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Readers’ Letters: ‘Underwhelming’ Union Terrace Gardens should serve as a warning

Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen has undergone a revamp but some have been left feeling underwhelmed by the changes. Image: Alastair Gossip/DCT Media
Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen has undergone a revamp but some have been left feeling underwhelmed by the changes. Image: Alastair Gossip/DCT Media

Sir, – I visited the new-look Union Terrace Gardens the other day (I almost broke my neck as the paths had not been gritted) and like other comments I have read, I was underwhelmed.

If this is not proof that the beach redevelopment is NOT needed then I don’t know what is.

Spend the money on Union Street and move the tourist visitor office into the empty pod nearest Union Street and maybe the Art Gallery could open a shop in the other empty one as the new gallery shop is a shadow of the former excellent one.

James Walker, Union Grove, Aberdeen.

Whisky firms will continue to invest

Our region is home to a number of distilleries including The Macallan. Image: Macallan Distillery/Mark Power Magnum

Sir, – Finlay G Mackintosh (Letters, December 26) gets it so wrong in so many ways.

Firstly, I am no longer a member of the SNP. I gave up on them because of their inaction on the independence front and their fixation with GRR.

I think that Finlay should re-read the book Scotland’s Future (that is if he ever did when it was first published in 2013). It clearly states that the bases would remain open. The SNP submission to the UK’s Integrated Defence Review says (paragraph 29) that RAF Lossiemouth should play a very important role in the future. It is unfathomable to me why he thinks that would not continue in a Scotland free from UK rule.

It is rather disingenuous to claim that because distilleries are, in the main, foreign owned they will pay less taxes in, and generally be detrimental to, a free Scotland. It must have escaped his notice that those companies he thinks will be of no use to our economy, are currently seen as important to that of the UK.

The fact that the likes of Diageo and Pernod-Ricard have their HQs abroad does not affect their investment in the industry here. With such a profitable product they aren’t going to up sticks and move their operations to other parts of rUK – even if that was a possibility.

Distilling may not be labour intensive, but the industry provides much needed employment in rural areas. According to the Scotch Whisky Association’s 2021 report 7,000 people are directly employed in rural distilleries throughout Scotland.

In the Speyside/Glenlivet ward (Moray) there are numerous ‘stills’, each providing employment in areas where there are few other opportunities.

There is Knockando and Carron with six, the Ballindalloch postcode area (AB37) with its eight (stretching from Glenfarclas to Tomintoul). Even in the larger settlements distilling is very important (Dufftown has six, Rothes four, the Aberlour area three and Craigellachie two, including The Macallan which is just across the Spey).

Then there are the ancillary jobs which would not exist if not for whisky production: copperies and coopers. Additionally, there are all the skilled tradesmen who rely on the distilleries for a lot of their work. The industry is a very important one not only to Moray but Scotland as a whole and it will continue to be when we are free of Westminster rule.

As for independence, seven of the last eight polls put Yes in the lead and the odd one out had support at 49% (well within the margin of error).

The Yes movement, Finlay says, “bleats on about how Westminster treats Scotland”. That happens because Westminster controls the purse strings.

The Barnett formula merely gives Scotland back a share of what the UK exchequer makes in taxation from Scotland. It is based on a proportion of the UK Government’s planned spending, in England, on matters which are devolved to the Scottish government.

Not allowing us to control all taxation raised in Scotland means the Scottish government is restricted in what it can do to mitigate the consequences of the extremist Tory UK administration.

Unionists like Finlay Mackintosh are completely out of touch. They buy into the treacherous view that Scotland needs England to survive.

Hamish McBain, Green Street, Rothes.

Please don’t knock school dinners

Children are given options when it comes to school dinners. Image: Shutterstock

Sir, – I would like to politely disagree with Ivan W Reid’s letter (The Press and Journal, December 30) regarding the quality of lunches on offer in Scottish schools.

Having been a teacher at Turriff Academy and the Gordon Schools, Huntly for the best part of 30 years I can only applaud the quality and diversity of the meals offered to the schoolchildren in both schools.

A wide range of meals such as beef steak pie, Italian meatballs and pasta, fish and chips, various curries, beef olives, vegetarian noodles, macaroni cheese (all supplemented with a wide range of vegetables or salad) are always on offer. The meals are varied and nutritionally balanced.

True, chips are on the menu daily and, let’s be honest, if children have to choose between mashed tatties or chips I’m pretty confident I can guess which is the popular choice.

However, the children make their own choices and if that means they walk into town with pals to buy a sandwich from the supermarket, or chips from the chip shop, or pies from the bakery, or even just some sweets (or a box of doughnuts which happened to be on offer that day), that is their choice. Children been never been so well educated as to what is good or bad for their diet.

The schools’ canteen staff do an incredible job on a ridiculously small budget and should be congratulated for trying to give all school children the option of having a hot, nourishing and wholesome lunch. As a well known saying goes: You can take a horse to water. . .

Keith Griffiths, East Church St, Fordyce

Scotland gets fair share of money

Sir, – Re Herbert Petrie’s letter (The P&J, December 30) I despair at the so-called facts he presents.

No extra money for the health service? The Barnett Consequentials ensured that Scotland got its fair share of extra money following increases south of the border.

With regard to Brexit benefit the facts seem to indicate that although there was an initial exit of EU nationals there has actually been a net increase in EU people arriving in the UK.

Fishing has now been agreed between the EU, Norway and others with the UK acting as an independent state giving much improved quotas which benefit Scotland in particular.

Don’t forget that much of the benefits from Brexit are derived from negotiations with third parties, which always are somewhat fraught, particularly if the third party is the EU.

Reader M.J. Salter believes the EU is doing little to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel. This picture shows a group of people thought to be migrants being brought in to Dungeness, Kent,  last month after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel. Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

With regard to immigrants crossing the Channel, these migrants once they are through the ‘Schengen Barrier’ are free to move across Europe to northern France, where they become a problem for those communities. I suspect that the French are only too happy to see them get into small boats and head north.

The EU is doing little or nothing to stem this flow.

M.J. Salter, Glassel, Banchory.

An outrageous betrayal of women

Supporters of the For Women Scotland and the Scottish Feminist Network take part in a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of the vote on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill last month. Image: Lesley Martin/PA Wire

Sir, – Our local constituency MSP Jenni Minto along with many (but not all) SNP MSPs have voted down amendments to the SNP’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill from Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay to stop convicted sex offenders changing their gender whilst they are on the sex offenders register.

This was a common sense proposal to protect women and girls. Yet instead of supporting this vital safeguard, Jenni Minto and a large rump of SNP MSPs have voted to leave the system open to abuse from sexual predators.

The SNP, Greens and Liberal Democrats have blocked the introduction of vital safeguards on Nicola Sturgeon’s bill. Women, girls and the vast majority of the public will find this utterly indefensible.

I notice that our local constituency MSP is very reluctant to talk about this vote. Many of my constituents in the Kintyre and the Islands ward and local Argyll and Bute residents from outside of my ward have contacted me to express their outrage at this betrayal of women.

Perhaps Jenni Minto will be able to provide an explanation to we the residents of Argyll and Bute as to why she voted the way she did?

Cllr Alastair Redman, Kintyre and the Islands.

Selfish views in Aberdeen’s west end over housing plan

More than 100 objections have been lodged against plans to build affordable housing at site of the former Braeside Primary School in Airyhall. Image: Halliday Fraser Munro 

Sir, – In response to the article ‘No place for families in poverty’ (Evening Express, December 27), I was shocked and saddened reading about the ‘anger’ of affluent Aberdonians that their new neighbours in the West End may not shop in M&S or sport a personalised reg plate.

The idea that affordable housing is only occupied and available for those living in poverty is wrong – especially in the current volatile housing market. Appropriately demonstrating how detached many of these complainers are from reality. The suggestion that those in affordable housing are criminals is also for the birds.

Secondly, cold hearted residents should direct their so-called ‘anger’ towards the root causes of poverty, such as our stuttering UK economy, welfare cuts and the soaring cost of living, rather than the growing number of families who find themselves trapped in deprivation through no fault of their own.

Some from the middle-class NIMBY camp will say this is more than an issue of poverty and one of resources. But, it is simply selfishness and arrogance if you feel minor inconveniences to your comfortable life in one of the country’s most sought-after postcodes are of greater importance than another Scot’s right to have a roof over their child’s head.

It seems it took less than 48 hours for Airyhall residents to forget the sentiment of Christmas.

Jack Middleton.