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East newtonleys - A huge monstrosity
Madam - I am fully in agreement with your writer, Ian Shewan (Mearns Leader letters page August 28), with his comment ‘Shame on the councillors’. The idea of placing a huge monstrosity that will impact on the views south and north of Stonehaven, and especially in full view of Dunnottar Castle – a hugely important building both historically and architecturally – is anathema.
Why can’t these planners/councillors place the shed and its surrounding buildings next to the Council’s waste/recycling centre on the Banchory Road, where there is already a large shed, recently constructed to house the recycling activities? There are flat, vacant fields either side of the site, and the one which has the two fairly ratty buildings next to the school rugby field could be another site. These fields have easy access to the main road and to the town of Stonehaven, as well as other settlements down the A90 and A92, but more importantly, would be less visible from the approaches to our town.
Development - Mill of Forest
Madam - I fully agree with Robert Armstrong’s letter in last week’s Leader (August 28) about the latest plans for Feathers and Toucks development. It is outrageous that developers can re-submit rejected proposals again and again - proposals that are neither in the current Development Plan (that runs to 2017) nor in the latest draft plan for the period 2017 to 2022. Let us not be fooled for one second by the suggestion of “only” 500 new houses and the carrot of a new supermarket, hotel and employment land.
If the developers had indeed “taken on board the comments” received from the general public and Aberdeenshire Council (as their spokesman indicated in last week’s paper), then they would accept that this is a development that is neither welcome nor required for Stonehaven. I have no doubt that 500 homes would only be a starting point and that the developers would ultimately still be looking to put something like 1500 homes on the site – as per their earlier plans. If we allow this to happen, we are effectively adding a new town to be built onto the side of Stonehaven (with ultimately up to perhaps a further 4000 people).
Stonehaven is not perfect when it comes to certain facilities (medical facilities and schools are already stretched) but we still have a vibrant community and lovely town / harbour / beach etc that we can all be proud of. Allowing a development of this size and nature (even a “reduced” version) would spoil the town for ever.
Our councillors and planners have already indicated that the proposed site is not approved in the current or new local development plans. They should tell the developers once again that their applications are rejected and that, as Robert Armstrong suggests, the developers should put their efforts into supporting the LDP and the already approved sites in Aberdeenshire – notably at Chapeltown of Elsick beside Newtonhill.
Education - Missed the mark
Madam - Stuart Donaldson MP appears to have missed the most salient points regarding education in Aberdeenshire and across Scotland. After eight years of SNP control of the education system the net result has been a sharp drop in overall standards and, simultaneously, an increasing gap in attainment between the more and the less affluent. The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy clearly details the fall in both literacy and numeracy standards at all stages in primary school, and in S2. The SNP additional money for schools is simply a panic measure in the light of the appalling figures.
Parents can take no comfort from the £260000 mentioned by Mr Donaldson. If your child’s school receives extra money it is an indication that standards have fallen further in that school than in neighbouring schools. If your child’s school does not receive extra money it indicates that the government is choosing to do absolutely nothing to rectify the disastrous situation it has created.
The half baked education policies which were forced onto Scottish schools have proved to be even more detrimental to standards than predicted. The SNP now needs to acknowledge their complete failure to maintain, never mind raise, standards and make systemic changes for the better. A project here and a project there, with nothing at all for the majority of schools, will make no difference.
A small country like Scotland relies on its educated citizens to create and sustain a flourishing economy. We simply cannot afford to let the SNP continue to destroy our most precious resource.
Former President, School Leaders Scotland
Chair, Scottish Secondary Mathematics Group
Flooding - Proposed River Carron Flood relief scheme
Madam - The time has now passed for lodging objections to this still continuously evolving scheme. Despite the fact that the original wide low level river mouth is upstream from the beach footbridge that was used to define the seaward extent of what was to be studied by the council’s advisers.
It would appear that no attempt has been made to model what the restoration of this centuries old proven low-level flood release on to the beach would have on lowering river flood heights. History has proved repeatedly that this high capacity low-level flood release has been responsible for preventing any domestic flooding along the lower river for many generations. The council’s flood engineers still keep telling us that they are concerned about marine waves going up the river. Up until 1948 and the then big flood when the river Cowie breached the beach to enter the sea directly.
No waves had ever been able to enter the river Carron because there was a shingle bank barrier between the combined river channel and the sea as the combined rivers flowed towards the old town. This changed in 1948 which to many of us is not all that long ago and we now have an ever increasing list of local residents that all testify that no natural marine waves ever entered the Carron from that time up until 1999. This was when the council created running waves started exploding into the river mouth and for the first time in history these man-made waves charged up the river with damaging effect.
There is absolutely no chance now for that type of wave being generated and therefore no possible reason why the river mouth cannot be restored to its long proven flood reducing high capacity flood escape. The present confining rock armoured channel as we have seen in the last two major floods has to be filled to capacity up to the level of the foot bridge deck to be able to cope with the flood flow.
If the original wide unobstructed river mouth were fully restored to allow flood escape onto the beach at below high tide level as it was for generations prior to the council’s river mouth obstruction the flood level below the foot bridge would be a minimum of 8 feet lower than the surface of the water in the confining rock armoured channel.
This created artificial flood height is responsible for all the ever increasing heights of upstream proposed flood walls. Now we are told that the proposed walls are to become even higher as Mott Mac Donald tells us in their report, due to the planned narrowing of the long proven wide channel.
If this flood escape were fully restored to its long proven capacity we could safely greatly reduce all the heights of the costly proposed flood walls along the lower river. Why was no modelling apparently ever carried out by the council employed flood specialists on utilising this wide low level long proven flood escape. If it had been it could have greatly reduced the cost and complexity of most of the proposed flood scheme.
Ian G. McDonald
Westminster comment - Stuart Donaldson on educashun
Madam - I read the article last week by our MP, Stuart Donaldson, welcoming the additional funding of £260,000 for Aberdeenshire schools. It reminded me of the famous scene in the spoof spy classic, “Austin Powers” where the international villain, Dr Evil, recently awakened from being frozen for 50 years, announces, to guffaws of laughter from the United Nations, that he intends ransoming the world for One Million Dollars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l91ISfcuzDw.
There are some serious points to be made. The £260k for Aberdeenshire was part of an announcement by Nicola Sturgeon last week of an additional £100m to tackle Scotland’s shameful attainment gap. Aberdeenshire Council spends £250m per year on Education so this £260k equates to an additional £1 for every £1,000 it already spends.
The overall £100m is actually spread over 4 years, ie £26m per year. The amount the Scottish Government spends each year on Education is £2,600 million, so this is a 1% increase and it sounds suspiciously like one already made in February this year, “Sturgeon Pledges £100m to tackle attainment gap”.
This announcement was a rushed reaction to the poor Higher results and a growing wave of research and opinion that shows Scotland is sliding down the international performance tables. It would have looked worse if the SNP hadn’t pulled out of two of the most respected tables TIMMS and PIRLS show that we have fallen behind England.
To be fair this decline started long before the SNP came to power, but they have had 8 years to halt the decline and put improvements in place.
My last point is why wasn’t this article written by my MSP, Nigel Don? Education is devolved to the Scottiish Government so it is not really Mr Donaldson’s responsibility. I hope it isn’t because he doesn’t have much else to report, other than visits to the Horse Welfare Centre, the Caravan Park, Morrisons in Banchory and the RBS in Alford. I hope Mr Donaldson he will get stuck into his real job soon, which is representing us on UK issues in the House of Commons such as the refugee crisis, defence policy, energy, the Scotland Bill , BBC privatisation and all the other 200-plus bills coming before Parliament in the next session.
To quote most of my old school reports “could do better”
Dog Poo - Flinging poo bags
Madam- Would the woman with the light gold car and white poodle dog please take the time and effort to walk to the nearest doggy poo bin in the future.
I was coming out from the recreation grounds and saw her walk towards her car which was parked in the entrance of Baird Park, next to the football hut. All of a sudden she flung a plastic bag containing dog poo high up into the bushes. Unfortunately I didn’t have my phone or a pen handy to take down her car number, but I will if there’s a next time!
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