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Readers’ letters: Selfish to keep sections of Union Street closed to traffic

Pedestrians walking down Union Street

Sir, – I am quite upset reading recent online articles where it has been stated that businesses in the city centre want to retain the closure of Union Street areas to traffic, especially public transport services. I think, personally, it’s quite a selfish attitude.

When I saw what the manager of Trinity Centre shopping mall had to say, it did pass through my mind that it was indeed a very insular statement to make.

The Trinity Centre wouldn’t suffer compared with other retail outlets placed smack in the middle of “walk only” areas. Geographically it sits at the junction of Union Street with Bridge Street, therefore bus stops are readily available travelling both east and west!

Has the lady manager and those businesses supporting this horrid campaign not taken into consideration the less mobile of the population?

I fortunately can walk a fair distance but I know many who can’t and have walking aids which in itself restricts travelling on foot.

Think on this: many daytime shoppers are retired from work so percentage-wise their presence in town must be quite significant. I beg all you business people to have a rethink.

My own observations when speaking with older folk are that some have ceased shopping in the city centre due to a lack of suitable bus stops and difficulty obtaining a taxi home if the need arises.

It would hardly be surprising if perhaps that source of income to shops may have been reduced significantly since introducing busy central area closures. Furthermore the fortunates who are employed are unlikely to shop to the same extent during the week, that I should imagine would be a weekend ploy.

Come on traders and shop owners, have a rethink. I would be more than open to hear suggestions that would please all concerned.

Might I add, I have been aware of some elderly getting more and more depressed over the past three years.

First having to adjust to Covid restrictions, then in some cases the closure of many churches (not only for Sunday worship but also meetings associated therein – clubs, coffee sessions and just meeting for a good gossip). Added to that was the ongoing situation with changes in the town centre.

Please have a thought for the elderly endeavouring to have some enjoyment in their later years.

Mrs A S T Simpson, Seafield Crescent, Aberdeen.

We should rejoice at fewer journeys

Sir, – As the cost of living continues to soar, a BBC survey showed that two out of three drivers claimed that owing to the price of fuel they were doing fewer unnecessary journeys.

Instead of complaining and requesting government intervention we should be rejoicing.

Isn’t that just what was hoped for at COP26 in Glasgow? Fewer journeys mean a reduction in noxious gases entering the atmosphere.

Little sign however, as people swarm inside airports, of great concern at the dire warning issued, that unless we curtail our love of flying to foreign lands to bask in the sun, many places we consider to be a holiday paradise will for our grandchildren’s grandchildren be too hot for human habitation.

The desire of our generation to continue the lifestyle we enjoy makes it more likely for the man in the moon to drop down for tea than to keep global temperature rise to no more than the 1.5°C target.

Sadly the legacy of COP26 will be that it generated a great deal of the substance it was designed to eliminate – hot air.

Ivan W Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Not interested in the consequences

Sir, – The SNP can’t wait to bring us back to the cliff edge with another referendum but still without saying anything about currency or pensions. Still fixated on a return to the EU, they have very little to say about our 22% deficit or how to save trade with a hard-bordered UK which, by the way, we depend on for three times more trade than the EU, should we get a disastrous Yes vote.

John Swinney warned the SNP that pensions at UK levels may not be sustainable with independence. Even after 15 years there is no sign or indication that the SNP have any business credibility; with a lengthening list of casualties similar to an obituary column. We have Kate Forbes repeatedly pleading for more borrowing powers (with the Bank of England behind her of course) and, rubbing salt into our wounds, we discover that the two ferries in the Clyde fiasco will be obsolete and polluters when/if they eventually get to sea.

Borrowing on world markets by an “independent” Scotland has been estimated at between 7% and 9% interest rates, and the number of developing countries presently in debt distress number 60 with even more teetering in their finance.

Pandemic recovery, war in Ukraine and a global struggle against inflation are all pushing up interest rates which is likely to go on for years. But the gruesome twosome parties presently concentrating all their attention on indyref2 at Holyrood probably haven’t noticed the way interest rates are going or will be at all interested in the consequences of separation from the rest of the UK.

Sam Coull, Lendrum Terrace, Boddam.

Potential investors yet to be convinced

Sir, – Were those within our Holyrood government able to show us that they could run an independent Scotland efficiently and effectively they would have had no need to publish a glossy brochure full of unsubstantiated, dubious facts and unwarranted assumptions – all at unnecessary expense to struggling taxpayers.

Indeed, had the Holyrood government been any good at its job over the past 15 years, investment would have flooded into Scotland.

Sadly, the only ones who think they have done a good job are the authors of the latest glossy brochure – they haven’t, and potential investors have yet to be convinced.

D B Wallace, Drayton House, Alves, Moray.

Blindly follow into the unknown?

Sir, – With the relaunch of the campaign for independence comes a lot of promises and assurances with no specific information or data to back them up. It seems that this is all “to follow”.

Are we expected to follow blindly into the unknown?

Should we commit to yet another period of economic upheaval and uncertainty – especially if we are not presented with any thought-through plans or budgets?

We all know that the UK Government is facing huge challenges, and so are all the world leaders. But let us not think that Scotland can avoid all these just by becoming independent.

It is time the Scottish Government put the welfare of its people before its all-absorbing obsession with independence.

Graham Whitbourn, North Beach Road, Balmedie.

Address problems, then a referendum

Sir, – I greatly appreciate Ron Campbell’s support and excellent expansion of my point about the need for good, cheap public housing.

As an example, in the mid-1960s our council house rent was about £1 a week and my father, the rent collector, earned £15 a week. Based on UK average earnings of £38k per annum, that equates to around £50 a week today.

I think many of the problems we have – such as low birthrate, lower educational attainment, mental health issues, family breakdown and increased poverty – are in large part caused by the fact that in the last 40 years housing costs have at least doubled in real terms.

This has meant young couples delaying having children.

And when they do have kids, usually both parents still work to pay the mortgage or extortionate rents, incur extra costs of transport, clothing, lunches and, unless there are able and willing grandparents nearby, up to £1,200 a month for childcare per child.

Then when they come home from work they struggle to manage the household and give full attention to their kids.

This stress can lead to family breakdown, one reason for the rise in single parent families from 570,000 in 1971 to almost three million now.

This is a phenomenon across the Western world, not just the UK or Scotland.

But my message of hope for Ron and Nicola Sturgeon is that if the SNP uses the next four years in power to focus its wide devolved powers on addressing this problem – with public housing and planning reforms and other basic issues of obesity, declining education and skills and personal responsibility (perhaps piloting solutions with and for the UK Government instead of blaming them for all our ills) – people like me would be amenable to an argument like “we’ve made considerable progress in these areas but to finish and expand the job we need to separate from the UK”.

Instead they give the impression that they want to make things so bad, blame the UK for it, and foist another referendum on us.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Rowies not like they used to be

Sir, – Even though I’ve lived in Aberdeen all my life, I must admit to agreeing with Ainsley Harriot in his assessment of the current version of the local buttery.

I’m sure years of trying to make them a bit more “healthy” has dumbed down the recipe to make them almost flavourless now.

Look at the ingredients of the mass-produced ones in your supermarket and you won’t find any mention of what you’d expect to be the key ingredient of a buttery – butter!

Some small independent local bakers have tried to revive older recipes with limited success, but by far the best were from a well-known and long-gone bakery in Torry.

Also, can’t agree with Moreen Simpson – the best taste test of a good buttery is fresh and warm from the oven with nothing on it.

I remember working night shift in Tullos in the 1980s, nipping over to Torry around 6am for a dozen fresh rowies for the workers and, because they were so irresistible, having to buy an extra couple to eat in the van on the journey back. Bliss!

Ian craig, Aberdeen.

Pleasant surprise

Sir, – Just to say thank you for printing the photo in your paper on Wednesday of crowds on Aberdeen beach in the 1930s.

My dad, Billy Emslie, is standing in the middle of the photo with his friend. Happy memories.

Thank you.

Patricia Robertson.