Nov 232012

Originally sent to cover Aberdeen’s Tree for Every Citizen initiative, Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly turned campaigner against the scheme, protesting alongside animal charities, community councils and thousands of local residents.

Despite the many firm arguments against the plan – a plan which included culling the deer which had wandered the Gramps for generations – a gung-ho Aberdeen City Council (ACC) went ahead. With Tullos Hill set to be planted with 89,000 trees in the scheme’s second phase, gorse and other indigent plants were ripped out, a process that left many birds and small animals homeless.

As one of the scheme’s mooted outcomes was to create a haven for wildlife, the illogicality was not lost on campaigners. Nor was the cost, which ran into thousands of pounds despite a council pledge the operation would be cost neutral.

The plan, to destroy existing meadowland and slaughter its native deer to create a woodland habitat in which, conversely, deer and squirrels could live, according to its supporters, was described by the Scottish SPCA as ‘abhorrent and absurd’.

Yet the council claims the project as a great success story.

So, what is the reality on the hill today?

In October 2012, Princess Anne presented the city with a certificate to mark its effort to create a Diamond Jubilee Wood on Tullos Hill. Patron of the Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods project, the princess presented the award to ACC Countryside Officer Ian Tallboys. According to the city’s publicity arm, Tallboys said:

“Tullos Hill is one of Aberdeen’s most popular beauty spots, so it is vital that we preserve and enhance this area for future generations.

“This ambitious project – part of the council’s award-winning Tree for Every Citizen scheme – has gone a long way to achieving that and it is great news that the hard work of everyone involved is now being recognised on the national stage.”

It all sounds very impressive, but let’s examine some of Tallboys’ claims about the scheme:

Ambitious? Well, no one could disagree with that. The scheme, largely cooked up as a LibDem election pledge, was so ambitious that not only the wishes of local people but the concerns of animal charities such as the Animal Concern Advice Line and Scottish SPCA were ignored

Preserved? The hill has been torn up, fenced off, its wildlife scared away or shot.

Enhanced? The hill is scarred and badly damaged, an area that was a noted beauty spot and in places, still is. The deer, scapegoats for the failure of Phase One of the scheme, have been shot.

Whether or not more deer move into the area (as most wildlife experts without a vested interest in the tree scheme advise), the scheme is as likely to fail in the second phase as it did in the first. For a start, the soil is almost non-existent (as a government soil report advised campaigners years ago), and what is there is filled with rock, stone and decades of debris from the hill’s long-standing use as a de-facto rubbish tip.

The soil report also cites weeds as a prime factor in the failure of trees to thrive, though being planted on a windswept hill adjacent to the North Sea would hardly promote healthy growth. The hill’s weeds are already doing their work, the trees so fought for by those who stood to gain from the scheme already being left to compete with weeds for nutrients in the soil.

Nothing like 89,000 trees were planted. Little or no planting has taken place where gorse has actually been removed from the site. Nothing has been done to make good the scarred areas of the hill and, despite claims to the contrary, the land seems simply too rocky and too filled with garbage to support healthy trees.

There is little evidence to support Tallboys’ declarations of achieving anything positive whatsoever.

This entire project has been and remains a sorry excuse for environmental enhancement. It could be the only enhancement from the project has been to the pockets of those contracted (and paid by the taxpayer) to exterminate the deer and remove natural habitat.

It is worth noting seabird populations in the area are down more than 50% since the 1970s; the loss of even more gorse habitat cannot help. Any similar exercise so lacking in public support and with such disastrous outcomes must not be allowed again.

Our intrepid reporter Suzanne Kelly will be writing to the Diamond Jubilee Woodlands Trust and Princess Anne’s secretary, including ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the devastation, details of the finances involved and proof of the lack of public support. She invites other interested parties to join her.

She says:

“I have absolutely nothing against trees or any well thought out environmental improvement scheme. But the Tree for Every Citizen project was carried out not only at all costs but against residents’ wishes, against the advice of experts and against the existing ecosystem that was in place.

“We now have a badly damaged meadowland, and meadowland is the fastest-disappearing type of ecosystem in the UK. In Aberdeen. I’ve seen meadows given up for development at an alarming pace while empty brownfield sites lie undeveloped.

“This situation needs to be addressed and in future the needs of all stakeholders taken into account. There must never be another ill-conceived, ego-driven, sorry excuse for environmental improvement like this again.”

P.S. CJ Piper, a company paid over £40,000 for its part in this scheme, helped prepare a report to the Forestry Commission which claimed only a ‘vociferous minority’ opposed the scheme; in it, proprietor Mr Piper suggested this ‘minority’ would quieten down after the deer were shot.

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Nov 092012

With thanks to Claire McBain.

VSA, the UK’s largest city social care charity, supporting more than 2,500 people in Aberdeen each year, has launched it’s festive campaign to ensure as many local children as possible have a present to open on 25 December at its Christmas Inspirations shopping evening, sponsored by Prestige Scotland.

Campaign co-ordinator Debbie Fotheringham said:

“Not every child is lucky enough to have a gift of their own on Christmas morning. For some, the harsh reality is that their families can’t stretch to provide presents for them and their siblings, leading them to the wrong conclusion that they’ve been naughty this year. We want to replace these situations with classic Christmas spirit.”

Like last year’s inaugural event, Christmas Inspirations took place at Pittodrie Stadium’s Richard Donald Stand. Shoppers were welcomed with cocktails and canapés courtesy of Prestige Scotland, festive tunes and a fantastic selection of food, art and gift-themed stalls. 

The appeal will continue at drop-off points across the city until the week before Christmas.

Debbie continued:

“We’d really appreciate if gifts were brand new and not wrapped. Gift vouchers are great too for the older children.

“We had an amazing response to our appeal last year, helped by individuals and companies gathering gifts, as well as local businesses that acted as drop-off points. We were able to supply each child that’s part of VSA with a couple of treats from Santa and had plenty goodies left to share with others in the city and shire. I’m looking forward to topping last year’s results over Christmas 2012.”

VSA will be collecting toys at its Christmas Inspirations evening and at the drop-off points listed below:

• VSA, 38 Castle Street, Aberdeen AB11 5YU

• VSA’s Northfield Lodge, Provost Fraser Drive, Aberdeen AB16 7JY

• Citrus:Mix, Bon Accord House, Riverside Drive, Aberdeen AB11 7SL

• Original FM, Original House, Craigshaw Road, Aberdeen AB12 3AR

Additional drop-off points will be announced on the VSA website (, where a list of suggestions of age-specific toys is also available for inspiration.

Oct 262012

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Today (Friday 26 October 2012) VSA, the UK’s largest city social care charity, launches its silent auction ahead of next week’s VSA Diamond Ball (Saturday 3 November 2012).

The charity also hopes to raise up to £50,000 on Saturday 27th October, when loyal VSA supporter Garreth Wood will donate a full day’s takings from four of his city centre bars.

For the last three years Garreth’s company, The Speratus Group, has supported VSA through its Ball and associated fundraisers, as well as contributing staff time through corporate volunteering. 

Garreth traditionally marks the Ball date by donating monies from several of his Aberdeen bars and this year all four city centre hotspots – Amicus Apple, Illicit Still, Paramount and NOX – are taking part in the initiative.

As in 2010 and 2011, The Speartus Group is also the main sponsor for the VSA Ball which this year has a diamond theme to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth ll, the VSA’s Patron.  In Her Majesty’s honour, a diamond necklace, donated by Garreth and supported by Finnies the Jewellers, will be raffled at the Ball on 3rd November.

Garreth said:

“We recognise the amazing work that VSA carries out in the city and shire and are proud to be associated with them.  We look forward to a strong continued relationship with VSA and supporting the tremendous work they carry out every day.”

Karen Barlow, director of fundraising and communications, said:

“We’re so grateful for Garreth’s generous commitment to VSA, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds in the past few years.  I’m delighted to have him and his team on board.  This weekend’s fundraiser will be their biggest yet.  I urge as many people as possible to support it.” 

Items in the online silent auction, which concludes during the VSA Ball on Saturday 3rd November, can be viewed, and bids made, by texting DIAMOND to 88850 and following the instructions, or by registering at

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Jun 282012

Old Susannah watches the latest developments in the ‘Deen and the wider world and helps Voice readers to get their whites right. By Suzanne Kelly.

One of the best events in recent memory?  The Party in the Park held by Common Good Aberdeen last Saturday was fantastic, despite the rains.  Nearly 4,000 people visited over the course of the day, all of the thousands of home bakes Mrs B created over a course of weeks disappeared long before the day ended, and the shelter of the marquee made the rain a minor inconvenience rather than a show-stopper.

And what a show it was.  Gerry Jablonsiki and the Electric Band opened the entertainment, and played an extraordinary set (I must say the solos Gerry comes out with are riveting, but you can’t play like that without a solid rhythm section.

The big surprise for many was the unique, creative duo ‘The Pounding’ whose electronic compositions went over a storm.

The final act of the day were the school choirs performing ‘Sing’.  The audience went wild as they danced to Danse MacCabre’s ceildh music.

I was honoured to have been asked to do a speech of thanks at the end; it was a privilege to thank the many volunteers who made the day a success, and Mrs B in particular, without whom this would not have been realised.  All around the gardens people commented ‘there should be more events like this’, ‘we don’t need to build anything here, just hold events’ and ‘get me some more of this delicious cake!’

Marie Boulton, Depute ACC Leader, made a brief but wonderful speech; many politicians came out to have fun and talk to their constituents.  Everyone was pleased in particular that Dame Anne Begg MP was there, proving that the gardens are accessible.  They could be made more accessible it is true – but access does exist, despite odd claims to the contrary.

I would like to apologise for not getting to have proper chats with a number of people, but I was charged with getting the acts on and off stage according to a strict timetable. Neale Bothwell and I did a fair job of it, I think.  Don’t wait for someone to throw another event, but when we next do get a dry, sunny day, use your gardens – they are common good land, and you own them.

Another event of this past week was Aberdeen Voice’s 2nd anniversary drinks held in Ma Cameron’s, where the idea for AV was launched.

Members of local band Toxik Ephex had been talking about the need for an independent  newspaper, and two years later Fred Wilkinson and a host of volunteers are keeping AV going.

People came and went over the course of the night; we were pleased to see some of the Aberdeen cyclists, a member of the Silver City Surfers, and in particular Anthony Baxter.   Baxter has a new version of ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ about to start a UK and North American tour (details elsewhere in Aberdeen Voice) with new footage of The Donald.

All of these positive developments are enough to sap a girl of any sarcasm.  Thankfully, there are always a few banking, tax, trident, deer cull scandals to keep me on track.  So, without further hesitation, here are a few definitions.

White Cliffs of Dover: (noun, Eng. geography) A steep, dramatic chalk cliff face on the South of England.

The iconic White Cliffs of Dover are in the news this past week; some NIMBYS are objecting to a proposed housing development near them.

The Cliffs also have some problems with erosion, but the main issue of course is that they are not accessible.  There is no access for the  able-bodied, let alone people with any mobility issues, and to be honest, the connectivity is just not there.

If the cliffs could just be raised (or would that be lowered?) to street level, and a bosque, theatre  and parking be thrown in, they might just be onto something there.  As to refusing a housing development, well, that would mean that England is not open for business.

Craig Whyte: (Proper Noun, possibly Improper noun) – a colourful character.

Oh dear, could it be that Craig Whyte is not whiter than white?  The would-be king of Rangers has had one or two previous problems in the boardroom.  This would-be white knight  sadly no longer looks set to take over Rangers.  Private Eye magazine unkindly suggests that someone with a failed directorship or two is not a fit person for the Rangers role.

Indeed they are correct; Whyte’s considerable talents would be used to best advantage in central government.

To add to this week’s colour theme, it would seem that Green owns the club, but Brown is trying to make the fans see  red, and opt for a buyout.  Will Rangers ever be in the black again?  It is currently a bit of grey area.

Whitewash: (verb, mod English) to cover up bad news, dilute the truth, gloss over facts for political, personal or monetary gain.

Aberdonians and UK taxpayers will be most unfamiliar with this term, and Old Susannah thought you might like to know more about it.  It will be difficult, but I shall try and find some examples.

On the national level, there have been one or two little Inquiries which have unjustly been described as being whitewashes.

There was the Hutton Inquiry into the small matter of how a bland dossier about Iraq was magically transformed into a document proving Sadam Hussein was about to use his Weapons of Mass Destruction on the UK, and would only need 45 minutes to wipe us  out.  This Inquiry found that changing a report into a justification for waging war was a bit naughty, but was fair enough.

No less a person than Alasdair Campbell said he defended ‘every word’ of the ‘sexed-up’ dossier.  Why bother to have an Inquiry at all I wonder?  If the man who wrote the thing for his boss Tony Blair says it’s above-board, then who are we to question it?

We’ve also had the Levenson Inquiry, a great spectacle for the whole family.  One frail little old pensioner, a Mr R Murdoch is cruelly being asked questions about newspaper reporters hacking into phonecalls and emails.  The poor Australian gent keeps telling the investigators he can’t remember anything, but they keep asking him questions.

Just because he and his family own the newspapers which carried out the illegal spying is no reason to think he’d know about it or be in any way responsible for it.

Are there any whitewashes going on here in the Deen?  Let’s think.  The city has been totally transparent over the Tullos Hill deer cull; they pride themselves on their transparency and consultation with the people; quite good of them really.

Freedom of Information requests are answered immediately and clearly.  It’s not as if the FOI officers are waiting until the last moment to supply information, or that the information they supply contradicts information they’ve previously released.   Surely they have nothing to hide?

Were the city in the right to have guns blazing on a hill used by families, motorcyclists, animals and indeed the occasional free-range arsonist without giving warning?  The mainstream press quoted a ‘council spokesperson’ as saying ‘there was no legal requirement’ for any warning signs.  Has this whitewash covered the matter sufficiently?  We shall see what the public and the authorities think.

White Collar Crime: (Modern English phrase)  to commit a non-violent, financial criminal offense.

WE must pause to think of those in our society who are being asked to go without, who are being forced to justify their dependence on State handouts.  Yes, I am worried about our banking sector.

We clearly did not give them enough of a bail-out, in fact, they can’t even afford decent IT systems, and some financial institutions are  experiencing problems with their electronic banking and cash machines.  I do hope none of the bankers will be terribly inconvenienced by people demanding money.

Sometimes however, when forced to the wall, a banker will have no alternative but to turn to crime.  It is because we do not have a caring mentality, and because we do not yet have ‘The Big Society’ (whatever that is) which Cameron wants that poor Barclays was forced to what certainly looks like white collar crime.

Unkind authorities are asking for £290,000,000 from the Barclays group for a wee matter of its fixing interest rates.  What’s the problem?  I thought we wanted fixed interest rates?  Unfortunately the bank seems to have given false information about rates it was borrowing money at.  Firstly, £290,000,000 is really small change, in fact, it would only get you two granite webs at today’s rates.  Secondly, how is a poor bank like Barclay’s going to get its hands on this kind of money?

I think the taxpayer should voluntarily help this poor bank out.  After all, if we don’t do so voluntarily, no doubt the treasury will just give them our money anyway.  I believe there used to be a commercial with Mr Bean with the repeating phrase ‘Well, thank you BARCLAYCARD!’.  Barclays, thank you indeed.

Old Susannah is going to have to cut it there, as she is in Edinburgh – and the sun is out.

Next week:  A look at some of the little arguments within Council Chambers.

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Jun 282012

The Common Good Jubilee Tea Party on June 23rd was the embodiment of what teamwork and determination are about.  Despite the rains the crowds came in their thousands, and the Common Good Party was Uncommonly Good.  Photographs by John Rutherford and Earl Solomon. They tell their own story of memorable day in Union Terrace Gardens.

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Jun 192012

John F. Robins, Secretary, Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL), has been actively campaigning against and researching the Tullos Hill Deer Cull, which saw 23 animals killed to further the city’s ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme. In a dramatic development, it seems the law has been broken during the hunting. This emerged following a Freedom of Information Request lodged by anti-cull campaigner Clare Rochford.

Animal welfare charity Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL) has asked the police to charge Aberdeen City Council for illegally killing deer during the controversial cull of roe deer on Tullos Hill on the outskirts of the city.
Despite widespread opposition from local residents, Community Councils and national animal welfare organisations the Council shot and killed 23 deer to make way for a Jubilee Woodland to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The tree planting project is backed by another charity, The Woodland Trust, which has seen supporters resign their memberships and withdraw sponsorship over the deer culling.

Deer culling is strongly supported and promoted by the Scottish Government through Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) but yesterday SNH admitted that Aberdeen City Council did not have permission to shoot deer at night. Under Freedom of Information legislation ACAL had already shown that three deer were shot during the early hours of Thursday 22nd March 2012 at times when specific permission for night shooting was required.

John Robins of ACAL states:

“The law on night shooting exists to protect deer from being injured instead of being killed cleanly. Aberdeen City Council ignored public opinion which was overwhelmingly opposed to this cull and now we have discovered that the arrogance of the Council extended to ignoring the law.

“I’ve asked the police to prosecute those responsible as they need to be shown that they are not above the law. The Councillors and the Council employees in charge of this project should resign their positions and bosses at The Woodland Trust should hang their heads in shame for getting involved in this fiasco.”

Jun 072012

Voice’s Old Susannah comments on current events and enlightens us with definitions of some tricky terms with a locally topical taste. This week, more ABZ ‘A to Z’, some ATOS, and thoughts on the sad loss of a Voice colleague. By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho!  It’s all been happening up and down the country, and whatever you think of the Jubilee, isn’t it grand that our ConDems have got the unemployed something to do.  Not only have they apparently been given important (albeit temporary) jobs as stewards at Jubilee events, but our government employment arm has combined this great work experience with a holiday.

Lucky invitees from the ranks of the unemployed enjoyed several days in London, camping under the stars (and a tiny bit of rain) to help run Jubilee events.  I have nothing against the Jubilee itself, and it is great to see people getting back to work.

Soon some of our lazier unemployed, including MS and cancer patients, will be given suitable jobs too; all thanks to our Coalition and ATOS, the kind (foreign) organisation which assess who’s fit for work and who’s not (and gives work to absolutely all of these people anyway).

While the layabouts got to layabout in lovely tents in London, it’s come to our attention that Conservative co-chairperson MP Lady Warsi was roughing it as well.  While this frugal woman would apparently stay in cheap B&Bs or kipped on a friend’s sofa  (as befits someone of her office), she’d put in expense claims for the maximum amount allowable, and seems to have travelled to Pakistan with a relative/business partner in tow.  Result!

Nothing wrong with having a bit of an earner now and then, as long as you’re not unemployed.  Voice readers might like to know Warsi’s never won an election.  Interestingly she was a ‘community cohesion’ guru of sorts (I’ll have to define ‘community cohesion’ sometime), despite some allegations that her election material was homophobic.  It is a funny old world indeed, and we are extremely generous taxpayers.

Old Susannah was up in the lovely town of Helmsdale for a long weekend.

This pretty coastal town is missing several tricks however.  There are no concrete high-rise buildings, no development plans, and not even a ring road.  There are several grassy areas with no granite webs planned, and the seashore doesn’t have any bingo halls, amusement arcades or huge factories.  And somehow, without so much as a single shopping mall, the people were friendly, cheerful and happy.

I met a lovely man nicknamed ‘Klondike Davy’ who took me panning for gold.  I say he is nice, but one or two people in the town have ridiculed him in the past apparently.  You see, he’s given prizes for the region’s highland games in the form of the valuable gold and garnet gemstones he’s found while panning.

The criticism from a minority, quite rightly, is that he’s given valuables and his time and efforts away for nothing.  People like that, or who give money to charities, run parties in Victorian Gardens and so on just aren’t stimulating the economy and are obviously mugs.

Apparently some of the lovely schools are in the wrong place, even after all the 3Rs strategic planning and expensive consultants

We don’t need great acts of generosity, children having fun, family days in parks with music – we need to encourage businesses to come to Scotland.  This can only be done by getting scroungers to work and by building granite webs.  Perhaps in 20 years’ time people will still remember having a great day out or winning a unique, valuable gift of gold.

Or perhaps in 20 years’ time people will still remember people being generous to a fault.  I know which I think is more likely.

Before we continue with our romp through ACC’s A to Z of its spectrum of services, spare a thought for our school children.  Apparently some of the lovely schools are in the wrong place, even after all the 3Rs strategic planning and expensive consultants.  I think we should close them all down and build new ones.

But if the children aren’t busy worrying about the unending cycle of exams they are expected to take, like so many dogs jumping through flaming hoops, another worry looms.  No, not lingering asbestos in Walker Road School, now completely clear of contaminants (I’m sure).  I can reveal that Aberdeen Football Club plan to give schools more unsold/unsellable tickets for the home games.

In this heart-breaking development, inconsolable youngsters were given the news they’ll be expected to pack the empty seats.  One young person, close to tears, told Old Susannah

“It’s bad enough to know that AFC is our team and that soon we’ll build an even more empty stadium near Loirston Loch, but to actually have to sit through a match will be torture.  Not to mention the cost of a coke and burger.”   

Reports that child welfare agencies may step in are as yet unconfirmed.  A further rumour suggests unemployed might be forced to attend games – but those surveyed so far have expressed a preference for sleeping in tents in the rain along the Thames.

Finally, Willows Animal Sanctuary needs help (the government only has funds for consultants), and it was such a pleasure to see a big help arriving in the form of Paul Rodgers and wife Cynthia.
(See article – ‘Willows Name New Patrons Paul Rodgers And Cynthia Kereluc’ in this weeks issue. )

The last time Old Susannah had seen Mr Rodgers (or ‘Paul’ as he said I should call him) was in the late 1980s, backstage at a concert for the Firm (if you don’t know – you should – Tony Franklin, Chris Slade, Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers).  John Bonham’s son Jason was the opening act (if memory serves this band of his was called ‘Virginia Woolf’ – but don’t quote me).  Good times.

The couple are animal lovers to serious extremes, as I’ll describe next week.  It was a pleasure to meet them and to visit all the animals at Willows (although I did forego the exotic insects).  PS – The New Ark also could use our support.

Right – on with some more listings from the Aberdeen City Council’s matrix of services.

H is for Housing: – but to examine the city’s housing services, policies and expenditures – to say nothing of properties sitting empty – will take a bit more than a column to sort.  Consider this on hold for now.

I is for Insects: – Yes, you guessed correctly – the link takes you back to the list of extermination services mentioned last week.  I wonder if in the jungles on the equator so many insects and forms of vermin exist as must do here in Aberdeen.

J is for Jobs: – Yes, you can work for the council, and as an added bonus, the city will give you its beneficial assistance when it comes to knowing what you can and cannot complain about in public.  The city has apparently told its employees not to get involved with protests over school closures, park destruction, turning Hazelhead into a recycling centre and so on.

The city kindly warns its employees what will happen if they turn whistle-blower, yet somehow seems not to tell them in what circumstances they are meant to be whistle-blowers (as covered previously).  I would have expected to see a great deal of jobs for exterminators and pest controllers given the coverage this issue gets on the website, but no such jobs appear this week.

There are jobs for trainee planners (which may interest some of our recently unemployed ex-councillors), and indeed a few vacancies for Freedom of Information Officers – hopefully filling these FOI posts will speed things up.

K is for Kerb: – Old Susannah wondered what would pop up when I clicked on the link for kerb:  would it be a reference to the wonderful, smooth, well repaired and dog mess free kerbs we enjoy?  Would it be a reference to our former councillor who was arrested for kerb crawling?

No – there is a procedure for changing your kerb.  Do you want to go wide?  Do you want to change it?  Well, there is a dedicated person and procedure.  Sleep well tonight in this knowledge.

L is for – actually lots and lots of things: – ‘literacy and numeracy’ spring up (good to know the city is numerate, even if it can’t keep track of its millions or the employees who have embezzled hundreds of thousands over the years), as does my favourite ‘Lord Provost’ (I wonder if the new one will be as frugal – and portrait-worthy as the previous?).  L is for Local Plan, Local Development Plan, Local Transport strategy and so on.

But L is for litter.  If you’ve wondered why our streets are the envy of Europe, it’s because of our policy:-

“…it is an offence to drop or leave litter in any public place even if thrown from a vehicle. City Wardens assist the local community in maintaining a clean litter free environment and are authorised to issue Fixed Penalty Notices should the need arise.” – Aberdeen City website

Well, I doubt the need will ever arise for a warden to issue a fixed penalty notice, but if you should ever encounter the rare spectacle of someone littering – like the guy wearing a council badge (he had dark hair and a beard) last Thursday evening who put his trash in the doorway of a closed store on Union Street), then call the city, the wardens will spring into action, and the litter will be cleared away.

But that’s enough for now on the alphabet.  Time for something a bit serious and sad.

One of the Aberdeen Voice Team has passed away; you might have seen something about this on Facebook or elsewhere in the Voice.  She will be sorely missed by friends, colleagues and her family.  It was an unforeseen tragedy.

Can I please please urge anyone who is starting to be unhappy for any reason at all or dissatisfied with their life to open up about their feelings at an early stage.  There is a friend, colleague or relative who wants to help you, I promise.  They would be devastated if they lost you – believe me.   If you’re too proud or too afraid to talk to someone in your life (which is totally understandable), then talk to a counsellor.  But don’t let things get worse.

Like any problem, the best thing to do is get on top of it while it is still small.  If things are already on top of you, then I’m begging you to do something constructive about it today.

A great deal has been done to break down the outdated stigmas attached to depression and other forms of mental illness.  It is not a sign of weakness; it is not a sign of inferiority.  Above all, it is something that can be dealt with.

Whoever you are, whatever side of the political or economic divide, you are valuable, you are needed, and you have contributions to make.  Do please remember that.

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Jun 022012

£10,000 has been awarded for a Jubilee party in Union Terrace Gardens! With thanks to Iain Richardson.

Community group Common Good Aberdeen were delighted this week to receive an award of £10,000 to support a Jubilee Tea Party on Saturday 23rd June in Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens.

The money was awarded by Aberdeen City Council from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Community Fund.

“This is great news”, said Common Good Aberdeen spokesperson Dorothy Bothwell.

“We’re planning a big party for the citizens of Aberdeen on 23rd June and this money will help to make sure it’s a day to remember. We’ll have a floored marquee, live music throughout the day, a horse and carriage, refreshments and much, much more. We want to make this a big event with something for everyone”.

Local business Cafe 52 will donate food and refreshments on the day.

Common Good Aberdeen campaigns for better stewardship of Common Good land including Union Terrace Gardens. They want to see investment and sympathetic improvements in Union Terrace Gardens.

For more information, contact:

Iain Richardson on 07833 453961, or Dorothy Bothwell on 583451,