Oct 302018
 

Craig Chisholm reviews True North 2018. Photographs by Craig Chisholm.

Game Of Thrones’ Aiden Gillen pays tribute to the ‘Thin White Duke’  with David Bowie tribute, ‘Lady Stardust’.

True North returned once again to the heart of Aberdeen with another exciting bill that boasted an eclectic range of artists, a variety of venues, screenings of movies, informative talks and appreciative audiences over its four days.

The best new talents and hotly tipped newcomers shared stages with old pros and veteran performers – and even a ‘Game of Thrones’ star who was there to pay tribute to the late, great David Bowie.

Kicking off on the Thursday night, the Lemon Tree hosted an opening concert that boasted some of the best up and coming Scottish talent.

Opening the night, Glaswegian Zoe Graham provided a low key, intimate performance.

Aided only be an acoustic guitar and her voice this was a display of a mature and introspective talent that’s unusual and impressive for a such a young performer.

Eclecticism was the defining theme of the night as the next two acts explored different musical paths.
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Scottish rapper Solareye – backed on-stage tonight by DJ Harvey Kartel – is the frontman of the hip hop band Stanley Odd.

His socially conscious lyrical flow gave the crowd food for thought and displayed a unique and absorbing talent that deserves to be heard by a wider audience.
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Final act Man of Moon were a tour-de-force of guitar driven rock.

Their music recalls The Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3 and a host of krautrock bands. Their droning, feedback drenched wall of noise is absorbing and overpowering, drawing you into their ocean of sound and leaving you exhausted and shell-shocked by the time it’s over.

A fitting end to a wonderful night.

The following night starts with a much more laid back and intense but no means any less absorbing acts as the Tivoli theatre hosts Tracyanne & Danny along with opening act Charles Watson.

The combination of singer songwriters Tracyanne Campbell (Camera Obscura) and Danny Couglan (Crybaby) works well and their soul-warming, indie pop sound is appreciated by a reverential crowd.

Drawing from their highly acclaimed, self-titled debut album their set was both intimate and expansive, offering heart breaking and personal lyrics that had the crowd absorbed, rapt and appreciative.
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Opening for them was Charles Watson.

The London based singer / songwriter / producer is possibly best known as the lead singer of indie band Slow Club but he came into himself onstage and gave a great performance that would have won over new fans on the night.
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The Lemon Tree hosted the second of the nights performances.

Kicking off proceedings was Manchester based singer-songwriter Ren Harvieu.

Backed by tonight’s headliners, The Magic Numbers, she runs through an engaging support slot that displays influences of soul, rock, indie and jazzy torch songs.
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Headline act The Magic Numbers have a wealth of material to draw from.

Their late-night slot keeps the crowd on their toes and out of their beds as they pull out Top 40 hits such as ‘Forever Lost’, ‘Love’s a Game’ and their biggest hit ‘Love Me Like You’.

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If there was ever a case of opposites attracts then Saturday nights pairing of the stately, grandeur of His Majesty’s Theatre hosting the feedback heavy, post rock of Mogwai and the apocalyptic electronica of Blanck Mass was it.

Blanck Mass are not an easy listen.

It’s a punishing yet rewarding set that sole member Benjamin John Power performs whilst hidden in virtual darkness with only a screen displaying fractual, confusing and trippy images behind him.

But beneath the pulverising noises are rewarding harmonies and hints of melody – they’re not easy to find at times but are rewarding to the listener that does.

Mogwai also have beautiful and harmonic melodies but unlike Blanck Mass they’re not always as hidden. Their elegant,  engaging, compositions are counteracted by ferocious, feedback driven guitars in what must have been the loudest act to tread the boards of the HMT.

Effortlessly one of the greatest and original talents to emerge from Scotland in the last two decades their revelatory live performances deserve to be seen at least any music fan at least once.

Their ear-splitting volume is balanced beautifully with moments of solace and breath-taking beauty – it’s an amazing performance by the Glaswegian band.

After those pulverising and draining performances it might have been preferable for some to have headed home for a lie down in a dark room to recover, but the Lemon Tree still had something to offer for those with still functioning ear drums.

Singer Colin McIntyre has performed as Mull Historical Society since the turn of the 21st Century and his music is still as fresh and heart-warming now as it was then.

The multi-talented McIntyre – singer, songwriter, playwriter, author – gives a wonderful show that draws heavily from his latest album ‘Wakelines’ as well as early hits such as ‘The Final Arrears’, ‘Animal Cannabus’ and ‘I Tried’.

It’s a great performance and he’ll be back at The Lemon Tree next year with a band that will feature none other than former Suede guitarist in its ranks. Don’t miss him.

Opening for Mull Historical Society is up and coming artist Emme Woods. Her mix of blues, rock, grunge and good old fashioned strong song writing displays a depth of talent that is inspiring to see in someone aged only 23 years.

She may be one of few acts – if not the only – that has a family pet on stage. Nestled on a fur coat to Woods’ left is her dog, Bubbles, who is comfortable enough with the performance to enjoy a snooze during the set.

Hopefully no one else in the crowd had a sleep as they’d have missed a strong performance by someone who is sure to go on to bigger things.

The fourth and final night of the festival still has a couple of big shows to go.

The Lemon Tree provides the late-night setting for Glaswegian indie stars Glasvegas.

The band power through a set that revisits their classic debut album from start to finish that gives the crowd a nostalgic but entertaining finale to the weekend.
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The big, star-studded show of the weekend happens earlier in the evening, however, at His Majesty’s Theatre.

‘Lady Stardust – Camille O’Sullivan and friends present the Music of David Bowie’ is a majestic and life affirming show that draws in a crowd of all ages and backgrounds, proving how timeless and all-encompassing the Thin White Duke’s music was.

Irish torch singer O’Sullivan is an inspired host for the evening.

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Her performance is chameleon-like and theatrical and she takes on the role with gusto, really getting into the spirit of the performance and taking on Bowie’s ability to get into a role and bring the audience with him.

Her choice of friends and peers to accompany her on this journey are eclectic and diverse.

From Paul Noonan, singer with Bell XI, performing ‘Ashes to Ashes’ to folk singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams performing ‘Kooks’ and with performances by ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’ star Aiden Gillen, pianist Duke Special and Cathal Coughlan from The Fatima Mansions, it’s an evening of sheer joy for Bowie fans old and young alike.

And special mention must go to comedian and writer Christopher Green.

The towering, flamboyant performer gives a show stopping performance that captures the spirit of Bowie.

His performance is revelatory – camp; serious, touching and funny in the space of a 3-minute pop song. A credit to himself and a credit to Bowie, whose spirit he truly captures.

The spirit of the evening truly reflects the nature of True North – an eclectic, interesting, diverse mix of music that crosses all boundaries and showcases a wide-ranging display of talent.

Jul 282018
 

The Granite City’s Urban Festival ‘True North’ Announces 2018 Bill. By Craig Chisholm.

Aberdeen’s very own festival in the heart of the city returns for its fourth year this September for a weekend of unmissable music.

The festival, running from the 20th to 23rd September, has announced an eclectic and exciting bill of talent for what promises to be another triumphant event.

His Majesty’s Theatre, The Lemon Tree and The Tivoli Theatre will provide performances from Mogwai, Tracyanne & Danny, The Magic Numbers. Mull Historical Society and Glasvegas, among others, whilst a further programme of artists and free events in unique locations across the city will be announced soon.

The events announced so far are:

  • Tracyanne & Danny – The Tivoli – Friday 21st Sept.
  • The Magic Numbers – The Lemon Tree – Friday 21st Sept.
  • Mogwai – His Majesty’s Theatre – Saturday 22nd Sept.
  • Mull Historical Society – The Lemon Tree – Saturday 22nd Sept.
  • David Bowie Tribute (Curated by Camille O’Sullivan) – His Majesty’s Theatre – Sunday 23rd Sept.
  • Mull Historical Society – The Lemon Tree – Sunday 23rd Sept.

The Lemon Tree will also host the opening concert on Thursday 20th September with a soon to be announced bill featuring some of the country’s leading new rock bands.

Tickets for each event can be purchased online at http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/, in person from The Lemon Tree or the Box Office, HMT or by phone on 01224 641122.

Read the Aberdeen Voice’s review of the 2017 event here.

View a gallery of photographs from 2017 here.

Aug 262016
 

In this week’s satirical offering from Suzanne Kelly aka Old Susannah, she delights in Aberdeen’s generosity to the Press & Journal, and is happy to brush aside any minor qualms there might be about use of taxpayer money, conflict of interests and ethics; she also spares a few words on an advert for a US gun festival – in Orlando – featuring a skeleton wielding a semi-automatic weapon…(Psst – any non-Aberdeen readers, you might want to skip directly to the last few paragraphs of this column, cheers).

DictionaryTally ho! Another week flies past in Aberdeen. The original BrewDog bar (Old Dog – Gallowgate as opposed to New Dog – Castlegate) have hung up some of my recent paintings and just hosted another successful, fun, packed Drink and Draw session. Their ‘Live Dead Pony’ – it’s the addition of live yeast to their popular brew Dead Pony Club makes it ‘live’ – has proven popular as well.
So for those who can’t stand this small shareholder (one of over 10,000) talking about Aberdeenshire’s most successful start-up company, please feel free to send in a diatribe as to why I shouldn’t be allowed to talk about things I like, even though I’ve disclosed my shareholding since the first mention.

Otherwise, the BrewDog team are looking for further artists’ work to hang, so get in touch at the Old Dog.

For those of you with bigger fish to fry, it’s been quite an interesting few weeks in the Granite City.

The crematorium ash scandal is not a suitable topic for satire, but it needs to be addressed.

The remark made by the man in charge, Peter Leonard, displays all the contempt you’d expect from the man’s previous form, but this belies far more callowness than even seasoned Leonard-watchers have come to expect. If you missed it, the BBC reports (and the council haven’t asked for a retraction which speaks volumes) Leonard saying to/in front of inspectors:

“we’re slow-cooking babies.”

How can anyone who lost an infant or child and was caught up in the crematorium scandal can be expected to work for, with, or have to communicate with this lizard? Why are we keeping him in his job?

My interest in the man goes back to his report which condemned the Tullos Hill deer to massive culling. He told the council the tree-planting scheme was completely cost neutral and would succeed – if we shot the deer and kept the weeds down. Lib Dem councillor Aileen ‘Ho’Malone was at the helm of the relevant committee which pushed the scheme through.

She’s just the sort of person you could convince to wipe out a meadow full of flowers and a herd of deer to plant trees on top of rocks and industrial waste where there is no topsoil.

‘A tree for every citizen’ they called it. They deliberately left the culling and the £43k penalty out of the initial public consultation (correspondence proves they knew a cull was planned – but they wanted to ‘manage’ the public which they knew would object. The city tried to deny the £43,800 penalty it paid for the previous failure, too – that’s what we call open government; but I digress).

Peter’s cost neutral scheme? Looks like it’s cost nearly half a million, with £100k alone going to the consultant Chris Piper.

So, Leonard sits in his highly-paid post having been out with his estimates by half a million pounds of taxpayer money, and having insulted everyone with his ash scandal remark, and has not been bounced out of office. Blame the elected officials for bad decisions if you must – but it’s the officers like Leonard who create the reports the councillors have to vote on. Has he stuffed up one too many times?

Any member of staff who’d blundered like he has would have been disciplined and/or let go. Maybe the powers that be will keep him in place. By many accounts, should Mr Leonard be sent packing, there are a fair few staff who will not shed any tears.

Apologies for the lack of humour to this point, but that needed to be said.

Perhaps a few words on the happy event everyone’s talking about will change the mood. It’s not just that the Marischal Square building project is proving to be a breath-taking beauty (I hear people gasp when they look at it). It’s even better than that: everyone’s favourite newspaper, The Press and Journal, is to grace the building with its presence. Better still: the paper won’t have to pay any rent for a whole year. Result!

I’m thinking of starting a petition so that they’ll never have to pay any rent ever. After all, we’re supposed to be trying to attract smart, successful, vibrant, dynamic, forward-looking businesses to the beating heart of Aberdeen.

What better way to cheer us all up each morning than the sight of Damian Bates rounding Broad Street in his Maserati after dropping Sarah Malone off to her job as Trump’s spokesperson? I can barely wait! And with that, it’s time for some timely definitions.

Limousine Bull: (Proper Scottish Noun) – a Torry-based artists collective which had education, training, exhibition services for people in the south of the city. Closed for lack of £10,000.

These art types; just can’t balance the books. Perhaps if they had gone on one of the city’s cultural (?) ‘speed dating’ events they could have begged the rich for funding and kept going.

Alas, the city’s uber-rich wanted to build granite ramps and parking spaces; spending money on an actual arts and education service for the less advantaged was never going to get a look-in. And thus it was that after years of having a small warehouse space with studios for artists, Limousine Bull had to close. As their website reported:

“When we discovered ACC had given details of a new round of funding, with applications to be submitted just 6 weeks after our rejection notice, we put together a greatly revised funding proposal and were due to apply for just £1,700 of the £10,000 available to our category.

“On the day and almost exact time of the deadline for this, Carrie messaged the rest of us on the committee, saying she had decided not to submit the application, as she thought ACC’s demands upon applicants were too strict to follow for such a small amount of funding.” – LB website

Perhaps the people who wonder why we couldn’t win the ‘city of culture’ accolade (or is that poisoned chalice – cities that have won have often found themselves in debt afterwards) might think that getting rid of small groups like this might have made us look smarter and more successful to the judges. The people who submitted our exciting CoC bid had no use for Limousine Bull – they wanted to have ‘Gigs on Rigs’ instead.

How exciting that could have been– flying rock bands to play to offshore oil installations where, er, the footage would have been beamed back to shore. Only the worst kind of philistine would have asked ‘why not just have them play on shore?’. What musician wouldn’t rather do survival training, fly to an alcohol-free oil rig in the chilly North Sea than play a few sets in nightclubs and hotels? But I digress.

Back to Limousine Bull – Old Susannah’s not surprised it went under; after all £10,000 is a lot of money (about one fifth of the amount we had to pay back to central government for the first Tree for Every Citizen failure on Tullos. Or, about one 14,000th of the cost of the granite web. But I digress again). Maybe someone in ACC is offering Limousine Bull a chance to resurrect itself rent-free at Marischal Square?

If so, I’ve not heard of it yet. And funnily enough, for some reason Aberdeen Voice’s invitation to a rent-free office suite at the taxpayer’s expense hasn’t come in the post just yet.

Ethics: (archaic term) Morality, knowledge of right and wrong.

We all know what ethics are (well, you do if you’re not in ACSEF … or whatever it is called this week) – the sense of a common morality that would stop a man making crass remarks about deceased children. It’s that sense of right and wrong that would stop people in power from crushing the weak while, for instance, using public resources to subsidise a newspaper thereby gaining control and advantage.

Many companies have ethics policies governing what freebies, advantages, and hospitality can be accepted without compromising the company. If as an employee you are going to accept a gift or hospitality, say a hamper of food or a few bottles of wine, most companies would expect you to declare it or decline it.

You see, accepting something might put you in a position where you would be indebted to the person giving you a gift. If one company were to offer another company something valuable these days – a weekend at a hotel, a trip, or say a year’s free rent for your business in a brand new suite of offices: you’d be expected by your code of ethics to turn it down.

Otherwise you would be either asked to do something in return for the largess, or even if you weren’t asked to do so, there would be an expectation of a ‘quid pro quo’ situation. In other words, there is no free lunch. And for that matter, there are also laws about using public money unethically, laws about public institutions ensuring ‘value for money’ is sought, and avoiding conflict of interests.

Then again, that kind of thing never hampers the truly creative Aberdeen spirit.

I come back to my friend Peter Leonard again. While the deer cull protest raged (several community councils, thousands of residents, the Scottish SPCA all objecting to the plan), an article appeared in the Evening Express:

“TWO DEER FOUND DEAD AHEAD OF CULL”. 

This story was planted by someone in ACC, although surprisingly, no investigation was held to find out who the ‘leak’ was. The intrepid reporter either didn’t ask, or omitted to say when the dead deer were actually found: and it emerged (after AV asked about it) that the deer were found dead two years before the cull.

The city’s insinuation that to stop deer from suffering starvation or possible accidents was not to supply more grazing land and erect fences – but to stop their lives being blighted by taking their lives away. But, shall we say, some readers found the absence of that little gap of several years somewhat misleading. To some people, this little episode might seem ethically bankrupt. However, I’m sure nothing misleading has been printed before or since by AJL.

I’d never insinuate that an organisation like the ACC would or could ever corrupt an organisation like the P&J – how could it? Sadly, other observers have made a few unfortunate remarks about the free rent offer. I think some of these people need shaming:

“If this if it goes ahead, (and all the hall markers suggest it will) it can but only be seen for what it appears to be – a covenant between the ACC and the P&J/EE. So where now lies objectivity, impartiality, indeed freedom to report and print news on anything that objects to the working of their landlord?”
– A MacDonald

“Don’t they realise that the continuing fall in readership is due to their biased approach to local stories in aberdeen. lets remember too that they are not a local paper anymore but another D. C. Thomson, Dundee rag. I for one cancelled my evening express as soon as it was made public that they were in talks to secure office space in Willies folly and i would suggest that others do the same”
– C Duguid

“Many readers were of the impression that the Press and Journal supported the opposition to the Muse development as evidenced by the publication of numerous stories relating to the opposition to Marischal Square and the scores of letters from the public over the past couple of years… It therefore case as quite a shock to many to learn that Aberdeen Journals themselves are to take up office space in Marischal Square.

“Many of your readers saw that as a betrayal…. Surely any deal that did not deliver the projected returns on the council’s investment would be seen as a failure by the council to secure its financial position and deliver on the promise of sustainable rental profits to fund essential public services.”
– a Mr W Skidmore, who is waiting patiently for this letter to be printed in the P & Poo (an affectionate term I’m told). I trust he isn’t holding his breath.

I hope these people will feel suitably ashamed at their negative words, which strike at the very beating heart of the civic district of the Granite City. It’s always sad for Old Susannah to see such cynical, suspicious minds at work criticising our beloved institutions which have done so much for us.

Perhaps the honesty, integrity and wisdom the council is known for will eventually rub off on such harsh critics. I’m sure we’re only talking a few hundred thousand pounds anyway, and it’s not as if there’s anything better to do with the money.

Conflict of interest: (English compound noun) an unethical condition wherein a person or entity owes allegiance to two opposing forces.

Can the P&J continue to claim the moral high ground it has rightly held these many years if it is now Aberdeen City’s bitch – sorry — tenant?

Perhaps we should mention a potential conflict of interest that’s been brought up on social media. For some reason, there are people who see something wrong with Aberdeen Journals Limited taking a year’s free rent in Marischal College from Aberdeen City Council.

I’m trying to figure out why this bothers some people. Sure, the P&J might in the past have called the development ‘controversial’ in its articles: that just shows that they’re not afraid of standing up to the city council!

I’m sure that fighting spirit, and love of investigation we love in the P&J won’t be compromised just because they will have had their bacon saved by ACC. What an insinuation! I think by now the values the P&J have are clear to us all. And, they win awards so we can tell they’re great.

No, I for one don’t think we will see any change to their usual ethical standards. Where would you be without the tiny tots baby competition? Without photos of the Menie Golf course and MacLeod House to look at every day?

An aside….

orlando ad for gun eventI’m sometimes asked, ‘don’t you miss America?’

There are things I don’t miss. I think the whole machinery that’s created a school to prison pipeline for the disadvantaged and minorities (where police brutality runs riot in schools) stinks. I hate the system that allows mega pharmaceuticals to ruin people’s lives for fat profit margins and where drugs and care can be priced out of the reach of those most in need.

I hate it that a woman can take a device like a medi pen, raise its cost through the roof, and pay herself an 18 million dollar bonus.

I hate it that the alleged founding principle of individuals having a right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ is not as fought for as the right to have a well-trained militia which has been torqued into the invented ‘rights’ of anyone to have a semi-automatic weapon.

There are many things I love about my country of birth: the majority of people, the land, the wildlife, the pre-existing culture and our potential. However, we’ve decimated the original inhabitants, the native Americans – and yet now they are leading the fight against our corporate greed. Native Peoples are campaigning on horseback and on foot in the face of the fury of the government and its armies over pipelines which can only devastate the environment.

This is a country where people who were brought in chains on slave ships can eventually see their descendants become professors, leaders, successes in all areas and icons.

We’ve seen heroes like the late great Mohammed Ali and Jesse Hagopian, an educational reformer who was teargassed on a peaceful protest, but still pursues his dream of fair education for all nonetheless.

It’s a country where ancestors like mine came fleeing from famine to find signs in New York’s windows and doors reading ‘no blacks, no Irish and no dogs’ and yet in a few generations, one such Irish catholic descendant became a president.

This is a country where a young American boy of Japanese ancestry can be imprisoned without due course or rights in an internment camp in World War II and somehow still come out of the experience with a wicked sense of humour to emerge as a voice for tolerance and forgiveness.

There is natural beauty (cross your fingers) and biodiversity.

There are also people who will take that right to have a well-armed militia, and exploit it until we have bloodbaths like the recent slaughter in Orlando. And why?

Ultimately to make money for the gun manufacturers. Gun manufacturers do not care who gets killed. Statistically we know that you are more likely to have an accidental shooting at a home with a gun in it rather than your successfully shooting a would be burglar.

The image above belongs to the Orlando Weekly, which sees nothing wrong in advertising a semi-automatic shooting event … with an image of a skeleton. Now, I’m possibly not the most sensitive person in the world, but I see something very wrong in printing an ad like this to a city which is still mourning.

So America, as dearly as I love some things about you, please start worrying more about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and less about this supposed right to have guns. You are locking up people for collecting their own rainwater, for growing herbs – such as ginseng – and you are criminalising people who want to pursue a different life/liberty/happiness than the status quo. That’s not what was meant to be.

Look at this ad. Does this say responsible, sober gun ownership and respect for life to you – or is this nearly the lowest appeal to base nature (save the videos with bikini clad girls firing automatic weapons) and lack of empathy for the dead of Orlando (and the wider country) that can be imagined?

If not for the likes of those who emerged from hardships in the US, I’d despair completely.

The editor of the Orlando Weekly is Graham Jarrett. At first he tried to claim he was forced to print the ad; it was pointed out that no one can force a news publication to take an ad. We’re waiting to hear what you are going to say and do next Mr Jarrett.

(Want to fight against this kind of gun happy propaganda? On Facebook seek out and join One Pulse, a closed pressure group with the fanciful aim of making people want to stop shooting other people. I’m honoured and happy to be a member).

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Dec 032015
 

deershotfeat2With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Recent figures obtained under Freedom of Information show how a controversial, unpopular cull of deer on Tullos Hill has spread to city wide persecution of roe deer. Despite claiming the cull will reduce traffic accidents involving deer the City Council refused to provide data to back its claim that deer cause a road accident every week.

The information which has been released shows that since 2011 Aberdeen City Council has spent £28,930 on shooting deer.

The City initially started the cull on Tullos Hill, the former waste tip where the City is attempting to establish a large forest.

Government reports suggest that due to the poor soil matrix it is unlikely trees will thrive on Tullos Hill. Those that do reach any height may be blown over due to the lack of deep, firm soil to support tree roots.

Aberdeen City Council pressed ahead with this scheme ignoring the huge public outcry over the deer cull and despite losing £43,800 when a previous tree planting project on the Hill failed. Deer and weeds were blamed for that failure. Today weeds tower over many of the new saplings and the City has been given a list by the Forestry Commission of numerous ways the plantation is failing.

The deer cull was as unpopular as it was deemed unnecessary. The City refused to listen to free, expert advice on how to have trees as well as deer on the Hill. Instead hired marksmen were used. Astonishingly no signs were erected to warn that high powered rifles were being used. The City promised that signs warning of ‘forestry operations in progress‘ would be replaced by signs clearly warning recreational users of Tullos Hill that shooting was taking place.

Visitors to Tullos have seen no such signs erected during these past five years. A new FOI request will try to ascertain what, if any, warning signs were produced and where they were placed.

The Roe deer, which seldom live longer than 6 or 7 years in the wild, were a popular attraction for visitors to Tullos Hill.

The City recently told its Housing & Environment Committee that a deer a week was involved in a road accident in Aberdeen. Information obtained by campaigners did not support this figure. Repeated requests for their raw data have been ignored by the City and the Chief Executive.

Campaign spokesperson Suzanne Kelly addressed the Housing Committee’s last meeting and was given an assurance that there would be no further culling until both humane alternatives and a proper count of remaining deer took place. The last SNH count came up with about 20 animals.

Across the City huge scale building projects have removed habitat from deer and other animals. Campaigners expect that there would be a spike in fatalities, not least because the City is only now agreeing to put up signs. Peter Leonard, a City official who backs the cull and tree planting scheme told Kelly in an email that once land is sold for development the fate of the deer is no longer the City’s concern.

Kelly said:

“The cavalier attitude to wasting money on a doomed scheme and to killing animals needlessly has to change. The City’s policy has been to shoot and ignore non-lethal options since Liberal Democrat Aileen Malone first pushed this scheme through when she headed the Housing Committee. At the time she actually asked residents to raise over £200,000 for fencing – or the deer would be shot. 

“The small number of people who pushed this scheme seem to me to be motivated by many factors such as political point scoring and saving face – but none of the people insisting deer must be culled or Tullos must be a forest seem motivated by the wishes of taxpayers or the needs of the animals already here. The SNH guidelines they invoke are just that – this city got along just fine without needless culling. 

“I am glad that we have assurances that there will be proper scrutiny of this expensive, wasteful, cruel policy before any more damage is done. The city’s officers relied on figures about road accidents they are unwilling to share – could this be because of inaccuracies in the reporting? 

“If there were that many accidents, and the city erected no signs, no fences, no non-lethal deterrents to these accidents, then I consider them culpable in injuries to animals and culpable for the accidents as well.”

Further information – FOI request – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cost_and_scope_of_deer_culling_f

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Nov 062015
 

roe-deer-fawn-picWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Aberdeen City’s officers and the Liberal Democrats pushed for the so-called ‘Tree For Every Citizen’ scheme in 2012.

A Council officer promised the scheme was going to be cost neutral, and would have income. A herd of roe deer was veritably wiped out in a move 80% of the citizens objected to. How’s the scheme actually doing three and a half years later?

Despite the desperate claims of the city, the scheme is teetering on the brink of complete failure, witnessed by photographs and Forestry Commission documents.

More penalties possible?:

A Freedom of Information request saw the Forestry Commission releasing a report from 2014 which listed a catalogue of failings, and warned that the city might have to pay penalties if remedial actions were not carried out, which included weeding. These photographs were taken in early October at different points on the hill. Clearly, the weeds are winning over the trees.

Some of these documents, photos of the weeds smothering the trees, and the city’s figures from April on road accidents can be found here.

The city pressed ahead with the scheme despite having earlier paid a penalty of £43,800 for the failure of Phase 1 of the scheme on the hill.

Forestry Commission reporting advises that it is unlikely a large scale planting on Tullos Hill would succeed. The hill was used for industrial and domestic dumping for many years, but had supported deer, small mammals, birds and a variety of wildflowers.

A councillor had attempted to keep the hill as a meadow (meadowland is considered the fastest-disappearing type of green space) – but this was turned down by the officer supporting the TFEC scheme, on the grounds that it would be more expensive to enhance the existing meadow than to plant the trees.

Far from being cost neutral, the scheme has cost several hundred thousand pounds to date. With the potential for further penalties, the city is still pressing ahead with the scheme, which may require further animal culls, and further herbicide use.

To avoid penalties, the Forestry Commission wrote to Aberdeen City:

“All areas to be stocked to the minimum density as required by the model chosen. There is no allowance for over stocked areas to compensate for any areas where stocking does not meet the specification. The species found must match the species detailed on the map

  • All required weeding to be up to date and effectively controlling all weedspecies
  • Healthy and viable trees.”

Robust figures?:

The pressure group was meant to have the complete and accurate accounts sent to it covering all costs for the Tree For Every Citizen Scheme. It was immediately apparent that there was data missing. Not all known costs appeared on the spreadsheets released by the City (Aberdeen took over 5 months to deliver information which is held electronically).

The £43,800 penalty from the previous failure was missing, as were some costs identified in a previous freedom of information request. Some of the entries, totalling thousands of pounds are marked ‘unknown’ in the description column. Kelly is still awaiting answers to detailed questions put to the city. Even so, hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on the Tullos Hill scheme, with the consultant, Chris Piper, receiving a five figure sum for his work and expenses.

Campaign Group’s Reaction:

Suzanne Kelly, a campaigner with the Save The Tullos Hill Deer Group said:

“Common sense has left the building, and anyone with eyes can see the weeds tower over the trees. The Forestry Commission report lists a catalogue of problems with the planting – lack of growth, lack of density, weeds, rabbit browsing, but funnily enough the spreadsheet doesn’t make mention of deer browsing, but the cover letter does. I’ve not seen a single tree guard knocked over as if browsed by deer. 

“What I have seen on my frequent visits is weeds towering over the vast majority of trees. Residents and community councils were over ruled by the city on this one, and as a result we’ve incurred hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs, and are probably looking at further penalties. I do not understand how the officer who insisted that this scheme was cost neutral is not held to account for the dismal state of the finances and the dismal state of the trees. 

“We had deer and a meadow. We now have a small number of trees that grew taller than the weeds – and per an earlier Forestry Commission report, the soil matrix is so poor they are likely to topple in strong winds. This was a waste of time, money and was done at the expense of existing wildlife. I’d be ashamed to be the consultant who earned over £100,000 for this scheme, or the officers who pushed it on an unwilling public.

“We are now told that deer account for an accident on the roads per week. However, repeated requests for that raw data are met with silence. The data I did see from the city in April was flawed in that it contained two incidents outwith the city, and included a deer found in a nature reserve car park. 

“As to the promised income? A recent Freedom of Information request says we might get some small income – if the trees grow – in 75 to 100 years. Someone should be losing their job over this in my opinion.”

In case anyone still thinks that the city actually cares about wildlife and biodiversity, the huge swathes of greenbelt given over for development puts paid to that.

So to do the comments made by Peter Leonard. In his report to the Housing commission Leonard wrote about engaging with landowners over deer management.

However, in an exchange with Suzanne Kelly, she wrote:

“There will be further animal deaths on the road – not least because of the development of wildlife habitat at Loirston Loch. As far as I can learn, absolutely no provision has been made for deer or small mammals to be relocated.”

Leonard’s reply was:

“This will be for the developer to answer.”

This hardly echoes the newly-found concern for the safety of motorists or wildlife.

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Oct 222015
 

roe-deer-fawn-picWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Animal welfare activists and Aberdeen citizens opposed to deer culling have welcomed a promise that no deer culling would take place at least until a count of the animals is made.

Although the council will meet to vote on culling next week, the last official count done in January 2014 found very few of the animals in the city area.

Some 46 of the animals in the south of the city were culled for a controversial tree-planting scheme.

Councillor Neil Cooney, Communities, Housing and Infrastructure Committee, wrote to campaigners; his email reads in part:

“Any other practical non-lethal measures will also be looked at… There will be no management until a population survey is completed: we must look at the issue of population densities”

Due to loss of greenbelt land, deer and other wildlife have been forced out of their habitats. One of the largest and most controversial projects sees land at Loirston Loch released for commercial development. Previous councils had decreed the land should never be built on. A large road-building project elsewhere in the city is also destroying habitat.

Campaigner Suzanne Kelly said:

“We welcome Neil Cooney’s comments, but are concerned that in Aberdeen ‘management’ automatically seems to mean killing animals. The author of the report before the Committee is also the author of the report that led to the culling of 46 roe deer on Tullos Hill for a tree planting scheme – on a former rubbish tip which the Government says is unlikely to support a large-scale tree planting.  

“The scheme was supposed to be ‘cost-neutral’; it has cost over £600,000. Over 80% of citizens opposed this according to STV, community councils objected – but still the city pressed ahead.

“As to these road accident statistics, we’ve asked for the raw data and are awaiting it. The last spreadsheet I saw was in April. This included accidents in Aberdeenshire, and incidents which were not involving collisions. Police Scotland had been requested to supply data; this request is overdue.

“There are non-lethal ways to curtail deer populations and help prevent road accidents; the city could do more. They seem to want to shoot first and not ask questions. However, when you look at how many road accidents we have, the involvement of deer pales into insignificance.

“The report insists the city must uphold the law on deer management. We look forward to the city showing the same enthusiasm for upholding the law on improving air pollution on our roads, which include some of the worst statistics in Scotland.

“The report’s author also claims the city wants to improve biodiversity; this is a bit risible in the face of its recent planning decisions, and the threat to turn the city’s Harbour area into an off-limits private industrial harbour. Still, as the city has agreed no killing at least until a proper count is done, we see this as a victory.”

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Oct 012015
 

This is an article submitted to SHMU for inclusion in their publication, Torry’s Vision. SHMU, or Station House Media Unit is a charity as well as a limited company, largely funded by the taxpayer. They purport to want articles from people living in Torry. They didn’t want this one. However, almost every issue of Torry’s Vision has glowing reports from the city’s rangers on how wonderfully things are going on Tullos Hill. Dissent seems to be off the menu at SHMU.

No final explanation was ever given for the refusal of this article.

First it was too long; I shortened it. Next they suggested it could be included as a letter. I explained that letters hardly have the same weight as articles. Then they wanted me to contact every organisation and person mentioned. Clearly the city, Aileen Malone, etc. would not be forthcoming with permission or statements to me on the deer cull and the enormous financial cost of their ‘cost neutral’ scheme.

Imagine if other magazines and newspapers had to contact the people they wrote about? Nothing negative would ever be published.

I sent footnotes to every claim I made. I told them they could cut the sentence about HoMalone (as she is known). No one ever explained why they didn’t print this, but had room for a full page story on a SHMU party, or half a page about household tips. SHMU’s representative was sent all of the links and/or prints of all documents used to support the article’s claims.

These can now be found here, along with a great deal of other relevant information on the deer cull and Tree scheme. They also said that this article needed to be more interesting to the people of Torry. Perhaps if any Torry residents past or present could kindly weigh in to say if this piece is at least as relevant to then as SHMU’s barbeque, that would be helpful. One more point: the City took months to release the finances: they were incomplete. By Suzanne Kelly

darkdeerpicA petition to examine issues surrounding the scheme and Aberdeen’s Tullos Hill in particular gained sufficient public support for the city’s Petitions Committee to address the issues.

The committee met the petitioners on 21 April.
Text of their petition can be found here.

In May of 2011, campaigners wanted the deer spared and for Tullos Hill to be left as a meadow and the roe deer to be allowed to remain.

Campaigners argued that the flowers and the gorse were important habitat and should not have been removed.

The hill is a former industrial and domestic rubbish dumping ground with serious soil pollution issues. When the public found out there would be a deer cull, thousands signed petitions and several community councils objected as well. STV reported that 80% of the city opposed the scheme. The convener of the Housing & Environment Committee, Liberal Democrat Aileen Malone, demanded that the public come up with £225,000 for fencing – or the deer would be shot.

Animal welfare charities and organisations were alarmed at this unprecedented demand, and people were urged not to give into the demand. Free of charge services were offered to show the city how to grow the trees using non-lethal methods – these were dismissed out of hand. A spokesperson for the Scottish SPCA referred to the culling of the deer for the tree scheme as ‘abhorrent and absurd.’

The public were initially told the tree planting would be at no cost to them. However, a Freedom of Information request revealed that an expert C J Piper, was paid £72,212 for services to the tree-planting scheme (FOI letter EIR-13-0110 – A Tree for Every Citizen response from Aberdeen City to S Kelly of Thu, 14 Feb 2013 9:39).

Other expenses include fencing, the cost of having the deer shot, and a previous failed planting on the same hill which saw the taxpayers returning £43,800 to Scottish Natural Heritage (letter from Forestry Commission Scotland to Aberdeen City Council 2March 2011). The campaigners want to know what all of the expenses are, both historic and ongoing.

John Robins of Animal Concern said:

“Aberdeen City Council have all but wiped out a perfectly healthy herd of deer which had existed for generations on a piece of rough land which has never been suitable for anything else. Tullos Hill evolved into its own natural habitat and should have been valued and protected for what it was and not destroyed to fit in with the grandiose plans of petty politicians.

“It is extremely unlikely that any new woodland will survive on Tullos Hill,” – (John Robins of Animal Concern in email to S Kelly of Fri, 3 Apr 2015 2:05) .

Suzanne Kelly, who has written several articles for Aberdeen Voice and a report, continued:

“There may be very few deer left in the entire city according to a recent SNH count. We want to know how much tax money has gone on this scheme, we want no further culling, and we want the city to seek assurances from the SNH that we won’t see another £43,800 bill coming our way: the trees are covered by weeds in many places, no matter how many awards have been dished out.”

Torry resident Earl Solomon added:

“I don’t agree with killing the deer. I think it’s disgusting”

The city council will consider its deer control issues again in October. It voluntarily has culled the 46 deer to grow trees, saying they are sticking to Scottish Natural Heritage guidelines. These guidelines are just that – guidance and not legally binding. Other local authorities such as Glasgow decided not to kill their deer.

More information on the costs of the Tree for Every Citizen scheme will be released shortly. It is important to see how much this scheme has actually cost Aberdeen’s taxpayers.

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Aug 252015
 

Suzanne Kelly has been one of the main campaigners who tried to stop the Tullos Hill Deer Cull and who tried to stop the city wasting money planting trees on Tullos Hill. When hundreds of Aberdeen taxpayers signed a petition, the city’s Petitions Committee heard Kelly speak – and among other things agreed to release the entire Tree for Every Citizen scheme’s costs. Seventeen weeks went by – and what was finally released leaves much to be desired. Suzanne Kelly explains.

darkdeerpic

Still in the dark regarding deer numbers, road accident figures and financial details.

After weeks of chasing, reminding, and waiting, Aberdeen City finally released what was meant to be the complete financial costs of the ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme. One fact is incontrovertible: This was never going to be a ‘cost neutral’ project.

For a scheme which officer Peter Leonard promised again and again was ‘cost neutral,’ waiting from the end of April through the end of August was excessive.

All of the costs are meant to be kept in electronic form.

A previous Freedom of Information disclosure from December 2011 came comparatively quickly in the form of an excel spreadsheet.

The city has had a government soil report for years advising that establishing trees on the hill – once an industrial and domestic waste tip – is unlikely. The soil is almost non-existent, and because of the rocky structure of the hill and the waste, trees that do grow (not that there is much sign of growth) are likely to simply topple over – according to the Forestry Commission.

It was immediately apparent that not all was right. A previous and well documented £43,800 payment to the central government was missing. This was for the previous TFEC phase failure on Tullos. Getting the then Chief Executive Valerie Watts to admit to this costly failure was problematic (see previous Aberdeen Voice articles).

The £43,800 seems not to be recorded in the August release of costs anywhere.

That was not the only cost missing from the information supplied.

In June 2010, according to the previous FOI disclosure, some £30,000 was paid too Bryan Massie and identified as ‘Granite City Forest Phase 1’ / weed control. The two entries relevant to this cost supplied before have now disappeared.

The expenditure of public funds is meant to be controlled and responsibly managed. When convener of the Housing & Environment Committee responsible for this scheme and the deer cull, Aileen Malone, famously demanded the public stump up £225,000 for fencing or the deer would be killed, charities told people not to give in to this ‘blackmail’ or a dangerous precedent would be set. The cost for fencing on the hill seems – with the information received – to be around £40,000.

The scheme that was to be cost-neutral may have cost taxpayers some £600,000 pound so far – with no forest on Tullos. And no deer.

The excel workbook contains a page for income. The Scottish Government seems to have been rather generous. Or should that be the Scottish taxpayer.

The ‘other expenditure’ worksheet the City released contains two invoices for which little description but the word ‘other’ has been supplied. In many instances no suppliers are named.

The big financial winner of the scheme is arguably consultant Chris Piper of C J Piper, taking away approximately £100,000 for being the architect of the deer slaughter and the tree planting. The planting cost some £200,000. It is unclear whether this lucrative contract was put out to tender or not: no cost for any tender exercises whatsoever appear on the financial information supplied. If there was no tender exercise, then the city should explain how it skirted procurement protocol.

Killing the deer cost the taxpayer some £14,000 pounds for 2012 and 2013. No information was supplied for 2014. It is believed that the herd had gone several decades without the need for hunters to control their numbers. (It should also be remembered that the remains of some 4 poached animals were found last January on Tullos).

A complaint as to the poor quality of the information released was made, and as told the city officer responsible to go back and think again. It was also suggested that an upcoming council debate on future deer management set for October should be deferred until the public are given the full picture of this scheme, have had a chance to react, and a chance to contact their councillors.

If the information on cost had come out in a timely fashion, that might have been different. One might wonder whether the delayed, incomplete information could have been a stalling tactic to give campaigners and residents little time to input their thoughts into the October discussion.

The council officer, Steven Shaw, Environmental Manager, who supplied the excel workbook wrote:

“Before I send it to you I have asked officers to have a check through to ensure that there is nothing missing and information included that perhaps shouldn’t be.”

As to the request to delay the October discussion on deer management Shaw wrote:

“With regards to the deer management report, it is not for you to decide when the report will be presented to committee. The service continues to work towards October’s committee for presentation of the report.”

The decision to defer or not should be a matter for the councillors to decide, not Shaw, particularly in light of the circumstances of the TFEC finances.

Shaw is also keen to establish how many deer cause accidents. He also provided a spreadsheet describing when deer bodies were found or when they were involved in accidents. The factors causing deer to move would have included the loss of habitat on Tullos – huge swathes of gorse (essential for a variety of wildlife) were removed for the trees. Greenbelt was lost across the city for a variety of other building projects as well, forcing wildlife to leave areas no longer habitable.

The number of incidents of deer being found dead, removed from roads, or involved in accidents is 47. Most of the descriptions supplied do not indicate what the cause of death was. The incidents are at a variety of locations and span 2014 and 2015 to date. Without information on whether the deer were involved in motor vehicle accidents, poached like the 5 deer killed last year by poachers in the Gramps, this data is very broad and inconclusive.

But it does show deer should be protected. If Shaw/ the pro-hunting league are trying to sell the idea of killing all the city’s deer on the basis that they are found dead, the public may not exactly embrace that logic – especially when espoused by the very people who destroyed their habitat in the first place, using the logic that when the forest becomes established, the deer would have a place to live.

The public have had quite enough of this kind of thinking, and comments on social media reflect that conclusion. The city seems to be sticking to the guidelines put out by the SNH which allow only a handful of deer on land that used to support much larger populations; these guidelines are merely that, and are considered to be very controversial by landowners, animal welfare groups and even some gamekeepers.

We await the number of accidents caused by weather conditions, alcohol and bicycles from Police Scotland. We are confident it will dwarf the deer figure. We point to the need to preserve what little biodiversity remains in the south of the city, and we have long campaigned for signs to warn motorists of deer crossing areas, as is done in other localities where there are deer.

When correct and complete information is made available, it will be released. For the 2011 FOI response and this August submission from Steve Shaw, visit http://suzannekelly.yolasite.com/

Apr 032015
 

deer3picWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

A petition to examine issues surrounding Aberdeen’s Tullos Hill has gained sufficient public support for the city’s Petitions Committee to address the issues.

Campaigners were told today that they had exceeded the threshold of 250 signatures, and the city’s Petitions Committee will meet with the petitioners on 21 April.

Text of their petition can be found here http://committees.aberdeencity.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?Id=13 .

In May of 2011, campaigners wanted the deer spared and for Tullos Hill to be left as a meadow and the roe deer to be allowed to remain. The hill once had a field of dame’s violets, which a city official, Peter Leonard, dismissed as ‘garden escapees’. Campaigners argued that the flowers and the gorse were important habitat and should not have been removed.

The hill is a former industrial and domestic rubbish dumping ground with serious soil pollution issues. A ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme was put up for public consultation, but it omitted there was a deer cull already planned for the tree planting. When the public found out about the cull, thousands signed petitions and several community councils objected as well.

STV reported that 80% of the city opposed the scheme. The convener of the Housing & Environment Committee, Liberal Democrat Aileen Malone, demanded that the public come up with £225,000 for fencing – or the deer would be shot. Animal welfare charities and organisations were alarmed at this unprecedented demand, and people were urged not to give into the demand.

Free of charge services were offered to show the city how to grow the trees using non-lethal methods – these were dismissed out of hand.    A spokesperson for the Scottish SPCA referred to the culling of the deer for the tree scheme as ‘abhorrent and absurd.’

The public were initially told the tree planting would be at no cost to them. However, a Freedom of Information request revealed that an expert C J Piper, was paid £72,212 for services to the tree-planting scheme. Other expenses include fencing, the cost of having the deer shot, and a previous failed planting on the same hill which saw the taxpayers returning £43,800 to Scottish Natural Heritage.

The campaigners want to know what all of the expenses are both historic and ongoing.

John Robins of Animal Concern said:

“Aberdeen City Council have all but wiped out a perfectly healthy herd of deer which had existed for generations on a piece of rough land which has never been suitable for anything else. Tullos Hill evolved into its own natural habitat and should have been valued and protected for what it was and not destroyed to fit in with the grandiose plans of petty politicians. It is extremely unlikely that any new woodland will survive on Tullos Hill. The Council should stop wasting public money and leave the area to nature – in this instance mother nature definitely knows best.”

Kelly, who has written several articles for Aberdeen Voice and a report, continued:

“People feel they were misled on several aspects of the scheme.  People do not know how much money is involved,  how safe or otherwise the soil on the hill is, and why more deer must be shot. 

“There may be very few deer left in the entire city according to a recent SNH count. We want to know how much tax money has gone on this scheme, we want no further culling, and we want the city to seek assurances from the SNH that we won’t see another £43,800 bill coming our way: the trees are covered by weeds in many places, no matter how many awards have been dished out.”

Background:

http://news.stv.tv/north/17223-campaigners-hand-over-petition-opposing-deer-cull-to-council/
https://aberdeenvoice.com/2011/05/you%E2%80%99re-shooting-yourself-in-the-foot-cults-cc-tells-malone/
http://suzannekelly.yolasite.com/

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Mar 172015
 

At the end of March a petition asking for answers about Tullos Hill will close. Anyone interested in finding out how their tax money is being used, anyone interested in saving the city’s remaining roe deer population, and anyone who wants to ensure further money isn’t wasted is urged to sign now. Suzanne Kelly updates Aberdeen Voice on the petition that the ‘Save The Tullos Hill Deer’ group created at the end of 2014.

roe-deer-fawn-picTime is running out for a petition which could force the city to release information on its costly Tree For Every Citizen scheme and which may help save the city’s remaining roe deer from further culling.

The petition can be found here.

Anyone resident in Aberdeen who is on the electoral role can sign. Signatories have to register with Aberdeen City via the link on the petition page.

Many people have reported problems with the city’s electronic system – anyone who wants help in registering can email sgvk27@aol.com.

Aberdeen residents may recall the Liberal Democrats’ election pledge two elections back: A Tree For Every Citizen. Who could object to such a scheme, especially as it was not going to cost the Aberdeen taxpayer any money?

Aberdeen Voice investigations have since proved this innocent-sounding scheme was costly in terms of money and in the much-loved Tullos Hill roe deer population, which had existed in the meadowlands of Tullos for decades before the scheme was rolled out. No one was told that the majority of the trees were destined for meadowland on Tullos Hill (itself an industrial and domestic waste dumping area which had evolved into fields supporting insects, plants, birds and small animals).

No one was told that a previous scheme had seen Aberdeen’s taxpayers penalised £43,800 for the failure of the previous attempt to grow trees on the hill, either. Another fact which was not included in the public consultation was the city and Scottish Natural Heritage had already decided that to implement the scheme, they were going to kill most of the existing roe deer.

These deer had not previously been seen as a problem; they were simply small animals living 6-7 years, greatly enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.

Further background on the Tree For Every Citizen Scheme can be found by using Aberdeen Voice’s line search facility.

The scheme went ahead, and the trees planted are in many (if not all) areas on Tullos overshadowed by weeds which will likely kill them. Some three dozen roe deer were slaughtered – while people were allowed to roam on the hill — as a hired hunter shot them. The city’s risk matrix didn’t think that the residents using the hill for walking, bicycling or riding motorbikes were in any danger of running into a stray bullet.

The petition took months for the city to approve its wording. It had an initial deadline which was extended when it emerged that people who lived outwith the city or who were not on the electoral roll had been allowed to sign.  The city has allowed extra time for people to come forward to sign.

The petition asks for assurances that no further deer will be shot until at a minimum the actual population is known – there may be as few as 19 animals left in the city’s remaining, shrinking green belt pockets according to Scottish Natural Heritage Figures. Deer were killed to plant trees which may never thrive.

The city will be asked to disclose exactly how much money has been spent on the scheme to date; Aberdeen Voice has figures showing that the main consultant, Chris Piper, has received in excess of £50,000 for his services to date. Tens of thousands of pounds seem to have been spent on fencing. How much money the city spent on cleaning toxic chemicals from the soil and removing debris is unknown.

The petition also wants the city to ask for a guarantee from Scottish Natural Heritage / The Forestry Commission that the taxpayer will not be expected to hand over another £48,000 should this current tree-planting scheme fail – which some believe it is destined to do.

Anyone who wants answers or who wants to protect the remaining deer is urged to sign before the end of March.

STOP PRESS: Some new information has come to light in relation to the Tree For Every Citizen Scheme. Aberdeen Voice will report soon.

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