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Readers’ letters: The Wallace Tower, new Aberdeen FC stadium and eight-hour-long ambulance waits

Wallace tower in Aberdeen
Wallace Tower, on the edge of Seaton Park, is now planned to become a community space with a cafe. Image: Darrell Bens/DC Thomson.

Sir, – Aberdeen City Council is about to decide if it wants to sell the Wallace Tower for £1 (Press and Journal, December 5)

This venerable monument was taken from a central point in the city centre some 60 years ago to make way for Marks and Spencer.

It has been languishing unused and unloved for many years on a corner of Seaton Park.

Why should the people of Aberdeen give it away, plus some of our common good land, for next to nothing?

Now that M&S may be set to leave the Bon Accord site, surely the right thing to do is to take down the M&S store and return this wonderful monument back where it belongs. The last thing Aberdeen needs is another vast, empty, old store like Debenhams or John Lewis – which in time will become a vandalised eyesore.

Having enjoyed good profits from its central location over many years, why not ask M&S to make a contribution to the Wallace Tower’s return?

Stephen Milner, Fonthill Terrace, Aberdeen.

A9 dualling will be followed through

Sir, – Tragically, deaths on the A9 are the highest they’ve been for almost 20 years, but please be assured by every utterance of the SNP Scottish Government that this road will be dualled. In truth, when the death toll was as high in 2002 the Labour and Lib Dem Scottish governments did nothing. Only later when the SNP got into power did they commit and start the A9 dualling. This pledge will be honoured.

Obviously, because of the Covid pandemic, not to mention the disaster of Brexit and a dysfunctional UK Government, this commitment could not be completed on time. In fact, the police point out that it’s not just the road, but poor driving that causes accidents. Politicians like Fergus Ewing have assured the public that the A9 dualling is continuing and will be completed. As for those self-appointed, ill-informed activists with their self-righteous and harmful comments, they should listen and support the fully informed and elected people working to complete the task.

Grant Frazer, Cruachan, Newtonmore.

Claims of no SNP majority are false

Sir, – Stewart Wright (Letters, December 2) is just the latest in a long line of deluded unionists who gleefully write in to highlight that contrary to independence supporters’ claims, the present Scottish Government can only boast a “majority” because it is propped up by the Greens.

The Scottish Parliament was set up with the Additional Members System to try to ensure, as much as possible, no single party can achieve an overall majority. The SNP managed to demolish that barrier by actually achieving a never-conceived-as-possible majority of seats in the 2011 election with 902,915 constituency votes. Although they didn’t quite managed to equal that in 2021, they only fell one seat short, even though their constituency vote increased to 1,291,204!

If, as Ron Campbell had suggested in a previous letter, the Scottish voting system had no list MSPs, and only had a first past the post system similar to Westminster, following the 2021 election, the SNP would be sitting in Holyrood with 59 MSPs, compared to the Tories’ 7, Labour’s 3, and the Lib Dems’ 4. That would have been a majority of greater proportion than Boris Johnston managed in 2019.

The truth is that the SNP have achieved “majorities” that the Scottish Tories, Labour and Lib Dems can only dream of. So please, enough of this “no majority” nonsense – it is disingenuous at best, downright mischievous misinformation at worst.

Douglas Black, Kingsford, Alford.

No vexation on climate needed

Sir, – From the terms of Lesley Ellis’s letter (Letters, December 2), it is clear why she is so vexed at the disparity between the conclusions from the scientific data on Planet Earth’s postulated dangerous climate changes.

However, she ought to agree with the following points:

1) There is still no proven means of influencing the world’s, including our, climate.

2) Decarbonisation, the main, hypothetical and unproven, preventative against the climate change, is vastly costly and troublesome in domestic, societal, industrial and financial terms.

3) Most of the planet’s man-made carbon dioxide is emitted from nations out east, such as China, India and many more, with policies adopted essentially to rule out decarbonisation.

This greatly helps their industries and finances compared with those of our Western countries accepting the UN’s calls to decarbonise.

4) Global warming, the climate alarmists’ original name for dangerous climate changes, has been almost non-existent for at least eight years past, as monitored from satellites, principally those yielding the Alabama University data as reported by Dr John Christy.

5) Whether meteorological data reflects worsening weather, compared with historical records, is still very controversial among weather specialists.

From all these considerations, Lesley Ellis’s vexation is, in fact, unjustified.

Charles Wardrop, Viewlands Road West, Perth.

Businesses aren’t buying IndyRef2

Sir, – I have read with interest the reason for Ian Blackford standing down as the SNP leader at Westminster. Apparently, he wants to focus on promoting independence to the business community. As a business person, I would like to advise him that this would be the equivalent of a car salesman trying to sell a secondhand diesel car to Patrick Harvie. It is never going to work, as they will not be taken seriously.

John Godsman, Kirktown of Fetteresso, Stonehaven.

U-turn on beach plan a red card

An artists impression of the Aberdeen beach masterplan - including the new Aberdeen FC stadium
The new Aberdeen FC stadium plans. Image: Aberdeen City Council

Sir, – As a businessman, citizen of Aberdeen and also an AFC fan, I find it very frustrating that the council appears to have done a U-turn on its vision for the beach.

Aberdeen City Council approached Aberdeen FC about staying at the beach rather than moving to an out-of-town location and were, rightly, applauded for that. The incentive, to allow AFC to write off its considerable investment in Kingsford and the benefits it had hoped to accrue from having a stadium co-located with its training ground, was that the new stadium at the beach would receive funding from the council.

The political leadership of the council has changed, but my understanding was that all parties had bought into the visionary city centre masterplan and beach regeneration plans.

This is not about public money going into a football stadium, this is about funding a much wider community asset that will kick-start the wider beach regeneration, that will ensure the city centre doesn’t lose more business and footfall and that will deliver a significant economic uplift.

Yes, times are hard, but we cannot afford not to invest in securing our future prosperity.

Jock Gardiner, Harlaw Road, Aberdeen.

We’re drowned out at Westminster

Sir, – Regarding Ian Gray’s letter (December 3), I can understand his local concerns as a Moray resident about the air base at Lossiemouth.

The bigger picture, however, indicates he should be more worried about the billions wasted at source, with consecutive Westminster governments squandering and losing billions, not to mention handing out dodgy contracts worth yet more billions to mates and donors, a situation that leads to an inability to fund not just defence but education, healthcare and every other public service. An independent Scotland will be able to target money where Scots think it is needed, not going to service the UK debt.

Let’s not mince words here: it is bad management of our wealth at Westminster that has created under-funding in all public sectors. After independence, there is nothing stopping us expanding defence in Moray if that’s what we choose that our government does. In such a geopolitically strategic location, our neighbours will still want to use the air base.

We will, however, control the finances, and if we don’t like the policies and decisions of the party in power, we will be able to vote them out, unlike with our democratically drowned-out and outnumbered voices at Westminster.

Herbert Petrie, Parkhill, Dyce.

EV battery costs too high in Europe

Sir, – It is ominous news that the CEO of VW has stated that making batteries for electric vehicles in Europe is now “unfeasible” due to soaring energy costs. This means that production will go to places like China and Indonesia, where the majority of energy comes from burning coal.

But worse than this is a recent 1,000-page Finnish government report on achieving net-zero. One of its stark statistics is that the world would need 573,400 GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity storage (the UK has only built 1 GWh of storage in the last decade, to add to the 30 GWh that had existed since 1984).

The report concludes that replacing fossil fuel using renewables by 2050 “will not be possible for the entire human population. There is simply not enough time, nor resources”.

Geoff Moore, Braeface Park, Alness.

Single-issue plan worked for Irish

Sir, – I read B Logie’s perspective on the differences between a general election and a referendum and I need to correct him (Letters, December 1). I agree that both are democratic events that have the intent to decide the political direction of a country. But there is no need to straitjacket them into narrow definitions, and indeed I am aware of a few examples of elections being used to focus on single issues.

In the last general election, the Tory Party essentially stood on a mandate of “vote for us to get Brexit done”, which helped them win many English Labour-voting but pro-Brexit constituencies. We can expect many of those constituencies to move back to Labour at the next general election.

And we can remember the recent Holyrood election when the Scottish Tory Party’s main election policy was “vote Tory to stop independence” – and the Scottish electorate didn’t vote for them.

We need to go further back in history for an even better example: in the 1918 Westminster general election, Sinn Fein stood on a policy of “a vote for us is a vote for an independent Ireland”.

They achieved 70% of Irish seats and saw that as a mandate to establish the Irish parliament in Dublin, which they duly did.

It is interesting to note that the SNP currently have 76% of Scottish MPs, so maybe we should learn from the Irish.

Willie Dunbar, Deeside Gardens, Aberdeen.

Action needed on ambulance waits

An ambulance parked outside Aberdeen Royal Infirmary during a time of long NHS waiting times
An ambulance at A&E Accident and Emergency, ARI, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Image: Kami Thomson / DC Thomson

Sir, – I read with utter dismay that in Aberdeen patients are having to wait in the backs of ambulances for anything up to eight hours.

Humza Yousaf has a lot of explaining to do.

And ambulances turning up to a major incident with only the driver/paramedic is just not acceptable.

Michael Baird,Dornoch Road, Bonar Bridge.

AFC has to find its own funding

Sir, – While I respect that everyone has an opinion on city regeneration I must confess I was taken aback by the piece by Ms Buchan criticising the current administration’s decision not to fund a new stadium at the beach for a private limited company, Aberdeen FC.

She complains that they cancelled pedestrianisation of Union Street despite advice from businesses and their own roads department – I note she didn’t mention the residents of the city who wanted public transport on Union Street, but it seems in all of this residents are not to be consulted.

Maybe Ms Buchan would like to tell us all what budgets are to be raided to pay for this £100 million stadium – would it be health and social care with the health service on its knees, bed blocking at an all-time high and the council unable to fund care packages to get patients back home.

AFC has planning permission secured for a new stadium at Kingsford. Surely they should be approaching the money markets in the city for funding not hard-pressed families?

James Noel, Aberdeen.

Check facts over striking postal staff

Sir, – Just to rectify matters after Don McKay’s letter (December 1), posties do not get time and a half and double time for weekend work. Saturday is a normal work day for them as they have a day off during the week, therefore they are on normal single-time rate.

They do not work Sundays although Royal Mail is trying to get them to do so at non-overtime rates.

Get your facts right before condemning these people Mr McKay – if posties strike, they do lose money.

My son is a postie so these are the true facts.

Dave Blair, Hatton, Peterhead.