Aug 182011

Old Susannah looks back at the week that was and wonders who’s up to what and why. By Suzanne Kelly.

The leak’s leaked.  Those nice people at Shell seem to have been economical with the truth about their North Sea oil spill; they say they have been completely open and honest.  However, some half a dozen environmental/animal groups do not think so.

I know whom I am tempted to believe.  I hope Shell can do for us what it has done for Nigeria, farmers in Northern Ireland, etc. etc.  If nothing else, it is good to know Shell has gone into public relations overdrive and is pouring oil on troubled waters.

Back on dry land, it is hard to know where to start doing a round-up of this past week’s events in the ‘Deen and the wider world.  The Road Sense AWPR appeal has failed.  Helpfully, Kate Dean posted on a Facebook discussion thread (you see – she is down with the kids for definite) stating:

“I’m amazed that this topical community hasn’t seen fit to discuss today’s Court of Session ruling on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.”

I told our Katie:

“To Ms Dean – nice to see you weighing in. I think you will find this ‘topical community’ and the Aberdeen Voice have historically dealt with both sides of the AWPR story. As the Voice is a weekly publication, no doubt some contributors will send in relevant items for next week’s issue. You would be welcome to write a piece as well”.

Alas!  Kate relied:

“I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to contribute to a publication which habitually refers to me in such a derogatory and insulting fashion”

I tried to explain that my writings are ‘satire’ (well, for the most part). Of course there is not much tradition of important politicians being satirised in Great Britain – well, only since the time of King John, and more recently Hogarth, Spitting Image and Private Eye.   (I would have also replied: “XXXX XXX XXX XXX XXX XXXXX”, but I could not figure out how to do redacted text on FB).  Perhaps I just do not know the meaning of the word ‘appropriate’ – time to see what can be learnt from Kate’s examples (see definitions).

Perhaps Kate thinks that is the end of the AWPR matter, and the necessary, environmentally-friendly, economical road will go ahead.  Well, we will see.  PS – my Facebook Home page tells me to suggest friends for Kate.  Any ideas?

And we have another nursing scandal; this time at Woolmanhill.

A nurse has allegedly been over-drugging patients, and gave a person a salt-cellar instead of their inhaler.  We are getting close to a medical scandal a week.  I wonder if all the cutbacks to frontline services might be related to frontline services going down the pan.

Old Susannah’s had a senior moment; I remembered writing about the brilliant designs shortlisted for the gardens, and thought I had done so in a column.  Turns out I had only done so on Facebook.  While trying to find what I did write, I googled my way upon this quotation:

“The gardens have the potential to be transformed in to a popular, attractive and vibrant green space in the heart of the city. The gardens have come under increasing pressure in recent years, with various schemes put forward to raise their level and develop them as a leisure facility. Care must be taken not to over-develop the space and potentially risk losing its essential drama and historical landform”.

– 2007, AberdeenCityCouncil Report

The above was the conclusion the City came to in (yet another expensive) report in 2007.  Since then a few things have changed, and commonsense has prevailed:  the only thing wrong with Aberdeen is that UTG is not vibrant and dynamic.  This is why we are all going broke, crime is shooting up, the independent shops are closing, and the streets are filthy:  it is the gardens – they are not used enough and are in a valley!

We may or may not get a vote on the Gardens’ future – but we have lined up five designers who have form when it comes to doubling and trebling their budgets.  I guess if you want something as beautiful, as functional and elegant as the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, it’s going to cost.  Then again, an inflatable Jacuzzi (on sale via ‘Groupon’) would have been as pretty and functional – and costs a few million less.

I’m sure it’s because I didn’t study architecture in great depth, but at first glance I thought the shortlist was the most predictable collection of expensive hacks to ever build boring and unsuitable creations, obviously my mistake.

Still, the Diana Memorial Fountain designer is one of our fine finalists!  I hope you are as excited as I am.  Since I did not go into detail about the talented designers Malcolm Reading has lined up to fix our city’s problems and how much it is likely to cost and since I cannot find my writings on the matter to begin with, (but I did mention some of the references rxpell uses), here is a good article from rxpell that sums things up nicely:

This article will help you decide which of our five finalists to vote for.  If you get a vote.  We do not know for sure, even though HoMalone’s promised us a vote, which would include leaving the gardens as they are.  But this is Aberdeen, and the government’s position changes more often than the weather.

(I would love to say I have been out at nice dinners and working my way through the ever-changing Brewdog menu, but for the time being my doctors have me on lockdown, and am forced to live off rice, tofu and yoghurt drinks.  Somehow this does not really suit me.  Still, I will be back doing the rounds as soon as I can).  But now for some definitions.


1.  (adjective) fitting, proper, suitable, in accord with acceptable norms.
Am I ever embarrassed by Kate’s telling me that it ‘is not appropriate’ for her to write in the Voice, as we are derogatory about her.  Shame-faced, I asked myself what can I learn from her example of what is appropriate behaviour?  I came up with a few examples.

What is appropriate:

  • To be a supporter of the Cove Rangers, to be the president of its fan club,  have a husband who is a Scottish Football Association referee, and to be administrator of the family plumbing business (Brian J Dean) which sponsors the club – and to endorse plans to build it a new stadium without any qualms or conflict
  • To make comments to the media about how wonderful a new stadium for the Cove Rangers team would be, yet to sit as convener of the Loirston Loch hearing (despite opposition from community councillors) which is tied to Cove Rangers’ future
  • To comment to the Loirston Loch hearing that you attended a meeting where virtually all present voted against the stadium going ahead, but that you were sure a man there wanted to vote in favour of the stadium – but was afraid to (mind-reading is a skill every councillor should have)
  • When implementing swingeing budget cuts (and having thousands of people march against them calling for your resignation) to reply ‘I was elected to do a job and I am going to do it’
  • To accept dozens of tickets to concerts and events at the AECC in a single year, despite guidelines suggesting this might not be ‘appropriate’

Thank you Ms Dean – I will indeed learn much from you, and will continue my studies.

And to whom but Aberdeen’s first citizen should I next turn towards to learn about appropriate behaviour:  Mr Milne has it nailed.  Out of the goodness of his heart, he allowed people to actually comment on his stylish plan for Triple Kirks (the Press & Journal obligingly called the area an ‘eyesore’ in an article.  There goes that bothersome blurring of ‘editorial’ and ‘article’ again, which of course is not appropriate).

Those who did comment on the Triple Kirks plans marvelled at the giant glass boxes (never mind the peregrines).  At least Milne said as much, claiming the majority loved his ground-breaking design.

(Hmm, if only there were some nearby, empty space that could be converted to parking, the scheme would be even easier to approve – if they could come up with some kind of a plan…).  Anyway, those few who objected and left email addresses got a very appropriate follow-up email from a Milne company, which reads along the lines of:

“From: “”

“Many thanks for your enquiry. We will forward details and information to you shortly. We’re here to ensure that buying your new home is easy and enjoyable, so if we can help any further, just let us know.   Sell Your Home in 5 Days”

Now if I were a sceptical, cynical person, I would ask myself:  is writing to people who opposed your plans and offering to get them a new home in an ‘easy and enjoyable’ manner something that could be construed as a bribe?  Well, the City says everything is fine, so I guess it is all appropriate.  I have dismissed the idea that offering sales help to people who were against you is at all wrong.

I hope this has cleared up what is appropriate and what is not.


2. (verb) – to take by deceit or force that which belongs to another.
See: Union Terrace Gardens, City Garden Project, ACSEF, Donald Trump, Compulsory Purchase Orders.


(noun) custom or activity rooted in the past.
People are funny about their traditions.  We are being told by the City Council that painting the Lord  Provost’s portrait – and celebrating the glorious event with an expensive party is OK – as it is tradition.

Foxhunting (no, not with golf clubs and tame foxes, Mr Forbes) was a United Kingdom tradition going back hundreds of years; it was deemed cruel and barbaric, and therefore has been made illegal.  The Catalonia area of Spain has recently given bullfighting the coup de grace –  it is hard to imagine anything more barbaric than bullfighting masquerading as a ‘sport’.

I came under criticism (on Facebook again – I really must stay away from that thing) for saying Spain should consider doing away with bullfighting.  (PS – if you really think the bull has a chance, and there is no prolonged torture or pain, and it is a brave matador that fights a bull with only a cape to protect himself, then think again – PETA will put you right).

Someone said I was showing ignorance of Spanish culture and tradition.  Their point was that tradition was more important than the animal issues. I say “bull”.

The city could not afford to replace broken windows in schools only a few years ago, but wants to shell out on canapés for its elected officials and the usual suspects to celebrate the fact that its Provost is an oil painting.  Too right.  Without these traditions, we would start moving forward.  And the future is uncertain.  It is best to cling to what previous generations did – it is safe (well, maybe).

If we always paid for a portrait, then we had better keep paying for a portrait.  We might have to cut a few services, but let us stick to whatever was the more traditional course of action.  It is important to bear in mind that all traditions are equal in value and all are good.  Perhaps we could bring back ducking witches in the loch?  Yes, to question traditions is to question culture and nationalism – and where would be without nationalism?

In my world, it is the 21st Century.  The whole world is under different pressures than it was when these wonderful traditions came about.  There should be more enlightenment and compassion than brutality and superstition; we have run out of excuses.  But then I turn on the news, and realise that I have got it wrong again.

Old Susannah is now out to catch something for dinner, and possibly bash a few enemies over the head with my wooden club.  Now where did I leave my bow and arrows?

Next week:  hopefully some FOI news, more definitions, and a back-to-school special look at education.

Jun 102011

By Suzanne Kelly.

Aberdeen Voice’s photographer and IT technical master (otherwise known as Rob) and I paid a visit this past Easter Sunday to Loirston Loch.

It was a quiet afternoon; there were only a few anglers and a handful of walkers.  Most people were probably at home with families for the Easter Holiday, and Rob and I took full advantage of the lack of people to explore the area.


It was too early in the season for many flowers to be out, but we saw some very delicate wildflowers, some bluebells about to blossom, and some primrose.

There were several swans on the loch, which was still but for the occasional movement of those fishing. You could easily forget that Union Square was up the road.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t forget that a giant stadium will forever ruin this tranquillity.


One of the first sights that met our eyes was the now-famous welcome sign.

The sign was erected by the City Council and tells Loirston’s visitors why the land should not be built on.
I was almost surprised the Council had not removed it. (I had written a letter that was printed in the Scotsman, when I first heard the area was earmarked for Aberdeen Football Club’s new home; this was in May 2009).


It is still inconceivable that anyone could possibly consider destroying this nature sanctuary.

Supposedly Loirston is in an SAC.  Plunking a 21,000-seat stadium down, which will ‘glow red in the dark’ with 1400 parking spaces will fragment the greenbelt.  Building a giant structure in the fields near the loch will take valuable hunting, living and breeding area away from the wildlife.  This is being euphemistically billed by stadium supporters as ‘creating a wildlife corridor.’

Rob spotted a Heron overhead; it was majestic.  On my previous visit I saw a buzzard in flight.  Will these and other creatures return when there are football crowds next door?

We noted the use of tree guards – an option apparently not suitable for the planned tree plantation up the road at Tullos Hill.

Rob and I looked around the perimeter of the area and near the Lochinch Farm Interpretation Centre.  The City is great at making sweeping statements about biodiversity and reducing CO2 emissions – how precisely this squares with the planned stadium is another matter.


I recalled the public hearing on the Stadium plan; Nigg Community Council was an objector, and had been left out of relevant consultations.

The Tullos Hill deer cull has likewise not properly consulted with Torry Community Council, and like the Loirston Loch situation – the public’s opinion seems to have no weight whatsoever with our elected officials.


It’s likely Stewart Milne and the proponents of the stadium feel that the stadium is a done deal.  They will find that this is certainly not the case.

Planning permission has been granted, and the Scottish Parliament did not call in the plan.  This is not the same as having the stadium built.
There are several communities and community councils opposing the stadium.

If you can find the time, do go visit Loirston.  If after your visit you have feelings one way or another about building the stadium, its offices and parking, etc. in the area, please do tell your elected representative.  It’s not too late to do something.

More from me on Loirston in the near future.


May 122011

Voice’s Old Susannah, thrown by the absence of interesting local news this week, takes us on a humorous diversion and challenges our grasp of local knowledge.

Not much going on in the Granite City this week.   There is the lovely new £120,000 statue of Robert the Bruce for openers; I have seen people gasping at awe at this wonder.

Some old Lib Dem was found guilty of hanging about in a dodgy part of town at night, apparently looking after the well-being of his younger constituents.
Then again, perhaps he was only after some votes or help with his polI.   There was also something about a deer cull, but I can’t recall what it was.  Doubtless the Council have everything in hand.

Perhaps it’s time for a bit of humour, and so here is the first (and maybe last) Old Susannah News Quiz.  The first correct entry drawn out of a hat wins a coffee date with Aileen Malone (to be confirmed), or failing that, I will plant a tree in my garden in the winner’s name.   Or buy you a Brewdog (proof of age required.  Drinking to excess can cause health problems and leave you looking like some of our councillors.  Don’t vote on important issues while drinking).

Good luck.  Actually – good luck to us all.


Question 1: Billionaire Sir Ian Wood had his photo in the Evening Express this week on the occasion of having been put on the UK’s rich list.  He posed in front of a verdant green background ablaze with red flowers, against a dramatic Aberdeen city centre skyline.  Where was this eyesore, and what should become of it?

Question 2: Match the cartoon character in Aberdeen with their fictional counterpart

a.  Dolores Umbridge – in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels Umbridge is described as short, squat, looking like a toad, and is often wearing pink sweaters (in an attempt to look a bit feminine).  She has iron-coloured curls, and works for the Government.  She is more often than not hurting the vulnerable and abusing her government office.  She wants to dominate everyone around her, and is a supporter of the forces of evil.

b.  Boss Hogg –  from the Dukes of Hazzard TV series and movie, this jumped up little man has his finger in every pie.  Greedy, scheming, unethical, always trying to own everything in the county.  Folically challenged, Boss Hogg often wore silly things on his head to disguise his baldness.  This short-of-stature villain was also short on morals and treated the police as his paid flunkies.

c.   Cruella deVil – a coarse, cruel, scheming woman out to destroy innocent creatures for her own strange fulfilment.  Willing to stop at nothing to achieve her bloody ends.  Frightening to children of all ages.

d.  Father Ted – who can forget grey-haired Father Ted and the rest of Craggy Island’s inhabitants?  Father Ted, for all his scheming and quests for money, was always caught with his hand in the kitty, and was forever forced to explain financial conundrums.  “The money was only resting in my account” was his frequent catchphrase.

Fictional figures:

A.  Former Councillor Scott Cassie – he and his wife are helping police with their enquiries about a wee bit of missing money.  This didn’t stop Cassie from voting on some crucial recent issues (I seem to think I saw him at the Loirston Loch hearing).  Alas, he will no longer have a street named after him.  However, there is a rumour that one of the Cayman Island Banks now offers a ‘Scott Cassie Emergency Fund’ account.

B.  Millionaire Propety Typhoon Stewart Milne – loads of money, just not enough to spend on improving AFC’s team or – heaven forfend – to solve the deer cull crisis at one go.  Good at buying property at less than market value from our ever-vigilant City Council.  Value for Money indeed.

C.  The Nation’s sweetheart Aileen ‘Ho’Malone – Who can forget her brave stance on the deer cull issue?  She alone was not afraid to stifle Nigg Community Council (and yours truly) from speaking this week before the Committee she convenes decided to shoot the deer.  She is all hart, and with her doe-eyed stare, her inner compassion and honesty shine through.  I wonder if she has any fur coats?

D.  Go-getting Kate Dean – Planning supremo.  What can I say about this woman that hasn’t already been said (or that would pass the censors)?  ‘I was elected to do a job, and I’m going to do it’ was her rallying-cry during the cuts protests.  When she is going to start doing what she was elected to do (or resign) is anyone’s guess.

Question 3: What percentage of £50,000,000 (the sum Sir Ian promises for his Union Terrace Garden parking lot) would £225,000 (the sum demanded not to shoot the Tullos Hill Roe deer) represent?  Is it:  a. 10%,   b. 1%,  c. .5%  or  d.  0.5%?

Question 4: Which is an endangered species:  The Tullos Hill Roe Deer or the Liberal Democrats, which were so badly wounded in the recent election.  Deer, Dems – or both?

Question 5: Tiebreaker (answer question of your choice):  How many Liberal Democrats does it take to change a lightbulb?  Why did the LibDem cross the road?


I trust you will all forgive me (or maybe you’re glad) that I am putting in a shorter than usual piece this week.  I’ve been busy fighting the forces of evil, and in pursuing a Freedom of Information appeal, which may yet prove very interesting.  Can’t say more than that yet.

But I can say thank you to those people in the media (Danny Law especially), all the campaigners (you know who you are), and the four brave  councillors who stood up for the deer.  One thing I will say is that the issue will not, despite HoMalone’s wishes, go away.

Feb 182011

By Bob Smith.

Fit a stramash roon Loirston wye
Aboot the Dons new fitba hame
The local fowk are up in airms
Claimin some are nae playin the game

Noo richt awa I maun declare
An interest in aa iss spik
As I masel can be fun
At Pittodrie ilka second wikk

I hiv an interest as weel
In conservation o greenbelt lan
An fir mair than 5 decades
I’ve bin a wildlife fan

Noo aat’s said let’s hae a look
At the argiement for an agin
Tho’ ti build on protected lan
Iss ti me wid be a sin

Fir greenbelt lan it wid seem
Planners dinna hae muckle time
Nivver myn the flora an fauna
Jist cover it wi steen an lime

The Community Cooncil hiv great doots
Aboot the traffic an the parkin
Cloggin up aa the road arteries
Iss scheme they think is barkin

It’s nae surprise yon Stewartie Milne
Is richt ahin aa this caper
Wi lots o his business freens
An the “rag” o a local paper

I’ve hid a wird wi a fyow Dons fans
Faa ken the move is nigh
Maist are nae in favour
O a move oot Loirston wye

Bit losh I’m fair dumfoonert
Fit wye AFC canna upgrade
Aa the stands an ither bitties
Wi a new Main Stand ti be made

The new biggin it’ll glow aa reid
Fin the Dons play nicht matches
It micht be thocht a UFO
An be mentioned in RAF dispatches

The P&J – oh fit a surprise
Think aathing’ll be a bonus
They shud tell us aa the facts
An hae an impartial focus

Noo fowk aa ower the toon
At iss thocht will faa aboot
An impartial view fae the P&J
We’ll nivver hae I doot

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2010

Dec 312010

Voice’s Old Susannah tackles more tricky terms with a locally topical taste.

Aberdeen is such a cool city.  Make that frozen.  For those of you with snowshoes, ice skates or skis who have been able to make it out of your homes, you may have noticed a few minor problems.  There may have been one or two late-running buses during rush hour.

A few flights and trains couldn’t run.  Nearly two and a half thousand of us have had frozen pipes in our homes, including Old Susannah, who couldn’t find a plumber who wasn’t fully booked up.

Therefore a “thank you very much” to the brains at ‘Wayne’s Drains’ for giving such great help over the telephone; with their guidance I was able to avoid a burst pipe.

For a few days I had no running water which was a great adventure.  I do apologise for turning in such a short ‘Dictionary Corner’ this week but I have three days’ worth of washing, cleaning and mopping up awaiting me.  Sorry!  It was messy and no fun at all clearing the pipes, and if I never see a U-bend or a tub of ‘Plumber’s Mait’ putty again it will be too soon. Still, I was much better off than an acquaintance who had a frozen toilet.  He wound up in quite a mess.  Speaking of messes…

Local Development  Plan: The Local Development Plan, or ‘LDP’ to its friends, sets out the realistic, wonderful future for Aberdeen.  There are goals such as doubling the City’s population, building thousands of new homes, and making a ‘community stadium’ on Loirston Loch (NB – Old Susannah cannot as yet find a definition of what a ‘community stadium’ is).  Part of this ingenious plan is to always have land available to developers for creating industrial estates – again,

I always thought land was a finite commodity, and that we still had such a thing as ‘greenbelt land’.  Apparently the ‘Planners’ don’t happen to agree.  As a voter in Aberdeen, you were presumably made aware that your elected representatives would create this plan, only I can’t seem to find anything to back that up as yet.

You could also be forgiven for thinking that the local, elected Community Councils get asked what they’d like to see  – or not see – in the plans from the earliest stages.  Apparently there is a ‘statutory duty’ for Community Councils to be consulted for matters in their areas.  The truth is that the developers (hmm – can we think of any influential local developers?) and the planning chiefs sit down and invent the whole thing without bothering the elected Community Councils – the rationale for this seems to be that the Community Councils get a chance to object later on.

Where would the needy ‘All Energy Aberdeen’ have been had we not spent over £9K on a wine, beer and juice reception

This is a bit like the farmer objecting to the gate after the horse has bolted.  Therefore the ‘community stadium’ planners had a budget of our money capped at approximately £250,000 to spend to investigate the pros and cons of the deal.  Had they asked the local councils first, they might well have been told to scrap the idea.

But remember, consultants have to make a living, too.  It’s quite funny how the pros (like a big, shiny, new, red-glowing building where Aberdeen Football Club can astound 22,000 people with previously unsuspected footballing skills) are made to be realistic and important, and the cons – such as loss of wildlife habitat, urban sprawl, traffic and expense don’t seem nearly as important.

Of course, the community councils get to comment later in the ‘consultation’ process, during which their opinions are given the consideration that they are worth.  For Loirston Loch’s destruction, they get a maximum input at the public hearing of 30 minutes per council.  I hope they can talk fast.  (Old Susannah will be getting up to have her say about the ‘community stadium’ at this public hearing, which is on 14 January at the Town House City Council offices on Broad Street at 09:30.  If you’ve nothing better to do than see Old Susannah talking to a brick wall, do come along).

Hospitality: Dictionary definitions for the noun ‘hospitality’ describe it as meaning “… hospitable treatment, reception, or disposition .”  Do not let anyone tell you there is any truth in the stereotype that the Scots are not generous and hospitable; Aberdeen City has definitely dispelled that myth.  It might have done so using your tax money, but it’s money well spent.  It shows the rest of the world how prosperous we are.  Secondly, as previously established, our Lord Provost is worried about being embarrassed or looking foolish – which is why he and his wife need a generous clothing allowance and why he wants us to take Sir Ian Wood’s £50 million for the Union Terrace car park.

Let’s look at some of the hospitality we dished out last year.  On the one hand, we only spent £129,472.5 pence according to the City.  On the other hand, one wonders if it was all necessary.  We threw events for councillors and a whole host of special interest groups.  Where would the needy ‘All Energy Aberdeen’ have been had we not spent over £9K on a wine, beer and juice reception for it at the AECC?  You and I gladly paid for the ‘Aberdeen Sports Person of the Year Awards’ at the Beach Ballroom where some 275 luminati had dinner and drinks for £9,774.25.

Lest we forget, the City just recently had to stump up an extra £64K or so for the international football programme’s going over budget.  I can’t really complain, we attracted an amazing array of footballing talent, including Birmingham City.  We still don’t have enough money to keep our schools or have children continue with music lessons.  We might have to close our parks (or turn them into something profitable).  I have no doubt that our elected officials who dutifully attend these drinkfests stick to water and soft drinks; they might wind up  useless,  sozzled and brain-addled otherwise; thankfully this hasn’t happened as yet.

However, let’s raise a glass to the forty plus drinks events we held last year.  Cheers!

Nov 262010

Voice’s Old Susannah tackles more tricky terms with a locally topical taste.

Get Well Soon

To the 126 Aberdeenshire and 169 Aberdeen City Council employees who are either sick or suspended with pay.  Perhaps there is some serious illness doing the rounds in Grampian?

The Telegraph has produced an interactive map showing Council expenditures and expenses throughout the UK; the number of our city and shire’s absentees on the payroll is many times higher than the number to be found anywhere else in Scotland.  In fact, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports Aberdeen City Council is 4th in the whole of the UK for number of staff on long-term sick – with the Shire’s council hot on its heels at No. 6. But when it comes to the average number of sick days lost per year per person, no other council in the country can hold a candle to Aberdeen:  15.5 days each year are lost on average for every one of the council’s employees. The Council makes me feel ill; looks like I’m not alone in that.

Journalism : The free press has been called the ‘Fourth Estate’, referring to its ideal function which is acting as an unofficial fourth branch of government, providing balance and information to ensure freedom of ideas, and thereby keeping a check on government and fostering democracy.  A free, non-biased press should provide information for its readers to digest so they can reach their own conclusions.

No less a figure than outgoing Editor Derek Tucker of the Press & Journal recently addressed the ‘Society of Editors’; he complained that journalism courses are not producing the right calibrate of journalists.  Tucker said “… very few [of the journalism graduates] possess the street cunning and inquisitiveness that is the hallmark of good journalists and it often appears that English is a second language.”

Old Susannah wonders what would make for a bad newspaper.  Would it be headlines created from extremely bad, old-fashioned puns?  Gigantic photos camouflaging the lack of journalistic content?  Deliberately biased stories favouring the plans of the paper’s larger advertisers?  Elevation of minor local news stories above more important world events?  Misleading headlines and stories – perhaps (just as an example) painting opponents of City and Shire council plans (like the destruction of UTG) as being organised, ignorant trouble-makers?  Deliberate lack of investigative journalism focus on powerful local figures and institutions?  Printing stories a day or two after they appeared on the BBC website?  Elevating mediocre stories of minor sporting events to gigantic epics to fill space?  Lack of spelling and grammatical know-how?

Thankfully, we have had Mr Tucker to save us from such appalling stuff.  It is also most unkind that Derek Tucker has been given an unflattering nickname in the ‘Cockney rhyming style’.  Obviously he has studiously encouraged ‘street cunning and inquisitiveness’ at the P&J, by ensuring corruption in public and private sectors is uncovered, and by printing such a wide range of opinion and thought in the editorial section.

We wish “Miserable F…” – I mean Derek Tucker – a happy retirement.

There is nothing natural about the City’s attitude to the natural landscape

Landscapes : In my last column, I wrote about a green, leafy landscape painting of Union Terrace Gardens I’d seen.  Aberdeen City Council, too, appreciates landscapes; in its ‘Planning and Sustainable  Development’ web page it gives the nod to how very important landscapes are.

Believe it or not, landscapes are what we put buildings in. If that is not clear, they have put a picture of a tree in a wide expanse of green field on the web page to illustrate the point – although finding a sole tree in a huge field would be a hard task in this town.

While our City Planners admit on their web page that landscapes ‘..provide the settings of towns and cities and make an important contribution to environmental quality and a sense of place’, they certainly don’t want developers to think the landscape should have to stay as it is.  There is nothing natural about the City’s attitude to the natural landscape – anyone (like Mr Milne) can develop almost anything as long as once they destroy the existing natural landscape and wildlife habitats, they make some new landscape in place of the old.  As the planners put it,

“… when applying for planning permission for a new development, a landscape scheme for the external spaces around buildings will often need to accompany proposals”.

It is this policy which will allow Mr Milne to destroy Loirston Loch’s natural habitats and beauty – all he needs is a scheme to plant a shrub and have some kind of landscape at some future point.  And fair enough – when we are in the community stadium listening to Status Quo or finding out who can do the broad jump further than the next guy, we won’t care what used to be there.  The last remnants of wildlife which depend on Loirston as a stopping point to rest, feed and drink will just go to one of the many other lochs and green fields we’ve got, even if the closest is miles away – the extra exercise will probably do the animals good.  For far too long the developers have had to jump through hoops to get permission for their schemes (permission which they were always going to get in the first place).  Something had to be done to speed things up, and it has…

It is official then – no more boring old-fashioned people interested in the environment, old buildings, history, etc

Modernisation of Planning Process : Scotland, the Shire and the City have been too demanding in the past of the kindly souls who want to turn our fields into housing estates, community stadiums and shopping malls for our benefit.  Thankfully, the process for planning is being modernised.  To modernise means to update a scheme, law, or way of doing things to bring it in line with how it would have been done in the 1960s.  No more ‘unnecessary’ consultations with Community Councils – as Cove and Nigg Community Councils can attest to.  In fact, Aberdeen now boasts that

“…we only consult where necessary with the agencies – SNH, SEPA, Transport Scotland, Historic Scotland, …”

It is official then – no more boring old-fashioned people interested in the environment, old buildings, history, etc. will be engaged unless absolutely necessary.  Build what you want.  SEPA is clearly on board with this thinking already – it had a chance to make an evaluation on the planned ‘community’ stadium’ – and came up with three relatively minor objections relating to drainage and the like.  Maybe they think the concrete and parking spaces will help protect the environment. Maybe SEPA is due for a re-naming and re-branding exercise – getting rid of the quaint references to ‘Environment’ and ‘Protection’ would be a good start.

Aug 202010

By Fred Wilkinson.

A new red light district is to be established on the outskirts of the city!
Aberdeen Football Club, last week, lodged a planning application for the proposed new community stadium to be situated to the north of Loirston Loch.

Along with some impressive computer generated images of the new facility comes the announcement that lighting will be installed to give the stadium a red glow at night. The club’s official colour of course, as oft witnessed on the faces of embarrassed fans. Continue reading »