Aug 242011

It has been a busy summer down at Sunnybank Park. Philip Sim reports.

Just six months have passed since the park, formerly known as the St Machar Outdoor Centre, was taken over by the Friends of Sunnybank Park community group.

Already, major structural changes are underway to breathe new life into the previously run-down site, with the newly-built allotments looking full of life.

One of the most visually impacting changes has been the removal of the large metal fence across the middle of the park, which has made the whole area feel much more open and spacious.

The fence removal was funded by Aberdeen Greenspace Trust, who have pledged around £60,000 to the park. They have now completed the bulk of their work, including re-surfacing the existing paths and installing some benches and a new stairway and path leading to the park.


Sunnybank Park Update: July from Philip Sim on Vimeo.

Meanwhile BTCV Scotland volunteers have also been hard at work picking litter, building benches and trimming down the undergrowth. They have also built compost bins for the allotment holders and other green-fingered locals.

There has even been some political interest in the project. Former City Council leader John Stewart has provided funds for signage and a notice board, while North East MSP Lewis MacDonald toured the site last week.

The park was formerly home to a bowling green, but Aberdeen City Council decided to mothball the site after the pavilion was burned down in 2009.

The area was left to fall into disrepair until local community groups rallied round and put together a business plan, complete with funding, to save the park. With many major developments now complete and a few more still to come, the future certainly seems bright at Sunnybank Park.

Oct 152010

Old Susannah gets to grips with more tricky terms.

Firstly, two men here in Aberdeen held down a pet cat so their pitbull could savage it.  Let’s find them quickly.  Well done to the Council official who wrote to me a while back to say we didn’t have any problems with banned breeds, dog fighting, or dog owners who are encouraging problems.  That’s all I say on the matter without becoming less polite except keep an eye on your pets and keep them in at night.

Cheerier note – Old Susannah saw a man with a young child stop in the streets today, pick up someone else’s litter, and put it into a bin.  Can we have more like him please?

Dream Job

There are certain industries where there are so many perks and benefits, people are willing to take low paid jobs just to get their foot in the door and be part of the excitement.  In the film and television world, people willingly take lower salaries than in other business sectors – in exchange for this they get to go to film premiers, mingle with stars on occasion, and get access to movies.  People go into the music business to get free CDs, go to concerts, etc. and therefore happily accept less pay than they might get elsewhere.  And so it is with Council staff – they get the honour of walking the corridors of power and even sometimes getting a glimpse of Kate or Stewart – if they’re lucky.  Sometimes meetings (of which there is no shortage) have biscuits as well as tea and coffee.  You would think in those situations people wouldn’t ask for more money.  However, the local Unions have wild ideas.

First, there is some silly notion that men and women doing the same work should be paid the same amount of money.  Then some people actually want to be paid overtime for evenings and weekends.  Finally, the unions are asking for a pay rise higher than 1.5%!  Do these people really think that’s fair?  After all, for most of them, that would probably mean an extra candy bar a month.

If the experts nationally are correct, then inflation is running somewhere around 3%, so a 1.5% raise is perfectly fair for these privileged personnel.  Of course there is the odd suggestion now and then that the atmosphere in some of the Council departments is less than friendly, but that no doubt is sour grapes. I hope the Unions will realise just how lucky they are to be connected with our fantastic Council – perhaps they should all take a voluntary pay cut?  After all, the City does have serious expenses – such as finding some £235,000 to pay for 8 ’European and Diversity’ people.

Sustainable Growth

Sustainability is the watchword in public and private sectors these days; it’s almost as if there was some kind of limit on our resources.  Luckily past generations had the foresight to put land aside for ‘wildlife’ and ‘recreation’.   Examples of these can be found in Union Terrace Gardens, Loirston Loch and Sunnybank Park.  Thanks to those who preserved these lands, we are in a good place for some ‘sustainable growth’.  In order for Builders to keep growing their businesses, they have to keep building more things, and that means they need places to build on.  In order for the Council to keep growing, it needs more taxes from residents and businesses, so it needs to keep making new housing and new shopping malls and the like.  It would hardly do to use the existing buildings that are boarded up – that won’t help the builders.  Of course, a system based on continuous building can go on forever – well at least as long as there are green spaces to build on.

“On The Map”

Thank goodness:  Scotland is going to be “On The Map”!! Old Susannah’s invitation to RGU to see Sir Ian Wood give Donald Trump an honorary degree got lost in the post.  However, my spies told me Sir Ian’s immortal words which were along the line of thanking Mr Trump for his golfing development, which is going to put Scotland on the map for golf!  Is it possible Scotland will become a destination for golfers?  Watch this space!

Aug 272010

By Grace Banks.

On 13 August, Sunnybank Park was invaded by twelve of global software company Paradigm’s staff armed with chainsaws, strimmers and other maintenance equipment to attack the park’s overgrown state. Andy and Suzy, active supporters from Powis Gardeners came along to be the group’s guide and show them what was to be done.

They arrived at 9.30am and some stayed till 5.00pm – they just did not want to go home!
Andy was shown how to use his petrol mower and cut the bowling greens. Others strimmed and weeded all the drive entrance and the hedging. They dismantled and cleared broken benches and removed all the timber – to feed a wood-burning stove – as well as clearing other parts and cutting a path for dog walkers through the tangled grass.

when we arrived we were surprised by its beauty and peaceful setting

Paradigm’s Global Sales Director Robert Innes said, “Paradigm acknowledges its social responsibilities and encourages its staff to support local community projects. We first heard about the volunteering work at Sunnybank Park via Aberdeen Voice and with green space in Aberdeen under threat of closure or development we felt that it was a worthy cause to support.

“None of us had visited the Park before but when we arrived we were surprised by its beauty and peaceful setting but disappointed that it had been left to run down by its current owners.

“We hope our efforts will encourage other like-minded companies to give up a small amount of their time to make a big impact for the local community.”

Of Paradigm, Andy said, “A fantastic bunch of people who have done a power of work and so enthusiastic!”

A huge thanks from the friends of Sunnybank Park to all from Paradigm who participated and to Andy and Suzy for their ongoing support.

If any other company fancies getting their sleeves rolled up, there is plenty more to be done!


Jun 242010

New lease of life for the Gibberie Wallie in Sunnybank Park

Gibberie Wallie

Gibberie Wallie badly in need of repair after being vandalised.

A group of residents in Aberdeen have come together to stop a valued green space being sold by the Local Authority. The newly constituted group “Friends of Sunnybank Park” are a collection of citizens from all walks of life who have renamed and taken control of their own recreational centre in the Old Aberdeen area. The formerly named St. Machar Outdoor Centre had, in 2009, been earmarked by Aberdeen City Council (ACC) for closure – saving the city an extra £22,000 – as part of it’s £25 million budget cuts package. However, after many objections and local protest, the council agreed to give the initial steering group a period of 6 months to devise a business plan for the park. In May 2010, the plan was accepted and the Council agreed to lease the ground to the group at the rate of £1 per annum. The lease is still being finalised .

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