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Readers’ letters: Jim Goodwin’s messy management, changes in the holiday sector and children’s gender identities

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin watches on against Hearts. Image: James Christie/
Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin watches on against Hearts. Image: James Christie/

Sir, – As an avid and lifelong Aberdeen FC supporter I simply have had enough of the current manager.

Despite a good showing in the semi-final against Rangers at Hampden, the performance in general over the last few weeks, and the total embarrassment of the defeat to Hearts, shows that Jim Goodwin is simply not good enough; the Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack must also take some blame.

It’s a pathetic standard of football with no chance of improvement for a very average mid-table provincial team.

Alan Joiner, Skerry Drive, Peterhead.

Importing oil and gas while North Sea lies dormant is foolish

Sir, – There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Mathieson’s statement in Holyrood last week was intended to shut down any future oil and gas activity in the North Sea.

His speech was met with disbelief and very strong responses from Russell Borthwick, the CEO of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, who was also supported by Tory MSP Liam Kerr, and Labour MSP Colin Smyth who want the Scottish Government to reconsider and reverse this job-destroying position before it’s too late.

It is well understood that a transition from fossil fuels to a low carbon and net zero source will take place over the next 20-30 years, but sadly the Scottish Government is willing to leave our own oil and gas in the ground while importing increasing amounts of it from other parts of the world, which is environmentally crazy.

While the Scottish Government’s position is largely symbolic, this is still a betrayal of one of Scotland’s biggest industries.

Mind you, the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn hinted (P&J January 14) that the “Cambo field near Shetland should not be ruled out if it can successfully conform to climate change targets”.

This, he said, “would have the potential to boost Scotland’s energy security during the cost-of-living crisis’’.

Mr Flynn’s thinking, while it may be against the SNP/Green edict, is bang on track during these difficult times.

Ken Watmough, Broomhill Terrace, Aberdeen.

New licence system hits holiday sector

Lossiemouth Bay Caravan Park. Picture by Jason Hedges.

Sir, – I am writing to comment on the apparent disregard the current Scottish Government has for the holiday sector and its importance to the Scottish economy, and indeed the needs of its own people, both providers and users.

The issue relates to its introduction of the new licensing system for all holiday-lets. This includes sharing your home or part of your home with or without your presence and secondary letting such as holiday flats, cottages, boats, caravans, and serviced accommodation. It also includes B&B facilities.

The new licensing scheme has now been approved and I accept some of the principles, in that accommodation must be safe and suitable and must not become the source of nuisance to neighbouring properties.

I also recognise that with a licence system there must be a control and monitoring responsibility for local councils.

However, the scope and depth of the new regulations and the way they are being introduced will mean that many outlets will simply give up their interest in this sector.

The process of applying for the licence is complex and requires a number of certificated actions and conditions including, in many cases, planning permission for “change of use”. With regard to planning permission, some authorities are charging £600 for a small flat, in Perth & Kinross, or nothing in Aberdeenshire.

Since each council is responsible for licensing in its own area, it can set whatever fees it wishes to charge for a licence.

Thus there is considerable variation in the fee level, which also depends on the size of the accommodation – why that is so is a mystery. However, the fees are usually in the hundreds.

Should an application fail (and it may well do if, for example, there is a common access issue) then the fee is non-returnable.

I think it is generally acknowledged that the new system’s introduction has greater relevance to city properties such as in Edinburgh.

It should be appreciated that in the cities, letting is more likely to be year-round whereas in country areas letting is generally very seasonal. Holiday-lets bring in visitors to the area who spend money in local hospitality venues.

They also engage local tradespeople plus cleaners, laundry and gardening services. Of course, tax is paid on any profits remaining.

My concern is not just for my own interest but for the many small businesses and people who let their property as part of a pension income.

It is apparent that the Scottish Government needs to think things through and heed consultation warnings and comments from people in the sector.

If not, visitors and even Scottish tourists may decide to go elsewhere.

John A Shearer, Banchory.

Climate change prediction fell flat

Sir, – With all the snow that has disrupted much of the UK, it’s worth reminding ourselves what Dr David Viner of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit predicted on climate change in the year 2000.

He said that within a few years snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”. He also said, “children just aren’t going to know what snow is”.

The plausibility of man-made climate change is at a tipping point.

Geoff Moore, Braeface Park, Alness.

Railway promises still way off track

Sir, – The front page wording “Anger at slow progress on £200m rail upgrade” (P&J January 18) could apply equally to the “lifeline” south from Inverness. Promises made by the former first minister in Inverness in August 2008 are still far from being achieved.

They were to deliver an average journey time reduction of 25 minutes between Inverness and Edinburgh to “only” three hours by 2012. What has happened due to increased traffic has been an extra 15 minutes to three hours 40 minutes now. More passing loops on this largely single-track “mainline” railway are urgently needed for both passenger and freight trains.

The line between our two cities must not be forgotten either. It is essential to keep traffic (especially freight contracts) flowing in the event of closures to one of the lines to the south as happened at Carmont in 2020. The 20 miles of single track between Keith and Elgin badly needs a passing loop – yet another undelivered promise from 2008.

R J Ardern, Inverness.

Sturgeon must hand over reins

Sir, – Once again Sturgeon and her helpers are raging mad about the UK Government blocking the SNP’s gender bill. Rather than running Scotland in a correct manner, they are telling lies and hiding cash.

I watched John Swinney being interviewed on TV regarding what the final amount of cash they will throw at the Ferguson shipyard for the two ferries, which in my own view will not be completed for many years yet.

I also noticed that they are still looking for another referendum, and are in fact splashing our cash at ways to slip over the net.

I have no regard for Sturgeon, and her best bet now would be to resign or hand Holyrood over to the other political parties.

Gavin Elder, Prunier Drive, Peterhead.

Eight is too young to decide gender

North East MSP Maggie Chapman. Image: Supplied

Sir, – Having read the article about an MSP wanting to “explore” letting children as young as eight legally change their gender left me shocked. How could Maggie Chapman even suggest such a thing?

Does she not think that an eight-year-old is vulnerable? They are not yet adults and should be protected by adults as well as from themselves on making life-changing and complex decisions.

A child would not be able to fully understand such issues as their minds are still developing and are open to interpretation.

For goodness sake let children be children.

If this is an issue they want to “pursue” or “question” leave it until they are young adults and then – and only then – they can legally make that choice.

We should not let this type of thought process enter the debating chamber let alone be considered for legislation.

We should slam the door shut now before it goes too far and does untold damage.

Caroline Fleming, Glenkindie.

Columnist wrong on Sunak ‘rat trap’

Sir, – Your feature writer Iain Maciver’s column is always entertaining. But his latest (January 18) disappointed me for cheerleading STV political editor Colin Mackay. It headlined with “Prime minister caught like a rat in a trap by TV reporter” referring to his combative interview of Rishi Sunak in Cromarty this week.

“Nice one, Colin” he added. Really? That’s not what I saw. I saw aggressive, disdainful, in-your-face badgering of the prime minister.

Colin Mackay looked and sounded like the Edinburgh football hooligan (Hearts’ fan!) I once saw being escorted into a police van by Aberdeen’s finest while shouting in an officer’s face “Whit ur ye daein? Why are yous no answerin’ ma question?”

Would Mr Mackay ever question Nicola Sturgeon like that? He wouldn’t dare.

STV and the BBC Scotland staff are either institutionally biased, worried about their jobs in the event of independence or worried about being barricaded in their offices if they were to stand up to the SNP as happened to Nick Robinson and co in 2014.

Oh, and Mr Maciver, You wouldn’t have the nerve to compare Sturgeon to being “caught like a rat in a trap” either.

And that folks is the sad state of political comment in Scotland.

M R Kay, Lochview Place, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.

No excuses for Dons’ drubbing

Sir, – On the STV News at 6pm on Thursday January 19, sports reporter Chris Harvey gave a summing up of the 5-0 thrashing that Aberdeen FC suffered away to Hearts on the previous night and stated that there were “mitigating factors” in the Dons’ defeat.

Namely, the fact that they were “tired” after their match against Rangers the previous Sunday which went to extra time.

What a load of abject nonsense.

Aberdeen were totally outplayed and outclassed, and were already 4-0 down at half-time.

In fact, they were fortunate that Hearts eased off in the second half otherwise there could have been further embarrassment.

Surely it is not too much to expect that a club like Aberdeen do not need “mitigating factors” and should be more than capable of playing two games in three days.

It would seem Mr Harvey was watching a different game from the one I saw.

John Reid, Regent Court, Keith.

Zooming in on a painful issue

Sir, – Jim Back’s letter highlighting the difficulty of diagnosing haemorrhoids on a Zoom call is very timely.

Humza Yousaf has sat on this for too long and yet he has the cheek to say he’s on top of things.

In fact, he’s only scratching the surface and the public is itching for him to get to the bottom of the problem.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Hospital thanks

Woodend Hospital. Image: Kami Thomson

Sir, – I have had many occasions in hospital but never before have I experienced care like in Woodend Ward 7.

Every member of staff was fantastic. A lovely atmosphere, proud professionals with kind, gentle care and no time wasted.

It was all organised to a high standard, and delivered pleasantly and promptly.

I always felt I was an individual although one of many. Doctors, nurses and all staff were approachable, available with a smile although battling to get to work in ice and snow.

Thank you, Mr Neille and your superb staff for my care in Ward 7, Woodend Hospital.

Marion Gilmour, Westhill.

Pointless Dons

Sir, – Aberdeen FC are becoming more like the big supermarket chains. They give you points to get rewards for money spent. However, in Aberdeen FC’s case you just get misery and grief for your money spent with no points!

T. shirron, aberdeen.

Pool is cooler to save costs

Sir, – As A regular attendee at the Sports Village aquatics centre, I read with interest the article in the Evening Express on January 19.

I can honestly say that I have never experienced the pool water being “cold”.

Perhaps the operators have reduced the temperature a little in order to save on utility costs, which is understandable given the current costs.

May I suggest that those who are moaning stop to think before they voice their opinion.

Surely a bit of temperature reduction is better than the facility closing.

Gordon Park.