The Lunatic Fringe

On Wednesday, Aberdeen City Council voted to support the razing (not a misspelling!) of Union Terrace Gardens and the replacement of these with Sir Ian Wood's vision of a City Square.

I think this was a wrong decision for three reasons
  1. It has dished Peacock Visual Arts proposals for a new Northern Lights Arts Centre which had secured most of the required funding and would have delivered a £5m/year economic boost to the City as well as making the gardens more accessible and providing handy facilities such as cafe and toilets.
  2. No economic case for the City Square has been made.  This makes the proposed funding for the £90m+ that will not be given by Sir Ian Wood - Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) - dubious.  TIF depends on the infrastructure being developed actually delivering tax increases locally - and for central government agreeing that those extra taxes can be used to pay of the local debt.  Neither of these are certain.
  3. The gardens themselves are used and loved.   They are a important cultural, historic and enviornmental asset to the City.   55% of the people in the City Square consultation said No to the City Sqaure proposals.  As I have already said "Which bit of No, don't you understand?".  Ian Wood said he would withdraw the offer unless the proposals were supported.   But ASCEF wanted to pursue the issue and the City Council has agreed to this.  

It's hard for councillors to say No to £50m.  I am sure that the P&J and the Evening Express would have told us that councillors voting against City Squre were numpties and a danger to the economy of the north east of Scotland if the vote had gone the other way.  Those against the proposals have been labelled as the Lunatic Fringe.  This blog is called National Disgrace, Scroundrel and Extremist because those are labels that Donald Trump and his accolytes tried to attach to me and I am plainly none of those things.  So I am happy to add Lunatic Fringe to the list - along with the 55% of those who were consulted on City Square who also said No.

People are genuinely angry about this decision and desperate for someone to take a lead in stopping this awful  "development".  I think that the economic case does not exist and the funding mechanism is too dubious.  So the odds are that this willnot happen.  It hasn't happened for 20 years .....

So let's group together as friends of Union Terrace Gardens and do what we can to conserve and improve them. 

Meanwhile, thanks for this video of the Gardens on Saturday 22nd May 2010.


  1. Rebekah Gronowski24 May 2010 at 05:28

    As Debra says - "Which part of NO does the Aberdeen City Council not understand?" If 55% of people in the Consultation on the UTG said "NO" to this proposal, then why is ACC pursuing this insane decision?

    In my view, this is as outrageous as any proposal to replace Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh with a shopping mall! Absolute madness and nothing but greed.

    So Sir Ian Wood threw his toys out of the pram! Boo Hoo! In other words he was effectively saying, "If you won't play my game my way, I'm not going to play with you any more!" Get a grip Aberdeen City Council! Don't be held to ransom by this supposed "offer for the good of the City" - the only ones to benefit will be the money owners and the money makers and, of course, Sir Ian Wood - it certainly won't be the public citizens of Aberdeen! Another case of the 'have nots' being sent to the wall by the 'haves'!

    As we saw in the lovely video of people enjoying the gardens in the way normal people would -


    Citizens of Aberdeen - UNITE and don't let the City Council get away with this one!

  2. Thanks Debra, that's a useful take. I am also a member of the 55% lunatic fringe! I think it's really important we remind people of the Peacock plan. The survey (in which 55% of people still opposed Wood) didn't even mention the original plan. It seems to have been quietly shelved, despite being far more viable.

    What's more, this TIF mechanism will almost certainly see business rates rise, meaning only established chains will be able to afford to trade, and whatever square we end up with will be depressingly generic.

  3. Its gathering pace.


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