WEDNESDAY mornings are usually pretty stressful in the Times office, but yesterday’s was more stressful than most. Much of the morning was spent with baited breath waiting for the AWPR judgement, which arrived at 10am.
Immediately afterwards we received an impressive was the barrage of comments from local politicians and business representatives praising the decision - our apologies to anyone whose comments we couldn’t include. There was unanimity in the opinions expressed.
Kara, one of our advertising quines, is not a political creature, but she asked us: “Why does William Walton care if he stays in Newcastle?”
It’s a question many of us have been asking since that particular revelation broke. But on a more important note, what’s galling is the fact that one man - and a small group of well-heeled supporters - have managed to delay a critical infrastructure project, costing the Scottish economy tens of millions of pounds in both delays and lost economic activity. The whole north-east is choked by a 17th century roads system whose layout was evidently designed for a society travelling by horse and cart. Every day this fiasco has been allowed to go on, the north-east of Scotland has lost jobs and investment at a time when we desperately need them.
With the announcement that RoadSense have reached the end of their legal road - if you’ll pardon the pun - we can only hope that the bypass gets built as quickly as possible.
If Alex Salmond wants something tangible and important to show for his time as First Minister, which will be nigh on universally appreciated in the north-east, he - and the region’s MSPs, of all parties - should cut the first sod as soon as possible and get this critical road built.
Now all we need is a rethink on a Third Don Crossing, and improvements to the Haudagain Roundabout. Once we get those settled, we’ll finally have an infrastructure that just about befits the Oil Capital of Europe.
IN other news, I interviewed Inspector Pratt this week, who is getting set to stand down from his position at the end of the month.
Inspector Pratt has been an excellent correspondent for this paper, and we wish him all the best for his retirement. After a career spanning three decades, it’ll be well earned.
We also hope that Grampian Police will continue to communicate closely with the local press - this paper has as much an interest in catching baddies as the police does, and the relationship cultivated by Inspector Pratt has been beneficial for both ourselves and local law enforcement.
Formartine remains a prosperous, low crime area, with a good relationship between communities and the police, and long may it continue.