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Readers’ letters: St Fittick’s Park ‘saved’ from ETZ site, Black Friday sales and new Aberdeen FC stadium

St Fittick's Park was "saved" from becoming an Energy transition zone
Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sir, – I have to take issue with the claims in the P&J articles of November 26, 27 and 29 on the latest version of the draft masterplan for the energy transition zone, that campaigning by Friends of St Fittick’s Park has “saved” and “secured” the park, because development for an ETZ site would use less than a third of it – alternatively two-thirds would be saved.

Ostensibly a “recent” decision, whereas it was first publicised almost a year ago by Maggie McGinley in an opinion piece in Energy Voice (December 17 2021). It was criticised then because it is only too obvious from the map of opportunity sites that about one-third of St Fittick’s Park (OP56) would end up as ETZ infrastructure. OP56 is about 50% of the park’s total area.

Not all a development site is ever developable, which is why the total area of all the ETZ sites identified in its feasibility study (FS) is more than the ETZ’s 30-hectare minimum.

The FS’s figure for the developable area of ETZ sites is 66% (0.66) of the total so the area of the Park to be developed has always been 0.5 x 0.66 = 0.33 = 1/3.

There have been no concessions, and what has been promoted as a victory for campaigners is the status quo as the master planners attempt to provide as much of what ETZ Ltd wants within tight constraints imposed by the government review of the 2022 Local Development Plan.

Susan Smith, Annfield Terrace, Aberdeen.

‘Dim-witted’ park plan a land grab?

Sir, – The myriad claims made of the energy transition zone’s “enhancements” and “community benefits” are nothing of the sort and little more than sly soundbites to fool the unwary and the easily-confused politicians.

Reasons against the muddled, dim-witted and downright deplorable plan are too numerous to mention here if you read any of the woefully deficient business plans connected to this atrocious land grab by some of the city’s biggest idiots.

Any removal of St Fittick’s Park green space is an environmental crime which should not ever be allowed on any level at any time. The allegations of employment to help Torry are equally laughable as precious few residents have connections to the energy industry and are among the most deprived in Aberdeen with some of the least attractive housing choices available to them.

If the city council and the Scottish Government had any sense they’d bin this latest barmy mistake at the soonest available opportunity and involve some grown-ups who know how to do joined-up thinking to genuinely improve Torry’s housing and reverse the limited social chances many have.

Ian Beattie, Baker Street, Aberdeen.

Black Friday defied cost of living crisis

Sir, – I just can’t get my head around this cost of living crisis always in the news, with tearful folk having to choose between eating and heating, tin after tin, packet after packet disappearing from foodbank shelves quicker than a hungry labrador devours its dinner, single mums giving their story. Are there no father, mother, plus children (nuclear) families around anymore or is it because they don’t have so many sorry tales to tell?

Now we come to Black Friday, the yearly shopping bonanza when bargains float before customers’ eyes like confetti at a summer wedding.

Shoppers walking in and out of the Bon Accord Centre on Black Friday
Image: Darrell Benns

With folk having to regard every penny as a prisoner, industry analysts predicted the day would be a damp squib. Not a bit of it. You cannot imprison the British shopper if they smell a bargain, like the lady who had been on the go from the time last night’s revellers were staggering home to join a queue of similarly excited bargain hunters desiring to purchase that “must have” item, for her a designer bag.

Throughout the day stores were busy as were hospitality venues, a feelgood atmosphere was in the air, spirits boosted by the World Cup with England, after disposing of the might of Iran, no more than six games from glory according to those wise old players who get paid for talking a load of poppycock to old folk like me who have heard the same predictions in every World Cup since that great day in the 1960s that I “sadly” missed because I was working.

So the experts predicting doom were found wide of the mark, footfall in stores increased, and the money men who look at what we spend on various cards said spending was strong, so healthy in fact that some Black Friday records in transactions per second were broken. There’s no doubt many are struggling financially but to suggest the entire population is on its knees is fantasy. Crisis for some, inconvenience for many. Bring on the bargains.

Ivan W. Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Unionists failing to put Scotland down

Sir, – While democracy slips off the plate, as once again London’s Establishment tells Scotland to shut up, this voluntary Union has failed – especially since Scotland’s many strengths and advantages are now widely known.

With abundant natural resources, renewable energy sectors, legendary engineering and scientific skills and an enterprising workforce, a fully independent Scotland would prosper and flourish.

Scotland’s ship of proven ability, with its sense of fair play and justice, along with its world-class brands, is set to sail on fair winds, waters and tides around the world.

Grant Frazer, Cruachan, Newtonmore.

Marquee-inspired Haddo hall design

Sir, – Haddo House hall is a much-loved building and the local bats certainly showed good taste in architecture when they took up temporary residence in its lighting box last spring, although this extension is separate to the auditorium where, as far as I know, the last bat-related activity was a production of Die Fledermaus (“The Bat”) some years ago.

But the story of the hall’s design is more interesting than your report of November 23 suggests. It dates back to 1879, when those enlightened philanthropists, the 7th Earl of Aberdeen and his wife Ishbel, bought a marquee from the king of the Netherlands for an open day at Haddo. In those days, domestic servants and farm workers were allowed only a few days’ holiday and the event was held to divert them from the less wholesome “entertainment” offered by Aberdeen’s fleshpots.

A decade later, when the tent was no longer fit for purpose, the earl decided that better wet-weather cover was needed and commissioned Mr Sleigh, the estate architect, to design it. Sleigh told your paper before the opening in 1892 that the tent was the inspiration for the shape of the new building with its sweeping roof. Thus, the hall is as much Dutch as it is Canadian, although the materials used may have been inspired by the wooden buildings with shingled roofs that Aberdonians saw on their travels in North America.

Simon Welfare, Tarland, Aboyne.

Veto no excuse for another Culloden

Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Sir, – I have watched and listened to Sturgeon and her SNP supporters this past week and am very worried regarding the reactions to their opinions of the present Westminster and Holyrood parliaments due to the Supreme Court decision to dismiss the bid to have another independence referendum.

Now on a daily basis, I am seeing demonstrations around Scotland by the SNP supporters and Sturgeon blatantly condemning Westminster and others, stating that it was the wrong decision. I and many other millions know that the SNP will never gain independence to rule Scotland on their own.

In this day and age, we need a strong and educated government to lead us through troubled times, including health, immigration, war and old age. I see none of those aforementioned items being looked after by the SNP and another independence party whose name I cannot mention at this time. We in the UK do not need SNP demonstrations throughout Scotland threatening us with total lies.

A democratic government does not need these tactics – let us all be nice to each other rather than start another Culloden which, even back in the day, was a massacre.

People today do not want a war.

Gavin Elder, Prunier Drive, Peterhead.

Statement of facts is checked and correct

Sir, – Peter E Smith’s letter (November 26) states that mine of November 22 was “a bizarre exercise in wish fulfilment”. Actually, no, it was a statement of carefully-researched facts.

So here’s another quotation of a statement made by Nicola Sturgeon during the 2019 election campaign: “I’ve said all throughout this campaign that this election wasn’t about independence, I said very explicitly to people that if you vote SNP I won’t take that vote as an endorsement of independence”. In typical SNP double-speak, this sentiment is entirely at odds with the message that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP now convey. Unfortunately, Peter has got his facts somewhat muddled in asserting that the SNP has “won 48 out of 59 seats” and has “a thumping democratic mandate”.

The true facts are that the Scottish Parliament has 129 members and the SNP has 64 MSPs – hence the party falls short of having a majority. This is why the SNP entered into its marriage of convenience with the Scottish Green Party, which has seven MSPs, in order to jointly secure a majority on voting matters. All fact-checked and correct.

Keith Smith, Baillieswells Road, Bieldside, Aberdeen.

Council priorities need a shake-up

Sir, – More than eight months ago I reported to Highland Council roads department that the “give way” sign at the Badcaul junction was down. As this was the scene of a fatal accident a few years ago I felt that it needed to be addressed.

Also, some people on holiday don’t appear to realise that this is a junction and can pull out without stopping.

I also pointed out about missing white lines on a new section of road in this area. These are all on the NC500 route.

These have not been remedied despite a few nudges on my part via phone calls. I was told that it was far too cold for anyone to go out and fix them despite being informed in the spring.

But Highland Council did appear without hesitation, public consultation or putting out to tender and organised the erection of parking meters and signage that cost in excess of £4,000 at Gruinard Beach.

The stairway down to this beach was swept away shortly after it was renewed following the winter storms but it took months and months to get anyone out to fix that. It was left in a very dangerous and hazardous state for many months.

A lot of gannets and other seabirds were being washed ashore along this stretch of coast. My partner tried to raise concerns by numerous contacts with our MSP, councillors and Highland Council who turned her towards Defra. They directed her back to Highland Council’s environmental health people who passed the buck again back to Defra.

Nothing was, or has, been done to remove these carcases which dogs were gnawing on – even though it was suspected that these birds had perished due to bird flu.

She constantly kicks sand over them as no one is dealing with this.

It appears that nothing has been done because no one has been trained in Highland Council to deal with it.

It makes such a mockery of attempting to contain bird flu which is devastating the poultry industry when no one appears to be trained nor motivated to deal with what is a potential biohazard in public spaces.

Highland Council – please do the jobs you are paid to do.

And please prioritise the safety of the public.

Jim Sherriff, Badcaul, Dundonnell, Ross-shire.

All fired up but no fixes

Sir, – Nicola Sturgeon has not really accepted the decision of the Supreme Court. It fired her up to spout that ‘democracy’ was being ‘denied’ and we were ‘prisoners’ of Westminster.

What bugs me is how energised she was, if only she put the same energy into sorting the NHS, education, GPs, ferries and all the scandals, Scotland would not be in the state it’s in!

T. Shirron, Aberdeen.

Give stadium a sporting chance

An artists impression of the beach revamp and new Aberdeen FC stadium

Sir, – Aberdeen City Council leaders’ seeming reluctance to support AFC on the stadium relocation should maybe look at the work and support that Aberdeen FC Community Trust do in the city and shire.

Working in over 30 schools, helping to close the poverty attainment gap, also running the successful MINDSET programme for young people, supporting men’s mental health through the Changing Room project and running dementia-friendly initiatives.

One may argue, the council themselves should be funding these initiatives in our city and shire rather than AFC?

This again for me shows AFC are an integral part of our area and should receive the correct council backing and support rather than the negative messages being issued out currently. I would also like to pay tribute to all the staff, volunteers, partners and fans, whose commitment and generosity enable this ongoing support of our city and shire communities.

Lindsay Bartlet, Sunnyside Road, Aberdeen.