Jan 192017

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

An Aberdeen financial services company is celebrating after winning two finance industry
Phil Anderson Financial Services, which has offices in Aberdeen, Ellon and Caithness, retained its title as Best Financial Advisory Firm – Northern Scotland at the Wealth & Finance 2016 Finance Awards for the second year in a row.

The firm, which specialises in mortgages, investments and pensions, was also awarded with the Excellence in Client Service – Northern Scotland accolade at the same awards, finishing off an extremely successful year for the business.

Now in its third year, the Wealth & Finance Finance Awards is a prestigious programme that is dedicated to recognising and supporting talented firms, individuals and departments within the finance industry.

Laura Hunter, awards coordinator at Wealth and Finance International, said:

“We would like to congratulate Phil and his team on both award wins at the Wealth & Finance 2016 Finance Awards.

“Our winners are comprised of some of the most influential names in the financial market, so to win an award two years in a row demonstrates that Phil Anderson Financial Services is consistent in providing a high quality service.

“I would like to wish everyone at the firm the very best of fortunes going forward.”

Phil Anderson (pictured), managing director of Phil Anderson Financial Services, said:

“2016 was a great year for us, as the business has grown from strength to strength, so to be recognised for our achievements was a fantastic feeling.

“My team and I are all absolutely delighted, as we work incredibly hard through the year to provide our clients with the best service possible, by ensuring that they get the right financial advice for their situation.

“We’ve definitely started the New Year on a high and we’re all looking forward to what the business can achieve in the year ahead.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Nov 042016

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


A Scottish farmer’s wife who has won £1.2m on an online bingo and casino site won’t be saddling up for a life of luxury or galloping off on a round-the-world cruise. Mandy Bowman, who scooped the jackpot on Glossy Bingo’s Major Millions slot game, plans to spend her winnings on her beloved horses by building an indoor riding school and launching a livery.

Mandy (45), from Buckie in Moray, also plans to invest some of her prize money in upgrading buildings and machinery on the family farm so that she and husband, John (40), can expand their operations and have a more stable future.

The pair wed two years ago and have yet to have a honeymoon – but Mandy says there is lots of work to be done on the farm before they can even think about taking some time off to enjoy a much-needed holiday together.

“We’ll soon be lambing and then the cows will be out to the field, so it could be May or even June before we can take a holiday. My husband doesn’t have a passport, so when we do finally take a break it won’t be anywhere exotic – it will be in Scotland,” explains Mandy.

“I might treat myself to a 4×4 to make getting in and out of the farm easier. I asked my husband if he would like a new car, but he’s happy with the one he’s got. I’ve become a millionaire, but the day I really hit the jackpot was the day I met my husband.”

Mandy says she is still having to pinch herself after hitting the jackpot on Major Millions, but is determined to keep her feet on the ground despite winning a total of £1,185,253. She has four horses and wants to expand the stables on the farm so that she can operate a livery business and an indoor riding school.

She’s been a member of the Glossy Bingo website for around three years. She was at home playing the game on her phone, and had been able to win £400 before she decided to switch over to the Major Millions game – a five-reel online slot game with a progressive jackpot that is regularly over £400,000.

The object of the game is to match up three to five symbols in a row. Mandy says,

“When I switched onto the progressive jackpot, I started to lose. I was spinning away and I was down to my last £3. I thought there was no way I would win anything then.

“I spun again and all the symbols matched. I thought I was seeing things and then a message flashed up to say that I had won the jackpot. When I saw the number I thought it was a mistake or a joke – I really didn’t believe it.

“I didn’t sleep for about three nights afterwards. It has come as a huge shock, but a very welcome one. I’m not going to go wild and splurge it all on cars or holidays: we love this lifestyle and we love the farm, and we want to make a future for ourselves here.

“I wouldn’t say that I am even that much of a gambler. I’ll have a flutter once a month, and only with what I have in pocket money once all the bills are paid.

“My dad used to bet on horses and he always told me that you should only bet what you can afford to lose, and I’ve always stuck by that. It’s very good advice. I was very close to my dad and sadly he passed away last year – I like to think he was my lucky charm and he brought me this win.

“I might still have a game now and again as I play when I can sit down and have a cup of coffee and relax – it’s like a bit of chill-out time for me.”

Vincent Viaud, VIP executive of Glossy Bingo, travelled to Mandy’s home to hand over the cheque. He adds,

“I think that Mandy has shown a very sensible approach to online gaming in only betting what she can afford and playing only occasionally.

“This is the biggest win we’ve had on Major Millions. I hope that Mandy will enjoy the win and really do hope this hard-working couple can use some of the jackpot by finally taking a break from the farm and enjoying a honeymoon.

“Mandy does so much to help other people and does a lot of work for charity, and by winning I hope she will give something back to herself.”

Glossy Bingo is a premium online bingo and casino site from the award winning team that brought you ‘Butlers Bingo’, home of the record breaking £5.8 Million Jackpot winner. Powered by Microgaming, one of the largest and most trusted providers of online casino and bingo software in the world, Glossy Bingo – www.glossybingo.com – offers a range of different 90-ball and 75-ball bingo games as well as a choice of over 250 state of the art slot and casino games, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 172016

A parody of the Buffy Saint Marie song ‘Universal Soldier’ covered by Donovan. By Tom Shepherd.

houses_of_parliament ...Big BenHe’s unrepentant, he’s shameless, deceitful, insane,
A betrayer of both you and me.
An he knows he shouldn’t win
But each ballot makes him grin,
Like a shark smelling drops of blood in the sea.

And he’s lying for religion,
He’s lying for greed,
He’s lying for his knighthood one day,
And he’s lying for the left,
And he’s lying for right,
And he thinks he’s doing right by us this way.

But without him
How would corporations fight their private wars?
Without him one percent would stand exposed.
He’ll sacrifice his soul
A stuffed ballot box his goal,
He’ll say his way’s the only way to go.

He’s the Universal Idiot and he’s dedicated to
Selling us the lies he’s paid to tell today,
He holds us in contempt and at arms length
But for those with open eyes
We’ve got find ourselves a better way.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 252015

By Jim Adam, Cove Fishermen’s Association.

P1010331On 25th April 2014, the fishermen of Cove were issued with an ultimatum by Mr Pahled Kolhe via his solicitors, McKinnons, to remove their vessels and all associated equipment from the harbour within 14 days.

Otherwise, as then stated, Mr Kolhe “may then be forced to take legal steps for its removal.”

Needless to say no boats or equipment were removed from the harbour in the intervening period, neither did any court proceedings commence.

In the interim Mr Kolhe changed his solicitors from McKinnons to Stronachs and subsequently contracted two separate site surveys of the harbour area to be carried out,  firstly by DM Hall ( their report was never completed) and subsequently by CKD Galbraith.  The report from the latter indicated the majority of vessels and equipment supposedly within Kolhe’s property.

On the 26th August 2015, a second ultimatum was issued via Kolhe’s solicitors, Stronachs, stating that the fishermen:

“have no rights or title to store fishing vessels or equipment” on their clients property and

“if these fishing vessels, equipment and winch huts are not removed within 14 days of this date (26th August, 2015) our client will commence court proceedings against your clients to enable him to obtain vacant possession of his land”

In addition to this demand, Kolhe insists in the same letter that there shall be no parking of vehicles in the harbour area otherwise he:

“will have no alternative but to raise proceedings to prevent this.”

To support this view, Kolhe has had a metal sign erected at the entrance to the harbour area, with the wording – “Cove Harbour Private Property”.

Generations of fishermen have worked out of Cove harbour for the best part of 4 hundred years.  The harbour was a natural inlet which provided a safe haven for the men to beach their vessels and to land catches as well as provide areas to store, dry and maintain their fishing gear.  These activities have been pursued continuously, without hinder, ‘til present,

Within the last 150 years, the harbour has undergone upgrade in the form of two piers being constructed as well as a metalled access road, the latter being funded via donations from the local community and by Kincardineshire council.

The harbour has always been a great attraction for visitors, either simply to take in the fantastic scenery or to pursue recreational activities such as kayaking, scuba diving, photography, rock climbing, fishing, rock pooling, boating, picnics, swimming, to name but a few.

It is therefore somewhat concerning to think that there is an individual attempting to gain “vacant possession” of the majority of the land and shingle beach at the harbour and  who  seems hell-bent on preventing people from accessing the harbour by car or other vehicle either to carry out their business or simply for recreational purposes.

Who knows what the final outcome will be – but for the time being no boats or equipment are being removed and fishermen will continue to go about their business as usual.

Note: the majority of the boats at the harbour are registered and licenced fishing vessels and people do actually derive a living from their fishing activities, which is now under threat.

To demonstrate your support for the fishermen and for your rights to continue to use Cove harbour, you can post your views and sign the petition on Facebook page ‘Save the fishing boats of Cove harbour‘.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 012014

By Bob Smith.
Cove boats

A weel aff mannie ca’ed Kohle
Stairtit a row maist unholy
Jist move aa yer boats
An pit ‘em on floats
An tak ‘em awa ti a storie
Ess chiel his decreed
His letters fowk heed
Dinna dee fit he wints
Wull the bugger charge rints?
As access ti shore he dis need
Fisher fowk fae Cove Bay
View aa ess wi dismay
They’ll kick up a stoor
Agin ess bliddy boor
His gemme they’re nae gyaan ti play
Auld Jock Ritchie fae Cove
Micht hae said noo by jove
“Wi canna hae ess,
Yer jist takkin the piss
An ma boatie a’m nae gyaan ti move”
Is Mr Kohle in transition
O destroyin a tradition
Fishers aye used the shore
Their gear fer ti store
Are they tae bow in submission
Ma wife is Cove bred
An ess maan be said
Fin she heard o Kohle’s scheme
Oot her lugs cam the steam
Sayin Cove culture’s noo dead
Cove fowk are fair wishin
We aa sign their petition
Ti show Prahlad Kohle
His ideas they are folly
An tae keep the fishin tradition
Use yer moose or yer pen
An a’m sure ye aa ken
The fisher fowk o Cove Bay
They shud hae their day
Ess message ti Kohle we sen

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
Image Credit: Boats on the shore at Cove Bay by Ewen Adam.
Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

Feb 142014

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


Alas, the vibes don’t seem so vibrant and the dynamics seem less dynamic this week in Aberdeen city and shire, for Donald Trump is leaving us for Ireland, apparently.

Instead of security guards, bunds and dyed-green turf, we’re going to be fobbed off with renewable energy in the form of offshore wind farms near Blackdog. Much as a crucifix is said to frighten vampires, the mere thought of the wind turbines have sent Trump packing. What would his Scottish granny have said?

The once beautiful concrete fountain lovingly installed at Menie House (or is that MacLeod House now?) is just a forlorn reminder of all those Great Gatsbyesque events held there.

This was the Trump Effect, which brought in so many international tourists (well at least a few dozen people more, who went to stay at the Marcliffe) and billions of pounds and gave meaningful employment to thousands (or at least half a dozen waiting staff in the luxurious clubhouse restaurant and some self-employed caddies).

We can only hope that Damian Bates will be able to keep his bride Sarah Malone, Trump’s Scottish VP, in the style to which she’s accustomed until she lands her next post as real estate project manager/golf course supremo. Rumours that other golf courses up and down the country are trying to poach Malone-Bates for her expertise remain unconfirmed.

I for one assume Trump will fly her in to Ireland to manage the new course. Old Susannah will report on the Irish celebrations in due course.

When Turnip’s Scottish court bid to stop the wind farms failed, only the cruellest snide cynic would have found any poetic justice or karma in the sad decision; how can the same Scottish Government that got rid of two SSSIs for the course possibly go against him now?  The thing is that the Donald dared to dream, and dream big. Dreaming even featured in the court case (more on that later). Therefore, without further ado, here are some dream-related definitions.

Dream Big: (Modern American phrase) to be ambitious (if not megalomaniacal, deluded, overblown)

All you need to succeed in this life is a big dream. Of course, it’s more likely to come true if your family has a big, big bank account. Here is a delightful little excerpt as to Trump’s Dream Big philosophy:-

 “One of Trump’s motto [sic] – something that he’s lived by all his life – is to think big and dream big. The fact is that if you think small, you’ll only achieve small. But if you think big, dream big, you will achieve big things in life, and Trump’s whole life – including his rise to fame, the success that he’s had, and the things that he’s achieved – provides plenty of proof about that!

“People will probably ridicule you for being too ambitious, or being a dreamer when you think big. But if you’re not going to think big, you’re never going to get there. Dreaming big provides us with motivation to actually get there. Once we dream big, we start looking for ways and finding means to actually achieve our goal and get to our destination.

“For anyone reading this, I highly recommend picking up Donald Trump’s book ‘Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life’ (Amazon link here) as it makes for a really fascinating read.

“The book has been co-authored by Bill Zanker – a guy who started The Learning Annex with $5,000 and grew it into a $5 million a year company. That was before he met Donald Trump. Thirty months later, after Zanker learned to Think BIG himself, The Learning Annex is generating over $100 million a year in sales—and still growing.

“Amazon.com asks Trump is there ever was a time when he didn’t think big enough. He replies: ‘I don’t think so. I always had big plans, even when I was very young. I would build skyscrapers with my building blocks’.”

What can one say? First of all though, no sniggering at the name ‘Bill Zanker’ – I wonder if his friends call him ‘Willie’? But you see, it’s very easy – you too can rise to the heights of Manhattan’s real estate elite if you dream big dreams. Simples. I don’t understand the assertion in the above text about anyone ridiculing someone for being too ambitious; it’s hard for me to see what that has to do with humble Mr Trump.

But isn’t it absolutely amazing that the young Donald used to make skyscrapers out of building blocks? Perhaps if the rest of us had such an imagination in childhood, we would have wound up owning skyscrapers as well.

So there you have it. Great men have great big dreams that come true. Some people just have little dreams. The inhabitants of Leyton Cottage on the Trump estate dream of not having security guards spying on them night and day. They also dream of Trump’s giant earth bunds coming down so they can see the sea and coast again.

The residents of Hermit’s Point on the Trump estate dream of no longer looking out their windows on dead and dying trees planted by Trump to block his home, and Michael Forbes in his farm on the Trump estate may dream of being allowed to take his boat to the shore again to go salmon fishing. Who knows? Maybe someday little dreams will come true, too.

Cheese Reverie: (modern Scottish Legal term) – the condition of being so engrossed by food at a dinner, you can’t remember if anything of national importance or anything sensational was said.

The court case must have been very interesting – Donald versus Scotland over wind farms. It certainly seems that most of Scottish policy decisions are made over dinners here and in New York. But even when listening to the First Minister talking about the country’s future energy plans, sometimes your food is just more interesting.

The Scotsman reported on how a blogger was more fixated on his cheddar than on Alex Salmond:-

“… remarks allegedly made by Mr Salmond at the lunch in the sponsor’s tent at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in 2012…  were recalled in an affidavit by Kiel Christianson, a golf blogger, which claimed: ‘I heard  my colleague ask about whether the wind farm off the coast, near the Trump golf course would ever be built. I recall [Mr Salmond] saying ‘Absolutely’ and then the bit about not having ‘my energy policy’ dictated by Mr Trump.

Lord Doherty found… ‘Mr Christianson was focused on the food in front of him, he was, he says, in a ‘cheese reverie.’ He did not make any note of the relevant matters at the time.” – Scotsman 12 February 2014, Mike Wade

Perhaps if faced with the chance to talk to Alex Salmond about golf and energy policy, staring at the Stilton and going into a reverie might be a pretty good strategy at that.

Nightmare: (Eng. noun) An unpleasant and/or frightening dream.

All is lost; Donald will be making Ireland’s dreams come true, and all we’ll be left with is a nightmare. You can practically picture the beautiful, subtle clocks on the Trump course melting like Salvador Dali watches in a surrealist dream.  All those millions of pounds we’ve been enjoying will be going to the lucky Emerald Isle.

The Press & Journal reports:-

“The US businessman vowed to turn prestigious Doonbeg course in County Clare into an “unparalleled” attraction after a court setback in his effort to block a north-east offshore wind development”  http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/3573209

It’s already an existing course; perhaps it will be within Sarah Malone’s skills base to keep it running without parts of it falling into the sea.

As for Scotland, we’ll soon be inundated with unemployed if Donald does pull up stakes, as well as losing all the benefits you’ve been enjoying due to the ‘Trump Effect’ (c. Stewart Spence). Thankfully one of our councilors is going to beg Donald to stay here, too:-

“Last night Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford said he hoped both the Menie and Ireland resorts could be developed in ‘parallel'” (IBID)

Let’s hope so indeed. I’m sure our Irish cousins will welcome unmarked security patrols demanding to see identification at all hours of the day and night. I’m certain they’ll love paying £200 or so for a few holes of golf. Perhaps some sand could be imported, and the Great Dunes of Menie could be replicated?

As to jobs creation, I imagine that Scottish labourers will be imported to work on the Irish course, in a fair reversal of what largely seems to have happened here. No doubt the Garda will happily give Clan Trump an escort to and from the airport every time they visit just as Police Scotland gave this international VIP when he came to Aberdeen.

No doubt Irish President Michael Higgins is already promising not to build any wind farms. I guess it’s true – Scotland is closed for business. It will be interesting watching the Trump operation at work in Ireland.

But I wonder – is there a newspaper in County Clare where the editor’s wife is a beauty queen? There just might be one job loss when Trump leaves Scotland after all.

Next week:  reaction from a mourning nation as Trump departs Menie. A condolences book will be started, and councilors will be on hand.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 142014

By Jonathan Russell.

Homeless manThe idea of criminalising begging takes us back to the dark ages. Laws are already in place to deal with aggressive begging and Breaches of the Peace and obstruction.

Criminalisation will only increase the problems of those begging, their inability to pay fines will just increase the numbers in our prisons and it is not cost effective.

The problems of Union Street declining has not been caused by beggars, as in the past begging took place whilst the street flourished.

The decline of Union Street is primarily due to planning decisions to increase the amount of retail outlets beyond Union Street, with its inevitable consequences. We do need to deal with the challenges that begging brings but good interagency work and alternative provision by homelessness agencies is the way forward.

Not all begging is benign but, at a time of austerity and food banks, the issue we should be tackling is poverty not begging.

In the current climate, where thousands of families are reliant on food parcels handed out by the churches, and social problems caused by austerity policies are increasingly on the rise, many cases are genuine.

It is hard to see what new legal measures could achieve. The law already covers begging which is obstructive, or causes fear or alarm

 Obtaining money with threats or intimidation could lead to charges of robbery

There is a climate abroad which is making scapegoats of the poor – this is no different than the persecution of Jews, Blacks, or Gays in the past and must be contested  the introduction of such a law compounds this climate.

To explain my interest in this area I would explain the following. I have lived in Aberdeen since 1975 and spent 10 of my early years in Aberdeen working in the homelessness and drugs and alcohol fields. This included working with Aberdeen Cyrenians, VSA leading an inter-agency project re: Solvent Misuse, and Albyn House where I was responsible for the outreach service for problem drinkers, many of whom where homeless.

I was involved in setting up Drugs Action and helping to set up the now closed Aberdeen Stop-Over project for the young single homeless. I had previously worked with Homeless people in Glasgow in the Simon Community. I also worked later with Health Promotions re: Drugs and Alcohol including at a strategic level and in helping to set up the initial pilots of the methadone pharmacy scheme in the city.

As Development officer for Turning Point I helped set up the Glasgow Drug Crises Centre and produced a proposal for such a development in Aberdeen supported at that time by Social Work but not by the Health Service.

most of the people of Eastern European origin in the city are hard working

I have nearly always lived in the city centre and, as in any other city, begging has always gone on – it is nothing new. In fact, I would suggest that at earlier times the begging was of a more aggressive nature and this has already correctly been tightened up on.

What we do no longer have is the group of problem drinkers who used to hang around the statue and the arches in UnionTerraceGardens.

I suspect that without the prescribing of methadone the begging situation in the city would be much worse.

What has developed, over approximately the last 10 years at least, is the begging that takes place by individuals sitting by buildings. We have, however, also seen an increase in begging over the last few years by a group of people from Eastern Europe of Romany background.

We must remember however that most of the people of Eastern European origin in the city are hard working. Without their presence the population in Aberdeen would be much lower with an increasingly ageing population. There are sure to be some challenges in such changes.

The demise of Union Street has nothing to do with begging but is the result of retail and planning decisions. The Bon Accord Development in the 70’s led to the decline of George Street; similarly the recent Union Square development has been the prime reason for the decline in Union Street.

In both cases this led to empty shops and to a change in nature of what shops provided, with the more upmarket retailers moving to the new centres. Retail units in Union Street have increasingly become aimed at the poorer end of the market with charity shops and shops selling goods cheaply.

I would suggest that any shopping developments linked to the AWPR will potentially have a further general detrimental effect on retail outlets in Aberdeen. On-line shopping will also increase and lead to a decline in retail outlets in the city, as in other parts of the UK.

Even if Aberdeen continues with its present high levels of affluence there are only a certain amount of goods that people will buy and this affects the number of retail outlets that can operate.

People who end up homeless (which includes those who are not sleeping rough but have no settled address) do not in my experience fit neatly into deserving and non-deserving. They all have problem backgrounds of some kind, but many also get involved in activity which is labelled as anti-social.

As well as the Jews, they were also a group who were targeted by the Nazis

Many of those using drugs and alcohol are masking mental health difficulties, which of course increase by their circumstances and continued use. Others come from broken families or from families that are chaotic and where crime is the norm. Many in my experience have lived in children’s homes.

Living in the situations that rough sleepers do is a nightmare and for those that are rootless, things are not much better – we should never forget that.

An example of a positive way of dealing with public anti-social behaviour was (and still is, on a reduced level) Albyn House, where rather than taking people who were publicly drunk to the cells and courts the police took them to Albyn House, where they were dried out and given advice or rehabilitated. This was an example of progressive public policy which rather than criminalising was aimed at decriminalizing.

The influx of the Romany population to Aberdeen is not surprising and is common across the UK.  Following the end of the Communist Block this grouping lost their jobs and income. There are many, more of them begging on the streets of Eastern Europe and this is causing sharp divisions in Eastern European society.

As well as the Jews, they were also a group who were targeted by the Nazis. This problem is a European one but, unfortunately with the world-wide recession, it is unlikely to be tackled and will only get worse. Intervention needs to take place with this grouping to work with them to engage more productively with society – criminalization is not the answer.

The Big issue has taken a positive stance in this area by encouraging Romanys to sell the Big Issue

I realise from speaking to a variety of people in Aberdeen that there are very mixed feelings about people begging on the streets and many would support the idea of them being banned or even criminalized, though others are appalled at the proposal or do not see this as one of the major problems facing Aberdeen.

It is, in my mind, potentially helpful that this debate is taking place, however, I would ask councillors to think more about this challenge. Given the cuts that are yet to be implemented UK-wide it is certain that, as family breakdown accelerates, there will be increased numbers becoming homeless.

This in turn will lead to more people begging and, if the law is put in place, this will lead to more people becoming criminalized, being unable to pay fines and ending up in prisons and then, after their sentences are completed, being in an even wore situation and re-offending again.

Cuts have also been made to services for the homeless and other vulnerable groups

This will make people who are not happy about begging even more annoyed and calls will come for even more extreme action. This to me is a worrying as it will lead to an increasingly less tolerant divided society.

Aberdeen has its own dynamic compared to most cities in the UK  most people are comparatively affluent but those with basic incomes are often worse off due to prices generally being higher for a variety goods. There are also areas in Aberdeen were levels of poverty are high and this contrasts markedly with the overall wealth of the city.

Cuts have also been made to services for the homeless and other vulnerable groups in the city or re-commissioned, often inappropriately. Lack of support to these other vulnerable groups could lead to homelessness and these groupings will be even less able to deal with the rigors of being homeless and criminalizing them would be inappropriate.

A major problem we are facing is a lack of resources however the costs of incarcerating people are far higher than any money that would be spent on community resources. The approach needed is one of developing relevant resources which encourage better integration, interagency work and the fostering of a more caring attitude in society.

We also obviously need to see a redistribution of wealth in this country. If not, begging on the streets will become only the tip of the iceberg.

Criminalisation is not the way forward. It may gain some support in the community in the short term but others will see the City as heavy handed in its thinking and it will cost the public purse more rather than less in the long term. We need to see a much more positive interagency proposal.

Image: Homeless man – flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Fran Urbano.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 072014

Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly brings you the latest ungodly news from Aberdeen and the wider world.


Armageddon outta here! It’s the end of the world as we know it.  I will tell you about the nice places and people I’ve see next week (from a brilliant new Jo Malone perfume to Brewdog’s newest creations, and CASC) – if the world hasn’t ended by then – but for now, it’s all panic, gloom and doom, you’ll be pleased to know.

People are marrying people who are the same sex; people are falling in love with people – of the same gender. This is an aberration. Speaking of aberrations, UKIP have some thoughts on these dark days as well (more on that later).

It’s rained for 40 days and nights (or so it feels). There are people not resting on the Sabbath.  We don’t have a granite web.

Not since the days of worshipping a golden calf and Sodom and Gomorrah has God been so unamused with us. There are signs of this displeasure everywhere.

Best get your affairs in order, buy a few cases of BrewDog, c-rations and long life milk, and get ready to hide in the fallout shelter. Here are some reasons why.

Divine retribution: (Eng. compound noun) An instance of God or Gods carrying out a vengeful act.

As previously mentioned and painfully obvious, it’s raining constantly; some will tell you it’s global warming. However, former Tory UKIP defector David Silvester from Henley-on-Thames knows the truth. It’s God’s punishment on us all for allowing gay marriage.

Sometimes politicians accidentally say the wrong thing, almost like they were mere mortals themselves. Such slip ups are probably how this whole same-sex (do pardon my use of the word ‘S E X’ ) business started. But Silvester’s not made a mistake, In fact, rather than qualifying his remarks, he’s bravely backing them up to us heathens and pagans.

He’s defending his stance that God is throwing thunderbolts and lashing us with lashings of rain.

His rational explanation is:

“The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.”

“I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.

“But he went ahead despite a 600,000-signature petition by concerned Christians and more than half of his own parliamentary party saying that he should not do so.”

The scriptures also make it abundantly clear that Lot’s wife got turned into a pillar of salt and that the world was created in 7 days. Best to take all of its contents as equally factual I suppose.

just don’t engage in any non hetro stuff. It will confuse the locals

It must be kind of nice for Silvester and all the other people who have this hotline to the Almighty, and are convinced they know what God wants. Imagine knowing what God wants. Half the time I can’t decide what flavour of beer to drink next, or what to wear to work.  Guess I just don’t have the right kind of faith.

Another man of the times who says ‘down with this sort of thing’ is humanitarian Vladimir Putin. It’s a very good thing there are not really any gay people in Russia, as Putin’s very much against this whole gayness thing, never mind gay unions.

He’s always engaged in such manly events (or photo ops anyway) that Hemingway’s exploits look effeminate. If you’re going to the Olympics, be it to look at the captive orcas doing cute tricks, or to see who is better, stronger, faster than the next guy or girl (steroids optional), just don’t engage in any non hetro stuff. It will confuse the locals, and probably get you Pussy Riot’s old prison cell.

So next time you’re sloshing through a puddle on your way to work, just remember:  it’s all the fault of gay people who want to have legal protection for their families as if they were normal heterosexuals. Vote UKIP.

Humanism: (Modern English Noun) Philosophy and movement suggesting that people can live ethical and worthwhile lives without worshipping a god, and that there is beauty in this life.

Of all the dangerous philosophies to have arisen in the history of the world, this is possibly the worst. Humanists aren’t afraid of going to hell. They don’t have to dress in a particular way or do any rituals. They do not conform to any one doctrine. And worse, they even let women  perform ‘humanist’ marriage ceremonies.

Worse – we might eventually see a Humanist woman performing a ceremony linking two same sex people. Repent now (or it will rain harder).

These Humanists are even in Scotland, which is quite rightly causing a stir. Worse still, the Church of Scotland has agreed with the Humanists that in schools instead of time for prayer, there should be time for reflection instead.

I’m sure this development has angered you as much as it has me. The Reverend Watson, of a parish in Lanarkshire, has bravely decided to leave his post amidst all this heathenism. He explains in the Scotsman:-

“It would be hypocritical of me to preach the Bible week after week if I’m not prepared to live by its teaching, and as a family we have been amazed at the doors that God has opened for us over the last couple of weeks.”   – Scotsman 2 February 2014

Looks like the old chap upstairs with the harp and sandals is giving rain to some of us per the UKIP Silvester, but opening doors for the righteous.

recruitment companies and those who work offshore are being greedy if they switch companies

I’m not sure what we should do about these Humanists with their ideas about living a good life, helping others, and so on – but it’s clearly not compatible with the kind of philosophy that Reverend Watson’s church preaches. I also read that Watson has left the Church of Scotland to ‘join the stricter Free Church of Scotland’ – if I figure out how something that’s ‘Free’ is also strict, I’ll let you know.

Greed: (English Noun) Desire to acquire material goods; avarice.

Greed is certainly bringing the world down; even the Press & Journal have a front page story based on this sin on its front cover this past week.

On Thursday the P&J  reported on Sir Ian Wood’s latest findings. Sir Ian thinks that recruitment companies and those who work offshore are being greedy if they switch companies to get higher salaries. The amounts of money paid to those who work off shore are going up, and apparently are ‘unsustainable’.

It’s important to remember that there are two kinds of capitalism: first there is the kind Sir Ian preaches (the good, non-greedy kind), and the kind that he wants employees to follow. When the Wood Group came up with an interesting way of paying people via offshore entities to avoid tax, thought to possibly be £15 million a year lost to the UK government, this was not greed.

This was good business sense, and I’m sure everyone was doing it. Sir Ian’s worth is somewhere around the £1,187m  mark. This is because he’s a good businessman who takes advantage of opportunities. Some people think there is a growing gulf between the haves and the have nots, but I can’t find any evidence of this.

He does lots for charity – like keeping some £50 million in his family trust.  I’m sure it will be used any day now – if not on a granite web, then on turning Rwanda’s forests into tea-producing land for the benefit of the plantation owners and his venture partner Lord Sainsbury – sorry – for helping Rwanda’s poor, AIDS victims and others.

The other kind of capitalism is the bad kind – it’s when you want to get more money to support you and your family. It’s if you are offered more money for your work by one firm, and don’t turn the offer down.

A cynic might think this article and Sir Ian’s advice to the workers and employment agencies is just a tad rich. Like Sir Ian.

Could the P&J article possibly have an unspoken message from Ian to the agencies to freeze salary  hikes, keep margins down, and for us all to stop being greedy have anything to do with increasing profit margins for those one percenters at the top of the energy sector hierarchy? Of course not.

Reactionary: (modern English noun)   Someone who has knee-jerk reactions to events and situations.

Oh dear. While Reverend Watson, Vladimir Putin and UKIP ministers tell us what God wants when it comes to gay marriage and Humanists, there are those people who just have to go against God’s messengers. It pains me to tell you, but we have a few godless reactionary people right here in Scotland.

I seem to have a defective copy of the bible in the Old Susannah reference library

BrewDog’s founders James Watt and Martin Dickie (I hope that’s not some kind of gay surname) have created a beer that makes fun of Putin. It is such a disappointment, I may have to rethink my fondness for the company after all. (But not until I finish the case of ‘Hello My Name Is Vladimir’ double IPA I’ve got).

Then we have a woman (who should really have stayed in the kitchen) who is an MSP in the Highlands and Islands, Mary Scanlon.  After receiving kindly suggestions not to back gay weddings which she took as threats and intimidations, she decided to support homosexual marriage instead.

She was apparently branded (perhaps literally if there is any justice) ‘GODLESS’ for coming out in favour of allowing gay marriage.

Some people have got in touch with her to spread the word of god. Apparently, she should be burnt at the stake as a witch, but they better hurry with that, because others say God will strike her down. I wonder if he’ll use a thunder bolt or just make it rain harder over her home.

The funny thing is, I seem to have a defective copy of the bible in the Old Susannah reference library. Mine has things about ‘doing unto others as you would have others do unto  you’, ‘he who is without sin may cast the first stone’, and ‘love one another’.

Far be it from me to suggest that those who clearly know better and who seem to have God as a ‘Linked In’ friend could be somehow mistaken when it comes to wishing ill on others, or telling us God doesn’t want gay weddings. I’ll have to find out what bible they’re reading, and whether or not it only has the old testament fire and brimstone stuff in it, and where I can get a bible without the modern hippy Jesus love each other business.

Next week:  four men of the apocalypse (probably shirtless), fire, brimstone, and of course floods.

PS – for the avoidance of doubt, I remain a BrewDog shareholder (less than 5 shares). My name is Legion, for we are many (well, 10,000 other shareholders anyway)

  •  Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Oct 242013

In the conclusion to his two-part article, Jonathan Russell explores further the growing inequalities in wealth globally, in the UK and in Aberdeen


Both Oxfam and the Jimmy Reid Foundation have fuelled the debate about equality with their ideas around the Common Weal.

Whilst real consumption per head has doubled since 1978, unemployment benefit has remained fixed.

Peter Kenway, in a 2009 Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, posed the question, ‘Should adult benefit for unemployment benefit be raised?’ found that Jobseeker’s Allowance represents

  • a fifth of the actual, average expenditure of single adults
  • half of the actual average expenditure of single adults in the poorest households

Yet, at the same time, according to the Tax Justice Network, tax avoidance amounts to £69.9bn a year. Is this OK?

Minimum wage in the UK, per hour (2013)

21 and over

18 to 20

Under 18







The minimum wage has failed to keep pace with inflation. It is particularly low for younger citizens and needs to be increased significantly. At their recent conferences both Labour and SNP have pledged to improve the minimum wage, but pressure needs to be exerted to give this more impetus.

At the same time, members of richer families can leave up to £325,000 in inheritance without paying tax. So, if your parents are rich you can do absolutely nothing and inherit a substantial sum of money. The internet is full of sites giving advice on avoiding tax and inheritance tax. Imagine the outcry there would be if there were sites giving advice on how to fiddle Jobseeker’s Allowance.

This is a hypocritical double standard. Nor does it make sense economically, as it is those who have least money who are likely to spend and help us move out of recession. We currently suffer from lack of investment in our economy whilst there is much unnecessary wealth.

Total household wealth in the UK increased by 55% in the past decade, to an average of £242,000, largely due to a significant rise in the value of property which has outpaced surging mortgage debt.

According to research by Lloyds TSB Private Banking, that is equivalent to £86,500 per household in the ten-year period, with the value of wealth growing faster than consumer prices or disposable income.

The financial crisis has shaved £6bn off our assets since 2007, yet collective household wealth in the UK was estimated to be £6.6 trillion at the end of 2011, up from £4.3 trillion in 2001.

Wealth has outstripped both inflation and disposable incomes, with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) up by 38% over the past ten years and gross household disposable income up by 44%.

Cash Machine - © Freefoto.comAccording to the Lloyds research, a decade of booming house prices, especially between 2001 and 2007, has added significant wealth to households.

Property as a percentage of wealth has increased from 36% in 2001 to 40% in 2011. Over the decade, housing wealth has risen 73% and financial wealth is up 44%.

In the same period, the value of the nation’s private housing stock increased from £2.1 trillion to £3.9 trillion.

But as house values have grown, mortgage debts have risen significantly.

The total value of mortgage debt more than doubled from £591bn to £1.25 trillion, meaning that many households, though helped by low interest payments, are struggling or are failing to pay. Home ownership continues to be championed by the UK government. This is unrealistic and what we need is a wealth tax to allow us to build new social housing and help us move out of recession.

The £1.8 trillion increase in the value of housing outstrips the £655bn rise in mortgage debt almost threefold.

The data show that rises in both average house prices, and the number of privately-owned homes, from 20.1m in 2001 to 22.4m in 2011, was behind the surge in the value of housing.

Suren Thiru, Lloyds TSB Private Banking economist, said:

The substantial growth in household wealth over the past decade is partly the result of the increase in the value of housing stock between 2001 and 2007.

Whilst financial assets have played their part, the value of housing stock grew at a significantly faster rate. Rising house wealth has benefited those who own their own homes and those who rent out properties in the private sector.”

However, those at the bottom of the housing market have had to pay dearly.

Houses of Parliament - © Freefoto.com

The majority of household wealth continues to be held as financial, rather than housing, assets.

The total value of financial assets, such as savings, pensions and company shares, held by households has increased to £4.1trillion in 2011 from £2.9trillion in 2001.

The research found that there has been a £718bn rise in equity held by households in life assurance and pension fund reserves.

There has also been a boom in savings, with an increase of £549bn held in deposits with financial institutions and National Savings.

There was a relatively modest boost from stock market performance with the FTSE All Share Index increasing by 13% in the decade to 2011.

Despite the downturn in the economy since 2007, household wealth has declined by just £6bn, mainly down to lower house prices. These are now beginning to rise but this is worrying, since if price houses are high, the debt accrued in paying off new mortgages increases. Rather than building more social housing, the UK government is offering money to help get buyers on to the property ladder.

This is merely repeating the problems of the past in encouraging increased debt, leading to even more people defaulting on mortgage payments, particularly if interest rates increase.

The distribution of wealth in the UK between the haves and the have-nots beggars belief. Yet when it comes to paying the reckoning following a period of greed, from which the top 10% benefited in particular, it is the un-rich, low-waged, property-less, younger people who have suffered most.

Aberdeen for many is cushioned by Oil and Gas but, for the low-waged in service industries, paying high rents or for unemployed or disabled people, life is a struggle.

We have seen the opening of Aberdeen’s first food bank.

Services have been cut for the most vulnerable in our city, yet many people’s riches are far in excess of their needs.

It is time to end the something for nothing culture and start redistributing wealth between rich and poor, and for investment for future generations.


Cash machine and paliament photos by Ian Britton via Freefoto.com

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Oct 212013

Across the globe, with a few notable exceptions, the disparity in wealth between the poor and the rich is increasing. In the first of two articles, Jonathan Russell looks at the increasing disparities in wealth globally, in the UK, and here in Aberdeen

CALCULATOR AND MONEY Timothy Nichols - Dreamstime.comGlobalisation in particular has meant that wealthy elites can invest in, and set up money-making concerns wherever they like, with little regard for either the countries in which they have investments or the populations of their own countries.

The biggest investments are in oil, gas and mineral abstraction and in the clothing industry.

The power of the state has reduced specifically in relation to its role as an income redistributor, and often, state ideology has been to encourage capital investment at the expense of its citizens.

The super-rich, defined as the top 1% of earners, now pocket 10p in every pound of income paid in Britain, whilst members of the poorest half of the population take home only 18p of every pound between them. This is according to a report published this week by the Resolution Foundation think tank, revealing the widening gap between those at the very top and the rest of society.

We have seen over recent decades, an attack on the working class and poorer ends of our society. Under Thatcher and successive governments most of our society’s industrial base was destroyed. This has led to over-dependence on the financial, service and oil and gas industries, and the one industry flourishing, the arms trade.

This leaves the economy in a particularly volatile state at times of economic downturn. Despite what the coalition government says, UK Government debt presently stands at £1.16 trillion, up from £0.76 trillion in 2010. Personal debt stands at £1.436 billion.

Many areas of the UK, including Scotland (4.4 %), have high levels of unemployment and young people in particular have borne the brunt of the present recession. Aberdeen’s unemployment rate is 2.2%. Young people are more likely to be unemployed, in low paid jobs and on short term contracts. They will have to wait longer for retirement and even middle class youngsters will be poorer in the future.

For those whose parents have few or no savings, the future is increasingly bleak. At the same time many older people have benefited from the property boom and have high-value pensions and savings.

Many people have moved from more highly-paid industrial jobs to low-paid service sector jobs in retail, call centres and care. Workers in these sectors are often on short-term contracts. In 2009, the average wage was £20081. In 2008/09, income in the top and bottom fifth of households was £73800 and £5000 respectively, before taxes and benefits.

mg_6280After tax and benefits, household income disparities are significantly reduced, to £53900 and £13600 respectively

The lives of many in Aberdeen have been cushioned by working in the oil and gas sector. Many in the trades are well paid too, due to local market conditions, but others have suffered the double whammy of low pay and increasing housing costs, in particular in the private sector.

The policy of selling council housing has had a devastating effect on people wanting to get into the housing market. It created divisions between working class people who were poor and those who were better off and who could afford to buy their council property at a reduced cost. This policy has finally been dropped in Scotland, but to turn around the devastation caused will take decades.

The young, unless they have rich parents who can help them on to the property ladder or with rent payments, have been particularly affected, with many more young people living in the parental home.

Housing Associations have, in part, helped to provide accommodation but in a market like Aberdeen’s, where private rents are high, the effect on people’s standard of living is devastating. Those renting out flats have made a killing.  Many people have moved to Aberdeenshire to access cheaper housing, creating ever-increasing chaos on the roads leading into Aberdeen.

Although Aberdeen is relatively affluent, there are a number of localities with significant social and economic challenges. In the 2012 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 22 areas in the city are among the 15% most deprived areas in Scotland. The figures in relation to health are more striking, 48 areas of the city fall into the 155 most deprived areas in the country.


Jonathan Russell continues exploration of the growing inequalities in wealth globally, in the UK and here in Aberdeen in the next issue of Aberdeen Voice.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.