Jul 212016

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Copyright: Newsline Scotland

Steve Harris, Chief Executive, VisitAberdeenshire.

VisitAberdeenshire has become an official sponsor of the Northern Ireland Open which will take place from 28 – 31 July at Galgorm Castle in Ballymena. The organisation, which is responsible for the marketing of the area to both leisure and business visitors, will have promotional material around the tournament course as well as an information stand.

Golf remains a key driver for tourism to the north east of Scotland and with a course for every week of the year Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire can deliver a quality golf product for both leisure visitors and corporate groups.

Steve Harris (pictured), chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire says,

“Flight time from Belfast to Aberdeen with FlyBe is just over an hour, making us an appealing destination for golfers of all abilities from Northern Ireland. We have high profile courses like Trump International, Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen and Newmachar, but we also have Britain’s highest 18 hole course at Braemar, Fraserburgh where play is documented as early as 1613 and Paul Lawrie’s Golf Centre on the banks of the River Dee.

We have eminent courses which serious golfers long to play, challenging links courses, scenic inland courses and friendly nine hole courses. We’re taking the opportunity to show golf fans who attend the Northern Ireland Open just what a wealth of golfing treasures our area has to offer them and just how accessible we are from Belfast.”

Research commissioned by the Scottish Golf Tourism and VisitScotland shows that Scotland is third on a global list of hot spots for golf tourism (#1 Spain, #2 Portugal, #5 Ireland, #9 England). It is estimated that golfers spend is 120% more than that of other visitors. Golf tourism is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy and is estimated to be worth close to £220million annually.

Steve Harris continues,

“A report published in 2013 showed that there is potential to boost visitor spend from golf in the north east of Scotland from £20 million to over £50 million by 2020. Our sponsorship of the Northern Ireland Open is part of the region wide drive to reach this goal.

“Golf’s popularity seems to be growing exponentially – we’re having a true summer of golf with the recent Scottish Open in the Highlands and The Open in Troon and the Scottish Ladies Open at Dundonald. This interest is also set to grow with the inclusion of golf in the Rio Olympics after a break of 112 years.”

Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said:

The Tayto Northern Ireland Open in Partnership with Ulster Bank is one of the most popular tournaments on the European Challenge Tour schedule, with Galgorm Castle Golf Club providing a fantastic setting, excellent local support and a superb venue to make this a really big week for the Challenge Tour players.

“We are pleased VisitAberdeenshire are also supporting the event so soon after our own successful visit to Scotland for the SSE Hydro Scottish Challenge, a week which showed once again how strong the link between Scotland and golf truly is.”

More about golfing in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire can be found at www.visitabdn.com/attractions-and-activities/golf.

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May 162016

Eilidh Whiteford, Parliament [2015]featWith thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

Women campaigning for fair pensions ‘deserve a fair hearing’, according to the SNP’s Pensions Spokesperson, Dr Eilidh Whiteford. The comments come following a meeting between MPs and campaigners representing Women Against State Pension Inequality.

WASPI represent thousands of women born in the 1950s, who have now been hit twice by increases to the retirement age.

To date, the UK Government has announced no compensatory schemes for those who will lose out as a result of the changes.

While the SNP believes that the state pension age should indeed be equalised, the party has criticised the manner in which the UK Government has implemented its changes, in the face of significant opposition from opposition parliamentarians and civil society.

Speaking after the meeting with WASPI campaigners at Westminster, Dr Whiteford said:

“It is profoundly unfair that these ladies have worked their whole lives, only to be told that their retirement age is being raised not once, but twice. They deserve a fair hearing from the UK Government.

“The UK Government has railroaded these changes through parliament without heeding the real impact this will have on women born in the 1950s. Stephen Crabb’s statement to parliament seems to indicate that there’s still no change whatsoever to the Government’s position.

“Constituents affected by these changes should be assured, however, that I and my fellow SNP MPs will continue to keep pressure on the Tories to look again at how these changes are implemented.”

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May 132016

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

Eilidh Whiteford Fraserburgh

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford

Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has called for cross-party consensus on reducing Air Passenger Duty, after figures released by Aberdeen Airport revealed the impact of the drop in oil and gas prices on flights to and from the city. The figures, released today, indicate that domestic and international traffic are down 17.9 and 5.8% respectively, with a 23.8% decrease in helicopter traffic.

Nonetheless, the Airport is pushing ahead with new routes to Warsaw, Newquay and Gran Canaria, as well as a £20 million redevelopment programme.

Speaking in response to the figures, Dr. Whiteford said:

“Aberdeen Airport is a hugely important piece of our national infrastructure, and the figures indicate the scale of the challenge we face in the north-east as the price of oil remains low.

“The Scottish Government has announced that it intends to cut Air Passenger Duty by 50% and, in light of these figures, that can’t come soon enough. Businesses in the north-east need our region to be as accessible as possible, and I would call on all parties in the Scottish Parliament to support this move.

“This is one step we can and should take to making Scotland a competitive destination for business and tourism.”

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May 052016

Tots2travelWith thanks to Janice Hopper.

May 2016 sees the professional launch of a Scottish Family Travel online resource called Tots2Travel.

Based in Aberdeen it encourages Scottish families to explore what’s on their doorstep and beyond.

Tots2Travel started when local writer and new mother Janice Hopper struggled to find travel recommendations written from a family perspective, be it family friendly destinations within Scotland or international locations within easy reach of Scottish airports.

Janice said:

“I was initially terrified travelling with a newborn baby and was looking was advice and child friendly places to visit. I saw a gap in the market for Family Travel writing within Scotland and it was a great incentive to do something about it. What started as a hobby then developed and I now work to show parents the family orientated destinations available across the country.

“There’s so much to do! It’s a privilege to showcase Scotland to a wider audience and highlight what’s on offer at home and abroad for Scottish families.”

The Tots2Travel team is Janice Hopper, Mr Husband, Mr Toddler (aged 2) and Mr Baby (aged 1). Janice spent over a decade writing and directing documentaries for the BBC before having two children and becoming a freelance writer.

Tots2Travel can be found and followed at www.tots2travel.wordpress.com, and its supporting social media is www.facebook.com/tots2travel.wordpress, www.instagram.com/tots2travel, www.twitter.com/tots2travel and www.pinterest.com/tots2travel.

Apr 142015

NEWSLINE MEDIA LIMITEDWith thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

An Aberdeen hotel has been recognised in a national accreditation scheme which aims to identify the country’s best meeting venues. Thistle Aberdeen Airport has been awarded a commended rating by BDRC Continental – a meetings sector research specialist – based on feedback from customers.

VenueVerdict Accreditation, which is based entirely on genuine and verified customer reviews, means that Thistle Aberdeen Airport is delivering a level of customer service to meetings and events customers which is considered to be above the national average.

The four-star venue has a main ballroom capable of seating 250 guests, along with a number of smaller meeting rooms. The hotel provides meeting space for several global oil majors located in the Granite City, and is one of only a handful of hotels in Aberdeen to hold full emergency response plans for customers in the energy sector.

Although it has a large corporate customer base, it is also a very popular venue for weddings, dinner dances and charity events. It staged a variety of different events in 2014, with a high proportion of year on year repeat business.

The accreditation from VenueVerdict applies to the period from January to December, 2014. Thistle Aberdeen Airport general manager Alison Christie says that the venue receives consistently high feedback from customers.

She adds,

“To have that positive feedback formally recognised through the VenueVerdict Accreditation underlines that we are able to deliver consistently high standards. We always strive to go above and beyond for our customers in terms of their expectations, so we are very pleased to have this acknowledged.

“We believe that each and every event is individual, so therefore we should be delivering a level of service that reflects our willingness to put the customer at the centre of the whole process. It is that approach that has consistently earned us high praise from our customers, and keeps them returning to the hotel.”

During the period from January to December 2014, VenueVerdict featured 375 participating meeting venues and hotels in the UK and Ireland. The results were derived from around 21,250 individual pieces of feedback.

Thistle has three hotels in Aberdeen – The Caledonian, Aberdeen Airport and Aberdeen Altens. There are 446 bedrooms across the three venues, and each has conferencing and banqueting facilities. Aberdeen Altens also has an on-site leisure club and spa. Further information is available at www.thistle.com


Mar 272015

acsha logoWith thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association (ACSHA) is remaining upbeat about the performance of the sector, despite a decline in occupancy rates last
Figures released by hospitality research company STR Global shows that occupancy fell by 8% to 70% between January and February, and by 2.6% overall in the 12 months from February 2014.

In comparison, however, the average daily room rate dropped by 2.9% to £94.85, while the number of bedrooms available over 12 months increased by 4.6% due to new building projects.

Over 1,000 additional hotel rooms have been created in Aberdeen since 2013, with two further major hotel openings planned for sites at Aberdeen International Airport later this year.

ACSHA chairman Chris McGuinness believes that, in addition to the increased number of bedrooms, falling oil prices will also have influenced the February figures. He says that members of the trade organisation are taking a measured approach to the slump in the energy sector.

He said,

“There are a lot of very experienced operators in the city who have witnessed the cyclical nature of the energy sector over many years. We know only too well that the oil industry has peaks and troughs: the sector has enjoyed a phenomenal performance over the past couple of years, so the current downturn has not been unexpected.

“We expect to see a reduction in the amount of discretionary business travel as a result of the downturn, with less people traveling into the city for meetings and training courses. However, we are not panicking by entering into a rates war as previous experience tells us that this will not be a long-term issue.

“The current decline will not last forever, and as global demand for oil starts to increase so too will the price of Brent crude oil. When that happens, Aberdeen’s hotel industry will be in a stronger position than before with more bedroom availability for those visiting the city on business.

“For many years we have found ourselves in a situation where we did not have enough supply to meet demand. That should now start to balance out and the gap in performance between Aberdeen and rest of the UK – which has previously been far too big – will get closer.”

ACSHA has worked closely with destination management group VisitAberdeen to market the city for weekend breaks, and will continue to in efforts to help position Aberdeen as a leisure destination.

Mr McGuinness adds,

“The high demand for bedrooms midweek means that Aberdeen has some of the best value weekend rates anywhere in the world. Supporting VisitAberdeen continues to be a priority for ACSHA.

“We must not forget that there is more to the hospitality industry than bedrooms, and anecdotally members are telling us that revenue from food and beverage sales is rising year on year and meetings and events, which includes weddings, is also performing at the level it has in previous years.”

Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association represents 43 independently operated hotels and conference venues. These hotels provide around 4,100 bedrooms in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. ACSHA is committed to improving the quality and standard of hotel services and to furthering the overall standards of excellence and hospitality within the region.

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May 272013

By David Innes.

The March and April meetings of the nascent Dickens Aberdeen group saw lively discussions of Hard Times Parts 1 and 2 take place, and the rest of that less well-known Dickens novel will be discussed at the group’s meeting on Wednesday 29 May.
The meeting will run from 1900-2100 at Grampian Housing Association, 74 Huntly Street, at its crossroads with Summer Street.

There is free parking adjacent to the building. Everyone is welcome.

Dr Paul Schlicke, a driving force behind the group, has also informed us of his delight that negotiations are well advanced for Dickens-related activities in July.

Professor John Drew of Buckingham University, project director of Dickens Journals Online, and Dr Tony Williams, past secretary of the Dickens Fellowship, will be in Aberdeen on Tuesday 9 July. They will be bringing for display the fabulous exhibition of 19th century journalism devised by Anthony Burton, emeritus curator of the collection of Dickens manuscripts in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

They will be giving talks that evening. Further details will be publicised as they come our way.

Keith O’Sullivan, Senior Rare Books Librarian of the University of Aberdeen’s Special Collections and Museums has been in touch to enthuse about the Wanderlust exhibition the Exhibitions Gallery. Details below are from the University’s website.

The exhibition at the Gallery of the Sir Duncan Rice Library features vivid writing contained in some of the travel journals and explorers’ notebooks held with the University’s Special Collections.

Wanderlust describes a yearning for distant places; an irrepressible compulsion to discover the unknown. Travel journals survive in many shapes and sizes. Spanning four centuries, not only do these writings give evidence of that compulsion to go beyond the horizon, but they also open an intimate window into lost worlds.

Gallery Opening Times

Monday to Friday: 10:00 – 16:30

Saturday 4 May – 1 June, inclusive: 10:00 – 16:00
Saturday 8 June – 7 September, inclusive: 10:00 – 12:30

Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00


May 092013

Voice’s Nicola McNally interviews writer Maggi Sale, and explores the fascinating background to her first book.

Nicola: Congratulations on the publication of Dying Embers and Shooting Stars, Maggi. You’re joining the ranks of Scots women authors such as Janice Galloway, JK Rowling, Carol Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead.

Yet I feel your novel is more comparable with Aberdeenshire author Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song. 

Your Dying Embers and Shooting Stars is alternately forthright and lyrical, haunting and challenging, and beautifully written with a strong narrative voice.

You introduce us to a captivating, resilient and increasingly self-aware character, Margo, a Scots lass like Grassic Gibbon’s Chris Guthrie, whose life also reflects the social, political and spiritual background in her country. So, what inspired the title of your novel?

Maggi: I wanted to convey that sense of circularity and interconnectedness of all things…. ‘out of the ashes, the Phoenix rises’. The book cover also suggests that notion of ‘looking through/beyond’ and hopefully conveys the concepts of space and wonder which are so lacking in our modern lives.

“Margo” is pretty close to home, of course, and there is no doubt that the reader is invited into her head, but I’d like to think that the situations and circumstances that she experiences are recognisable as being fairly universal. Yes, a lot happened to young Margo, but she survived to tell the tale! I write from the perspective of believing that what matters is not so much what happens to you, as how you respond to it!

I’m very honoured that you should link me with the likes of Grassic Gibbon. All I’d really written before this novel were hundreds of Social Background Reports on other people. My role as an inner-city Social Worker gave me the Statutory Duty, but also great human privilege, to ‘do a nosy’ into people’s lives.

This was usually at times of great crisis and I was both fascinated and humbled by the current ‘human condition’ and how different folk dealt with the challenges that beset them. Many were broken by them of course, but some seemed able to tap into something deeper and I would then really enjoy the task of writing fulsome Court Reports that would ‘bring them alive’, or so said the Sheriff! But he still sent them down.

I didn’t set out to write a Book as such. Things happened that I felt the need to record and I would print them out on the work’s printer. Colleagues would pick them up while I was out on a home visit and I’d return to clamours of “more”! They would usually be falling off their seats laughing in the tea room. We really are a heartless lot.

There is nothing quite like walking the length of the country to get the measure of the land and its people

Increasingly though, I was approached by individuals who were personally touched by the ‘story’ and I started to realise that it might have real therapeutic value. So I continued, while working full-time and also hosting a Global Exchange Group from India, and a “Book” was born in exactly five months. Sunday was the only day I could really put aside for it, so the lads cooked….or starved.

Nicola: It’s a real Scots novel, isn’t it, in setting and language, with a great emphasis on traditional Celtic hospitality, set in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and with a Peace March through Scotland via Aberdeen in the plot!

Maggi: There is nothing quite like walking the length of the country to get the measure of the land and its people. I’d like to think that the book reveals the roots of Margo’s sense of common humanity, by which she strives to live. I have no idea whether the images in my head have been conveyed via words on the page to the reader’s inner landscapes, but I’d like to think so.

I think it was the ten years that I spent in Africa that gave me a perspective on this wee country of ours that I might never otherwise have had. My children spent their early years in Zambia and the book gave me a chance to record those early influences that determined many of the values by which we live to this day.

As a Scot, I was often treated differently to my English husband, and I was amazed at the affection that was expressed for the Scots, who have a tradition of living alongside the indigenous people of Central Africa.

The book gave me an opportunity to express my gratitude for being part of the ‘ben-the-hoose’ hospitality that I experienced in my own Scottish childhood and in Central Africa.

There is a theme of water flowing throughout the book and that is no  accident.

When you have experienced water-deprivation while trying to breast-feed your child, you never take it for granted again.

I have been very privileged to have lived in many diverse places and contrasting social conditions throughout my life, so let’s just say that I didn’t have to ‘imagine’ much when writing Margo’s story.

Nicola: So, was it your intention to present the often harsh realities of inner city life from a woman‘s perspective? And in contrast, the most beautiful and enduring aspects of the human condition from a woman’s perspective?

Maggi: Perhaps that’s what came through for you, Nicola, but that was not my intention. The main character is incidentally a woman, but the main thrust of the story is the pain and distress that results from denial, really. That can, and does, happen to anyone who is brought up in a culture of, ‘we don’t talk about that’!

I saw this so much in my professional life too, and it nearly broke me.

Another theme of the book is the help and support that comes from very unlikely quarters, and Margo’s growing realisation of the source of this as she faces many dilemmas. Confidentiality would prevent me from revealing the actual people concerned so the characters are composite and the situations are scrambled; but they reveal a human resilience in the face of adversity that often left me humbled.

I think we have lost our way as a coherent society in recent decades and the book certainly reveals the dark underside of lost generations who are turning to drugs and crime in place of a lost identity. But I hope it reveals their humanity too.

Nicola: There’s a humorous element to the book, in spite of the often painful subject matter. How important is this?

Maggi: Absolutely crucial! I was totally shocked when I first came to live in Glasgow and couldn’t believe it when the toddler would answer the door and call, “Maw! It’s the f…ing Social worker!”…and the reply would come, “Aye! C’min Hen! The kettle’s oan!” Coming from Edinburgh, via Africa and rural Dumfries and Galloway, I didn’t know what to make of it at first.

My colleagues were equally earthy and soon knocked me off my ‘professional’ perch. And really, when you saw some of the truly horrendous social situations and circumstances that we had to deal with, you either laughed, or you cried. And I cried! After four years, I suffered a complete mental and emotional breakdown and felt quite suicidal.

We have to accept that the FOSSIL AGE is OVER….or WE are!

But as is often the case, it was that total collapse that brought me face to face with myself, and the pretensions that held my own pain at bay! It was that earthy, and honest, Glasgow humour that got me back to work. I really learned to laugh, and I haven’t stopped since.

 Nicola: The book is published by Balboa Press, a division of Hay House, and you have very generously promised the proceeds from your book sales to causes close to your heart. Will you tell AV about these?

 Maggi: As a grandmother of nine creative young people, all of whom are gifted musicians, artists, performers and students, I have a huge vested interest in securing their sustainable future. We are living in very troubled, but dynamic, times and my work over the years with VSO Global Exchange has convinced me that we do indeed have a future; but only if we radically change our ways as a species.

I established a small group based on non-violent direct action principles called HOPE, or the Human Order for Peace on Earth. Over the years it has challenged nuclear waste dumping and nuclear weapons, and is currently challenging fracking, which is the chemical extraction of gas from shale, which threatens our very existence.

We have to accept that the FOSSIL AGE is OVER….or WE are! The choice is now water, or oil and gas! Scotland has the expertise, ingenuity and opportunity to seek and develop sustainable alternatives, and we must!

I also teach English as a Second Language to asylum seekers and refugees, and provide refuge and respite in my village home and practical assistance when they are given ‘leave to stay’. I’m a’ body’s ‘Auntie’ and they call me Bumma! We work on the basis of ‘Living Simply, that Others may Simply Live’…. and we are a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns undivided by creed or culture.

I was also chosen as “Grandmother of the Burning Hearth” by the Grandmothers Circle the Earth Foundation. Their Hopi prophecy states, “When the Grandmothers speak, the World will be healed!” Perhaps my title of “Grandmother of the Burning Hearth” from GCEF had something to do with the ‘Dying Embers’ title of my book.

We now have a Council in Scotland and I’m the Granny of the Grannies, being the oldest at 70 in June! I have now used up all my savings doing this sacred work and any income from my book will allow me to continue.

Nicola: Thank you, Maggi Sale, for talking with us, and many congratulations on your book’s publication. Maybe it’s the first part of a trilogy, a Scots Quair for the 21st century ?

Maggi: As an honorary Glaswegian, my reply to that is, “Aye! Right!”

Further information:

Grandmothers Circle the Earth Foundation is a non-profit organisation that brings together women of all ages and races, cultural, social, professional and spiritual backgrounds, to create practical and sustainable solutions to the most pressing issues they face today.

Its mission is to respond to requests for guidance, resources, professional expertise and administration in creating sustainable Grandmother Councils and culturally relevant Women’s Circles.

These bring together ceremonies, medicines and wisdom teachings of indigenous people from many nations, as valuable tools and bridges for addressing universal issues around the world, such as: Developing Community, Sustainability, Renewable Resources, Elder Care, Developing Youth Leadership, Domestic Violence, Business Development and more.

Voice readers can order a copy of Maggi Sale’s book ‘Dying Embers and Shooting stars’ online. It’s now available on www.amazon.co.uk in paperback and kindle editions.

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Jan 112013

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

An eventful and warm week has passed in the Granite City; many people settled back into their routine after the holiday break. Children were back at school, councillors were back at Marischal, people were back at work. Industry is booming.  BrewDog have lots of crafts beer on at their eponymous bar just now, and their shiny new factory opens on 19 January with the unusual fanfare you’d expect.

The car theft industry is thriving, too.  Career car thieves have been back at the coal face, and Grampian’s finest have likewise been busy, protecting us all from the likes of… Lesley Ross.

Ms Ross is considered dangerous – with a keyboard. After her Audi was stolen, she’d made posts on Facebook, according to the Daily Record, which were… offensive.

Apparently bad language was used! Off the top of my head I’m not sure if that has a mandatory custodial sentence or not.

She also wished that something bad would happen to the thieves!

The penalty for wishing ill on someone else was done away with after the last witch trials ended a few hundred years back, but with the ConDems in power and political incorrectness gone mad, expect witches to be hung in public sometime soon, along with ‘Lone Parents’ who have just seen their child benefits cut – that’ll teach them (but only the poor ones, mind).  The ConDems have released a document of their many triumphs; more on that later.

You might think that with thieves stealing in broad daylight and posting photos on Facebook there would be more arrests and convictions than we’ve seen.  Still, at least our finest men and women in uniform do have an interest in crime: they’ve racked up about three dozen past crimes between them.

They have convictions ranging from auto-related incidents to assault to (my favourite) perverting the course of justice.  I always think a little on-the-job training helps you do your job better, don’t you?

Finally, our guardians have managed to keep some 300 DNA samples taken from children.  Some committed crimes; some were completely innocent, yet the samples remain on file for all.  Never throw anything away they say; you never know when you might need it.  Good bye civil liberties and rights.

DNA samples don’t always do what they’re supposed to of course.  I recall a serious trial in Ireland.  The DNA found at the scene was cross-matched – and was found to belong to a young person who had absolutely no connection whatever to the crime or the crime scene; he just had a DNA profile similar to whoever was responsible.

there is some bad language on it in spots, and they’ll want to speak to people about it

Make sure you don’t accidentally leave your strands of hair on any public transport or in the street – you’ll be put at the scene of a crime before you know it.  Still, the innocent have nothing to fear; when was an innocent person ever convicted of a crime in the UK?

I hope Ms Ross has learnt her lesson. In the meantime, if the police have any free time from arresting journalists (like they did to Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney at Balmedie) or from keeping our streets the safe places they are, they might want to check out some Aberdeen Facebook pages.

There is one which tells you how to hotwire a car, and several which show stolen vehicles of all sorts. What will interest the police about this long-running site is that there is some bad language on it in spots, and they’ll want to speak to people about it. I guess Grand Theft Auto wasn’t a computer game after all, but training software.

Politicians and their changes of heart and mind have very much made the news; here in Aberdeen Willie  Young’s apparent U-turn over a new Bridge of Don crossing has eclipsed any national U-turns or reports on the coalition’s successes.  More on that later.

Here is a selection of relevant definitions in the news this week:

Coalition Audit Document: (compound Eng. noun) a report issued by David Cameron and Nick Clegg appraising their promise on their election pledges.   Found in libraries in the Fiction section.

As I mentioned earlier, the ConDems have put out a dossier of all their election pledges and how they’ve performed.  It has a lovely cover showing our happy, working multicultural Big Society in all its glory, and at only 122 pages is a snip to read.

If we needed any further stimulus to vote for them next time ‘round, here comes a little reminder of the great things they’ve done to us – sorry, that should be ‘done for us’.  You don’t even need to go further than the first page to see how they’ve succeeded:-

“We will reform the banking system to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, to promote a competitive economy, to sustain the recovery and to protect and sustain jobs.”

Result!  Job Done!  I think we’ve all noticed how well the recovery is going and just how competitive our economy is.

But mainstream media can be cruel – the BBC website points out an example of a pledge which was not fulfilled.  I’m sure it was probably the only such pledge and that this is just the liberal, left, biased media taking a pot-shot at our Big Society bigwigs, but here it is:

  • Coalition Agreement 2010: “We will replace Air Passenger Duty with a per-flight duty.”
  • Coalition Audit 2013: “We announced in Budget 2011 that we would not introduce a per-plane duty, given concerns over the legality and feasibility of this approach.”

It’s not as if they broke any promises that were important (or more accurately haven’t had a chance to fulfil promises yet, as I’m sure all will be honoured).

U-turn: (Eng. verb) To change direction 180 degrees, particularly in a car (probably a stolen Audi in this part of the world)

Perhaps this term is best illustrated with a few examples:

  • ConDems in U-turn over Bookstart – free book programme for children which was to be axed before outcry from writers and the public
  • ConDems in U-turn over the ‘Cornish Pasty’ tax – a genius scheme to get revenue out of people who want hot food.
  • ConDems in U-turn over plans to scrap a ceiling on donations to charity
  • ConDems in U-turn over secret courts, killing birds of prey, selling off our forests, caravan tax…

It’s almost as if to save money for bankers and defence spending they were trying to squeeze the people at the less rich sector of the Big Society, but I can’t believe that is their intention, can you?

If you want further information, see the Guardian’s list of circa 30 other ConDem U-turns at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/may/31/coalition-u-turns-full-list .  It should be noted that just because the Government’s done a few U-turns doesn’t mean it’s not going to honour its election pledges.  Eventually.

Third Don Crossing: (Proper compound Eng. noun) an Aberdeen City scheme to build a further bridge over the River Don.

Everyone’s favourite bastion of truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, our own Press and Journal have pointed out that Willie Young seems to have changed his mind.  Over the course of five years.  I wonder what could have caused this amazingly-swift U-turn on his part?

Well, we’re told he promised to prevent the Third Don crossing to be built when he wrote to a constituent back in 2008.

If you read the P&J story, it seems Willie also told said constituent that he couldn’t make any definite promise because he took the Labour whip (Grampian police are said to be investigating this case of whip-stealing).

Old Susannah is unsure whether or not this crossing is a good idea.  However, the previous government of Aberdeen was hell-bent on building on any green space we had in the city centre, or any patch of land they could flog for housing and offices, particularly if they could sell it at bargain-basement rates .

I’m sure they knew just what they were doing, such as when they approved 800 or so new houses at the Haudagain roundabout.  I can’t see any added traffic problems there, can you?

So here we are in 2013, with housing and offices springing up around empty offices and disused brown space.  Traffic is even worse than it was in 2008, and that’s saying something.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the brains (aka Kate Dean) in charge of planning in the previous administration ensured that there would be sufficient road infrastructure to deal with all the new builds or not approve them.  You could also be forgiven for thinking we’d have an affordable, reliable, frequent public transport system by now.  But we don’t.

I don’t have any idea why Young’s changed his position; but the intervening five years’ worth of development could play a tiny factor.

Perhaps Cllr Young should take a page from the ConDems’ book – or more specifically the Coalition Audit Document and not do any further U-turns.

That’s all there is time for, as I’m keen to get back to reading the Coalition’s little report.  You are too, I can tell, so here is a link to it courtesy of the BBC. 

In the meantime, don’t use any swear words, don’t wish ill on anyone, don’t let any of your goods get stolen, or the police will come calling.

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Oct 312012

First passengers take off on bmi regional’s inaugural Bristol-bound flight.  With thanks to Dave MacDermid.

The first passengers have taken off on leading UK business airline bmi regional’s new service from Aberdeen to Bristol after the air operator launched its inaugural flight on Monday 29th October.

The airline’s twice-daily, Bristol-bound flights offer the only direct air link between Aberdeen and Bristol.

To mark this week’s official launch bmi regional presented all passengers boarding the maiden journey and the successive flight, with a certificate to commemorate their trip while musician Julie Brinklow was on hand to pipe the passengers on arrival and departure.

bmi regional chief operating officer Graeme Ross said:

“The number of passengers who have already booked the new Bristol service demonstrates our confidence in it being a popular route.  It also reinforces our commitment to building upon our vital air links between Scotland and England through delivering a value-for-money and excellent customer service.

“As the largest centre of culture, employment and education in the vibrant south-west England region, Bristol attracts a considerable number of visitors and business people from the north-east of Scotland.  We anticipate great demand for our new service which not only provides customers with a greater choice and flexibility for travelling directly to Bristol and offering speedy access to the South west of England.”

One way fares for the new services will start at £52.99 and are on sale at www.bmiregional.com

Aberdeen Airport managing director Derek Provan said.

“Adding this service into our portfolio of flights demonstrates bmi regional’s commitment to the Aberdeen market.  I have confidence that it will be a popular service amongst business and leisure passengers alike, and wish them every success.”

A second new route announced by bmi regional sees flights commence between Manchester and Antwerp also started on Monday.

bmi regional operates over 600 flights a week throughout the UK and Europe, and has received the accolade of being the UK’s most punctual airline for the seventh year in a row.  The company also operates services from Aberdeen to Manchester, Norwich, Esbjerg and Groningen.

The company is committed to retaining the airline’s iconic brand values and high levels of service which include check-in up to 30 minutes prior to departure, a free 20kg hold baggage allowance and complimentary catering on board.

From today, the BD code used on all of bmi regional’s domestic and international flights will be replaced with BM although flight numbers will remain the same with, for example, BD 1366 becoming BM 1366.


Monday – Saturday           

Depart Bristol 07:00             Arrive Aberdeen 08:25

Depart Aberdeen 08:55      Arrive Bristol 10:20

Monday – Friday and Sunday

Depart Bristol 16:40             Arrive Aberdeen 18:05

Depart Aberdeen 18:35      Arrive Bristol 20:00