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Readers’ letters: The demolition of Aberdeen Beach Leisure Centre, teacher strikes and Sir Rod Stewart

Aberdeen Beach Leisure centre which will be closing to be demolished
Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sir, – What is it with our councillors that they keep demolishing buildings?

First BHS and Market gone, now the Beach Leisure Centre under threat and it’s only 30 years old.

Our city is pathetic and in need of attention. Our beach is absolutely perfect at the moment. Why not open the swimming pool in the leisure centre if you’re closing the Bucksburn one? What is wrong with maintenance instead of demolition? You’ve just spent £30 million on the UTG and demolishing BHS and Market. For goodness sake, think about the people and leave some fun places.

We’ve had three years of misery and are worried about getting food, paying for heating, the mortgage situation that’s frightening for many, and now a council tax rise – for what?

Ann Killman.

Airport’s non-customer service is Aberdeen’s missing link

Sir, – May I take this opportunity to agree with the comments made by Visit Aberdeenshire chief executive Chris Foy that prospective visitors won’t come to Aberdeen and spend their money

May I suggest that maybe one of the main causes of visitor reluctance is the shocking lack of international links to both Aberdeen Airport and our railway systems.

aberdeen airport
Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

The operators of our airport seem to have given up on providing prospective visitors with any scheduled air services to continental Europe.

Our dedicated rail service LNER have not introduced a new service to anywhere in England and are now in the process of stopping their main Kings Cross service at Edinburgh and bussing customers on a 150-mile journey to Aberdeen.

Who in their right mind would endure that kind of non-customer service?

James Noel. Leggart Terrace, Aberdeen.

Funding shortfall goes back decades

Sir, – The Aberdeen City Council budget deficit is worrying to the wider community and those who are most vulnerable on any number of levels. A measure of society is how it treats its least well off, ill and eldest, and the proposed cuts do nothing to inspire confidence in the authority’s abilities.

At a time where the Tory-misled, Brexit-mad unionists in Westminster have been allowed to run amok – meaning the so-called UK is now being compared to Romania in terms of wealth – what have their policies actually brought?

In the wake of the independence referendum, it’s seen the Scottish budget slashed and torn at every available opportunity, giving Holyrood less to work with in an age of larger issues to contend with. Of course, that reduction means less for councils so what are they to do?

However much that may pain some unionist political representatives within Aberdeen and Scotland their inability, by design or incompetence, means their unwillingness to argue for better Scots funding over previous decades has ultimately helped create and add to issues nobody should be facing in the 21st Century.

Ian Beattie. Baker Street, Aberdeen.

Let’s see councillors show willing for city

Sir, – With money short in Aberdeen council I suggest each member do their own fundraising to put into the council coffers.

Individuals all over the country show such creativity, determination and dedication to raise money for charities, some raising hundreds of pounds and some thousands.

The Ukrainian people, with their backs to the wall, demonstrate tremendous stoicism, dedication and commitment to save their country.

Let us see how many show willing to save their city from closing doors all over.

Sybil Wilkie. Banchory.

Rules must apply to renewables sector

Sir, – It was good to hear on the radio that surgeons at Raigmore Hospital have reviewed the use of anaesthetics and are doing away with the most harmful to the environment.

Contrast this with the renewables sector that uses SF6 sulphur hexafluoride in their electrical appliances. SF6 is one of the six main greenhouse gasses and very dangerous to the environment if released, but not a word is said about them because they are seen as good environmentalists.

Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

In my objections to some wind farms I have found that to speak against the current drive to net-zero and how we get there sidelines one as a crackpot, as it would appear to our modern society it’s alright to dig up peat, cut down trees, disrupt seal colonies, wildlife, ruin fishing grounds, blight the Highlands and Islands all to erect wind turbines to provide power to our cities.

A recent example of this is Greenpeace and many so-called environmentalists who did not have time to help save a seal colony on an uninhabited island which is to have a wind farm erected on it. Contrast this to their attitude if the seals were in danger from activities by the oil industry.

It would appear its one rule for renewables sector and a different rule for the rest of industry.

Jim Leitch. Evie, Orkney.

Don’t miss boat over councils’ cruise levy

Sir, – North councils receive funding for environmental protection and improvement – £2 million to Highland, £2 million to Orkney and £1 million to Shetland.

This could have been a headline in The P&J if, in 2021, the Scottish Government had accepted my proposal of a £10 per cruise passenger levy.

I sent it as a response to the tourism charges consultation in 2020 and received only an e-mail acknowledgement of receipt. When I later made direct contact with MSPs I was advised that “we shouldn’t do anything to scare away the cruise lines”.

With Invergordon reported as expecting 220,000 passengers, Lerwick 100,00 and Orkney an incredible 234 cruise ships, as well as 129 vessels scheduled to smaller west coast ports, me surmising that the cruise lines needed us as much as we needed them has been overwhelmingly vindicated.

Cruise ship at Hatston Pier - image for the article about Orkney Harbour Masterplan updates – Drive to Net Zero continues

This levy would allow us to finance the infrastructure needed for these welcome tourists and the even larger numbers coming independently to our beautiful country.

Daily, we hear complaints about lack of toilets, the congestion on remote roads, scarcity of coach and car parking areas, etc.

Long-suffering locals in the busiest areas could put forward proposals to their councils for the improvements they felt were most necessary to protect their quality of life.

We must urgently put in Scottish Government legislation to allow this to happen.

Each cruise ship would simply transfer the appropriate sum to the local council’s cruise levy bank account on arrival in each port. No need to count how many passengers go ashore – simply use the total number of passengers on board as registered in the ship’s manifest.

The income could statutorily be used only for tourism-related expenditure and could not be subsumed into the council’s overall budget.

Equally, national government would not be permitted to reduce financial support pro rata to councils.

We could annually finance a range of improvements for rural communities at minimal administrative expense. Equally, areas around major ports would also benefit with Aberdeen making a start with 28 ships, Greenock with 60 and Leith with 115 this year.

Please, Scottish Government, don’t let us miss the boat again.

Alasdair Maclean. Nairn.

Striking teachers in need of a lesson

Sir, – The teachers on strike in Scotland have short memories. They received 100 per cent salary during Covid, not 80 per cent.

Their salaries are paid by the taxpayer, the same taxpayers whose children’s education is suffering.

In 2007, the Scottish Government introduced free university tuition for those who had lived in Scotland for three years.

The university fees of £9,250 a year are paid by Scottish taxpayers.

The Scottish Government should immediately insist that free university is conditional on a no-strike clause for five years and also that they work in Scotland for five years and thus repay taxpayers’ generosity.

Clark Cross. Springfield Road, Linlithgow.

SNP candidates for FM’s job in denial

SNP leadership candidites Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf standing in a line and smiling at the camera
Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf taking part in the first SNP leadership hustings in Cumbernauld. Image: Andy Buchanan /PA Wire

Sir, – I have been watching closely the candidates that are in the running to be the next SNP first minister and the only thing they can agree on is the fight to give the Scottish members independence.

Ms Forbes, due to her faith, does not agree with same-sex marriage among other things.

Mr Yousaf does not have a clue about politics and his antics regarding the state of the NHS are outrageous.

Ms Regan still wants North Sea oil and gas and to have an oil fund for Scotland – a wee bit too late.

The SNP are in a bad way just now and once they have announced a new FM the fun will start as they are in denial.

Never in a month of Sundays could the elected SNP MPs run Scotland for supporters or, in fact, the real people of Scotland who detest the SNP.

Gavin Elder. Peterhead.

NHS is a victim of own huge success

Sir, – I could hardly believe an item of news – Sir Rod Stewart is about to finance a day’s scans to help alleviate the chronic backlog facing NHS patients.

In reality, it was only a single hospital near where he lives, and the gesture noble though it was, unsurprisingly caught the attention of a passing TV reporter and camera crew, some with devious mind might even think they had been forewarned.

Although Sir Rod is a superstar, and I am but an old working man whose thrifty lifestyle would have allowed me to match his generosity for one hospital only, I will keep my savings intact, not in annoyance for the absence of a camera crew, rather that the tiny number to benefit from a publicity stunt does nothing to ease the problems our health service faces. Radical surgery is required to recreate a service free for many but not for those who can contribute to their treatment.

Sir Rod Stewart
Singer-songwriter Sir Rod Stewart said the healthcare situation was “ridiculous”, compared with him being able to afford private healthcare and going for a scan easily at an “empty” clinic. He told the programme that he would like to pay for 10 or 20 scans, or however much it takes. Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Bevan’s model set sail in 1948 and its crew I joined, but it has been punctured below the waterline by its own success.

Thanks in many ways to its efforts there has been a massive increase in the ageing population who now make up a large percentage of those requiring its services. This and other factors such as the availability of new and expensive therapies are all adding to what is becoming increasingly obvious – demand has outstripped the ability to deliver in terms of finance and personnel.

Now so many are kicking “old granny” – staff and patients.

Let her retire in peace as a reward for outstanding service and bring in a new, streamlined combined health and social care vehicle as her replacement.

Promises of reform by successive governments remain just promises.

Ivan W. Reid. Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Ghost town concerns

Sir, – What on Earth is happening to Aberdeen?

Having read about the cuts that Aberdeen City Council has announced, I find it shocking.

It is bad enough that it has put council tax up, but they are ruining communities by shutting down pools.

What about reducing the wages within the council?

As a resident, I feel enough is enough.

We used to have a say on what goes on in Aberdeen, but not now. The council seriously has to listen to the public and do something before Aberdeen becomes a ghost town.

Martin Riley.