Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Alonso Hawk

Those of a certain age, whose children grew up with Herbie, that annoying little self-drive Volkswagen, might remember the lustful and greedy developer who wanted to demolish the fire station that was holding up his latest money-making development scheme - and tried all sorts of dirty tricks to get his way. Ring any bells, perhaps? Is there more than a passing similarity with Donald Trump, the lugubrious American developer behind moves to build two golf courses, 500 rich people's houses, 950 holiday homes and a hotel on the sand dunes of the Menie Estate, north of Aberdeen. Mr Trump got his way - and the chair of Aberdeenshire Planning Committee's head - in being granted planning permission in the first place, then found that there were bits of land he wanted to add to his empire that folk were not willing to sell - at any price. Trump made all sorts of cheap derogatory remarks about these people who valued what they have owned for many years and didn't want to let go. The next card he played was to submit a planning application to add four houses and two plots of land that he didn't own to his overall plan - something anyone is at liberty to do, though in the knowledge that gaining the permission will normally add more to the cost of subsequently purchasing same. Trump says he has made 'generous offers' to the owners, but by all reports, the figures seem ordinary to say the least. And now he is playing his trump card - asking Aberdeenshire Council to use compulsory purchase powers 'as a last resort' to secure the land on his behalf.
This is due to be debated later this week - but it would be to the eternal shame of any council should it vote to use compulsory purchase powers in order to benefit the commercial interests of any private business - whether American or not. If the council has any honour at all left in this sorry tale, it will resoundingly reject such a proposition. If Trump wants to buy these properties, nothing less than an offer they can't refuse will be acceptable. Alonso Hawk needs to remain a work of fiction. Trump must grow up and stop treating people who have lived on Menie all their lives as brainless serfs with no rights.

Monday, 21 September 2009

BBC Scotland Bashing Goes On

The Megrahi affair continues to be something where the vast majority of ordinary people do believe that Kenny MacAskill was right, but the politically motivated continue to take every opportunity, however obscure, to try to score points.
Why, though, is BBC Scotland one of the worst offenders?
Why have BBC Scotland 'taken the opportunity' (as they put it), to send a reporter and camera crew to Syracuse University in the Good Ol' US of A, to find out what students there, where 35 of their number were lost in the bombing, think?
And why only now, weeks after the event?
Exactly what is BBC Scotland's editorial agenda here? They appear to have an overriding interest in keeping this 'on the boil' come what may, despite mounting evidence that Megrahi is, like as not, innocent.
Come on Aunty Beeb, you're getting boring in your old age!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Bounders and Boundaries

The news that the Boundary Commission have completely ignored representations made from Badenoch and Strathspey, from our MSP, Fergus Ewing, from myself and from The Highland Council and made no changes at all to their recommendation that Badenoch and Strathspey be carved up for electoral purposes between Inverness and Lochaber in a pathetic blind adherence to the numbers game is nothing short of an utter disgrace.

Despite this being about the boundaries of the Scottish Parliamentary Constituencies, the decision is a reserved matter and will be made by Westminster's poodle in the north, The Secretary of State for Scotland, not by our own Parliament.

The breathtaking and dismissive arrogance that denies us even a local inquiry hearing into our grievances is yet more evidence that devolution is an increasingly unsatisfactory half way house. How is it possible that a raft of clearly expressed views, including unanimity across the political divide in Highland Council, can be ridden over roughshod by an undemocratic bunch of numpties reporting to an anachronism from the past?

It is quite extraordinary that these clowns in Edinburgh can actually consider it reasonable to expect the MSP for the new constituency that will include more than half of our area, on the western side of the Cairngorms National Park, to be able to represent constituents from Aviemore down to Lochaber, across to Uig in north Skye, then back across to Dingwall, north of Inverness. Aviemore to Uig is 163 miles. This is twenty three miles further than it is to Glasgow City Centre, and an amazing thirty six miles further than the trip to Holyrood itself. All this would be bad enough by itself, but to take all of the connections of the area of Badenoch and Strathspey and rip them apart in a divorce that nobody wants for the sake of equality of numbers is total idiocy. In rural environments, equality of numbers is in no way related to equality of representation.

All we have left to battle on with now, given that the Boundaries Commission won't even give us a local inquiry because they say 'they have enough information to come to a decision' is to write to the Secretary of State for Scotland to urge him to reject the Commission's proposals.