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Aberdonians ask questions as BBC debate show comes to Granite City

The LEZ, net-zero's impact on the Aberdeenshire economy and young people drinking in Peterhead and Fraserburgh brought up on programme.

Debate Night came to Aberdeen last night. Image: BBC Scotland.
Debate Night came to Aberdeen last night. Image: BBC Scotland.

Aberdonians got the chance to ask questions on topical subjects on the BBC’s Debate Night.

The popular BBC show came to the Granite City to talk about some of the big issues affecting the city and beyond.

Airing last night on BBC iPlayer, viewers found out what matters most to the people who live in Aberdeen.

The show, which was filmed at Aberdeen International School, featured discussions on  climate strategy, renewable energy, education and alcohol related deaths.

Sandi Thom was on the panel. Image: BBC Scotland.

Who was on Debate Night panel?

There were five members on the panel ranging from MSP’s to Chief Executives.

Answering questions were Aberdeenshire born singer Sandi Thom, Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, Sandy Begbie, MSP for the Scottish Conservatives, Tess White, SNP MP for Gordon, Richard Thomson and Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow, Paul Sweeney.

Kicking off the debate was George Taylor who asked if any party can be trusted on climate policy.

George Taylor asked the first question of the evening. Image: BBC Scotland.

The question came following following the Scottish Government’s U-turn on Carbon emissions as the target of reducing greenhouse emissions by 75% by 2030 was ditched.

Paul Sweeney was then asked why anyone should trust Labour on climate policy, as he responded: “It’s easy to set targets and to produce numbers but you need a firm plan of action to deliver it.”

He referenced the fact that in Scotland there has been a failure of industrial strategy over the last 40 years, which would need to be managed properly when moving into renewable energy.

Mr Sweeney also said that Aberdeen will make a strong bid.

The show was hosted by Stephen Jardine. Image: BBC Scotland.

‘Race to net-zero damaging rural economy’

Another member of the Debate Night Aberdeen audience, from rural Aberdeenshire went on to say that the race to net-zero is “damaging” our rural economy.

She stated that there is a 500-acre substation proposed to be built adjacent to the tiny village of Longside with another 350 acres of substations to be built close to where she lives.

Speaking to the panel she said: “It’s destroying agricultural land for food production and devaluing rural properties.”

The topic surrounding climate policy took an interesting turn as another member of the audience shared how he trusts no individual party on climate policy.

Sandy Begbie. Image: BBC Scotland.

Stating that the matter needs to be taken to a level where people have the right knowledge, competence and capability, rather than “pulling figures out of thin air.”

Sandy Begbie agreed with the point as he said: “The political cycle doesn’t lend itself to long-term thinking around energy policy and strategy.”

One man in the audience put forward an idea to help towards long-strategy as he said: “One route for that basically is to sack all MP’s and MSP’s and save all that expense, by having businessmen running it and you’ll get things done.”

Host, Stephen Jardine, said that it might have been the “most radical proposal” they’ve had in four years of Debate Night.

‘Nobody is listening to us’

Another topic that was brought up was labour shortages and education.

One man stated how immigration policies “are causing everything to slow down” adding that it’s more difficult to get “skilled workers in the country” resulting in targets being delayed.

Martin Finlay asked the second question. Image: BBC Scotland.

Martin Finlay asked the second question of the evening: Is the marriage between the SNP and Scottish Green Party heading for divorce?

One man said that Aberdeen city is over a billion pounds in debt from a coalition.

Adding: “Aberdeenshire council this year took the decision to do away with lollipop people to make safe crossings for kids to go to school because they don’t have the money to pay them, if that’s how a coalition works, Scotland’s gone.”

‘Failure of mental health services’

The third question of the night was: Why does Scotland have the highest rate of alcohol deaths in the UK?

Emma Murphy asked about alcohol deaths in Scotland. Image: BBC Scotland.

One man shared how young people across coastal communities like Fraserburgh and Peterhead are bored, which leads them to alcohol.

Sandy Begbie responded by saying: “I have long believed that giving young people a guarantee is the way through a lot of things in society because I meet far too many young people who see no hope.”

Aberdeen’s problems laid bare on debate night

While Tess White added: “People need hope. They need to know that their children are going to have jobs in a stable environment.

“Union Street is already a ghost town. When the LEZ comes in people will not be able to afford to go into the centre of Aberdeen.”

An audience member asked about local cuts. Image: BBC Scotland.

Another member in the Debate Night audience brought to light how foodbanks in Aberdeen were running short of food, stating that “it’s supposed to be the oil capital and you have people starving going to foodbanks that are working.

“We’re talking about people that stay in their cars and sleep in their cars because they have nowhere to stay.

“You need to get the education and the tax thing sorted out.”

Today, Humza Yousaf’s power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens is over as the first minister called in his top ministers for crisis talks… read the full story here.