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The Flying Pigs: Hardest part of budget meeting? Working out what sandwiches ab’dy wanted…

Pictured is Aberdeen City Councillors as the Protest against council budget plans took place outside the Aberdeen Town House, Aberdeen.
Picture by Darrell Benns
Pictured on 05/03/2019
Pictured is Aberdeen City Councillors as the Protest against council budget plans took place outside the Aberdeen Town House, Aberdeen. Picture by Darrell Benns Pictured on 05/03/2019

Ron Cluny, official city council spokesman


As per usual, the disingenuous scaremongering of the local media has focused this week on dire predictions about the council’s imminent closure of all community centres, libraries and public toilets, instead of reporting the real story, which is the incredible cohesion and cross-party unity we saw as all our elected officials came together to address our fiscal crisis.

These reports caused me much consternation, and not just because I thought we’d padlocked all the lavvies years ago.

But anyway, despite these reports, I hope everyone has now noted that the latest city council budget is nowhere near as bleak as we revealed it to be.

In fact, I am pleased to report that the four-hour meeting on Tuesday saw your elected officials engage in a veritable feast of oratory and debate.

If budgetary deficits could be filled with blather, we’d be laughing. And then, once they’d worked out what sort of sandwiches ab’dy wanted, they got on with the arduous task of voting on what cuts to make to city services.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the bum-numbing running time, I believe we ended up with the best result possible under the circumstances.

True, there was a divergence of opinion over whose fault the whole situation is. With the SNP blaming the Labour/Con alliance for overspend, the Labour/Con alliance blaming the SNP at Holyrood for underprovision, and the Lib Dems covering all bases by blaming Westminster, the SNP at Holyrood and the Labour/Con alliance.

Some cynics might argue that the council are still not averse to scoring political points rather than working together to sort things. But this of course is a gross distortion of the position.

All parties were absolutely 100% in agreement that it was entirely somebody else’s fault.

Tough decisions have had to be made, of course, but I think the solution was the only practical one, and a 4.5% rise in council tax that many don’t pay, and a £30 annual charge for brown bins that many don’t use, is equally iniquitous to all.

And to those who may bemoan that we’ve cut funding to various local arts, tourism and sports charities, and the city’s pothole, footway and street lighting repairs, remember that by doing so we will save £6.6 million.

That’s a stunning amount, and coincidentally, just about the same amount as we’re due the builders for the work on the city’s art gallery, so that’s that sorted.

And anyway, what’s £6.6m compared to the £30m we’ve committed to upgrading Union Terrace Gardens? Needless to say, the usual moaning Minnies are critical of us spending that figure on yet another city centre regeneration project, when recent efforts of that nature have proved sub-triumphant.

Well, rest assured, the figure of £30m won’t remain at that level for long!

Jonathan M Lewis, local head teacher.

Once again I find myself having to address unhelpful allegations of impropriety here at Garioch Academy.

Not even two days had passed since I was required to pacify parents of Mr Paul’s geography s4s after his highly original field trip lesson plan was described as “modern slavery”.

Yes, the net effect of the pupils’ efforts resulted in his garden receiving a “winter tidy up”, but it principally gave those young people invaluable hands-on experience of plant husbandry and tree-surgery.

No sooner has that matter been put to bed but now I must handle a series of slurs against the consummate professionals who work here at the school, arising from our recent parents’ evening.

Yes, I accept it is strange that some parents heard their delightful children being described by all of their teachers in exactly the same way.

Mrs Lewis (no relation) has called to explain why eight consecutive appointments had seen her daughter Ellie in S5 described as “a headstrong, communicative and lively young lady”.

I have assured Mrs Lewis that the piece of paper she found outside the drama studio with what appeared to be some sort of code, including “headstrong = stubborn”; “communicative = chatterbox”; “lively = drama queen” and “young lady = wee madam”, was completely unrelated to the comments she received.

Clearly, it was part of a most inspiring “improv” task in an English lesson.

The truth is, I told her, that teachers talk. They talk because they care. The staff room is rife with animated conversations about our young learners, with teachers sharing best practice about how to help all sorts of pupils, including an intriguing character like Ellie, achieve their potential.

So, I would have to concede that it was, indeed, an incredible coincidence that the reverse of that self-same sheet of paper found by Mrs Lewis also included “animated conversations = bitching sessions”; “young learners = little nyaffs”; “achieve their potential = not being a total waste of space”.

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