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Readers’ letters: Council cuts to local services, Aberdeen Gang Show and microchipping cats

In today's letters, our readers discuss council cuts to local services, this year's Aberdeen Gang Show and making microchipping cats mandatory for cat owners.

The people of Aberdeen will be able to influence spending plans for 2023-24.
The people of Aberdeen will be able to influence spending plans for 2023-24. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sir, – The philistines are alive and well and residing in Aberdeen City Council’s chambers. Just for the record I checked up to see if philistine fitted this situation and found the definition: “Persons who are hostile to culture and arts”.

I had the occasion to write to these columns a few weeks ago regarding the proposed withdrawal of funds for the Big Noise Orchestra in Torry.

It was reassuring to find the remarks had found their way to Holyrood to embarrass the SNP government to release funds we hope in an ongoing fashion. We now have the same excuses regarding the libraries and swimming pools.

These places are social hubs for the residents and taxpayers of Aberdeen. In the case of the libraries a place of heat and light with computer and copying facilities as well as lending books. When we are trying to introduce our children and grandchildren to a book-reading culture, this action is totally reprehensible.

The same with the swimming pools which are a meeting centre for young mothers with toddlers, and grandparents who use the pools for exercise to keep fit and well.

I heard councillor Ian Yuill giving it the old “sackcloth and ashes” line about saving money, since the government was embarrassed into releasing money for the orchestra they can do the same for the other essential facilities.

Council co-leader Ian Yuill has been reported to the ethics watchdog after the £250,000 grant award - despite being assured by Aberdeen City Council's top lawyer that his actions were above board. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.
Councillor Ian Yuill. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

This government is awash with cash held back to provide a raft of pre-election goodies. They have been totally cavalier in the money they have spent on their pet ventures and are still committed to spending on their ferry fiasco and many others where this money could be used for giving more realistic financial settlements for all Scottish local authorities.

This is a council that suffers from a lack of imagination, and fails to think out of the box. That’s shown with the revamped Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, which is proving to be a skateboarder’s paradise, with all the dangers their speedy antics bring to the general public. They will realise this when the next local elections come around.

So don’t be scared to go back to Holyrood and use the Torry orchestra situation as a precedent for more funds.

Alexander Sutherland, Aberdeen.

SNP must grasp the nettle over oil

Humza Yousaf, Ash Regan and Kate Forbes, taking part in the SNP leadership hustings at Rothes Halls, Glenrothes. Image: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire

Sir, – Humza Yousaf may have ventured a bit further north than usual to talk up the oil industry and that may have made some within the oafish OGUK sing from their hapless hymn book but Yousaf, Kate Forbes, and Ash Regan should be mindful of the many pitfalls of getting too close, just as Alex Salmond did.

Mr Salmond’s downfall partly happened due to his gullibility and his gormless golf obsession regarding a twisted tycoon’s urban fantasies which also led to a tangoed twit that should have been dumped from Scotland after a petition started some years ago.

Petroleum petulance and its corporate lobbying got us into some of the mess we are now in, not just in terms of Aberdeen, but Scotland and the world. Only a complete idiot of the lowest possible intellect would believe the soundbites and the political peacocking of the fossil fuel industry in the wake of numerous COPs and the irrefutable evidence shown by the world’s most respected climate scientists.

With the greater Scottish population in dramatic need of alternative methods of energy production that’s both environmentally sound and genuinely affordable, and numerous ways to achieve this simple aim with joined-up thinking, there’s a nettle the SNP must grasp. Scotland’s younger population know the future is not oil.

It’s no longer enough to preserve the status quo and pretend that some of the solutions sloppily offered up in the north-east as “net zero” and “the future” have credibility.

Ian Beattie, Aberdeen.

Gang show was a theatrical treat

Sir, – I attended the Aberdeen Gang Show at the Arts Centre Theatre and experienced an amazing show full of young talent, wonderful costumes and use of video screen.

The 2020 Gang Show held at Aberdeen Arts Centre. Image: Chris Sumner

It blew me away and was surprised that no mention of this theatrical experience was in the Evening Express or The Press and Journal.

This annual event gives such great opportunities to young people wishing to express their theatrical talents, while raising money for a worthwhile charity.

Well done to all involved, and best wishes for the next show.

Ian Dow, Aberdeen.

In the dark over new street lighting

Sir, – I am writing regarding the farce with the new street lighting in Duffus.

A letter in the Duffus post office window reads: “During the redesign of column spacing throughout Duffus, I have managed to reduce the number of columns required, which, in turn, has reduced the energy consumption and carbon footprint.” It is signed by the street lighting technician.

Fact: Duffus had 35 old columns; there are now 34 new columns, two of which are yards apart.

The west end of Hall Place has been left in darkness.

There was a lamppost there for 30 years.

Moray Council admits to moving the lamppost from the lane, but the two Moray MPs I asked for help trusted that the council had put a new lamppost at the junction with Mill Lane.

There is no column there.

How can they get away with this falsehood?

Gordonstoun Road is a country road with open fields on both sides which ends at the Gordonstoun Estate barrier. Only authorised vehicles are allowed past this point. It is a little over a quarter of a mile from Duffus.

There were 14 lampposts here before Moray Council renewed them and added five more, they said, to improve the lighting.

Nineteen lampposts on a short country road, which goes only to a private estate? It’s lit up like a runway at Lossiemouth.

This road has no pedestrians at night – yet, dusk until dawn, it is lit up for no reason. How exactly does this reduce energy consumption or lower our carbon footprint?

Mr L Robertson, Duffus.

Scottish fishing fleet under threat

Sir, – As the government consultation (P&J March 16) comes to an end on April 17 on proposals to introduce Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA) to the traditional Scottish fishing grounds, there still remains great uncertainty for our Scottish fishing fleet.

This whole project appears more political than scientific, and bears all the hallmarks of the Bute House deal between Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Green Party.

Image: Councillor John Finlayson

There has already been a theft of fishing grounds to accommodate offshore wind farms and now by adding a further 10% of valuable fishing grounds the Scottish Government will achieve a “spatial squeeze” that could close 50% of Scotland’s fishing waters by 2050.

No consideration has been given to the economic influence this scheme could have on our already fragile fishing communities, indeed it’s a scheme being set up to satisfy an ill thought out political notion.

Our Scottish fishermen, and also the Scottish people, deserve better than this.

A change is required, and yes, let’s hope this could happen soon.

Ken Watmough, past president, National Federation of Fishmongers.

Cyclists must learn from TV presenter

Sir, – I have spent three months in Burghead with my daughter and son-in-law.

They have taken me to different garden centres for snacks and lunch.

But I am concerned by the number of cyclists around the village who do not wear crash helmets.

I think of Dan Walker the Channel 5 presenter who was involved in a car accident on his bike. Luckily he had a crash helmet on otherwise his injuries would have been much worse.

Please readers, look after your lives.

Margaret Sanders, Northallerton.

Purrfect timing to copy England

Sir, – England has just announced compulsory microchipping of cats will come into force next year.

We are ecstatic a date has been set at last, but animal welfare is a devolved issue so the new law would not apply to Scotland.

Our co-founder is in the Highlands and we have been fighting for Scotland to follow suit since the creation of the UK Bill five years ago.

We recently petitioned the Scottish Government and are so pleased with the result, which secured the microchipping of domestic cats featured in the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission’s work plan as a medium-term issue.

Cats in the Mull and Ardnamurchan Cats Protection centre.

Of course, we are very pleased with this and hope it is the beginning of Scotland following the lead of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Microchipping is a vital part of responsible pet ownership. If a cat goes missing, a microchip can help get the cat back safely to its owner.

Microchips can also be used to identify owners when cats have been abandoned or mistreated, and help free up space in rescues for genuine stray and feral cats.

Currently, rescues are bursting at the seams, with many having hundreds of cats on waiting lists for a spot.

Many will have owners, but without a microchip there is no way to identify the cat and get them home.

Also, and most importantly from our stance as a feline road accident organisation, is that cats are euthanised purely because no owner can be located. When a cat is hit by a car and taken to the vets, the vets are only obliged to administer pain relief.

Treatment beyond that is determined by an owner or at the vet’s discretion.

Although some vets go above and beyond and try to do all they can, others will not. We have known road accident victims to be euthanised with simple cuts and bruises, all because no microchip was found.

Cats Protection states just 68% of cats are microchipped. England statistics showed 71% of cats microchipped when they introduced the new law.

The statistics as they are seem unlikely to change dramatically without government intervention.

The public support when Defra held consultations was a staggering 99% approval, and we expect Scotland would be very similar should the Holyrood open its own consultation too.

We know the support is there in Scotland and we urge the Scottish Government to begin work on this.

Carlie, Cats Matter.