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Readers’ letters: The closure of Woodside Library, saving Aberdeen’s arts sector and illegal immigrants

Woodside Library. Image: Kirstie Topp/DC Thomson
Woodside Library. Image: Kirstie Topp/DC Thomson

Sir, – I’m speechless and so, so angry on learning of the planned closure of Woodside Library.

This is an area of high poverty that is losing not just one vital resource but three – Cornhill, Woodside and Northfield. Woodside is my local branch and I was close to tears upon hearing this news. I can’t truly express how devastated I am at this proposal.

For me, it is a lifeline, a source of community and close to my home which makes it easily accessible, a huge consideration with me being a wheelchair user which limits where I can go.

I can get out of the flat and attend a book group which is brilliant for my mental health. It has introduced me to new friends and connections within the local community or on the doorstep.

It has challenged me to read different books and given the opportunity to have passionate discussions about all aspects of the chosen text for the month.

Woodside Library is next to the primary school too. I have personally witnessed the children and young people from the school who frequent the library on a regular basis. Not a quick pop-in visit but rather to linger for lengthy periods of time, using the PCs, studying, building their knowledge and fuelling their imagination. Where are they to go now?

The parents and toddlers who use the free resources to learn new skills find new worlds and instil a love of books and reading from an early age. Indeed the Bookbug sessions at this branch are always fully subscribed and the waiting list too, from what I understand.

In addition, the elderly who have limited mobility or social interaction that go along to Woodside for the same warm welcome, conversation and books as I do. My heart breaks for those who will simply loose this vital lifeline as they do not have transport nor the ability to get to the nearest branch still open.

In this post-pandemic world, we know now not to underestimate the power that simple human interaction can have on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. What do they do now?

I also understand it was gifted to the city which meant it was always to be open to the public as a library. What is the truth around this?

Libraries are pillars to the community, a hub of information, providing access to free Wi-Fi, computers, sanitary products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, green food waste bags and so much more. In addition, it is listed as a warm space vital to many unable to heat their own homes, especially in this adverse weather and cost-of-living crisis. What are they to do?

It is abundantly clear it is a vital resource in a deprived area which deserves to have resources and provision brought in, not removed on what appears to be an ill-considered whim.

Where is the logic in some of the actions taken recently, such as the cost of new windows, painting some of the library area and just last week the installation of a brand new front door?

Going forward, what is the building expected to be used for – or will it be left to go to ruin, abandoned and forgotten?

Julie. Woodside, Aberdeen.

Illegal migrants seeking better life

Sir, – Having listened to the news over the last few days, I was dismayed to hear a pro-migrant campaigner stating migrants deserve the right to seek shelter and sanctuary in the UK. Safety and sanctuary from what, I might add?

The last time I checked, there were no wars in Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Eritrea, Iran and Iraq, to name but a few.

Ukrainians should be the only nation, at present, allowed to seek shelter and sanctuary in the UK or, indeed, any country where they can be accommodated.

Maryna Yehorova (right) owned two businesses in Ukraine for 28 years. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

I believe that, legally, migrants should only be allowed to flee their country to enter the nearest available bordering country closest to them.

If this is the case, then why are they still coming over to the UK in their droves? Romanians, for a start, are economic migrants who think that by coming here they will have a better life and better jobs and all the other migrants from other countries seem to have followed suit.

They are not fleeing anything but merely think they can freeload themselves onto a country which is already straining and buckling under the pressure of trying to feed and house its own people.

Rishi Sunak is perfectly correct in implementing the new Illegal Migration Bill. This should have come into force years ago.

If it had the migrants would have cottoned on very quickly to the fact the UK is not a pushover and will not tolerate all and sundry arriving here as and when they so choose, for a so-called better life and all the benefits, monetary or otherwise, that our country is prepared to hand out willy-nilly.

Let’s hope that the current dire situation is resolved very soon.

Christine McLellan. Duffus.

Unionists unable to see damage

Sir, – As I read The Press and Journal letters page I frequently have to shake my head at the letters supporting the Union.

Can they not see the damage being caused by over-privileged public schoolboys who are only interested in themselves and their millionaire mates?

Let’s start with Brexit.

Had we stayed in the EU, tax havens would have been outlawed. The Tories and their shadowy supporters couldn’t have that, or the fact the EU would make us realign our state pension – the lowest in Europe – with the rest of the EU.

So let’s put a lie on the side of a bus and pretend we care about the NHS and meanwhile plan to privatise it. Take back control of something we never lost for something we don’t now have.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Why can these so-called unionists not see the damage being done to the UK and especially to Scotland?

Even if there is a change in government to Labour it won’t be much different. The UK has been badly damaged and the Labour Party are following the Brexit line and aping right-wing Tory policies.

Our only hope as far as Westminster goes will be a hung parliament with the SNP holding the balance of power.

The price for that will be a Section 30 order.

Rishi Sunak recently said: “Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position, unique position in the entire world, in having privileged access not just to the UK home market, but also to the European union single market.

“Nobody else has that. No one. Only here and that’s the prize.”

Does he not realise we all had that six years ago? An admission we should have stayed in Europe, surely.

There is no Brexit bonus – another half-baked lie. I think Scotland can do better.

Herbert Petrie. Dyce.

Oil lobby lacks imagination

Sir, – OEUK’s (Offshore Energies UK) pre-emptive strike regarding its objection to the windfall tax is as predictable as ever to the point of utter tedium.

Whilst it is keen to keep the lights on and some 80,000 or so in jobs, the real questions everyone should ask are these.

Which is the greater good? Permanent change away from methods which are bad for the planet and mean extortionate costs to millions of consumers – which is far larger than those employed in the oil industry – or being limited in imagination because we have been lobbied by self-serving individuals?

The biggest question is of course how many elected representatives will choose the same sloppy, lazy, unimaginative route to solving the energy crisis as a direct result of the fossil fuel lobby by all the oil companies at taxpayers’ expense, where the myriad claims about “Russian gas” still persist despite the UK Government having proof to the contrary about where the so-called UK gets its energy from on the House of Commons Library website.

Ian Beattie. Baker Street, Aberdeen.

SNP’s old guard now firmly on run

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Sir, – The sudden and totally unexpected resignation of Nicola Sturgeon has triggered a completely unplanned exodus of the old guard SNP politicians and the complete absence of any suitable succession candidates.

It reveals a political party in complete disarray and aimless freefall. What are they all running away from? Does anyone know where they are going and how they will get there?

What has the SNP been doing for the last eight years? Passing very ill-thought-out legislation? Is this really demonstrating a political party ready to actually govern for Scotland’s long-term benefit rather than just pretending to be a government with too many grievances.

I would have thought a deputy leader of the SNP would be the obvious succession leader unless it was just a pretend post.

Like much of the SNP it’s just an empty illusion of competence, power and influence.

It appears they still have not even worked out how they can realistically trigger a referendum. The key is to first to persuade a significant majority to actually support independence.

Eight years of leadership from Nicola Sturgeon has completely failed to move the dial even with successive election victories in terms of seats but in terms of the overall percentage of the popular vote.

The SNP alliance with the Greens is clearly unholy and unnatural and is a totally unsuitable marriage of convenience. The overall perception is poor and not genuinely supported even by SNP members.

David Philip. Newburgh.

Ruling party looks after its citizens

Sir, – George Emslie’s letter (March 11) was one of his classics. In his usual, obsessional, rant – which he is permitted, but not SNP supporters apparently – he informs us of the excellence of Westminster rule.

Little gems like: “A world leading G7 powerhouse.”

Is he not aware we are the worst performing of the G7? “The world popular UK.” Really?

The present party in government has made us a world laughing stock on more than one occasion, not to mention almost crashing the economy, leading to a number of devaluations of the pound, along with the country’s credit rating being reduced twice.

Government’s first duty is to the welfare and safety of its citizens. The SNP can hold their head high on those counts.

The same cannot be said for the bunch of right-wing xenophobes in power southward.

Ron Campbell. Aberdeen.

Life in politics is all Yousaf knows

Sir, – One of your recent correspondents opined that Humza Yousaf had no idea of politics.

I beg to differ. Checking his resume he has been nothing but a politician since school.

Humza Yousaf. Image: PA.

He has a degree in politics from Glasgow University and went from there straight into SNP politics as an adviser to a number of MSPs before becoming an MSP himself.

He is a pure politico, with no experience of anything else. As such he will always seek the politically correct answer (for himself or the party) rather than the right answer for the country.

I’m afraid that he is very like many of his SNP comrades who other than being councillors have done little in the way of real-life experience before entering politics.

Mike Salter. Banchory.

City art culture must be saved

Sir, – Aberdeen’s arts and culture sector once more seems the be on a knife edge with the city council’s “full review of cultural grants”. Knowing the levels of idiocy, arts and culture is served up as an easy target for the bean counters to slice and dice as they will in the wake of banking meltdowns, Brexit and the pandemic.

Belmont Cinema, Aberdeen. Image: Kenny Elrick

The loss of the Belmont and the potential loss of the Torry Sistema Orchestra are wake-up calls for the city, not the political opposite. As the “one trick pony” has had its day and will eventually disappear, it’s vital that all arts and culture funding is continued, but also increased, as without the revenue generation it creates Aberdeen does not have a present let alone a future.

Far too often in recent years, Aberdeen’s arts and culture sector has been treated almost as an afterthought with derogatory comments usually being offered up by the ignorant and arrogant oil-mad people who’ve wrought such environmental destruction in the city and its surrounding areas.

If the city council is serious, as it alleged some time ago, about truly embracing an arts and culture based future for the city, then it must do so.

Ian Beattie.

Footie show was highlight

Sir, – So the football highlights, back to normal. I for one am saddened. What this gave us was no continual slow mo’s/ Var decisions etc, no lots of hot air in studio from ex footballers. You saw the game as it was. What was a 60/90 / show was condensed to 20 mins.

I did not think I was short changed in this format. Let’s hope that those who refused to go to work got no wages or if did get gave it to charity.

Michael North, Lang Stracht, Summerhill.

Bad politics

Sir, – May I thank the three SNP candidates for again exposing how poor politicians the SNP are? Watching the three of the candidates was a most embarrassing and cringeworthy experience.

I’m sure the other parties are highly encouraged.

Gordon Park.