Sir, – The Press and Journal has carried continuing stories about citizens’ efforts to save swimming pools which are under threat along with libraries and other services the public rely on due to budget cuts.
Faced with huge shortfalls in their budgets along with increasing energy costs, etc, this would appear to be a reasonable response from the council. After all, the figures reported (March 14) come to around £1 million.
Yet page 1 carries the headline “City bosses unveil bus and bike lane overhaul” with a price tag of £10 million-£35 million. This carries all of the hallmarks of a vanity project that will probably turn out (like most of the previous similar projects) to make little difference to bus and cycle use but will cause yet more headaches for drivers.
In addition, consider the ongoing ULEZ project and the plan to add six bus gates in the city centre and this appears to be an all-out war on the motorist, making the city a no-go area for cars.
How many millions will these cost? And how much disruption will also be caused during installation and construction?
The stated aim is to reduce car use in the city. I’m sure this will succeed but not by shifting car users to public transport but by further footfall transfer from the city to out-of-town shops, restaurants etc. Good news perhaps for Inverurie, Westhill, Stonehaven but not for city traders.
Perhaps the council looked at the revenue generated by the single bus gate at the top of Market Street and thought: Wow! How much could six of those rake in? As Arfur Daley would say: “A nice little earner.”
The paper carries regular articles regarding revitalising Union Street and the city centre in general which the council presumably desires.
I’d love to see the minutes of the meetings where this was discussed vis-a-vis the traffic schemes and how they were going to boost Aberdeen.
Also those where the pool and library closures were thought necessary, but £35 million virtue signalling schemes were fine.
H Martin, Maryculter.
Forbes can take us to independence
Sir, – With an increasingly far-right UK Government prospectus it is surely time for Scotland to leave this voluntary yet broken Union.
Since the raison d’etre of the SNP is independence, why has this not been achieved when corrupt Tory administrations have dragged politics and democracy into the gutter, disappearing in a Brexit mirage?
This question should not only be answered by the retiring SNP inner circle but also by the new leadership contenders. Certainly, Kate Forbes has been honest, articulate, concise and to the point.
With her proven policy of financial and economic stability, she appeals to a wider audience and will deliver on independence – like Nicola she is a winner.
Grant Frazer, Newtonmore.
Predator control saves wild birds
Sir, – In response to Colin Young’s letter (‘Lands and Estates have failed Scotland – it is time for a change’, March 13) it is obvious Mr Young is anti-sporting estates and it is also obvious he has little knowledge or experience of the effect predation has on Scotland’s wildlife.
Stoats are accomplished predators and pose a serious threat to all ground-nesting birds.
Strangely enough, it is not only sporting estates that control predators. Thanks to the EU’s Life Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, Nature Scott, the RSPB and Orkney Island Council have embarked on a £6 million scheme to eradicate stoats from Orkney.
The nine-year Upland Predation Experiment at Otterburn, carried out by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, clearly showed the benefit of predator control on the recovery of curlew, lapwing, and golden plover.
Having visited Milden myself two years ago, I find it strange Mr Young did not mention the endless birdsong or photograph the numerous curlews, lapwings, oystercatchers seen on Milden’s low ground, or the hen harriers seen on the hill?
Like it or not, where predators are controlled on sporting estates and at no cost to the public purse, Scotland’s rare birdlife hangs on. If the greens and rewilders get t
heir way, for how long?
Peter Fraser, Crathie.
Scotland will thrive alone
Sir, – Everyone can see the billions heading to the exchequer at Westminster from windfall tax, oil and gas from the North Sea.
I don’t understand why some people still don’t realise Scotland would be much better off as an independent country.
Countries of similar size as Scotland, with none of the assets we have, regularly outperform the UK. It must be a generational thing as 75% of young people want independence.
It is their future.
The older generation who care about the future of generations coming after them should stand aside and let our young people and Scotland flourish. The rest of the UK would be no worse off, they just wouldn’t have the billions to waste and would have to cut their cloth to fit.
They would have to make their tax system more progressive, as we do in Scotland. People in north England would be much better off. It’s a win-win situation.
Herbert Petrie, Dyce.
Truth lost in mists of time
Sir, – Mr S Robertson has taken me to task (Letters, March 15) for saying William Wallace was a semi-mythical Scottish knight. Hmm, should I beware the Ides of March?
But I actually wrote criticising a “semi-mythical Mel Gibson film”.
This inaccurate film created a ridiculous faux-patriotism and helped create the feeling of our being a downtrodden nation. I always remember a friend told me he’d heard a girl say, “Now I know why we hate the English,” as he was leaving the cinema after watching Braveheart.
Mr Robertson is clearly a Scottish patriot and so am I.
I recently drove across Poland to cheer Scotland playing Ukraine and I also appreciate Wallace as one of our great heroes.
But I suggest the things we don’t know about that time over 700 years ago far outweigh what we do know.
For example, at Chillingham in Northumberland they accuse Wallace of burning a church with women and children gathered inside.
Again, it’s so long ago who knows the full truth – but would it get a mention in our SNP-influenced school curriculum?
M R Kay, Bridge of Don.
TV quizzes can cause brain freeze
Sir, – I am wondering whether John Reid (Letters, March 15) has ever subjected himself to interrogation in front of thousands of viewers – if not, might I suggest that he try it sometime.
If he has in fact appeared on a televised quiz show, I am really surprised that he has no sympathy (or even empathy) for people who are put in the spotlight, bombarded with random quick-fire questions and suffer from totally understandable brain freeze.
It is true that some people do come over as “short planks” but please don’t criticise until you’ve tried it – I still cringe at a couple of answers I gave on Mastermind over 30 years ago.
Vicki Graham, Kintore.
Gilruth’s appalling decision over A90
Sir, – I am appalled that our Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has finally abandoned plans to dual the A90 but I suppose we should not be surprised – after all, the A90 does fall within the boundaries of the AB postcode.
Does she not realise that over the years the north-east has contributed over £50 billion to the UK economy but I suppose that counts for absolutely nothing.
Ms Gilruth states that after an extensive evidence-based process with major stakeholders it was decided not to proceed. Maybe she would like to tell us all who were the major stakeholders she consulted with. Let’s have names, Ms Gilruth.
May I suggest we will be given the same excuses on the improvements to the A9 and the major rail infrastructure. Nothing would surprise me; not with the Central Belt’s let’s move on, nothing to see here.
James Noel, Aberdeen.
Burst this balloon idea
Passengers in a two-seater balloon will rise to an altitude of 15 miles and have an unobstructed view of space, the curve of the Earth, and the F16 or Typhoon fighter approaching to shoot them out of the skies!
T Shirron, Davidson Drive, Aberdeen.
Tips for fasting with diabetes
Sir, – Diabetes UK is offering advice and support to anybody living with diabetes who is preparing to fast during Ramadan, to help them manage their condition safely.
Choosing whether to fast is a personal choice and getting information ahead of Ramadan is very important – particularly for people living with diabetes as they are at increased risk of complications.
So, ahead of the holy month, which is due to begin on or around March 22 this year, Diabetes UK is encouraging anyone living with diabetes who is preparing for Ramadan to speak to their diabetes team and their Imam, to help them to decide what is best for them.
If you decide to fast during Ramadan, it’s a good idea to include more slowly absorbed foods, such as basmati rice and dhal, along with fruit and vegetables in your meal before starting each day’s fast.
It is also important to check your blood sugar levels more often than usual and if they drop too low, you should break your fast.
We advise people that if they are unwell or have any symptoms of Covid-19, they should not fast and call 111 for further advice.
For more information on diabetes and Ramadan, visit diabetes.org.uk/ramadan
Angela Mitchell, National Director, Diabetes Scotland.