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Scott Begbie: Aberdeen needs to take a page out of Saltburn-by-the-Sea’s book

If a town like Saltburn can transform, so can Aberdeen – but only if we all speak up and say that is what we want and need.

Saltburn-by-the-sea. Image: Shutterstock

I have to say Saltburn took me by surprise…

No, not the rather excellent film, although it had more than its fair share of surprising – shocking actually – moments.

But I’m talking about the town of Saltburn, or rather Saltburn-by-the-Sea to give it its full Sunday name.

It’s a wee seaside resort place that was once in Yorkshire until they shifted the boundary and put it in Teesside instead. And, thanks to having family in that neck of the woods, it’s a place I’ve visited often.

It was always good to catch up with the rellies, but the place itself was, well, faded. You know the sort of thing. In its heyday it was full of tourists and day trippers, but that golden era fell away with the advent of package holidays to where the sun really does shine.

So over the years, we just accepted there wasn’t too much to do in Saltburn. A nice Italian restaurant, a decent old school boozer and, yeah, that’s it.

Once on a trip down there we were so desperate for something different to do we ended up at an open evening in the local Conservative club. Surprisingly my head didn’t spin round on my shoulders. And my sense of political outrage was assuaged by cheap pints.

But then something remarkable happened. It had been a while since we ventured down and on our last trip a sea change had occurred in Saltburn.

All of a sudden, boring streets were boasting really cool boutiques. There were cafes selling artisan roast coffee on almost every corner. Craft beer pubs had burst into life in that post-industrial chic way they do.

Even the tired old end-of-the-line railway station had been given a glow up, with a deli that did amazing cakes and local produce that you can enjoy while sitting with a Belgian-style ale.

And all of these places boasted Saltburn memorabilia from posters to t-shirts, aprons to coasters, plastered with a modern spin on art deco inspired images of the town itself. A nod today back to its glory days of yesterday.

Given the range of places that had Saltburn imagery on its walls as art, or on sale for visitors there was must have been a concerted and joined up campaign to get Saltburn out of the doldrums and back to being a vibrant and desirable place to be.

But it simply wouldn’t have worked had it not been for one simple and undeniable fact – absolute buy in from the people of Saltburn themselves.

They have embraced the idea of change and progress, of welcoming café culture, of looking at new ways shops and spaces can be used. And they now have a fab wee town to be proud of and confidence in what its future holds.

Imagine what could happen to Aberdeen if that sort of paradigm shift happened here. If the forces of negativity, the people who hate and pour scorn on any attempt to do things differently or better, were drowned out by people saying let’s make the Granite City ever greater than it is.

If a town like Saltburn can transform, so can Aberdeen – but only if we all speak up and say that is what we want and need.

And for those who pile in online to pour scorn on the very idea – QED.

New scanners at Aberdeen Airport

Hallelujah, a miracle has happened at Aberdeen International Airport.

There I was going through security for a flight to London and panicking because I didn’t have a clear plastic bag to stick my toiletries in for checking.

And then a lovely lady smiled and said I didn’t have to bother. Yup, our shiny terminal now has some spiffing new scanners that mean you don’t need to do the whole ziploc rigmarole.

Huzzah, no more trying to jam potions and lotions into a wee poly bag while letting the world know that I use cheap Radox sensitive skin shower gel and wear over-priced Tom Ford Ombré Leather after shave.

A plane taking off from aberdeen airport
Aberdeen International Airport. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

That said, I was given a rather intense frisking, got the once over from a handheld scanner, put my shoes on a new gadget thing, then had my rucker go into the scanner naughty queue for checking.

Apparently the new bit of kit was questioning my Radox, but not the Tom Ford. A machine with taste clearly.

But I was through in short order after all my kit was swabbed and on my way with profuse apologies from the nice security people for the wee hold up.

And I will say here what I said to them. No apologies needed and thank you for keeping us safe.

Now, does anyone know how much Tom Ford shower gel costs?

Good luck to Aberdeen drivers

And just like that, Aberdeen was cut off from the rest of Scotland.

Okay, that might be an overstatement, but completely shutting the A92 – the road formerly known as the A90 – from Charleston Roundabout to the Bridge of Dee strikes me as being extreme.

I’m not a roads engineer, but surely there’s a way to keep at least one carriageway flowing both ways.

I can avoid the chaotic road trip round the houses by suspending my usual car sharing commute and taking the train from Stonehaven. But good luck to those who have no choice but to travel by road, be it bus or car, good luck. See you in a fortnight.