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Readers’ letters: Sir Ian Wood, repairing potholes and Highland sex education controversy

In today's letters, our readers' discuss Sir Ian Wood, how to properly repair potholes in the north and north-east and the Highland sex education controversy

Business tycoon Sir Ian Wood. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson
Business tycoon Sir Ian Wood. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Sir, – Reading the commentary in the letters page regarding Ian Wood potentially providing funding to save the city’s libraries, I had to check the date to ensure I wasn’t in a timeslip to the first of this month.

Whilst some undoubtedly feel this may be an option, realistically it’s a total non-starter. Do people really need that much of a reality check regarding the damage that man has done to the culture and built environment of this city in recent years?

Aside from the worldwide embarrassment of his vanity project, there’s his total ignorance of arts and culture in his plagiaristic Opportunity North East remit where he blatantly copied my idea for a “Requiem for Aberdeen”, based on Julian Temple’s excellent “Requiem for Detroit”, at the end days of his woefully divisive and ridiculous plan without, of course, arts and culture.

There’s also his ignorance of the cultural benefits of not destroying that other city garden, St Fittick’s Park, for the meagre scraps of oil production left.

Everyone with the wit to recognise the positive effects of introducing reading and other forms of art and culture to children and the wider public knows that snowballs have a more realistic chance in that place south of heaven rather than suggest what your correspondent has suggested.

Ian Beattie, Baker Street, Aberdeen.

Has the new FM forgotten pledge to protect St Fittick’s Park?

Sir, – Humza Yousaf’s plan to “transform Aberdeen into a city for green energy” is a “just transition” that must be “fair to everyone”, with environmentally-friendly policies as his “absolute priority”.

Aberdeen’s transition is centred round the Energy Transition Zone promoted by ONE/ACC /Scottish Enterprise and while Ian Wood’s “shovel-ready” description of it applies to the brownfield sites in East Tullos and Altens, development of St Fittick’s Park as a transition is anything but for the community and the environment.

First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

The ETZ masterplan shows an anchor chain manufacturing plant within it, the award-winning East Tullos Burn wetlands moved and biodiversity that has developed there since they were created just under nine years ago instantly destroyed. A chunk of the park will be swallowed up by a laydown site for wind turbine towers, bounded by the coast road rerouted west into the park – a land grab.

The masterplan’s “Marine Gateway” is to “lever maximum economic development of the harbour”. Ostensibly it is the catalyst of the whole ETZ, yet the developable area of the park is only just big enough for one offshore energy assembly facility.

As minister for transport, the first minister recommended the rural infrastructure and connectivity committee should recommend the Scottish Parliament approve the draft Aberdeen Harbour Revision, upon which the construction of the harbour depended, only because he was assured that ACC and AHB were working together to mitigate the environmental damage to St Fittick’s Park and to compensate the community for that damage and loss of amenity.

Commitment to do so was sealed by an agreement between the two under Section 69 of the Local Government Act (Scotland) 1975, not honoured since then.

It was to ensure that the park was not only protected but improved. I wonder if he remembered that?

Susan Smith, Aberdeen.

DIY lesson for the roads department

Potholes on Coningham Terrace, Tillydrone, Aberdeen. Image: Kirstie Topp/DC Thomson

Sir, – Your front page story and editorial were spot on about potholes. But potholes can, with a little care, often be avoided.

Not so the increasing number of trenches — which are never adequately backfilled — which are dug across roads in towns and villages to accommodate fibre-optic cables and the like, and which you can’t avoid except by frequent and potentially dangerous braking because they go from one side of the road to the other.

Any ordinary DIY householder knows that to fill a gap you need to leave the filler PROUD of a surface to allow for shrinkage.

Why can’t our trench repairers understand that simple point?

Reg Pringle, Malcolms Mount, Stonehaven.

Time to stop knocking GB

Sir, – Like the rotor on a Rolex watch Dick Winchester is perpetual – with his anti-UK claptrap and EU propaganda. (Letters, April 6).

Brexit will be a success when people like Mr Winchester, and his beloved EU, finally accept the result of the UK 2016 referendum, which we the people have had to wait for since 1973. In the interests of democracy another referendum should be arranged for 43 years’ time.

The dodgy EU has already reversed the results of referendums across Europe that were not to their liking, and are at it again here in the UK with the 2016 Brexit result.

It’s time to get behind Team GB, the world-popular mighty nation that millions of migrants are desperate to call home, and which the corrupt EU is determined to rule over and plunder once again – and is still doing so with our fishing industry.

George Emslie, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.

Parents must read RSHP proposals

Sir, – Reading the letter from an unnamed teacher about the Scottish government’s curriculum for Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) and being a former teacher myself, I find myself incredulous at the apparent disrespect shown for the worries and concerns expressed by parents about certain RSHP teaching content.

Even more concerning is the notion that, if a school “is any good”, parents shouldn’t be given the option of taking their children out of lessons. Seriously? Parents are the first and foremost educators of their children, as is also stated in the RSHP.

Image: Shutterstock

At least that’s the professional ethos as I know it and parents’ concerns should be adressed with non-judgmental empathy, not with a “we know better than you” approach.

However, your correspondent seems to prefer a state-approved prescription of teaching content, if the quote from a school letter to parents is anything to go by: “This is what your child will be told and here is why we think it is really important”, it is supposed to say.

In other words: Teachers put into children’s heads what they deem right and proper while parents are supposed to put up with it.

Parents can establish whether they like it or not by having a good look for themselves.

The RSHP resource is indeed freely accessible online: But be warned, it’s vast and parents may be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer detail they are presented with. However, if you have a child of school age, it’s worth looking up the lesson plans for the respective level of learning, in particular the suggested props and slides.

Videos and film material are embedded in lesson plans as direct links.

Unfortunately, these links can’t be looked up in a separate list. If parents want to get an informed view on whether or not the RSHP is strictly factual on human anatomy, biology and reproduction, as the correspondent claims, or whether some of the lessons are designed to encourage or question certain attitudes and values, they have no other option than picking through the suggested content.

However, I would encourage readers to do exactly that and to form their own opinion on whether parents’ concerns deserve to be described as “misinformed”, “dramatics” or “hysteria”.

Regina Erich, Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Ill-informed anti-RSPB bias

Sir, – Well done to that teacher for correcting the misperception in the article on sex education in schools that The P&J ran. Then I glanced down the page (Letters, April 6) to find yet more ill-informed rubbish attacking the RSPB.

Image: Shutterstock

Even a cursory glance at where the RSPB reserves are located (mostly coastal), shows that there is little correlation between its operations and the reported sighting of capercaillies.

So I am sorry “Name and Address supplied” but you cannot even show correlation let alone causation with your letter. It is just anti-RSPB bias.

What is also striking is that both of these authors felt they must ask for their names and addresses to be withheld.

Public opinion is inflamed when material which is biased and wrong is published without any attempt to fact check it. It opens the writer/journalist to ridicule for their ignorance, and gives air to sometimes dangerous nonsense as in the case of the article criticising the teaching of sex education.

It drives people to extremes and fuels hatred.

It is what plagues social media and destroys consensus on sensible measures to advance our societal norms.

Lesley Ellis, Aboyne.

Better way to spend our money

Sir, – Further to Kieran Beattie’s reporting on the “Aberdeen Rapid Transit” proposals, can I suggest that, rather than spend capital on “stuff”, the £200 million be better spent on free public bus transport for all ratepayers and their families.

£50,000 for a decent contacts lawyer and we’ll have something environmentally friendly and of use, rather than another quango’s “seemed like a good idea”!

Alistair Webb, Tough, Alford.

SNP’s ‘progressive’ claims are baloney

Sir, – It is a fact that one in three Scottish nationalists actually voted for Brexit.

The reality was that it was Scottish Conservative votes that supported Remain in Scotland. This was ignored by the SNP and then simply removed from the political narrative.

Image: Kath Flannery/ DC Thomson

There is no uniform SNP mindset in Scotland. There is no standard Scottish voter.

The reality is that the population of Scotland is much like the population of England – a complex mixed assortment. Scotland is not a one-party political state.

How has the SNP maintained the illusion of popular support whilst governing Scotland so very poorly?

The answer is misplaced trust and blind loyalty and a complete lack of critical examination of actual perfomance.

The authoritarian rule of Sturgeon and Murrell of the SNP has shown what an abuse of devolved power can do to a small authoritarian political party.

The grievance mechanism used by the SNP to change opinion is so destructive that it has created a political “stalemate” between the Yes and No factions with a totally divided nation. The realisation of this impasse and the haemorrhaging SNP membership is the obvious root cause for Sturgeon’s resignation.

For all her boasting of (minority) votes won by the SNP this has been perfectly counterbalanced by the combined unionist votes.

The sad reality is Nicola Sturgeon has left the country worse off than she found it – with no real plan for the future.

The “progressive” claims of Humza Yousaf are pure baloney, much like the marriage of convenience with the wee Greens.

David Philip, Knockhall Way, Newburgh.

Cycle lanes plan foolish

Work to remove the Spaces For People measures in George Street, Aberdeen, will begin on August 9.
A cycle lane on George Street, Aberdeen. Image: Chris Sumner

Sir, – Shock. When I saw the EE on March 31 I thought the headlines stating possible intentions to put cycle lanes across the Bridge of Don was an April Fool.

This would be so foolish as there would then be only one lane south with approximately half the cars going along the beach and the rest including buses going up King Street, causing delays and more fumes while cars wait in queues!

Also, one lane north, therefore more queues and pollution from waiting cars on an already extremely busy King Street. Has the council forgotten that we already have bus lanes both ways reducing the road for car users?

I rarely see any cyclists at all in any part of our city and certainly none travelling across the vast cycle lanes that were installed where there is already a large pavement over the Diamond Bridge.

I would not approve of any of the seven plans. The money for this ludicrous plan should be spent saving Bucksburn Swimming Pool and any other library in my opinion.


Roadworks are no joke

Sir, – I have just been reading Page 6 of the Evening Express and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, I just could not believe what I was reading! What have our councillors got against the car?

As a class one driver I have been trying to navigate my way around the roadworks which have added longer working hours and costs to my employer in fuel the amount of time I have spent sitting in queues.

I used to be proud to say that I stayed in Aberdeen, but not any more. We are due to have cruise ships visit Aberdeen, well that’s a story for another day.

Sylvia Birrell.

Schools divide just shameful

Northfield Academy. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Sir, – Education and children’s services director Eleanor Shepherd and education convener Martin Greig mention changes on offer will mean new courses on the curriculum and new responsibilities for teachers.

So why has it come to this now and not before?

The teachers always have a responsibility to the pupils but it seems that went out the window in the last few years.

And as for Ms Shepherd, what is the context of Northfield in plain words as we in the community might not understand living in a deprived area? Northfield community and school is only one of many communities in Aberdeen that are left to their own devices not only by the education department etc.

I think “divide” is the word I would use when it comes to certain communities in Aberdeen, certain establishments just turn their backs and can’t be bothered. Shameful.

Joseph Durno, Cummings Park Circle, Aberdeen.