It’s my Opinion

THE good people of Aberdeen will be voting next month on whether to go ahead with the proposal to overhaul Union Terrace Gardens - good luck to them.

I am, however, disappointed that those of us who live in Aberdeenshire will not be included in the referendum, given the two authorities are commercially and socially linked - a reality which goes back years, including the fact that Aberdeenshire Council’s offices were once located - you guessed it - Union Terrace.

So if those of us who live near, but outside the Granite City are denied the opportunity to vote on an issue which will certainly have long term economic effect on the area, why does our First Minister feel the need to influence the outcome?

Alex Salmond, who actually lives in Aberdeenshire, likes to think he is a hugely influential figure who might sway those who are not sure about which way to vote. Coming down on the side of the ‘Granite Web’ is in my opinion a blatant attempt to win the day for the yes vote.

To date he has been positive about the project describing it as ’exciting and forward looking’ and has not as yet resorted - as is normally the way of the SNP - to rubbishing any opposition to the development. No doubt that is to come.

In the meantime John Corall, vice-convener of the council, has launched into a full frontal attack, accusing those with reservations as ’tired, blinkered people.’

Hardly a manner to adopt if you are in the business of trying to win support for your initiative. I would rather hear sound arguments for the development. Negative inputs will surely never win the day.

Personally I am yet to be convinced by either side. However, should the finances end up crippling the local economy, it will have implications for the entire area, including Aberdeenshire. We certainly don’t want another Edinburgh tram project on our doorstep, though we need to look to the future as the oil and gas industry is drawing to an end - or is it?

Aberdeen is likely to be the self proclaimed oil capital for some considerable time, or so I’m told.

This being the case, we really have to ask what long term benefits the area has enjoyed since the 1970’s to date. The UTG scheme might be seen to be a belated attempt to play catch up, justifying all the inactivity over the intervening years. For example, whatever happened to a third bridge over the Don, or the dualling of the A90 between Balmedie and Tipperty?

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire did in fact an opportunity to work together when they were as one in the shape of Grampian Regional Council, but from what I can recall delivered little to the public of the North- east.

They did, however, create some well paid posts for its senior officials, the knock effects of which are still with us.

In the meantime let democracy prevail in Aberdeen, while the rest of us look on with considerable interest.