gaza and looking at how these can be taken forward in the future.

<<<<    >>>>

  ERASURE – Death-Dance For A Palestinian Child, As Seen On A Video From Gaza

(During the Israeli Cast Lead attack on Gaza, Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinian ambulances to prevent them carrying wounded civilians to hospital. Sixteen medics were killed, resulting in casualties being ferried in donkey carts).

See the donkey-cart driver
race along the road, fast, fast –
pulling up with a jerk, not a word,
now his journey’s done.
See a mother leap out of the cart.
As she runs, runs, runs,
see her feet pound the ground,
the child in her arms so still, silent and still.
A man comes at a run, running quick, quick,
he runs towards the woman,
his arms reach for the child who lies silent,
unmoving and silent in sheltering arms.
Then turning, he runs, runs fast, quickly nears,
nearing the open door he surrenders the child
to other arms reaching, to bring help
for the child lying silent and still.
See the doctors bend over the hospital bed,
as they work for response from the child on the bed –
despairing at last, they must cover the head
of a child whose life has been stilled.
Whose life has been stilled,
has been stolen away,
the mother’s heart broken –
what more can I say?
What more can I say
What more can I do
As I try to convince you
This is our heartbreak too.
© Hilda Meers
Jul 122012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid. 

As the Olympic flame makes its way back to London, Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), is gearing up to host its very first international football match.
On Sunday 15th July at 3pm, Cameroon women’s football team will play the Scotland women’s national team in an international challenge match in preparation for their Olympic campaign.

Tickets for the international challenge match at ASV are now on sale for £5 (£2 for concessions) and can be purchased at ASV reception, or by calling 01224 438900.

Aberdeen Sports Village is situated at Linksfield Road, Aberdeen

Website: www.aberdeensportsvillage.com
Email:    info@aberdeensportsvillage.com
Twitter:  @asvabdn

May 172012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid

Two North East teenagers have been included in the Scottish Football Association / Scottish Disability Sports Cerebral Palsy Future squad to take part in the Home Nations Championships in Northern Ireland later this month.

Cults Academy pupil Duncan MacPherson (17) and 16-year-old Lewis Clow from Pitmedden, are included in the squad that travels to Belfast on Friday 25th May to take on Northern Ireland and England on consecutive days over the weekend.

David McArdle, disability development officer for the SFA, said:

“The future squad is a vital part of our Cerebral Palsy International Pathway.  The opportunity for the young, inexperienced players to play in an international tournament is vital to ensure they can fully develop and one day push for a place in the ‘A’ squad.

Future squad Head Coach Stuart Aitchison added:

“We are delighted how the players have developed over the past twelve months.  The future squad are very talented and a number of the players will be moving up after the summer and hopefully play at next year’s Intercontinental Championships.”

Any player with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury or stroke can become involved in football by contacting David at the SFA on David.McArdle@Scottishfa.co.uk or 0141 616 6077.

Image Credit:  SOCCER BALL © Cathysbelleimage | Dreamstime.com



Mar 152012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi I’m Millie, the Caterpillar!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Acronyms!

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 092012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid. 

Organisers of the Denis Law Soccer Tournament, which replaced the longstanding Aberdeen International Football Festival last year, are looking to cement the financial future of the event with the formation of a ‘Friends’ group comprising 200 members.

Scotland legend Denis, the Patron of the DLST, is passionate about the tournament.

“Sport and in this case, football, forms an important part of a child’s upbringing and I firmly believe the experience and enjoyment that kids get from this event in my home town will stay with them forever. The organisers need your support to be able to sustain this worthy cause and I would urge you to become a Friend to ensure it can continue as an annual event. I look forward to seeing you at some point during the year to thank you personally.”

And everyone who signs up at £200 per annum to become a ‘Friend’ will get the opportunity to do just that as there will be ‘Friends of DLST’ reception at Aberdeen Sports Village, hosted by Denis himself.

In addition, Friends will receive recognition of support within the tournament programme, venue and website, a quarterly e-newsletter and entry into a prize draw for a complimentary team to be included in the DLST corporate football event.

This year’s tournament will take place at ASV between July 16th and 21st with action at 16 and Under and 14 and Under age groups.

Anyone wishing to become a Friend can pay via BACS, cheque or debit card via the ‘Friends of DLST’ link on www.aberdeensportsvillage.com or by contacting ASV Events Manager Fiona Cardwell on 01224 438926 or fiona@aberdeensportvillage.com

Mar 012012

Why is Donald Trump still a GlobalScot? asks Andy Wightman as he examines the Trumps’ current anti-wind energy stance and the aims and rules of GlobalScot status.

Donald Trump Jr arrived in Scotland on 28th February to further his father’s campaign against wind energy in Scotland.
His father has claimed in a letter to Alex Salmond that “foreign energy companies will destroy your country and economy” and that Mr Salmond “will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history.”

 He goes on to say: 

“I have authorised my staff to allocate a substantial amount of money to launch an international campaign to fight your plan to surround Scotland’s coast with many thousands of wind turbines.”

One report suggests that he has allocated £10m to the campaign.

Mr Trump has also threatened to bring a lawsuit against the Scottish Government which would, he argues, delay the proposed European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre off the Aberdeenshire coast, and against which he has railed previously.

Now, renewable energy forms a major part of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy – as outlined in their Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland. Trump Sr has stated quite clearly that he intends to do all he can to frustrate this through an international multi-million pound campaign and by legal actions designed to delay an important experimental project. Trump Jr has arrived to carry out his father’s instructions and oversee the beginnings of this onslaught.

All of which is rather interesting in the context of a Scottish Government initiative to encourage international entrepreneurs’ support for Scotland’s economic future.

The GlobalScot network is a project of Scottish Development International (SDI) consisting of 746:

“successful executives located throughout the world. GlobalScots all have strong connections with Scotland. Each of them has a strong desire to see Scotland succeed in the global business arena”.

Currently, SDI is:

“not looking to grow the membership significantly – however we are currently looking to identify prospective members in the following sectors”. 

This list includes Renewable Energy, Offshore Wind, and Marine Energy.

No prizes for guessing what Ian Wood, Donald Trump, Stewart Milne, Brian Soutar and George Sorial have in common. Correct. They are all GlobalScots.

In April 2006, First Minister Jack McConnell invited Donald Trump Sr to become a GlobalScot. Donald Trump accepted the personal invitation and Mr McConnell stated:

“Donald has shown me a real passion for Scotland. He is a globally recognised figure who can help us to promote Scotland. I am delighted that he has taken up my offer. This is a good bit of business for all concerned.”

Membership of GlobalScot is: 

“by invitation only, personal and non-transferable.”

The published full list of members is interesting in that Trump Sr is not on the list. Has he resigned? However, Trump Jr is named. When was he invited? Surely he didn’t take over from his dad – as membership is non-transferable?

And where did George Sorial come from? Who invited him?

In Jack McConnell’s letter of invitation to Trump Sr, he wrote:

“I should welcome your participation in the GlobalScot programme because I believe that your experience, knowledge and skills can make a tangible impact on our economic development efforts.”

Which brings me to conclude with the title of this piece.

Why is Donald Trump still a GlobalScot?

Given that both Donald Trumps are funding an international campaign against Scotland’s economic interests and threatening lawsuits to frustrate important projects, it is surely inconceivable that Scottish Development International will now retain Trump as a member.

If they do not act, then the First Minister should, without delay, instruct SDI to withdraw Donald Trump’s and George Sorial’s membership of the GlobalScot network.