Jul 142017
 

With thanks to Future Choices.

A local Voluntary Charity is to recognise one of their dedicated volunteers.

Future Choices, based at Inchgarth Community Centre, Garthdee, which supports adults with a Physical Disability will have one of their youngest volunteers lead the charity on the forthcoming Celebrate Aberdeen Parade on Saturday 26th August.

The young volunteer, Lewis Bannerman, is currently working through his Saltire Awards, a programme that recognises young people volunteering within their local community.

David Forbes, Chair of the charity said:

“Since Lewis has started volunteering with Future Choices, he’s already reached his 25 hours stage so far and is actively involved in various tasks, a shining example of the good things young people can achieve. It is with this dedication that Lewis has shown, I have chosen him to lead the charity down on the parade with pride and I’m thrilled he accepted the request”.

Lewis, the Saltire Award achiever said:

“Future Choices has given me opportunities and has helped me to gain skills and how to work with others and leading the charity down on the parade will be a great opportunity to show off Future Choices”

Lewis’s mum, Diane also added:

“Since Lewis has been volunteering with Future Choices, he’s been very active, so to hear from the Chairman, that in order to recognise Lewis’s amazing efforts, he’ll lead the charity down union street for the upcoming Celebrate Aberdeen Parade. His Dad and I are incredibly proud of him”

Future Choices will turn 10 years old next year and have a busy programme from now until next year in which Lewis will play a key role.

David concluded:

“It’s always amazing when young people come forward and want to help support others and I feel through the Saltire programme, this is hugely beneficial, Lewis is going to go from strength to strength and he will inspire others and I congratulate him on that”

For more information of Future Choices, visit www.future-choices.org.uk or to get in touch, email info@future-choices.org.uk 

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Jun 022017
 

With thanks to Future Choices.

Local Charity Boss, David Forbes is calling on city Councillors to bring back the much loved Taxi Card Scheme.

Mr Forbes who is Chair of Local Voluntary Disabled Charity Future Choices is hoping something can be done.

David explained:

“Since the scheme ceased in 2010, so much has changed, disabled people are struggling even more, so if the council can relieve some financial pressure to help disabled people, that can only be a good thing”

Mr Forbes is in the process of contacting Local Councillors to see what they think and if they back his calls

David added “Disabled people can find themselves extremely isolated and prisoners in their own homes, if the council can find a way to make things better, im all for it.

Mr Forbes has set up a Facebook page, for those wishing to support his campaign, you can find the link here

https://www.facebook.com/TaxiCardScheme/

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May 192017
 

With thanks to Future Choices.

Future Choices, which is a local, voluntary charity based at Inchgarth Community Centre, Garthdee, supporting adults with a physical disability to gain social inclusion, has launched a new fundraiser, where everyone can get involved, to support such a vital cause.

David Forbes, Chair of the charity explained:

“One of the main jobs running a charity, is raising much needed funds to keep funding what we do within the local community”

Future Choices is in it’s 9th year now and is growing from strength to strength by continuing to reach out to more people within the community.

David added,

“I would encourage as many people to get involved, the first prize we have up for grabs is superb and it’s only £5 per number”

If you wish to support Future Choices, please follow the link https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/futurechoices/bonusball-2017

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Apr 012017
 

With thanks to Future Choices.

Local voluntary charity Future Choices, which supports disabled adults gain social inclusion, have had the help of a new volunteer in their bid to attract more young people to get involved on a voluntary basis.

Lewis Bannerman takes the lead role in the Charities new promotional video, which is telling the story of what Future Choices is all about and how people can get involved.

David Forbes, Chairman explained:

“Having Lewis involved with this exciting project was so amazing, to see someone young and energised and happy to help should be an inspiration to all, and show the public that not all young people are “bad””

Diane Bannerman, Lewis’s Mother said:

“As Lewis’s mother, im bursting with pride that he has had the opportunity to participate in a lead role aiming to inspire other people, particularly the young generation to help out good causes.”

Watch the promotional video.

The Charity is in it’s 9th year and is looking for not only Volunteers but also Volunteer Drivers, to help keep their 2 buses on the road.

Can you help support Future Choices? check out www.future-choices.org.uk or email info@future-choices.org.uk

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Oct 212016
 

Suzanne Kelly continues her series on Northfield Animal Haven in New Pitsligo, this time concentrating on contradictory statements made by owner Kelly Cable on NAH’s funding, her benefit fraud conviction, and ultimately and most importantly this article looks at animal welfare concerns.

A mission statement, some sample threats, and advice.

Northfield Animal Haven SignThe purpose of this series of Aberdeen Voice articles was to examine the nature of the Northfield Animal Sanctuary operation, based on people approaching AV with concerns.

Looking at the NAH pages this past year and a half, the operation is unlike any animal welfare organisation I have encountered anywhere else in the UK or the USA.

I have volunteered and donated money, worked on farms, attended lectures on animal welfare, and at present make regular donations to 10 animal charities in the UK.

I mention this as Cable and some of her friends have attempted to link my investigations with my support for other bona fide animal welfare organisations. I am not salaried by any of the human, environmental or animal charities I support, and my investigations are based on the evidence brought to me from a wide range of people.

Collating the host of contradictory statements Kelly Cable made in funding appeals and on social media has been arduous. No doubt this piece will result in Cable and her supporters launching further social media attacks on me. There is no doubt though that the evidence presented in this piece is fact, carefully checked, fully documented. Some of the most damning material about the goings-on at NAH comes from Kelly Cable’s own posts and funding appeals and those made by her friends.

The word ‘attack’ was not used lightly. Many sources have insisted on remaining anonymous fearing reprisals, saying they received threats of physical harm. Threats involving guns and shooting were ‘jokingly’ made against me by Cable’s father Eric [1]. This month a woman named Carrie Anne Greig, posted:

Carrie Anne Greig Honest to fucking god. doesn’t she have a mute button or something?! She’s an absolute idiot, going on about morals and shit, how is it morally right to time after time slander and Harass someone when she has absolutely no idea? She’s never been to your place, never seen the animals, piss all. Someone needs to put her down with that AK47 she was on about.” [2]
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009008791129&fref=ts

Aside from the deceptions and animal welfare problems, I have never heard of an animal sanctuary making posts about shooting journalists. Joking or not, the threat of violence against anyone always carries the trace of intimidation. Do honest organisations need to stoop to such tactics when they are investigated?

As to the many contradictory statements Kelly Cable makes – please do contact her to see which statement she made is true and which is false. And please – if you have any doubt as to the credibility, honesty and standards of any charity: do not give it money.

Fact Recap:

  • That Kelly Cable is a convicted benefit fraudster [3] – this calls her honesty into question;
  • That Kelly Cable denied signing for a substantial loan [4] – again her honesty was thrown in doubt;
  • That signs and funding appeals stating ‘all farm animals are rescued are misleading [5]. There seem to be two Northfields – one that keeps some animals as rescues – while breeding for sale from these [6.1-3], and one that sells animals at Thainstone Market and privately where slaughter is the almost inevitable outcome [7]This schism is condemned by many animal welfare professionals including John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line [8].
  • When cornered on this issue, Kelly has made posts along the lines of ‘everyone’ knows that she operates a working farm and that the reason she uses pictures of animals in her appeal such as sheep and cattle that are not to be rescued is ‘people have asked to see all the animals’ [9]. Donors Aberdeen Voice had contact with were completely in the dark on the point, and would never have donated to money to an institution that breeds from its rescue for sales, and raises farm animals for commercial purposes.
  • That Cable used, without any contact or permission, images of animals she had nothing to do with for fundraising purposes – this calls transparency and honesty into question [10].
  • That Cable has claimed to different witnesses to have disabilities and illnesses [11.1-11.4]; she has told several people these illnesses lead her to use cannabis on the farm and that alcohol and drug use by others is tolerated by her at Northfield around the 170 animals she says she cares for single-handedly. This clearly poses threats to animal welfare – and that has led to serious consequences as this article will demonstrate. This drug use should also be of serious concern to anyone using her animal assisted therapy programme.
  • There are allegations of cannabis sales which the authorities are aware of [12]. (As an aside, cannabis can be a very therapeutic medical boon to some. The appropriateness of seeking public donations while using/selling cannabis on a farm by a disabled woman who purports to single-handedly care for over 170 animals where neglect and deaths have occurred should raise red flags to animal welfare authorities and those concerned with public safety).

This all adds up to irresponsibility fiscally, operationally, and safety wise on a worrying scale.

This piece will use material collected as part of this investigation to show conclusively:

  • That animal welfare is often compromised leading to animal deaths, injury, suffering and exploitation
  • That the fundraising appeals launched by Cable and her supporters contains misleading stories – the implication is that there may well be an attempt to gain donations by using less than honest prose
  • That fundraising appeals and social media posts by Cable and her friends contain many contradictions as to the nature of the operations, what NAH’s funding mechanisms are, what type of animals are actually rescued or sold, and whether or not animals will be put to sleep – this obfuscation makes it difficult to get to the truth: is that the intention, or is Kelly Cable perhaps so confused and unwell she cannot recall what she is telling people from one day to the next – if there is confusion, then are the 170 animals best looked after by her
  • That Kelly has made and continues to make false assertions as to Police Scotland or legal entities having contacted and warned Aberdeen Voice about these articles; no such contact has ever happened – the implication is that lies are being used to attempt to discredit the facts as presented in Aberdeen Voice.

The most important things though are the welfare of people using her animal assisted therapy, the fact that people have been defrauded out of thousands of pounds (both in loans made and not repaid and those who believe their donations save farm animals ensuring animal welfare) and top of these concerns is the welfare of these 170 animals.

Cable and Finances:

While constantly pleading poverty, Kelly keeps buying and adopting more animals – clearly by her own admission, more animals than she can safely manage (she, her father and 17 horses were injured while she and her father tried to transport them [13], and it is claimed she lives in substandard housing as she has so little money).

With one breath she will write that no animal will be put to sleep [14.1]; then she launches fundraising appeals threatening to have animals killed (not adopted by other area shelters) if she doesn’t get money [14.2-4]. In one social media post she will talk about her ‘babies’ and in other posts we find instances that these ‘babies’ have been improperly fed, transported, sold, injured – and died in questionable circumstances.

She and her supporters would have us believe she is a veritable Mother Teresa of animal welfare, denying herself basic comforts and although disabled, she cares for over 170 animals. In the course of the investigation a different picture emerges.

We have a woman who has two convictions for benefit fraud, who has borrowed money from people without ever repaying it, including £5,000 from her then partner’s parents and grandparents – claiming that her signature on the loan agreement was a forgery.

This claim was debunked by a handwriting analyst as part of court proceedings.

We have a woman who went on the internet, copied photos of animals that had absolutely nothing to do with her or NAH, and used the images saying that she needed funds to save the animals pictured. Cable sells animals while asking for money for saving other animals; it is often unclear from her advertising (signs, online fundraising appeals) what animals are actually to be saved or sold for slaughter; she recently posted a picture of a sheep and said it was the first sheep ever to be adopted in the sanctuary.

She’s used photos of sheep and depicts them on older material asking for funds to save them – she sells them for meat, and disowns any responsibility for what happens to animals she sold. Members of the Cable family have made threats against me and others.

Kelly has told people, including her former social media administrator Fiona Manclark that she uses cannabis for her disability, telling some people she has fibromyalgia. Other witnesses, understandably keen to remain anonymous, have told Aberdeen Voice that cannabis is used by Kelly and others while at the farm – and is sold from the farm as well.

In summary, this is not your typical animal rescue, and anyone wishing to donate money to help animals should be aware of these documented facts. Please read the reference document accompanying this article for proof of assertions made.

In a perfect world, Cable would ensure that all animals are properly cared for – in her own words as will be shown this is not the case.

Kelly once posted on social media that ‘everyone’ knows how she operates. Hopefully after this series of articles that will be true.

99 Problems:

As described in previous articles, visitors to her farm are greeted with a sign depicting animals of all sorts, with the words ‘rescue rehabilitate retire rehome for all equine, farm and small animals. This sign is illustrated with images of a pig, fowl, poultry, sheep and cattle. In effect, visitors have been misled before they even get out of their car:

Kelly Cable does not rescue all the animals she has at the farm. The cuddly sheep she has used in fundraising appeals are sold, slaughter being the likely outcome of their visit to Thainstone Market. There is not a single reputable, above-board animal rescue organisation in Scotland Aberdeen Voice can find that claims to save ‘all farm animals’ while raising some commercially.

It is not only the fate of the animals that Kelly sends to slaughter that is at stake. Chicks less than two weeks old have been sold and then re-sold to uncertain fates.

All animals eventually die, but at Northfield horses can die from cold weather [15], and ‘of a broken heart [16]’. A lamb was overfed – and died [17]. A sheep destined for sale was given a reprieve after it lambed – the hapless Kelly had no idea the lamb was expected [18]. Perhaps being disabled and running (according to some posts singlehandedly) a ‘working’ farm and a ‘haven’ is too much.

Aberdeen Voice is in receipt of some harrowing witness statements such as that of a dog killing poultry. A dog was hit after killing poultry; a bird with a broken leg went untreated. Unsurprisingly, the people who witnessed such acts are keen not to be identified. Kelly recently posted that she knows everyone who has contributed to these stories.

This in itself is a message of intimidation to those who have been threatened by members of her family, but it is an indictment of a ‘haven’ where numerous people have come forward with serious concerns. However, the most damning words about what happens to these ‘babies’ as Cable and her acolytes call the animals comes from Kelly herself.

Dead horses:

Horses die. They tend to do less of it however when given sufficient diet, care, shoeing and shelter from weather.

Many of the NAH rescue appeals follow a pattern. There is an urgent need for rescue funds or the animals will be turned into meat. This was true of the ‘Shetland 6’ ponies and for ‘Lucy’ and her foal ‘Sally’.

Now using such a manipulative tactic on a kind-hearted public is still manipulation, but it is understandable if coming from an organisation that only rescues animals. How is it possible for Northfield to sell animals for meat – pigs, lambs, poultry – but then pretend to be upset that these ponies that it (and often only it) can rescue if the public stump up funds urgently? If following how one farm can want to save its animals while sending its animals to slaughter is hard to fathom, the pretence that NAH is upset at the idea of an animal becoming food defies any kind of logic.

Here is the first part of the Go Fund Me appeal for ‘saving’ Lucy and ‘Sally’ https://www.gofundme.com/6u3mgs

The appeal for these two horses was 32 months ago; it raised £727. Perhaps a swift end at the abbatoir might have been kinder. After being rescued – Lucy died at Northfield – because it was cold and there was no room in the stable for the ancient horse. Kelly Cable wrote:

“Due to the stables situation I couldn’t take her in and it was very cold -6 that night. Please donate and help me rebuild our stables before we lose any more otherwise I will have no option but to close ….” [15]

What was done to get this horse somewhere where it would have been warm to keep it alive?

‘Babies?’ – Neglect, Sales and Abuse.

This is a post Kelly made of a lamb called Roddy which had collapsed from over eating and a joking comment ‘ha ha’ from Kelly – who’d allowed orphaned lambs to overeat – hardly good practice.

Figure [17] shows her post about an orphaned lamb which died from ‘bloat’ due to her lack of care; what did happen to the ewe I wonder? It seems as if for Cable and her devoted supporters it is sufficient to cuddle and groom cute animals; the serious business of animal welfare is glossed over or joked about, like the over-fed lamb Roddy. This does not happen at other rescues.

If money is always in such scare supply, a lamb dying of overfeeding, this overfed animal, and a diet for some pot-bellied pigs they took in (after NAH got them, one was put to sleep due to arthritis – diet to reduce the weight of these animals might have helped extend the animal’s life).

One sheep was given a reprieve from market as she lambed the night before being sent away. Not knowing your animals are pregnant is not brilliant animal husbandry. Kelly’s words explain this lamb was going to be sold to keep the sanctuary going. If killing one animal for money is how NAH avoids killing another animal then NAH is not a rescue.

There are many other instances of reasons to be concerned about what happens when the cameras aren’t taking pictures of cute animals being hugged. These instances, backed as they are by Kelly Cable’s own words in most instances, should be all the evidence any right-thinking person needs to know there are serious problems.

On Animals Being Putting Animals To Sleep if NAH doesn’t get money:

Perhaps she would never needlessly put animals to sleep. Perhaps the overweight potbellied pig she had put to sleep could not possibly have benefitted from a diet and painkillers. Obviously no one is calling the attendant veterinarians’ judgements into question; what is undeniable is that when Kelly is after money – she will use the threat of putting animals to sleep in her advertisements. [14.2-4]

In the Go Fund Me campaign at [14.2] Kelly ‘prays for a saviour’ so that she won’t have to close, implying it would be kinder to put the animals to sleep. Other animal shelters could easily help with taking animals she can’t manage to care for properly. The language lapses in and out of grammatical ambiguities such as:

“…I will have no choice [no choice to do what?] as it wouldn’t be right to allow them to suffer to the end [is she suggesting that neglect to the end was ever an option?] it would be much kinder to pts which is so unfair of them [who is them?] we have already lost one because of the weather [is she taking more animals than she can successfully care for and shelter? – it seems the case] and a few others are already losing weight [this is neglect – I do not know how else it can be seen]”

Is she just so emotionally over-wrought she can’t write straight; is she not well educated – or is the ambiguity deliberate so as she cannot be pinned down? Again she implies there is a time threat to her getting funds – a device she has used before – the message is clear despite the language – animals will be put to sleep by January unless she gets money.

So much for the claim she made on Facebook that:

“One thing I am sick of seeing is this thing about my animals getting pts, sorry wrong there, that will never happen xxxx”

If there is any doubt about this mechanic of saying there is a time deadline and animals are in danger of being put to sleep, there are other appeals she’s launched along those lines. One such was the ‘Shetland Six’ appeal. This is the time she used photos of a pony in Wales and another in the Shetlands which were in no danger. The Welsh Lluest Trust wrote to Aberdeen Voice:

“We can confirm that we have never had any contact with Northfield Animal Haven and have not given any permission for a photograph of one of our rescue ponies to be used. This pony was rescued by us in early 2014 and successfully moved into a loving loan home later on that year after several months of intensive treatment and rehabilitation at Lluest. We can confirm that the pony continues to live a happy and contented life in his new home and has never had any contact with Northfield Animal Haven.”

Potential donors were led to believe the animals were owned by a person who would not let any other animal sanctuary have them except NAH – and was going to kill them for meat if Kelly couldn’t get funds for them. The six eventually became four animals, their names and appearances changed from the photos initially used.

Again, please do refer to the reference document accompanying this article for screenshots, quotes and evidence. It is hoped that at the end of this article and its references, a clear portrait has emerged as to why it is important to animals and potential donors to scrutinize the goings on at Northfield Animal ‘Haven’.

The next article – probably the last in this series – will look at social media posts made by Kelly and her supporters on a wide range of issues, contradictory claims made, and attempts to discredit Aberdeen Voice and witnesses, and to make recommendations.

Note: Kelly Cable was invited by Aberdeen Voice to respond to the numerous issues raised above, and in the supporting document, and have her views included and accurately represented. Kelly did not respond directly, but posted on her facebook page:

“To Fred Wilkinson, Suzanne Kelly and The Aberdeen Voice.

“Up to this point all that has been printed by yourselves has been hearsay from others. Would you also like permission to speak with my doctor ?. If our vets choose to speak with you, that is up to them but I think you will be met with the same response as you got from the local shopkeeper when you called him last year.

“I stand by everything I have said with regards to what you have printed, I will not retract nor apologise for anything that has been said, just like everyone is meant to believe what has already been published by yourselves and your followers. Your followers and staff find it perfectly acceptable to contact people about me, slander the rescue and my name over various blogs and sites and to ridicule others because they disagree with you so I will not answer any questions for your forthcoming article as I refuse to continue to play your games.”
 – https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1655556561421288&id=100009008791129&pnref=story 

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Aug 042016
 

With thanks to David Forbes.

David Forbes with Devon ThompsonVoluntary Disabled Charity Future Choices Celebrates it’s Eighth Year this year with the introduction of it’s youngest committee member taking up the role of Vice Chairman.

Devon Thompson (21) joined Future Choices a few years ago and then had to leave to pursue others life commitments before recently returning to help out with many of the Charity’s key projects.

He works tirelessly to make sure the members are catered for when the group meets up every Tuesday from 11-2 at their base at Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee.

Charity Chairman, David Forbes explained:

“Having Devon on my management committee has been a tremendous asset to running the group and now he’s taking the role on as my deputy, he’s the perfect man for the job, young, energetic and very inspirational. In my view this is the greatest motivation to many young volunteers out there – that you can achieve success with hard work and determination.”

Devon said:

“I am deeply and truly honoured to be elected as Vice Chairman of Future Choices. I have served in the care sector for four years now and have never come across such a dedicated and hardworking Charity, with a constant hunger to grow and develop as an organisation that puts the emphasis on the well being of their members, I am truly humbled that they have shown support and faith in my abilities.”

David added:

“Devon taking up this role is very humbling to me as the Charity heads to it’s biggest milestone of 10 years in 2 years time, so to keep the group vibrant and progressive is something Devon will be involved with alongside me and the rest of my team.”

Devon Concluded:

“It is my deepest desire to rise to the challenge and develop. In my experience, collaboration is the stuff of growth and I look forward to working further with the committee to provide for our members greater choices, for the future.”

For more information on Future Choices, visit www.future-choices.org.uk

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Dec 032015
 

Inside Fur screen2With thanks to Flo Blackbourn.

International animal rights organisation, Animal Justice Project, is hosting a Nationwide tour of award-winning premiere documentary, Inside Fur, which takes viewers undercover inside the secretive fur industry in Norway and China.
On 8th December 2015 at 7pm the film premieres at A19, Taylor Building, University of Aberdeen.

The 57 min. documentary directed by Norwegian film director, Ola Waagen, follows the work of undercover investigator and psychologist, Frank Nervik, as he goes deep undercover to dupe fur farmers into believing he is entering the industry to farm animals for their skins.

Nervick reveals harrowing, never-seen-before footage using covert cameras in both Norway – one of the largest fur producing countries in the world – and China, the number one fur producer.

Major fur export markets include China, Russia, Canada, and the EU. Norway is a major fox fur producer, along with Finland and Poland. Skins from these countries are sold under the Saga brand through the Saga Furs auctions. The UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy are among the countries that have banned parts of or their entire fur industry, though these countries still allow imports.

The European Fur Breeders Association (EFBA) has an affiliated national fur breeder association in Norway, as well as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Norway’s controversial fur industry – which involves over 200 fox and mink farms – has been exposed by several leading animal protection organisations in the country, revealing numerous and severe violations of the law, as well as wounded and suffering animals. State authorities in Norway have stated that there is ‘shocking’ evidence of animal abuse.

In May 2015, the Norwegian government announced that it would slash financial support to the industry and, this month, over 7,000 Norwegians took the streets in Europe’s largest anti-fur event to call for a ban on fur farming. The Government is now considering banning fur altogether following this event and the launch of a groundbreaking report on the industry.

Fur is currently a hot topic in Britain also, and the film tour follows closely an airing of the investigatory BBC1 television program ‘Fake Britain’, which exposes well-known high street shops such as TK Maxx and House of Fraser, to be selling real mink, raccoon, raccoon-dog and weasel fur fraudulently labeled as ‘Faux’.

Animal Justice Project Spokesperson, Flo Blackbourn states:

“This film, Inside Fur, is very relevant right now, as we are entering the season in which fur trim and the occasional fur coat are increasingly seen on the high street. This film is important viewing for anyone who has an interest in animals and the fashion industry, as it exposes the truth of the fur industry and the immense cruelty involved.”

Animal Justice Project is an international organisation working in Europe and the United States to end the use of animals in laboratory research and other forms of speciesism.

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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 192015
 

Sid and Laura smallWith thanks to Gemma Setter, Tricker PR.

Local Not for Profit organisation Aberdeen Riding Club is seeking the support of the local community to help fund a new home for 32 horses and ponies.

The campaign is led by Sid the horse who was voted the STV and RBS Animal Hero of the Year in 2014-15.

Sid and his chums need to relocate after their fields and stables were released for development for a new housing complex in Miltimber.

Sally McCarthy Director of Aberdeen Riding Club which is home to Sid said:

“Sid is a local and national hero and I really hope that the local community will get behind the campaign to help fund a new home for Sid and his friends. Sid won the Animal Hero of the Year because of his great work for the Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and he has taught in excess of 5000 local people to ride both in the riding school and with RDA over the last twelve years.

“Aberdeen Riding Club is a Not for Profit organisation that makes riding accessible for local people – particularly those that don’t have their own horse as we have a large riding school which is often the only access non-horse owning riders get to their sport.

“We also host Riding for the Disabled, a local Hippotherapy group, train the RGU riding club and offer subsidised riding and therapeutic riding for local people that would not normally have access to this. Our main aim is to improve the lives of local people by providing them with the opportunity to benefit from a rewarding relationship with horses.”

The ethos of Aberdeen Riding Club is to make good quality, affordable riding accessible to all. The move is being necessitated because of a development of the land currently leased by Aberdeen Riding Club.

Sally McCarthy explained the impact of this:

“Development of the local area is good for business and communities and we will forever be supportive of our current landlords and their development of the land at Oldfold. We hope however that there is enough local support for us to continue to provide our much needed service. We have worked hard to source a location within the city boundaries and now we need to raise £300,000 to facilitate this move.

“The new location is in Anguston, on the edge of Peterculter and Drumoak and will be an ideal home for Sid and his friends with 115 acres of grazing. Aberdeen Riding Club has achieved planning permission for the new centre and has secured a 25 year lease on the site. Sid is one of the longest residents of Aberdeen Riding Club, and his gentle, loving nature makes him perfect for disabled riders and people learning to ride.

“He is the equine boss of the yard and loves nothing better than rolling in the sand of the outdoor arena in his spare time. Sid particularly loves carrots and mints and likes to beg for them by lifting up his front leg like a dog. He will reward anyone giving him his favourite treat with a loving nuzzle.

“Every week Sid works with 10 disabled riders and his youngest rider is only 4 years of age. He also helps with teaching people about horses and he lets himself be covered with sticky labels detailing the anatomy of horses. In his younger days he was a slightly wild horse, but now he likes to take it easy and look after his riders. He is such a trustworthy horse with disabled riders that he has become irreplaceable.

“The campaign to fund a new home for Sid and Chums begins in earnest this week and local people are invited to donate to the cause by visiting Aberdeen Riding Club webpage and pressing the donate button. More information on our fundraising efforts and what the funds will be used towards is available on our website.”

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Nov 192015
 

SCT

With thanks to Jennifer Kelly, Tricker PR.

Long gone are the days where pensions were a fairly straightforward saving process; savers today face an impenetrable wall of ifs, buts and maybes.

When do I start my pension pot? How much should I contribute? How do I go about saving for a pension? When do I get to access my pension?

These are the questions being asked by Generation Y – young adults born in the 80s and 90s.

The latest statement from DWP’s Official Statistics on workplace pension participation and saving trends of eligible employees suggests that millions of people in the UK are not saving enough for retirement.

“And it’s true,” says Derek Mair, a partner of Aberdeen chartered accountancy firm Hall Morrice LLP.  

“Many of us do not have half the pension pot of our grandparents. Some argue that the 20-somethings of today have too much to contend with – debt, university, childcare – while others say Generation Y don’t prioritise and save; they want everything right now as part of the see it, buy it culture.

“Whatever the reason, the problem is not going away and in reality, there may not even be a state pension for Generation Y when the time comes. Britain has created a debt-filled lifestyle meaning that, for many, being in debt is considered the norm. But this won’t help Generation Y when they reach retirement age.”

In a bid to tackle declining pension funds and encourage a sense of responsibility, the auto-enrolment scheme, launched in 2013, requires large organisations – and all other businesses by 2017 – to contribute 3% of an employee’s salary. Add that to the 4% the employee is already contributing, plus a 1% tax relief, the total pension contribution per annum is 8%.

Historically, those working in the public sector contribute significantly more to their pension pot than those in the private sector. However from 2013 to 2014, the number of 22 to 29-year-olds contributing from the private sector increased by 30% to 54%, while contributions for the same age group increased by 3% to 87% in the case of public sector workers.

The annual total amount saved by employees across both sectors stood at £80.3 billion in 2014, which is an increase of £2.6 billion from the previous year. Overall employee contributions accounted for 30% of UK pension funds, with employer contributions totalling 60% and tax relief accounting for the remaining 10%. In 2014, the average UK worker added £5,776 into their pension – £481.33 per month.

However in 2005, pension contributions totalled £83.1 billion compared with £80.3 billion in 2014. Not only has the amount saved decreased, the tax free allowance has also declined. In 2006-07 savers could enjoy an annual tax free pension saving of £215,000 per annum – or £1.4 million in a lifetime. By 2014-2015, savers are only allocated £40,000 of annual tax allowable pension contributions; equating to £1.25 million in a lifetime.

Government announcements earlier in the year unveiled that the lifetime allowance will be reduced to £1million from £1.25million from 6 April, 2016. In addition, for high earners only (those earning over £150,000 per annum) the annual allowance could fall to as low as £10,000.

So when should young people start to save?

Derek explains how strict savings now are the secret to a comfortable future.

“Despite the notable increases following the launch of the auto-enrolment scheme in 2013, it is estimated that for a comfortable retirement, Generation Y should already be investing at least 15% of their salary into a pension pot.

“In order to match the current living wage in retirement, standing at £13,364 a year after tax, a 20 year old earning £20,000 per annum would have to start saving 12% of their salary, totalling £200 per month.

“If the pension pot is left empty until as late as 30, a worker earning £20,000 per annum would have to save 17% – £283 per month. If they were earning £30,000 they would need to set aside 12% to reach the minimum living wage, equating to £300 per month.

“The figures are daunting and unattractive but unfortunately, Generation Y has an uncomfortable retirement ahead unless they act quickly.”

The default retirement age of 65 has been phased out, meaning that workers can no longer be discriminated against because of their age and can now work for as long as they feel able. If Generation Y are unable to retire due to insufficient pension funds and are working longer, it may have an adverse effect on the next generation of workers as they will be unable to progress up the ladder in their careers.

Derek adds,

“The full level of the new State Pension, due to be determined in the autumn, is to be no less than £151.25 per week but entitlement will depend on the individual’s national insurance record. Generation Y cannot rely on a state pension being available in 30 to 40 years’ time and must save as though there will not be any state support.”

Founded in 1976, Hall Morrice LLP is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and has offices in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. Based at 6 and 7 Queens Terrace in Aberdeen, Hall Morrice can be contacted on 01224 647394, visited at www.hall-morrice.co.uk or emailed at accounts@hallmorrice.co.uk

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

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]