March of the Menie

The threats to the families at Menie are increasing.

The Munro's at Leyton Cottage have the daily disturbance of heavy lorries past their house - and oddly the road put in to serve these lorries has had to be reconfigured a few times.

Trump is now claiming that David and Moira Milne have no right to part of the land their house is built on.

And the Trump's continuing harrassment of the Forbes is well documented. 

My fear is that Trump, having realised that my colleagues on Aberdeenshire Council take delight in saying "Yes, Mr Trump and will that be all today?", will build the course, apply for permission to build the hotel and then refuse to do more unless they agree to CPOs for the Menie families land and the extra land at Leyton Farm.

Will my colleagues be able then to move from fawning over Trump to standing up for people's human rights?

Many thanks to the 250-300 people who marched from Balmedie to "the Bunker" at Mill of Menie in support of the families.

Child Benefit and Marriage Allowances

I thought that the government was being pragmatic when it announced that child benefit was to be withdrawn from families in the top tax bracket.  A bit crude perhaps as in some families both parents will be high earners and in others only one and some the high earner will be the sole earner.  But that is the way of our over-complex tax and benefit system.

I think it's pity to target child benefit rather than other options as it was regarded as the universal benefit that everyone shared at the time when they most needed the money - a transfer of money from perhaps later in life when earnings may be higher to the point when people tend to have children.

But I can't understand the Tory enthusiasm for marriage allowances.

The video explains the craziness better that I could.

But the LibDems seem to have agreed to the tax cut for married couple (OK to be fair - they get to abstain) without securing the raising of tax allowances for all.    So much for fairness.

A Times article gives the cost of transferable allowances between married couples as £3.2 billion.   Limiting this to those with children would reduce this to £1.5 billion.  But just why should a marriage certificate give an advantage to one set of people over another?

Ellon Planning for Real

It's been a week for consultations. 

Encouraged by the course director, I went to the opening of the Elsick design charette and looked into the workshop on Friday afternoon.  It seems to be a very open consultation exercise with real efforts to involve the local community with special sessions for school children and the residents who are most affected.

And today was a Planning for Real event in Ellon.  This was perhaps mistimed with the deadline for Local Development plan representations being yesterday but ...

Much attention was focused on the proposed sites for Ellon Academy.  6 sites were shown but I am still of the view that only the Cromleybank sites are viable.   Discussions were lively and people really wanted to engage.  I tried my best to explain the likely constraints and I think that most people share my view that only the Cromleybank sites are viable.

On the wider issues, there were a wide variety of suggestions of how Ellon could be improved and I'll await a full analysis of this before commenting.

However I do have one serious concern about the exercise.  When I left at about 2pm, only one person in the 19-30 age range had shown up.   How can we better engage with this age range?- they'll have to live with any decision that flow from the day.