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Readers’ letters: Big Noise Torry at Aberdeen Music Hall, separating politics and religion, and council spending

A performance by Big Noise Torry at Aberdeen Music Hall. Image: Darrell Benns/ DC Thomson
A performance by Big Noise Torry at Aberdeen Music Hall. Image: Darrell Benns/ DC Thomson

Sir, – We attended the RSNO concert in the Music Hall on Thursday October 13 where various members of the Big Noise Torry were interspersed with musicians of the orchestra.

The pride the participants had playing with the full orchestra was warmly applauded by the audience and the pride they had was clearly seen and also applauded by the full orchestra who are world-renowned for their performances.

It has been rumoured that the funding for the Big Noise could be in jeopardy in the next Aberdeen city budget. This would be a big mistake in so far as the confidence these children have gained by being able to play an instrument and to take this away is positively criminal.

Patrons such as Sir Ian and Lady Wood and a few more well-kent locals could put in a good word to raise local funding to keep the Big Noise going. A monetary price cannot be placed on the psychological effect on the children if this is allowed to fold.

I’m sure everyone agrees with me that the pride one felt that local children were competent enough to play in concert with a big orchestra was very satisfying.

Come on Aiberdeen, dinna let the local kids doon, fork oot the pound notes to keep the show on the road for the sake of the kids’ satisfaction and peace of mind. I’m sure The Press And Journal will encourage the parents of the Big Noise to set up a donations website to advise where donations can be made.

Don’t let some council officials who know the price of everything and the value of nothing – as we have seen for the past 15 years, a transient collection of people who could be dismissed at the next election – be as stupid as Dundee City Council who have allegedly cancelled the funding for their orchestra in a city which needs the influence of their Big Noise more than most.

Alexander Sutherland. Hilton Drive, Aberdeen.

Lesson in how to build homes

An artist impression of Cala Homes’ new development on the outskirts of Westhill. Image: Cala Homes

Sir, – On looking at the bland rows of houses in the Cala development at Westhill (The Press And Journal, February 22) and others like it, why don’t the various developers have a look at Bredero’s schemes, for example in Banchory?

No straight roads, houses at various angles, grass and shrub planting wherever possible and houses with various materials used, including wood. Not to mention the 20mph limit. It is a beautiful scheme and there is a lot to be learned from it.

John Hartley. Woodside Road, Torphins.

Public entitled to say yes to Forbes

Sir, – Your eminent columnist, the award-winning investigative journalist Catherine Deveney (‘For now, we can vote fire and brimstone out of government’, February 24) concluded her full-page piece this week with the paragraph: “Democratically, Kate Forbes is entitled to offer a view of politics based on Christianity. Democratically, the people are equally entitled to say a polite ‘no thank you.’”

Now one can imagine the more curious amongst the people thinking to themselves, is there a follow-up piece next week, meandering over the same territory, Iran, Ireland, dear old England, concluding with a paragraph: “Kate Forbes is entitled to offer a view of politics based on Christianity. Democratically, the people are equally entitled to say a polite ‘yes thank you’.”

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes.

Or like the archbishops, ayatollahs and mullahs in her piece, who claim a hot line to the Divine (and not all do, by the way), does your columnist claim to be at one with the people to the extent she can paraphrase their will in the negative?

And could you please explain the caption under the picture of Ms Forbes: ‘Free? Doe-eyed prodigy Kate Forbes seemed a shoo-in…’ Is Ms Forbes in detention? Is she also competing in her primary school spelling bee? It is not clear.

Alistair Mackie. Ely, Cambridgeshire.

Integrity requires a moral code

Sir, – Catherine Deveney appears to condemn every world religion based on the unacceptable behaviour of certain religious leaders, factions or particular adherents.

She claims that “World Churches have lost moral authority”. Wow! Is she the high and mighty one?

For at least 7,000 years humanity has used moral codes and religions to assist community development.

Some so-called intellectuals think these long-established codes can all be ditched and that “my truth” or “my lived experience” – however selfish and irrational – is good enough.

Science will never have all the answers. Wearing a Progressive t-shirt or sticking yourself to a roadway does nothing for the community.

Contributing some productive effort according to what you see are the priorities is what counts.

To set your priorities with any integrity you need a moral code.

I am not an SNP or Free Church supporter. But if Kate Forbes ditches the extreme progressive agenda and focuses on more important community-wide issues, she and her moral code would have my respect.

Isabel Page. South Road, Oldmeldrum.

SNP myth of unity has been broken

Sir, – With a few exceptions, the myth that the SNP all think the same and more or less behave like nodding dogs has now been well and truly broken.

In the leadership race to replace Nicola Sturgeon, the gloves are now well and truly off, as can be seen with the media briefings against Kate Forbes which have shown the SNP to be like any other political party.

Up until now they have been better at hiding this than others but it really was never realistic to imagine that all individuals in the party had the same opinions and agreed on all matters.

With this in mind, it is now up to the SNP members to decide who should be the new leader of their party.

Do they opt for a relative unknown who did the right thing in resigning from Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet but still wants to carry on with the “de facto referendum” plan?

Nicola Sturgeon. Image: PA

Another option is to plump for the Sturgeon continuity candidate – a failed transport, justice and health secretary who in any other line of work would have been fired, not looking at promotion to the top job.

The other option is to go for the finance secretary – the only one who has spoken about anything beyond the realms of independence, who appears to be pro-business and economic growth and who might just actually work with the UK Government to improve the lives of those who live in Scotland.

A final consideration for SNP members is do they want to continue having their tail wagged by the Greens or is now the ideal opportunity to dump the Greens from government?

Those of us watching from the sidelines will do so with baited breath.

Mhairi E Rennie. Finlayson Street, Fraserburgh.

GRR Bill must now be revised

Sir, – The refusal of the SNP, Labour, Greens and Lib Dems leaderships to allow their own MSPs to vote according to their individual consciences on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill did not reflect true diversity or a genuine openness and tolerance to debate. It relied only on authoritarian diktat from an extreme, one-sided minority transgender alliance.

It appears completely bizarre and insensitive to attempt to right one trans wrong by creating a new different set of wrongs against women and girls.

The Conservatives allowed their MSPs a free vote on the GRR legislation with some of the party’s MSPs voting for reforms while the party itself largely supported the bill.

It was significant that nine SNP MSPs rebelled. This reflects the general public’s genuine concern and overall disquiet with some aspects of the bill.

It is very significant that the gay marriage legislation was passed with a free vote. The first minister at that time clearly had a broader and different view on matters of religious conscience.

There was total intolerance of any type of difference or dissent on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

It appears there is much less tolerance of some people’s religious orientations compared to their sexual and gender differences. This is claimed to be progressive but in reality it is sanctimonious humbug and a double standard and a clear abuse of power by the SNP and Green Alliance.

The bill that was passed by the Scottish Parliament needs to be revised and amended to fairly recognise all within in the UK.

The first minister does not have the ability to walk on water. Her powers are legally defined and limited. The Gender Recognition Reform Bill is currently “not valid” and must be revised. The UK Supreme Court does not need to be consulted.

David Philip. Knockhall Way, Newburgh.

Pedestrians and cyclists in conflict

Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

Sir, – A new arrangement at the Inshes Roundabout is the subject of a planning application but it ignores the needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

In 2021, Transport Scotland produced a new version of Cycling by Design, which stated: “Within built-up areas where a cycling facility is to be located adjacent to a road, there should be a strong presumption in favour of separating pedestrian and cycle movements. In these circumstances, shared-use facilities should only be used as a means of delivering route continuity where all other options have been examined and documented in the design review.”

There is no design review considering pedestrians and cyclists and all proposed new “active travel” routes are shared use. The needs of pedestrians and cyclists are different and the conflict between them on shared-use routes will rise as the number of e-bikes increases. The proposals do include advanced waiting areas for cyclists on the roads which is an acceptance that a significant proportion of cyclists will prefer conflict with motorists rather than pedestrians.

A recent consultation on behalf of Highland Council about Millburn Road accepted that cyclists should have a route which is separate from pedestrians and motorists. External funding was provided for this study but the council is not willing to spend its own money on providing appropriate facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

The planning application must be withdrawn or refused and replaced by one that takes into account current standards.

Graham Tuley. Crown Drive, Inverness.

Homophobia – not faith – is problem

Sir, – In the ongoing debate about Kate Forbes’ opposition to marriage equality there is a narrative that her detractors are attacking her Christianity.

So discrimination towards gay people is OK so long as it comes from a religious place?

The problem is not her faith, it’s her homophobia.

Neil Barber. Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh.

NHS board ignored clinicians’ advice

Sir, – When the new emergency care centre (ECC) was being planned, the area medical committee and consultants’ advisory committee warned NHS Grampian health board and executive that the reduction of dozens of beds would come back to bite us.

At that time we were given assurance that there would be “intermediate care” which would absorb patients who block beds. Many of us were sceptical, intermediate care never materialised, and events now prove that the NHS Grampian board should have listened to advice from clinicians.

It is a duty of candour towards our patients and the taxpaying public that they are made aware of this. A consequence of ignoring this advice has been the sad sight of patients in corridors who are stripped of the bare essentials of privacy and dignity a patient receiving hospital care deserves.

In my 34 years of service in the NHS I never thought I’d see such a scenario. How have we as a society allowed this to happen?

Dr Izhar Khan, Consultant nephrologist.

Council wastes so much cash

Sir, – The possible future budget, in the Evening Express last week, maybe all services gone for the people, so what indeed does our council tax pay for?

What did our council spend on the Union Terrace Gardens project? That no one really wanted and so far has not been much of a success.

Union terrace gardens after the reopening. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

What has it cost to demolish the BHS and Market which was so unnecessary to do at the moment?

All the cash spent on the above, all quite ridiculous at this time of unrest, in the whole world.

Now they want to take away the swimming pools, gyms and all that people have left to enjoy.

Heating worries, food worries, job worries, mortgage worries, just living is becoming a trial for many to endure and to survive.

All the cash spent on the unnecessary things when now we really need it, not one person I know runs their home like the council runs our once beautiful silver city.

Even my humble self could see the bad times that were right in front of us – were all the councillors blind?

Grannie Annie.

Barcodes rule shows up flaws

Sir, – The shambolic bottle and can recycling scheme is fraught with flaws.

The guidance confirmed barcodes must be intact (EE February 25, p10).

That’s OK if the cans have barcodes, because most multi packs of juice don’t have the dreaded barcode, only the packaging has the barcode.

Am I supposed to keep the packaging and return eight cans at the same time?

T Shirron, Davidson Drive, Aberdeen.