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Readers’ letters: People abusing foodbanks, Aberdeen City Orchestra Youth Ensemble and the Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894

Evan Adamson, Instant Neighbour's community connector, with volunteer Douglas McDonagh at the Aberdeen foodbank in 2019. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.
Evan Adamson, Instant Neighbour's community connector, with volunteer Douglas McDonagh at the Aberdeen foodbank in 2019. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Sir, – Wise words from a man on the front line; Evan Adamson, a man who in his earlier years admits to being skint and relying on foodbanks, now runs Instant Neighbour’s emergency food service, and gave his views on the present situation (The Press and Journal, January 10).

He states foodbanks offer “emergency food” not “free food” and the difference is important. It questions whether the glut of foodbanks, while helpful, may also be enabling people not to be proactive, with the incentive to find employment much reduced.

Why, he ponders, would anyone desire to carry out the less glamorous tasks in care homes and hospitals such as the humble auxiliary nurse, the bath and bed pan brigade, the weekend employment of my late wife in the 1970s, just to help put food on the table for our children?

I, a farm servant at 15, was a decade later a fledgling clinical scientist beginning a career in that marvellous institution, the NHS, blossoming into its twenties.

Now, according to Mr Adamson, a shrewd benefit recipient with a car could visit several foodbanks, many of which have no check on how in need a person is, and get £200 of free food every week.

With Brexit leaving workers from Europe unwelcome, the willingness to accept those vital roles for meagre financial reward has left a chasm that will not easily be filled. Mounting vacancies in the care sector are a reminder of their loss.

Another of his claims is that when signing on for benefits, a list of foodbanks is supplied so in effect they are being used to prop up the welfare system, free food is now an entitlement. Emergency replaced by normality.

I find this staggering. An illuminating and honest assessment by a man who has been both a user and provider, been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Ivan W Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Scottish commercial shipbuilding is dead in the water

Sir, – I am now rather sick and tired of hearing about the Ferguson Marine shipyard and its long overdue vessels which are needed now, not a few years from now.

The build contract should, in my own view, never have been placed with a UK yard as shipbuilding on a large scale, even here in Scotland, died many years ago.

Now most new vessel contracts are gained by Scandinavian and European shipyards who can even tell you the date the vessels will be ready, as per contract.

Given the scandalous amount of taxpayers’ cash that has been thrown at the Ferguson yard to complete the two ferries they need to be completed as soon as possible.

As for other new ferry contracts being awarded to Turkish yards, I am in no doubt that the vessels will be built to a high standard and on time.

A large proportion of the pelagic fishing vessels have been built in Scandinavia, Poland and Turkey and delivered on time.

It’s very easy for a politician to question why the new ferry contract went to Europe rather than Scotland, but the answer was there for all to see. Scottish shipyards for commercial use are now dead other than the naval ships that are being built in the UK.

Let’s hope the Western Isles population get their new ferries soon rather than later.

Gavin Elder, Pruiner Drive, Peterhead.

Supermarkets can energise centres

Sir, – Yet again (“Banchory shopping complex a death knell for the High Street”, Letters, January 12), a correspondent points out that a “big business” thinks it will be doing everyone a favour by taking much-needed green land to build another shopping complex, signalling the death knell of another historic town centre.

Councillors should dig their toes in with some vigour and do more to keep the character of our old town centres alive.

If supermarkets moved into the old shops instead of building from scratch, the necessary repairs could be undertaken. Each manager would have direct rapport with the buying public and be responsible to the overall management team.

Any reorganisation as it becomes necessary would only affect one shop or department at a time rather than the whole complex.

There is no need to take over the green countryside. This should continue to be used for local food production that is so much in demand to cut down on unnecessary air miles etc.

The “big business” would be seen as a good influence bringing benefits in these difficult times but also providing the social contact we all now crave.

Perhaps this simple idea is too much for the giants who now dominate our food industry to comprehend.

High streets offering only tourist gift shops and cafes, sitting among empty or boarded windows, are not the most popular destinations for either visitors or locals.

Fort William is a case in point where, unfortunately, the clock cannot be turned back. What can be done to regenerate an already dead town centre?

L Rogers, Faichemiosal, Invergarry.

Youth Ensemble music to my ears

Moray youth orchestra

Sir, – How about something more cheerful on the Letters page?

On Saturday I went to hear the Aberdeen City Orchestra Youth Ensemble at Midstocket Church. The orchestra is made up from young musicians aged approximately 11 to 17.

They performed brilliantly and their rendition of the music from Psycho was extremely impressive as were the other pieces they performed. The large audience were clearly delighted with the performance.

Thanks to the ACO for providing the means and encouragement for the training of these young people.

Any time the Youth Ensemble is performing in any reader’s area, don’t hesitate to attend.

Sanders Paterson, Raeden Park Road, Aberdeen.

Politicians must unite to save NHS

Sir, – The situation the NHS finds itself in, UK wide, is troubling.

Causes of this are fairly obvious – the ongoing Covid issue, a much higher incidence of flu viruses than anticipated, Strep A and bed blocking, which leads to many other issues.

Only one could be foreseen – the latter.

Governments of all persuasions have been aware for decades of the ageing population timebomb but there appears to have been little, if any, planning to deal with it.

I find it a bit rich for unionist politicians to be constantly haranguing the health minister in Holyrood. Could they do any better with the country in it dire fiscal state? All very well to criticise but you need to have a remedy to hand along with how you plan to implement it, explaining how it will be funded, along with where cuts will need to be made to provide said funding.

Yes, we know the NHS needs radical reform. Services have been stretched for some time for myriad reasons.

Additional funding will not in itself provide the solution. It’s high time the politicians of all persuasions sat down together and worked out an affordable way forward, explained this to the electorate and NHS staff and tried to get them to agree to it as best they can.

Ron Campbell, Richmond Walk, Aberdeen.

SNP doesn’t trust Scottish people

Sir, – What is it about this Scottish Government and Scottish industry?

Not only are they determined to destroy the oil and gas industry along with the thousands of jobs that go with it, they now have their eyes on Scotland’s second biggest exporter, the whisky industry.

Under new proposals being put forward by the Nationalists, whisky would be put on the exact same footing as tobacco.

Whisky would not be in full view in shops and supermarkets but behind covers in the same way tobacco is now. Whisky branding on clothing such as T-shirts and on mugs and glasses would not be allowed and advertising of whisky in the media would also be banned.

Shops such as the whisky outlets in places such as Edinburgh and Inverness would not be able to openly display their merchandise and would not be able to sell any product with a whisky company logo on it.

Distillery tours, I suppose, could still go ahead but you would not be able to buy a commemorative mug or glass bearing the distillery name.

The Scottish Government is forever shouting about how much money the whisky industry brings into Scotland and even keeps badgering Westminster not to put up the tax on it, but it cannot trust the Scottish public to behave sensibly with whisky.

This is the same government that wants to allow people aged 16 to become members of the Scottish Parliament but can’t trust the rest of us to drink sensibly.

Hugh Millar, Castlegreen Road, Thurso.

‘Gravy train’ of climate disaster

Sir, – As is typical of those fearing disastrous climate changes, Lesley Ellis (Letters, January 13) expresses exaggerated, near-hysterical alarmism.

Anxieties about localised weather events are taken to imply worldwide imminent climate doom. Snatches of purported scientific justification are chosen to justify any confirmation bias.

Ms Ellis uses unproven inferences from young people’s anxieties to bolster her alarmist case. Crying out the climate worrier’s clarion call of “something must be done” lacks realistic, practical, helpful proposals for any solution.

So what, specifically, do the Ellises want so as to assuage their fears?

Their prophylactic proposals always hinge on decarbonisation, also justified by, hopefully, cleansing of the world’s atmosphere.

There is no evidence whatsoever that decarbonising could influence climate.

Disappointingly for Ms Ellis and her climate co-religionists, most of Earth’s man-made greenhouse gases are emitted from countries whose fixed policies prevent decarbonisation. That enormously reduces their industries’ costs, competitiveness and boosts their national treasure while shrinking our own.

Therefore, Lesley Ellis, provide us with realistic means of alleviating climate anxieties.

Please don’t propose our likely national ruin.

Decarbonisation is impractical and unaffordable.

However, it is the Western, UN-compliant, world authorities’ crassly costly and ineffective choice for reducing climate worries.

It swells the financial gains to those on the climate gravy train who enjoy substantial benefits.

Is that what started it all and now keeps it chugging along?

Charles Wardrop, Viewlands Road West, Perth.

Humankind will find solution

A horse in a field looking at the camera, another horse is behind it
Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Sir, – I am obliged to Ms Ellis for her reply to my letter. As usual with such global warmers, it’s all doom and gloom.

Either we change our ways and reject all fossil fuel use or we consign our planet to a slow death by overheating, eventually rendering it uninhabitable.

This hair-shirt approach is what irritates most people when asked to give up their home comforts or ability to get around in their cars.

I refer Ms Ellis and her supporters to the “great manure problem” in London and other large cities in the 1890s.

The Times published an article stating that if nothing was done, London streets would be covered in 9ft of manure within 50 years. Solutions were put forward: horses to be fitted with “dung bags”, restricted use of horse carts, etc. All to no avail.

Then some clever person invented the internal combustion engine, using a fuel so plentiful it was oozing out of the ground in some locations and neither London nor the rest of us have ever looked back.

Rest assured, Ms Ellis, a light bulb moment will occur in someone’s mind on the CO2 problem, whether it’s carbon capture or something else.

I have every faith in humankind to find a solution that doesn’t involve destroying our civilisation, or our planet.

Alex J Gray, Dunvegan Place, Ellon.

Ego trips cost city

Sir, – If councillors had been to the beach, they may have had a big surprise.

The beachfront was full on a cold and windy day, all without a change in sight.

People were walking from end to end, with prams, bikes and wheelchairs, most coming from the back of cars. We don’t need £350 million spent, just clean up what we have and repair what needs repaired. But our council want this change, at the same time making it difficult for most to get there.

Why am I surprised when they talk of spending millions in the regeneration of Union Street but making it harder for us all to travel into the centre.

They set up a fume-free zone then stop us driving up Guild Street the easy way so vehicles are queueing for longer to get to their destination, causing more fumes. Our council then buy the New Market Building to knock it down and replace it with a new food market.

But it’s rumoured they may not – I am hoping this pattern might continue instead of pursuing their expensive ego trips.

Just start running this city for the people who live here and pay their taxes. Fix the potholes clean our streets and look after the elderly.

If Union Terrace Gardens can cost millions more than expected, how much more will work worth an estimated £500 million actually finish at? They can’t even look after what we already have.

K. Addison.

Goodwin must go

Sir, – Aberdeen Football Club has, after this week’s game against Heart of Midlothian, depressed me more than the Covid or the flu.

In my opinion, Jim Goodwin needs to walk out the door if he has any sense and it will be for his own good and his future in football.

As far as the players are concerned, I’ve watched better football at primary schools with young players.

It’s time to move on Mr Goodwin and take all with you who can’t play football.

Please go now.

Joseph Durno, Cummings Park Circle, Aberdeen.