Granite Chips

Excessive card charges outlawed

Most of us have experienced them. You book your flight online and you find that you face a significant surcharge for the privilege of giving the airline your business, because you are paying by credit or debit card. Or, you walk into your local food take-away and find that they charge a hefty surcharge for paying with anything other than cash.

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Aberdeen in the brodband fast lane

Good news for Aberdeen in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Apart from the incentives for developing oil and gas, the Chancellor announced that Aberdeen would be one of 12 super-connected cities.

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AWPR full speed ahead… or maybe not

Just when it seemed there was something that that Aberdeen City Council administration and the vast majority of citizens could agree on and unite in pushing forward, one of the ruling coalition introduces a question mark.

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Aberdeen needs a plan and planning

The new administration at Aberdeen City Council have come under some pressure – not least from this blog – to come forward with their plan for the regeneration of Aberdeen city centre, following their controversial voting down of the City Garden Plan, which had been backed by the majority of Aberdonians in the earlier referendum.

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The mandate for ditching gardens

Fast forward to 2014. In the Scottish Independence referendum the majority of people vote “no”.

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What now for Aberdeen city centre?

Unless you have been taking a spin in Curiosity on the surface of Mars, if you have any interest in Aberdeen you will know that Aberdeen’s councillors have voted not to proceed with the Aberdeen City Gardens Project and the £182 million package of city centre funding that went with it.

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Aberdeen City & Shire needs to fight for broadband investment

For too long Aberdeen City and Shire has been regarded as a cash cow. As the centre of the industry that has underpinned the UK economy for more than 40 years, we have watched as revenue has been siphoned off into the UK Exchequer with precious little put back.

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Good words but little detail

The new administration on Aberdeen City Council – a coalition of Labour, Conservative and Independent councillors – has produced its five-year plan for the city.

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What was the point of the referendum?

So we had a referendum so that the electorate could decide whether Aberdeen should go ahead with the City Garden Granite Web plan and the other elements in the funding package, or abandon the plan and stick with the existing Union Terrace Gardens.

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Sour grapes leave a bad taste

So we had the referendum that was intended to decide once and for all whether Aberdeen should go ahead with the City Garden project. The result was a majority of more than 4,000 votes in favour of the new city centre park.
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Aberdeen bypass opponents lose appeal

William Walton’s appeal, on behalf of Road Sense, agains the rejection of the legal action against the long-delayed Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, has been rejected by the Court of Session.




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City Garden is 'all or nothing' vote on city centre investment

I should probably not be surprised, given the amount of confusion and misinformation that has surrounded the argument about the City Garden project. But, I am now amazed to find that the ‘referendum on the gardens’ is not just a ‘referendum on the gardens’.

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City Garden could create 6,500 new jobs

The Aberdeen City Garden Project could create 6,500 new jobs and inject £122 million annually into the local economy according to a new report by PwC.

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'City shopping footfall nosedives'

Today’s Press and Journal reports that the number of people visiting shopping areas in Scotland has nose-dived in the past year with a 9% drop in footfall. This comes as no surprise, but there is no pleasure in pointing out that this concern has been a recurring theme in this blog over the years.

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City Garden designs go on display

The six short-listed designs for the City Garden project in Aberdeen have gone on show today at the city’s Academy Shopping Centre.

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Are Aberdeen's visitors spongers or wealth creators?

Last week Aberdeen city Councillor John Stewart reportedly made the comment that: “Frankly, the city has been subsidising people from outside the city for too long”.

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What do you mean fast link not in consultation?

Have I got this right? Does the RoadSense argument with the Aberdeen bypass come down to the Stonehaven fast link not being included in the 2004 route consultation? From what I read in the press it seems to.

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RoadSense - Stop the Nonsense!

In less than 24 hours more than 500 people have signed a petition urging William Walton and RoadSense to abandon their appeal, which could delay the start of work on the Aberdeen bypass by at least another nine months.
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Dismay at continuing bypass misery

After the Court of Session turned down Road Sense’s objection to the Aberdeen by-pass, there were reports that the road would not now open until 2017 – five years later than the government promised. Now we hear that Road Sense is intent on piling on the misery by lodging an appeal.

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Six weeks to save Grampian Police

The Scottish Government seems to be determined to dismantle Grampian Police and the seven other police authorities in Scotland. In their place would be one national police force, no doubt headquartered in Glasgow, or Edinburgh.
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Government's hollow infrastructure promises

North-east Scotland MSP Nanette Milne has voiced the feeling of disappointment that many of us have about the infrastructure promises by the Scottish Government. As the SNP begin their second term, with a considerable majority, lets hope that they start to deliver some of the urgent infrastructure improvements in Aberdeen City and Shire.

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Time for co-ordinated approach?

The press recently has been full of all the action plans for improving Aberdeen city centre. While (as long as any development is appropriate and respectful of the city’s traditions) this is welcome, there seems to be a real danger of confusion with all the different initiatives.

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Action on city centre? Or just another mountain of paper?

Ask visitors to Aberdeen what they think of the city centre and many will be complimentary – especially if their visit has been graced by sunshine that makes the granite sparkle, rather than matching the grey of the skies on a bad day.

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Haudagain delay extends Aberdeen roads problem

Councillor Kate Dean’s statement that work on Britain’s newly-crowned worst roundabout – the Haudagain at the junction of the A96 and A90 trunk roads – cannot begin until the Aberdeen by-pass is completed, underlines the fragile nature of Aberdeen’s roads infrastructure

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Retexturing reduces accidents

The news that ‘retexturing’ of accidents black spots in Aberdeenshire has reduced accidents by 100% is welcome, but not surprising. Read More...
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New Scottish Goverment

The formation of the new Scottish Government is under way, following the SNP’s landslide success in the Scottish Parliament elections earlier this month.

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The wedding

Yes, I enjoyed the bits of the Royal Wedding that I saw. We do, do pageantry rather well in this country. It was an opportunity to celebrate our Britishness.

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Killing the goose that lays the golden egg

Perhaps the UK Government’s Cabinet were not around when Aesop’s Fables were discussed in their respective schools. Certainly, they don’t seem to know the moral in the fable about killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

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Tell the police how they are doing

On April 1, last year, Grampian Police introduced a new community focussed policing model that provides dedicated Local Policing Teams (LPTs) to each of the 24 local policing areas across the three territorial divisions.

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Fuel costs threaten fragile recovery

Fuel taxes are simply a tax on moving people and goods – one of the most basic requirements in creating wealth in any economy.

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£2.25 billion repair bill for Scotland's roads

While more than a little alarming, the revelation that Scotland’s roads need £2.25 billion of repairs, will come as no surprise to anyone who uses the roads. The report also found that 37% of our Scotland’s roads are in unacceptable condition.

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Is an all-Scotland police force the answer?

There seems to be a headlong rush in political circles to merge Scotland’s police forces into one. To hear some people speak you would think it was the only way to reduce costs. I’m not convinced.

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Snow paralysis is costing deep

I saw a figure in The Scotsman last week that suggested that the current snow chaos in Scotland would end up costing the economy £2 billion. How accurate that figure is, I know not, but it does underline the importance of trying to get the country moving again.

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Aberdeen companies come together to form global giant

The announcement that Aberdeen’s Wood Group has reached a £600 million agreement to acquire fellow Aberdeen company PSN looks like a very positive move for Aberdeen as it builds its position in the global oil and gas industry.

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Aberdonians want to 'chill out' on holiday

As we start to thaw out – albeit briefly – after early onslaught of winter thoughts turn to holidays in the sun. Right on cue, up pops Mazda with a survey of Aberdonians desires and attitudes about holidays.

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Complacency over marine renewables?

The marine renewables summit meeting called for next month (December 2010) in Aberdeen, is a welcome opportunity for those in the offshore energy industry, local authorities and central government to galvanise into action to secure the potential of marine renewables.

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To spring forward or fall back?

It used to be that making any suggestion of not putting the clocks back in the autumn would produce a heated debate, with probably more arguing against any change than those proposing it.

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Combining Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils

Combining Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils is an idea that has been doing the rounds in recent years. But, it was given renewed impetus by former Aberdeenshire Council Chief Executive, Alan Campbell, when he promoted it as a solution to the financial woes in the aftermath of Aberdeen City Council’s proposed £127 million cuts.

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More broadband misery

So, it happened again. This morning, during peak office hours, BT broadband failed for a second time in five days.

From the early reports it appears that most of Scotland, much of Northern England and Northern Ireland were all affected by the outage, just like on Friday last week.

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How to kill Aberdeen city centre trade

So, one of the possible revenue-raising measure proposed by Aberdeen City Council as part of its budget proposals is city centre road tolls (or ‘congestion charges’ as they are euphemistically called).

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BT Broadband outage

A second major BT broadband outage caused “tens of thousands” of homes to lose broadband connection for at least six hours last night. According to a statement issued last night it affected Edinburgh, Fair Isle, Highlands and Islands. Are they geographically challenged, or does Aberdeenshire not feature on their radar?

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Shock at depth of £127m cuts

I am shocked at the severity of the cuts being proposed by Aberdeen City Council as it faces the need to prune £127 million off its budget.

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Take a lawyer if you want to park in Aberdeen at night

Encouraging more visitors into Aberdeen to spend money and support the local economy. That would seem a laudable aim for Aberdeen City Council. But, the latest parking regulations seem certain to drive evening trade out of the city. Read More...
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Angry at the state of our roads

I am angry. I have just returned from the tyre depot, where the appalling state of the roads in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has hit me hard in the wallet. £150 hard to be precise.

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Aberdeen stalled in the slow lane

The recent letter by Aberdeen area business leaders to Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson is a plea that most of us in Aberdeen City and Shire will relate to.

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Stopping oil drilling in the North Sea?

It was unsurprising that there has been a lot of comment on the web about European politicians demanding a stop to drilling in the North Sea in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The implication is that this is a stop to all drilling operations.

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All wealth flows from England?

Quietly fuming at a comment in the article by Bruce Anderson in The Telegraph. He is talking abut the increasing use of the cross of St George by English football fans and how, he believes, it indicates a potential deeper malaise with the union.

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Horsey arrogance

Not for the first time, I have just been the victim of horsey arrogance while going about my lawful business using Her Majesty’s pock-marked and cratered highways. Read More...
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Hard to sympathise with serial illegal parker

It is hard to summon up any sympathy for the Aberdeen legal firm employee currently facing potential bankruptcy over almost £20,000 of unpaid parking fines. Read More...
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Aberdeen second in UK for quality of life

Aberdeen has been ranked second in the UK only to London, for its quality of life. The survey ranks Aberdeen higher than international cities like Rome, Houston, Hong Kong and Dubai.

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A second energy boom for Granite City?

At the All Energy exhibition in Aberdeen last week, the buzz was that marine renewables could provide a second boom for the Granite City that could even rival the oil boom.

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Keep track of soaring energy bills

With the cold winter and spring have you had a nasty shock with your heating and electricity bills? I know I have. I’ve often wondered if it is just me, or are others paying the same amount?

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City Square consultation "flaw"

A recently-issued briefing paper for the City Square proposal admits to a “fundamental flaw” in the consultation process for the City Square project.

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Anger at delay in Aberdeen by-pass

I know I am not alone in my anger at the delaying tactics of Road Sense in pushing their case against the much-needed, long-delayed Aberdeen bypass.

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North Sea oil back on agenda?

There are welcome signs, as we enter the last week before the election, that some in the political arena have started to acknowledge the continuing significance to this country of the North Sea oil and gas industry.

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Great news for Glencraft

Great to hear that Glencraft should reopen within days, following the intervention of Aberdeen energy firm PSN. Read More...
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No to potholes, yes to cycleway

I see from today’s Press and Journal, that I am not the only one to have spotted the irony of dodging massive craters on the Cults to Kingswells Road, then turning the corner to see thousands of pounds of our money being spent to add a little width to the existing cycleway along Westhill Road!
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At last some good news on development in the city!

Just when it seemed like Aberdeen was destined to miss out on any significant development due to lack of public funds, comes one welcome bit of news about a project that has secured Heritage Lottery Fund money, along with local authority funding and a bequest.

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Stop sticking spanners in the works!

It seems that at every turn, there’s a pressure group hiding behind the bushes ready to run out gleefully and stick a spanner in the works of every significant development project.

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Repairing Aberdeen, Repairing Scotland

Trips into the centre of Aberdeen used to be a pleasure. It was good to see the city at its best. Sadly, now, these trips serve as a reminder of off how our city is decaying. Read More...
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Action needed now to secure UK oil industry

The message delivered to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) that action is needed now to encourage investment in the North Sea oil and gas industry needs to be heeded by our politicians.

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Election debate: Perhaps SNP have a point

When I first heard that the SNP were demanding to be part of the TV debates for the forthcoming UK election, I was inclined to question the justification. But, no that had some more time to think about it, I think they have a point.

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Where has all the money gone?

I got back into my car, turned the ignition and on came the news. There were three items about lack of money for public projects. It all made for extremely depressing listening.

How have we got ourselves in this mess?

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Students have designs on City Square

A group of architectural students at the Robert Gordon University, have produced a series of designs which they believe shows the true potential of City Square.

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Blaming utility companies for potholes

The attempts to blame utility companies for the state of our roads, simply won’t wash. Some of the damage may result from utility works, but the bulk of the current epidemic of potholes is down, surely, to lack of maintenance. Read More...
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Why does AECC not attract central support

It does seem as though there are double standards, when the Glasgow and Edinburgh both have government support for their exhibition centres and Aberdeen is left out in the cold. Read More...
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City Square project an opportunity for future

The City Square proposal has been described, with some justification, as the most ambitious project for Aberdeen since the vision in 1799 to bridge the Denburn Valley with the viaduct that we now know as Union Street.

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Want to buy a big, big hole?

How would you like to own the biggest hole in Europe? Recently Rubislaw Quarry in Aberdeen has come on the market, with an asking price of £30,000. Read More...
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Aberdeen: last in government support league

When it comes to central government support, Aberdeen is at the bottom of the Scottish league, once Edinburgh’s capital city bonus is taken into account.

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Green light for Aberdeen by-pass

The Aberdeen by-pass has finally been given the green light, but the Scottish Government’s announcement does seem to be back-pedalling on the commitment to build the AWPR by the Transport Minister’s date of 2012.

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Get traffic moving says transport chief

Sir Moir Lockhead, chairman of the Aberdeen-based international transport group First, has called for action to get Aberdeen’s roads unblocked.

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Union Square city centre linkage

So the £275 million Union Square shopping centre has been open for a month and has already clocked up a million visitors, according to the developers.

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Danger on country roads

The fatal accident yesterday on the B977 underlines, yet again, the increasing pressure that is being put on totally unsuitable roads west of Aberdeen as we wait, and wait, and wait for the promised Aberdeen by-pass.

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Trump golf centre work starts

Work has started on Trump International Golf Links Scotland. After three years of sometimes painfully slow progress through our convoluted planning system, now the dream has come true for Donald Trump.

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Traffic gridlock forecast at Union Square

Stand by for traffic gridlock in the centre of Aberdeen as the Union Square development opens tomorrow. Thousands of shoppers are expected to descend on the new retail park over the coming days. Read More...
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Aberdeen to get first car-share lane

Aberdeen could get its first car share lane under proposals being discussed by NESTRANS.

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Green body lobbies for energy tax hit

The Green Fiscal Commission, an independent policy body, has recommended that the Government should triple fuel tax and impose hefty home energy taxes.

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Time to adopt European time?

“Now the clocks have gone back, we’ll all suffer gloomy evenings to keep Scotland happy.” So gripes Victor Keegan in the Guardian.

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Licensing board councillor is right

There would be few who would disagree with Councillor Bill Cormie when he calls for a radical solution to the alcohol fuelled antisocial behaviour in the city centre.

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What's the truth on the buses?

Like most citizens, I suspect, I am totally confused about the situation with the First Bus strikes in Aberdeen. The messages are so obfuscated that I have no understanding of the arguments. Read More...
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Realistic cycling goals

"By 2020, 10% of all journeys taken in Scotland will be by bike." Realistic or not?

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A tax on your view?

There were probably many, like me, who sat and chuckled as the panel members on ‘Have I Got News for You’ joked about government plans to tax people’s view from their homes. But, the warning bells are ringing that this is not such a far-fetched story.

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Road accident questions

Something seems to be going badly wrong with road safety in the North East of Scotland. While nationally in Scotland and the UK the numbers of deaths and serious injuries is at its lowest for 50 years, we seem to be seeing a spate of accidents in this area.

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£30 million harbour development

The news of a £30 million retain hotel, commercial and retail development beside Aberdeen harbour is to be welcomed. Read More...
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The Spires posts positive results in recession

Aberdeen-based serviced suite operator, The Spires has brought some positive financial news into the recession hit accommodation sector by posting a strong performance for the 2008-09 financial year. Read More...
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Call for an oil fund strikes a chord

The renewed call for an oil fund from the Finance Secretary is bound to strike a chord with many Scots.

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Steven Black youngest assessor

Steven Black, from Peterhead, has been appointed as Scotland’s youngest tenant assessor.

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Name the red kite chicks

The Aberdeen Red Kite Project are offering a chance for you to name the two red kite chicks that have become the stars of the Aberdeen CCTV. We have one female and one male chick. Read More...
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Aberdeen features little in NPF

Aberdeen City and Shire features little in the Scottish Government’s new National Planning Framework 2, published today.

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MSP concerned about threat to rural home value

Nanette Milne MSP, Shadow Minister for the Environment, has demanded a meeting to urge the SNP Scottish Government to think again and review home Energy Performance Certificates.

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Scotland would be in deficit even with oil?

So, according to a UK Government report, Scotland’s economy would still be in deficit even with the oil and gas revenues from the North Sea.

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Speed limiters proposed in safety framework

The Transport Minister has launched a new ten-year road safety framework for Scotland, which sets what are claimed to be the ‘toughest’ targets in the UK for for reduction of injuries and fatalities. Read More...
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When is local radio not local?

If you have tuned into Northsound 2, today (or Northsound 1 after 7 pm), you may have wondered what happened to the familiar voices and why the DJs are talking about Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow as much as they are about Aberdeen.

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New City Centre Heart Potential Home for Energy Futures Centre

AREG (Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group) today welcomed the vision for a new city centre heart as a potential location for its world-class, state-of-the-art Energy Futures Centre. Read More...
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War of Worlds coup for social enterprise

The Artists Gallery – an Aberdeen business that provides training and work opportunities for people with a disability – is the only gallery in Scotland offering signed copies of the ‘War of the Worlds’ album cover artwork. Read More...
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Chambers demand Forth Bridge rethink

According to The Sunday Herald, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce have called on the government to revert to plans for a wider replacement Forth Bridge with light rail potential and a motorway approach.

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New civic centre for the Granite City

The first outline designs for the creation of a new city centre for Aberdeen have been unveiled today. The plans reveal a six-acre civic space, at the level of Union Street and Union Terrace, built over the Denburn Valley and Union Terrace Gardens.

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Political turmoil

When we were assimilating the seriousness of the international money crisis at the end of last year we were warned that these were unprecedented times and that no-one really knew what the future held for us. Read More...
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Expenses row grows

It is almost three weeks since we commented on the MPs expenses row. Since then, the on-going revelations have been quite shocking. Yet, here is evidence that, ten years ago, Westminster decision makers knew that the system needed changed.

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Google reported interested in NE base

The Press and Journal is running a story today that Google is interested in using part of the former Inverurie Paper Mill as a Scottish green-powered data centre. Read More...
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Mystery over Cameron's 'rule Scotland'

All the headlines quote Conservative leader David Cameron as saying he would “rule Scotland with respect”.

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Let's embrace the new city centre plan

The proposal to create a new city centre focus in the centre of Aberdeen is gaining momentum.

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What happened to the political antennae

At a time when young couples are finding it difficult to afford a homes, when families are cutting back on non-essentials and those approaching retirement age are realising that their pensions are going to be worth a fraction of what they expected, some of our MPs show themselves to be out of tune with the times by awarding themselves frankly ridiculous expenses. Read More...
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What was no 10 thinking about

What were the spin doctors at No 10 thinking?
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iPod for everything but music!

I was given an iPod Touch for my birthday, three months ago. So far I have never used it for playing music.... here’s why. Read More...
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UK faces disastrous North Sea decline

A top Aberdeen oil executive has sounded a warning in The Herald today that the North Sea oil and gas industry faces a disastrous decline if the government does not take action on the tax regime. Read More...
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Helicopter tragedy memorial service

As the news breaks that the helicopter which crashed last week had suffered a catastrophic failure in its part of its main gearbox, details have been announced of the memorial service that is to be held next week. Read More...
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Aberdeenshire provost's new wheels

Aberdeenshire Provost* Bill Howatson is to follow the Czech President in the choice of official limousine.

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Shock at helicopter crash

The helicopter crash in the North Sea this week has been a reminder that the economic miracle of North Sea oil, which has bolstered the UK economy for 40 years, comes at a price – on this occasion, a very human one. Read More...
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50 mph limit is wrong tactic

Thos of us who use roads in the North East of Scotland (and that is the vast majority of us), tend to drive longer distances and greater miles. In future, you may find that many of these journeys are limited to 50 mph. Read More...
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New name for special needs school

An Aberdeen school, which has been recognised for its sector-leading standards in special needs education, is to adopt a new name and new identity as it develops its services to meet a growing need.

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Happy 100th birthday motor club

Happy 100th birthday to Aberdeen and District Motor Club. They are celebrating this Saturday with a dinner dance in the Ardoe House Hotel.

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Children's illustrations exhibition

Banchory Gallery, a social enterprise that provides training and work opportunities for people with a disability, opens a new exhibition of children’s illustrations this Saturday (March 14). Read More...
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What is the truth about paper mill sale?

We are in a claim and counter-claim situation over the Inverurie Paper Mill. Was there, or was there not an offer to buy the mill? Read More...
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Don't attach too much authority to tweets

Within minutes of the helicopter accident in the North Sea last night the first reports of the incident were reverberating around the globe on Twitter, the internet short messaging phenomenon. Read More...
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Job losses at Inverurie paper mill

The news of International Paper’s decision to close Inverurie paper mill may not be unexpected, but the actual announcement is still a heavy blow for the local economy with a loss of 371 jobs.

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What do do they learn at driving schools?

Driving along a single-track country road this morning. Coming the other way as clear as could be was a Ford Ka with a young driver at the wheel. I could see him - indeed I could hardly ignore him. He could have seen me, if he was interested in anything beyond the front of his bonnet! Read More...
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plane daft

I find tonight’s story in the Evening Express hard to fathom. Apparently taxis from the airport can’t operate in the city and taxis from the city can’t operate at the airport. Read More...
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Yet another local government reform?

The Herald today runs a story about a growing demand for the reform of local government. The suggestion is that the current 32 local councils in Scotland should be cut to just ten. Read More...
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Flying the Saltire in Aberdeenshire

A mystified letter from Detroit in The Press and Journal this morning questions the extraordinary decision of Aberdeenshire Council not to fly the Saltire – Scotland’s national flag – from council buildings.

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Big Brother: is 2009 our 1984?

Watch out. From March, the government will have a record of your visit to this website.

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Spend, spend, spend

We now have the lowest interest rates in the UK. Good news for borrowers and spenders. Bad news for savers.

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RIP conventional bulbs

The EU is taking control of your home lighting.

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Battle rages over vital NE transport link

A cross-border battle is raging over the funding of the new Forth Bridge. But, is it worth fighting over this vital link in the transport network for North-east Scotland?

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Visitors find closed doors

So we have these relatives from America coming to stay over Christmas and New Year. But nothing seems to be open. Are we missing a trick by not showcasing what we have to offer to our visitors? You bet we are! Read More...
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Third world roads

Recent frosts have turned the roads of Aberdeen City and Shire into a network of car breaking potholes. Read More...
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What do we offer for Festive visitors?

We have relatives coming from the USA for Christmas and New Year. But what visitor attractions are open? Not a lot that I can see. Read More...
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Older employees offer experience to ride out the recession

The settlement of £250,000 from channel Five in Selena Scott’s action over age discrimination flags up a serious issue. Read More...
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Safe drivers are made, not born

Speaking in a Members’ Debate in the Scottish Parliament on Alison McInnes’s motion ‘Safe Drivers are Made, Not Born’ Dr Nanette Milne, Conservative MSP for the North East said that in her time as a North East MSP, it had become clear that the area has a major problem with road accidents. Read More...
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Road accidents in 2007 at all time low

Scotland’s road accident statistics just released for 2007 show yet another reduction in deaths and injuries on Scotland’s roads. Read More...
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Sir Ian Wood's city centre plan

Sir Ian Wood has pledged £50 million to re-kindle interest in the plan to create a new civic square at street level in Union Terrace Gardens. Read More...
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Trump's £1bn golf plan is go

You could almost sense the corporate sigh of relief from Aberdeen City and Shire when word came through this afternoon that the £1 billion Trump International Golf Links Scotland plan had been approved. Read More...
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Politicians - let's have a new approach?

I found the short-lived consensus approach to the financial crisis quite refreshing. Suspension of the usual school-playground ‘ya boo’ style of name-calling was good while it lasted. Read More...
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Paper mill future under threat

There have been several times in recent years when we have held our breath over the future of the Inverurie Paper Mill. Tonight it seems that our worst fears may be founded. The mill’s owners, International Paper, based in Tennessee, has said that the mill is “unprofitable and not financially viable”. Read More...
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Credit crunch bites

Ever since the Credit Crunch took hold and grew into one of the biggest financial crises of our time, there have been a succession of journalists taking the shuttle to Aberdeen to present stories about the city that ‘escaped the crunch’. Read More...
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Bus lanes fines increase? Let's have a rethink.

So Aberdeen City Council plans to increase fines for driving in bus lanes to £80. What is the justification? Where is the proof that by strangling traffic flow on our arterial routes we are providing benefit for our citizens... the electorate? Read More...
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Road works nightmare again, 18 months later

It is just 18 months since everyone was seething over the long-running road works in Market Street, surely one of the busiest streets in Aberdeen city centre. When the work was finally completed everyone breathed a sigh of relief – particularly those who found themselves trying to conduct a business in the middle of the chaos. Read More...
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Scots road casualties lowest for more than 50 years

The number of deaths and serious injuries on Scotland's roads fell to their lowest level for more than 50 years in 2007, according to latest statistics. Read More...
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Scotland in surplus say Scottish Government

Figures just released by the Scottish Government show Scotland had a current budget surplus in the last two financial years. The most recent surplus is said to be £837 million, compared with a UK deficit of £4.3 billion. Read More...
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Haudagain action? But is it flawed?

Are we actually going to see some action over one of Scotland's worst traffic black spots? The infamous Haudagain roundabout has been accused of costing the country between £15 and £30 million in lost time, delayed deliveries and wasted fuel, let alone the undoubted diversion of trade away from Aberdeen. Read More...
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Trump headlines first day of golf inquiry

Donald Trump added an element of show business to the normally staid atmosphere of a public inquiry. His motorcade arrived at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Tuesday and the star of the show strode through the door, surrounded by some 40 television cameras, journalists and photographers. Read More...
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Unity needed to rebuild Aberdeen's reputation

The Accounts Commission report into the financial state of Aberdeen City Council is yet another blow to Aberdeen City and Shire's reputation, coming, as it does, hot on the heels of the Trump debacle. Read More...
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Have fun with money

Sounds a bit like a promotion for a competition, doesn't it? But we could all be having fun with our money soon, even if we only have loose change. Read More...
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Funny how Chancellor and PM find the way to Aberdeen when they need oil

Isn't it funny how the Prime Minister and Chancellor suddenly remember the importance of Aberdeen as the centre of the UK oil and gas industry when they need a favour? Where were they when the industry was calling for help to extend the life of the North Sea? Where were they when the industry was pleading for an equitable tax regime? Where were they when we were pleading for investment in our infrastructure to support the industry? Read More...
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A modern parable?

I normally don't pay a huge amount of attention to email funnies, but this one I did like. See what you think. Read More...
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Let's show Aberdeen has a heart

The rally yesterday - albeit organised by the Labour Party - cannot be dismissed as purely a political stunt. It shows the depth of anger in the city about the £27 million cuts and how they will impact on the most vulnerable members of Aberdeen's society. It matters not whether it is Aberdeen City Council who have brought this financial crisis on, or whether it is a desperately unfair system that means Aberdeen gets £320 less per head than any other local authority in Scotland. Read More...
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Unfair system squeezing Aberdeen finances?

It seems there is more to these £27 million cuts in Aberdeen City than meets the eye. Many of us may take issue with the services that the councillors have chosen as the target for their axe, but there seems to be a basic unfairness in the way Aberdeen City Council is funded. Read More...
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Aberdeen cuts deep into support for society's most vulnerable

Aberdeen City Council's announcement of £27 million of cuts in its budget has caused shock tremors throughout the city and further afield.

The initial headlines concentrated on the loss of the Bon Accord Baths and the Lynx Ice Rink. However, as time has gone on, there has been growing shock at how deeply the cuts may impact on Aberdeen's most vulnerable citizens. Read More...
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Trump saga takes another turn

You have to hand it to the politicians. They really know how to screw things up good and proper sometimes. Donald Trump is clearly not a man known for having endless patience. He wanted to build "the world's greatest links golf course" here in the North East of Scotland.

I'm sure that even he would not have expected the proposal to get the green light without due scrutiny. But he could never have expected to get lost in the dither and prevarication that is the British planning system. Read More...
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EU oversteps its mark again

Patio heaters are the latest target for the beuocrats in the EU. Apparently they are not environmentally friendly enough. But, are there not issues about restricting personal freedom? Read More...
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The vitality of the oil industry

Which is the bigger oil producer? Kuwait or the UK? The answer may surprise you. It also raises questions about why our politicians are not supporting and sustaining the North Sea industry for the future.
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Aberdeen drops off Edinburgh's radar

The National Planning Framework has gone out for consultation. It identifies nine infrastructure developments of national significance. Guess what? None of them are in Aberdeen City and Shire! Read More...
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Do politicians have a death wish?

Judging by the letters and columns in the newspapers, I am not the the only one who is watching the ever unfolding Trump saga with growing disbelief.

First Aberdeenshire Council get themselves into a total guddle, because a minority committee rejects a planning application. The majority of the councillors are apparently in favour, but the council is unable to refer the decision for ratification by the full council. Now when the £1 billion plan looks like it has been saved by the Scottish Government, other politicians now pop out of the woodwork desperate to stick more spokes in the wheel and, potentially, derail the plan. Read More...
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Aberdeenshire Council moves to sort itself out

The removal of Councillor Martin Ford from the chairmanship of the Infrastructure Services Committee and the decision that major projects must be capable of consideration by the full council go some way to sorting out the Trump mess at Aberdeenshire Council. We can also take heart from the support demonstrated by the full council for the Trump International Golf Links Scotland development. Read More...
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Credibility of Aberdeenshire Council is on the line

It is no exaggeration to say that the credibility of Aberdeenshire Council is on the line as a result of the Trump International Golf Links Scotland debacle. How on earth can a council allow seven councillors to halt a £1.5 million project? That's only around 10% of the councillors on Aberdeenshire Council! Read More...
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Trump will not appeal and is looking to Northern Ireland

Donald Trump has confirmed that he will not appeal Aberdeenshire Council's extraordinary decision of just seven councillors to refuse planning permission for the Trump International Golf Links Scotland development. Reports say he is already talking to landowners at an alternative site in Northern Ireland. Read More...
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Councillors' Trump refusal causes outrage

Why would you turn down the potential of a £1 billion investment to create a prestigious development that would not only draw thousands of visitors to Aberdeen City and Shire, but also focus international attention on the quality of the environment and services here in the North East? Read More...
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The Herald corrects Kelvin McKenzie's BBC outburst

The Herald has come up with the answers to blast Kelvin MacKenzie's outrageous anti-Scots outburst on the BBC Question Time programme. Read More...
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D for Darkness and Danger in and around Aberdeen

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is urging people to take special care following the changing of the clocks early on Sunday morning. Indeed RoSPA goes further and is calling for the Government to keep the clocks one hour forward. RoSPA claim this would save 450 lives and serious injuries each year.

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Kelvin MacKenzie promotes Scottish independence

Kelvin McKenzie's outburst on the BBC Question Time programme where he said that the Scots love to spend (Britain's) money but don't like to earn it, is the sort of racist comment that fuels the drive towards Scottish independence. Read More...
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It's whose oil?

The Offshore Europe conference and exhibition opens in Aberdeen today, with delegates from a hundred countries converging on the city for the biggest oil exhibition outside the USA. True to form, if you are not in Aberdeen you probably don't know it is happening. That's a shame, because the role of North Sea Oil in underpinning the UK economy is something that is all too easily forgotten. Read More...
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Scottish Executive becomes Scottish Government

Scottish Ministers have formally adopted the title Scottish Government to replace the term Scottish Executive as an expression of corporate identity. Read More...
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Direct USA flights are good news for Aberdeen

At the time when the Offshore Europe Exhibition is about to open its doors, the news that Aberdeen will finally have a direct air link with Houston, Texas, starting in January is excellent news. Read More...
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Road safety expert group to look at reducing Scottish toll

An expert group that will advise the government on road safety issues was announced yesterday by Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson. Read More...
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Transport hits the headlines in Aberdeen, yet again

Transport seems to be constantly in the headlines in Aberdeen. Perhaps it is no wonder considering how our transport infrastructure was largely ignored during the period when the North Sea Oil industry baled out UK plc. Read More...
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Independence within the United Kingdom?

The Scottish Government has put forward its proposals for a referendum on independence, with the launch of what it calls Scotland's Future: A National Conversation. Read More...
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Aberdeen special needs' workshop nominated for top UK food award

Well done to all the lads and lassies at Newton Dee Bakery which has been nominated for Local Hero 2007 in celebrity chef Gary Rhodes' UKTV award scheme. Read More...
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Scottish Broadcasting commission is step in right direction

The First Minister's decision to set up a Scottish Broadcasting Commission has to be a step in the right direction. Read More...
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Kingswells roundabout drivers risk endorsement

Being involved in a near miss involving four cars at the Kingswells roundabout this morning highlights the risks that impatient drivers are taking with their safety and others... and with endorsements on their licences. Read More...
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Putting Energy Institute in Glasgow is utterly illogical

The news that Glasgow is likely to be the Scottish centre for the UK Government's proposed Energy Technologies Institute is completely illogical. It is like establishing an institute of crofting research in Swindon, or putting a financial services institute in Barra. Read More...
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Delay for the Aberdeen by-pass is a disappointment

The announcement by the Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson, that the completion of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) would not now be until 2012 is extremely disappointing. But it is not surprising.
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Credit where it is due? North Sea oil 'airbrushed out of history'

Some of us in Aberdeen City and Shire wonder whether people in London and the Home Counties ever bother to stop and think what it was that built our current strong economy? Do they ever wonder where most of this country's energy comes from? Read More...
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Controversy about Scottish Prime Ministers

I simply cannot understand this controversy about Scottish Prime Ministers, which seems to have been whipped up at the time of Gordon Brown's elevation to the Premiership.
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Remember summer 2007

Do you remember summer 2007? Wasn't it great? Long hot days of constant sunshine.
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Time to express your opinion on Trump International Golf Links

The £1 billion Trump International Golf Links Scotland plan for Menie Park, just north of Aberdeen, goes before Aberdeenshire Councillors in a few weeks time. So now is the chance to have your say on whether it should be approved - and you can do so in just a few seconds online! Read More...
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What ever happened to the Scottish strawberry?

Remember when Scottish strawberries were a mouth-watering taste of the best soft fruit in the world? Now, if you buy them in supermarkets strawberries are tasteless and unexciting. Why? Read More...
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Don't lose the Trump opportunity over SNH

The SNH objection to Donald Trump's proposed Trump International Golf Links must not be allowed to stop the £1 billion development. As Aberdeen City and Shire looks to build on its role as a global centre for energy, what better boost could we have for our economy than the best golf complex in the world? Read More...
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Don't let us have a North/South battle

The suggestions (probably mischievous) that the Scottish Government is planning to ditch the massively expensive plans for trams and a rail link to Edinburgh Airport in favour of dualling the A9 road to Inverness have been orchestrated to try and create conflict. The schemes should be looked at on their merit. Read More...
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Teenage Deputy Provost for Aberdeen stirs comment

The news that Aberdeen is to have a teenager as deputy Lord Provost and that two other councillors in their early 20s will take control of powerful committees on Aberdeen City Council has produced a froth of coverage in the media.
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The people have spoken, don't defy their will

As Scotland looks forward to the appointment of a new Government, following one of the most exciting election battles for years, the Lib Dem spokesman this morning took a swipe at the SNP. Basically he was sounding remarkably like Gordon Brown, in effect saying that they wouldn't work with anyone who wanted independence. Read More...
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Politicians need to focus on sustaining, not milking, the oil and gas industry

The UK North Sea oil and gas industry, which is predominantly controlled and operated out of Aberdeen, provides the UK with 75% of its prime energy needs. By 2020 it is estimated that figure will rise to a staggering 80%. It also sustains something like 400,000 jobs in the UK. Read More...
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E&M closure is sad news for Aberdeen

The news that Esslemont & Macintosh is to close with the loss of more than 100 jobs is sad news for Aberdeen. E&Ms has been a local institution for more than a century and was Aberdeen's last remaining department store with real local roots - albeit that it had been bought out of local ownership by Owen & Owen, only for that company to crash into administration.
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Summer in April

Aberdeen City & Shire was the hot spot of the UK and one of the hottest spots in Europe today with temperatures in the city topping 20C and going even higher in some places. Read More...
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Think local when filling your car

Remember when getting a loaf of bread or a pint of milk meant just a short walk if you lived in any North East town (or a short drive in Aberdeenshire) to the local corner shop? Now you probably make a family excursion to your nearest Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury's or Morrisons. Now think about refuelling your car. Remember when refuelling the car was something you did when the fuel light came on? Oh, fuel light on, there's a station... fill up. Read More...
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Haudagain needs a flyover

In response to the Evening Express transport survey in which 55% of all respondents identified the Haudagain roundabout (junction of the A90 south, A90 north and A96) as the worst traffic blackspot in Aberdeen and the call by 75% of respondents for a flyover or underpass, the paper reports Transport Minister Tavish Scott as saying that the option is being considered. Read More...
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Trevipark automated parking step in right direction

News that a new underground automated parking system is being proposed for Golden Square has to be good news. It potentially solves the problem of the unsightly clutter of parked cars in one of Aberdeen's most magnificent squares, while also providing much-needed additional parking to help re-vitalise our city centre. Read More...
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A96 upgrade overdue

As someone who will usually take roads like the Lecht over to Tomintoul rather than brave the dreaded A96, it was good to hear the First Minister Jack McConnell say that he believed the A96 should "probably" be the next priority for upgrading. (Of course, one has to recognise the timing of his comments, just weeks before a parliamentary election at which he hopes Labour will have enough support for him to serve a new term as First Minister.) Read More...
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Toll taxes - a reprieve

In something of a U-turn (hope he checked U-turns were allowed before carrying out the manoeuvre) Tavish Scott, the Scottish Transport Minister, has apparently said that the toll tax will not fall on Scotland's road users for at least four years. Read More...
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Road work blues

If, like me, you recall a fanfare at Christmas time about the road works on Market Street being completed, you may also have found out how much of a false dawn that was Read More...
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Chancellor avoids hammering road users, for now!

Putting 1.25p on a litre of fuel will hit businesses and hauliers in the North East very badly, but it could be seen as road users getting off lightly. Certainly, all the green campaigners who have been baying for motorists to be squeezed till their pips squeaked, have been clamouring to get on the media to tell us so. Read More...
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Airport set for take off!

Transport really is making the headlines recently, now with the news that Aberdeen City councillors have approved the 300-metre runway extension at Aberdeen Airport. This clears the way for a massive redevelopment of the airport to allow it to take transatlantic flights and possibly even jumbo jets. Read More...
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North east road death toll

With road fatalities now topping 61 this year in the North East, there should be growing concern not just from the public but also from the authorities charged with looking after our roads.

Last night, on the commute home I happened to be the car immediately behind a fortunately minor collision but which could easily have been much more serious.

In the absence of proper roads round Aberdeen (roll on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route - 20 years late is better than not at all) we were travelling on a minor route from the Westhill area across to Blackburn. In front was "white van man" driving his vehicle in a manner that only someone who wants to get home from work can.

Despite being in a modern, four wheel drive vehicle and driving reasonably quickly there was no way I could keep up with the determined white van driver.

The inevitable happened. At a 90 degree left hand bend, the white van lost its grip on the road surface and slid into a car coming the other way.

The driver's fault? Of course. He was not driving within the capabilities of the vehicle and the road conditions.

But, if our authorities provided us with roads fit for purpose it would help. That includes the AWPR, but it also means improving other busy roads and it most certainly means resurfacing roads. Over years, inevitably, the passage of thousands of car tyres polishes off the stones that give road surfaces their grip. Resurfacing the road used to be carried out regularly, to ensure that grippy surface was maintained.

Now, resurfacing is a rarity. And that despite road users handing the authorities £36 billion in taxes every year.
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Transport to the fore

The focus in the last few weeks has been very much on transport, with the Eddington Review, the National Transport Strategy in Scotland, the announcement of the draft orders for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and now the launch of Nestrans Regional Transport Strategy for North East Scotland. Read More...
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The new road tax coming to your car...

The Eddington Review has been published and proposes, surprise surprise, a tax per mile for the roads you use. A satellite receiver in your car will track your every move and the government will send you a bill for the roads you use. You can find an e-petition on the Downing Street website.
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Trump's $1 billion Aberdeen golf plan

Donald Trump's organisation has submitted its plans for what Trump says will be the world's best golf course on the Menie site just north of Aberdeen. Read More...
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