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 firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to 12 Ann Street, AB39 2ER.
You’re a star!
Johnshaven thanks Clark
Sir- Every week for over 30 years, Clark Simpson has written up the Johnshaven Jottings for The Mearns Leader. In this time, he has charted the rhythms of our wee village from local organisation news to sporting triumphs and disappointments to great annual events like our Flower Show, Fish Festival and Firework Spectacular.
Written with great care and clarity, the Johnshaven Jottings have been an essential and dependable source of local news for residents and those with an interest in the village. There is not an organisation in Johnshaven that has not benefited from Clark’s support. The Jottings have been an invaluable means to relay information, publicise events and bring people together.
Clark’s dedication to his native village is unfaltering and his contribution outstanding. His Jottings have played an important role in making Johnshaven such a special place to live. We would like to express our deep gratitude to Clark and to his wife Sheila who was the original Johnshaven Correspondent and who has supported Clark with the Jottings over many years.
The Community of Johnshaven
Editor’s note: It’s been a pleasure to work with Clark, whose column was an example of how it should be done.
STP’s ‘Plan B’ a puzzle?
Sir- At the recent meeting about the STP’s ‘Plan B’ it was great to see so many concerned citizens present and contributing to the discussions but I wonder if they were as puzzled as I was.
To my mind a ‘Plan B’ usually attempts to solve the same problem as whatever ‘Plan A’ addressed but in a different way, the challenge being that the majority of Stonehaven residents want a supermarket that will provide some competition to the Cooperative monopoly.
As far as I can see, the STP’s ‘Plan B’ for the sea front and Recreation Grounds does nothing of the sort. The STP actually went out of their way on the night to say a supermarket was not present in their current plans. I can’t help thinking the letter from David Fleming in the Leader two weeks ago encouraging residents to submit suggestions to their consultation proposing that a supermarket should be included exposes the STP’s true intentions.
After all, it would be difficult to raise finance for such a large scheme without a major retailer on-board. However, anyone who was at the meeting would have been left in little doubt that the majority attending did not agree with the idea of a major redevelopment or supermarket on this particular site even if there was a strong desire for improved retail choice in the town.
The combination of recreation facilities, static caravans and existing retailers make the sea front area a popular destination for residents, day trippers and tourists alike. If there is one part of the town that is thriving through a combination of volunteering, private enterprise, clubs and community this is it.
It could do with further investment but proximity to the exposed shore makes expensive dwellings, retail units and infrastructure risky propositions. The area is not perfect but its current mixed usage, unique atmosphere and popularity prove the model is not broken and that we should work together to improve it without destroying its essential character.
The Mains of Cowie plan, which the STP’s ‘Plan B’ allegedly addressed, is one of a number of proposed edge-of-town developments that include large supermarkets.
The problem with these is that they also bring with them hundreds if not thousands of houses due to flawed Scottish Government planning guidance which seeks to offset the retail ‘leakage’ that they think would occur from our town centre. With Stonehaven already leaking 60-80% of grocery shopping elsewhere this stipulation seems irrelevant. A second sticking point is that every one of the many different developers trying to get their own edge-of-town site passed are ready to dash to court if any scheme other than their own is given the green light.
You only have to have attended one of the recent ‘pre-determination’ hearings to have seen evidence of this as each objected against the other with much the same arguments - a bizarre state of affairs to which I cannot see any imminent (or distant) solution.
One of the statements made by the STP that seems more based in reality is that shopping habits are changing. People are shopping more often, buying less and demanding better value and as a result the major retailers have lost their way and are losing huge numbers of shoppers to the discounters.
Given all the above, the best option may be to invite an Aldi or Lidl onto the council’s preferred and available site at Spurryhillock, There will also be a large supermarket at Elsick in the near future which will provide further choice. For Stonehaven, geography, history and circumstance may mean we will never get one of these large boxes on our doorstep, but in the long term we might be grateful we didn’t.
Name and address supplied
Problems with anonymity
Sir- In the Mearns Leader last week (October 10) a letter titled “Response to Alex Johnstone” occupied three of the five columns allocated for reader’s letters. It accused Mr Johnstone of “hatred-filled bile” and made a number of other controversial statements such as “these Vows will certainly have tricked many,” “the state-control-led media, TV and newspapers were vehemently against independence” and “Westminster is sick, very sick”. While the writer is perfectly entitled to hold such views, and while Mr Johnstone is perfectly able to defend himself, I am troubled by the fact that the Mearns Leader agreed to publish the letter anonymously (“name and address, supplied”).
With rare exceptions (such as where there are clear issues of confidentiality or vulnerability) I feel strongly that if correspondents are unwilling to put their names to controversial opinions in letters, emails or social media, then they should not have the privilege of having them published. I would be interested to know what the editorial policy of the Mearns Leader is in this respect.
Editor’s note: It’s a fair point. I may not necessarily agree with the practice, but accept it is part of the industry. All requests for anonymity which I receive are considered on merit. In this case, once I was acquainted with the facts, I’m satisfied it was a reasonable one.
Sir- I would just like to pen a deserved note regarding Mackie Academy student uniforms. We all know that Mackie Academy students are clever, however it is nice to see that they are also smart.