Here are the letters sent to us this week that can be seen on page 10. If you have a letter you can e-mail it to email@example.com or mail it to 12 Ann Street, AB39 2ER.
Joys of youth
Some happy little faces
Sir- On Monday, October 7, we had pupils from both Arduthie and Dunnottar Primary Schools visit the Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum.
As you may remember, it was a day of wind and driving rain. As one of the volunteers at the museum, I and the others were starting to doubt they would walk from Arduthie.
Low and behold they appeared wet and windblown. The thing that surprised us all was the joy on their faces, not just at visiting the museum, but that they had walked down in the wind and rain.
The pupils from Dunnottar, although younger, were equally as happy that they had walked down in the wind and rain. Just a magic moment.
It was also good for the volunteers to see these youngsters so interested in the artefacts in the museum.
After seeing this, it disappoints me when I see near traffic jams, with all the ‘‘Chelsea Tractors’’ outside the school, morning and night, dropping off and collecting some of these same children.
I am of an age when you walked to school in the wind and rain, and often heavy snow falls, as being taken by car wasn’t an option, even if parents had a car. Changed days, but I don’t know if for the better.
Ian J. Balgowan
2 Jubilee Court
Support for Mr Johnstone
Sir, - I was a Better Together campaigner and visited almost 200 households in Stonehaven during the campaign, attended debates and talked to many people. I would like to reply to the letter in last week’s Leader about Alex Johnstone’s article.
I know Mr Johnstone fairly well. He does not have a “deep rooted hatred” of the SNP but he is right to point out that, fundamentally, they did not convince enough people that they should vote yes. And since the 18th of September some - by no means all - of the people who voted yes don’t seem to be able to accept the vote was decisive and the voting fairly executed.
I won’t repeat Mr Johnstone’s points about why only 25% of people on the electoral role in Stonehaven voted Yes, but I would like to add some further examples of the worrying behaviour, seemingly condoned by the Yes side. Here are some examples.
The police are investigating allegations of postal vote registration fraud in Banff and Buchan.
On the Saturday before polling day we were harangued on our stand at Planistones. Here is an extract from Dave Ballard, one of our group who witnessed it “We had some cracking yesser shouters at the Stonehaven stall, including a middle aged, shorts wearing man carrying a wicker basket shouting “vote no and bow down to your imperial masters” again and again like some loon. We had a young lout striding across the square and into the Market Bar in a football shirt and aggressively shouting and gesturing ‘‘you’re traitors, scum and I’m going to f....ing kill you all...”. This was also witnessed by the people at the YES stand 10 yards from us, where the “basket case” man stood for some time.
The following night at the debate in the Town Hall the audience was overwhelmingly nationalist, socialist (who would have thought this country would ever see these two words together?) and green, augmented by YES supporters bussed in from, believe it or not, Perth. The chairman was often unable to suppress the boo-ing and maintain a balance of questions and comments. Luckily the two Better Together speakers, Lewis McDonald (Labour MSP)and Alex Johnstone, used evidence, arguments and patience to wipe the floor with the disconcertingly content-free contributions from Nigel Don. MSP and Rachel Shanks (Green Party), who, I’m afraid, was out of her depth.
Facebook is a awash with the same unholy alliance of very far left zealots, nationalists and greens who just can’t wait for Lord Smith to fail to deliver on the devo-max “vows,”, can’t understand why only 37% of the Scottish electorate voted YES, and are full of conspiracy theories about vote rigging, threats and BBC bias. Their plan at the general election is to get everyone to vote SNP and enable them to hold the balance of power in Parliament. Ironically it could be the English, Welsh and Irish people who will be complaining they did not get the government they voted for!
Already, some of the “scaremongering” is beginning to look like sage advice: the Bank of England issued , on Friday, minutes of a meeting which showed they had intended flooding the UK with cash on September 19 in the event of a YES vote to avoid a run on the banks, the price of oil is $85 , 24% lower than the $110 the SNP’s uses for its forecasts, Apache are pulling out of Aberdeen to put their money into US shale and BG group have delayed development of a field until they can find cheaper methods of development. Dhevron paid off 200 people last month and Conoco are holding meetings about redundancies.
There is no doubt there are billions of barrels of oil and gas in UK waters. The issue is the high cost of extraction and the price of oil being high enough to warrant the investment. If there is ever to be a “YES” vote they are going to have to take their fingers out of their lugs, listen to the arguments and evidence and adjust their proposals and approach accordingly if they are ever to convince thousands like me.
1 Willow Row
Development not needed
Sir- It has been established already through both the existing local development plan and the consultations on the next local plan period that there is a sufficient allocation for housing across the area.
The proposal for the Kirktown/ Toucks area is not required and, if approved, will have a massive and adverse impact on Stonehaven, as well as the development at Chapelton now under way and on the credibility of the local development plan process in general. There are, frankly, no redeeming features to the application and I trust our councillors will reject it out of hand.
What is of concern, also, is the persistent way that developers with deep pockets can submit speculative and repetitive major planning applications that are departures from agreed and consulted local plans, no doubt in the hope of imposing their will on the democratic process by other means.
Aberdeenshire is not unique and many communities across Scotland are similarly affected.
The processing of major planning applications takes up considerable time and effort in a local authority, not just for the developers.
The time and resources which are used to process such applications could be better utilised on more productive work and it is something that you and I are paying for, not just the applicant.
Surely the time has come for a change to the law in Scotland.
For example, if a major planning application, which is a departure from the existing local plan is rejected, then perhaps the site could be subject to a moratorium on any further development proposals for a minimum period of say five years, unless accepted for inclusion into a future local development plan.
It would have the benefit of encouraging developers to think more carefully about major applications and focus their efforts more on locations with better chances of success, including the use of existing land banks.
It would limit also the pressure on local authority resources and our pockets. Perhaps a suitable way forward would be to raise a petition with the Scottish Parliament?
Middle Toucks Farmhouse