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Labour cast doubt on Aberdeen City Garden plan

May 10 2012

Labour cast doubt on Aberdeen City Garden plan
Plans to redevelop Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens could be scuppered after the incoming Labour administration, who campaigned against the plan, indicated they were to press ahead with a free vote on the £140m scheme.

Labour has secured support from Conservative and Independent councilors to lead Aberdeen City Council, succeeding the outgoing SNP administration who approved the project last year following a public referendum.

Tom Smith, chairman of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future, said: “The City Garden Project is now in doubt. This is a once-in-a-lifetime project that will transform our city centre, its look, feel, economy and culture, in a way that piece-meal developments simply will not do.

“It is hard to believe that a political party are prepared to go against a project which secured a majority vote in a referendum. This brings both integrity and democracy into question."


Jimbob Tanktop
#1 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 10 May 2012 at 11:37 AM
A little thing like democracy never bothered Labour in the past. Just look at all the rich undertakers in Iraq...
#2 Posted by Bob on 10 May 2012 at 11:44 AM
True but they were voted in here on a manifesto commitment to stop the Union Square Project. One referendum cancelling the other?
#3 Posted by Marty on 10 May 2012 at 12:00 PM
Good understanding of democracy there Bob, Yes/No referendum one result gets a majority, Local council election no single party with majority of votes cast, where no single issue can be seen to determine the intention of each vote. Decision has been made.
#4 Posted by Bob on 10 May 2012 at 12:03 PM
No need to be such a d*ck Marty, I'm with you here that the project should go ahead but I think you'll find that you're wrong.
Telly Savalas
#5 Posted by Telly Savalas on 11 May 2012 at 09:04 AM
Ach, let's just keep Aberdeen as it is, so it can eventually revert back to the parochial wee fishing village that it once was eh? Well done Labour cut yer nose off you shower of trumpets. Sad. Very sad.
#6 Posted by Egbert on 11 May 2012 at 09:39 AM
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime project that will transform our city centre, its look, feel, economy and culture"

Erm, is this not over-egging the pudding just a little? This is scarcely less a piecemeal project than anything else of recent years. Personally I'd be glad to see the back of this costly and needless vanity project - you never know, we might be able to get the (much more appropriate, sensitive and indeed cheaper) Peacock proposals back on track...
Telly Savalas
#7 Posted by Telly Savalas on 11 May 2012 at 09:54 AM
Egbert, explain how it's a peacemeal project?

The Brisac Gonzalez scheme was a tiny slice stuck in the side if a hill. It fixed nothing, pointless. Granite web is a major intervention, some that repairs and connects Aberdeen City Centre.

#8 Posted by Puzzled on 11 May 2012 at 10:13 AM
No it's not. It's a project for Lanzerote not Aberdeen, get real.
#9 Posted by BMPaterson on 11 May 2012 at 10:16 AM
I agree, we are in mid May and it is 6 degrees out side at the moment. Where are all these happy smiley sun loving Aberdonians going to come from?
Ageing Student
#10 Posted by Ageing Student on 11 May 2012 at 10:19 AM
Is that a dinosaur trapped in the ice I see, better a wooly mammoth. Surely, that would be more appropriate?
New Yorkie
#11 Posted by New Yorkie on 11 May 2012 at 10:35 AM
Hmmm, wonder how the Highline operates in New York, that can be wetter and far colder, for longer periods, than Aberdeen?

Oh that's right, it is as busy durin the autumn & winter as it is during the summer.

"It's raining outside lets just stay in…"
#12 Posted by BMPaterson on 11 May 2012 at 10:41 AM
Temperature in New York yesterday was 24 degrees and sunny. It's been in the 20's since mid March and will go on warm until October
Jimbob Tanktop
#13 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 11 May 2012 at 11:38 AM
'Put your duffle coat oan Morag, and stick the four-bar up to full blast. It's nippy ootside, and as you know, us Scots never dare venture ootside if it's less than 20 degrees celsius.'
#14 Posted by BMPaterson on 13 May 2012 at 15:41 PM
You will need more than a duffle coat in Aberdeen today Morag, Here, take my thermals, sou'wester and waders
#15 Posted by Hammy on 13 May 2012 at 16:05 PM
Ach Morag, it's a fine May day. I'll can rub on some vick, get some more fisherman's friends put on my oilskins and meet you for a quick macchiato at Union Terrace?
#16 Posted by Nik on 13 May 2012 at 19:59 PM
Allegedly 29,000 more people voted in favour of developing UTG, than voted for Labour. Whole thing is a massive embarrassment. Pro's and con's of the scheme aside, fed up of seeing a city centre deteriorate year on year. Council would do well to address how they plan to fix this if they're cancelling this.
True Don
#17 Posted by True Don on 13 May 2012 at 20:27 PM
There was a viable proposal. It worked, it could be afforded, it was ready to go ahead. It was called the Peacock Visual Arts Centre. No we'll have nothing. Smart move.
Jimbob Tanktop
#18 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 14 May 2012 at 09:20 AM
Managed Decline, Labour's own version of Manifest Destiny.

Slogan: 'It's Sh1!€ Being Scottish: Know Your Place'
#19 Posted by Corrector on 14 May 2012 at 09:50 AM
Actually, the Gonzales proposal was a nice little scheme but did nothing to address the problems that the current gardens present in a modern day Aberdeen City Centre : its a gaping wound in need of major surgery.

What people are failing to grasp here is that Aberdeen needs a new face & identity and something that would symbolise a new Aberdeen - the phrase is cheesey but the Bilbao effect is very real.

Two small points about the TIF that people are failing to grasp : 1) The TIF isn't intended to be for the Gardens alone, it is for 4 other key strategic city centre regeneration schemes including the Green and St.Nicholas House. 2) This taxpayers/council debt red herring is exactly that, a twist of the truth by Labour to scare people and attain cheap votes. The TIF is paid back by business rates end of.

Lastly, and this is the most important point – 46’000 citizens of Aberdeen voted in a public referendum because they wanted Granite Web to become reality. Only 16’000 people voted for Labour.

That says the project must go ahead because, regardless of political persuasion – the people want it.
#20 Posted by BMPaterson on 14 May 2012 at 10:02 AM
What a load of complete and utter patronising tosh and hyperbole. A gaping wound, seriously? Only, a nice little scheme, really? The gardens may need intervention and Aberdeen may need to face up to the 21st century in terms of architecture and quailty of environment but this project is not it. It is a showpiece project and an ill considered architectural set piece.
#21 Posted by Corrector on 14 May 2012 at 10:12 AM
The BG was a nice little scheme, that is all. It would have brought nothing to the city centre and wouldn't have been frequented by anyone but those interested in Art. Do you know anything about the history of the gardens and do you know how UTG came about? If you do, then you would realise that it was never intended to by a Garden by design, it was an accident. That is why it doesn't function properly, it never has - and why it completely under whelms in its prominent position at the heart of Aberdeen. I respect your opinion on the design the public selected, and as such i'd like you to elaborate on your terminology "ill considered". Go on, enlighten us all......
#22 Posted by BMPaterson on 14 May 2012 at 10:23 AM
There's a feckin dinosaur encased in the image above. The "granite" ramps are supported by planar glass, loadings would be significant for a public venue and walkway yet there are no balustrades shown. There is an open air concert venue at the heart of the proposal and it's freezing in Aberdeen today in mid May, the wind is blowing down from the arctic.
#23 Posted by Hammy on 14 May 2012 at 10:38 AM
#22 Agreed, there is no "heart" in the project. I'm afraid it's more likely to be a Boston Institute of Fine Arts, the biggest white elephant in the eastern USA than Highline, sadly. Bibao effect......... LOL!
#24 Posted by BMPaterson on 14 May 2012 at 10:55 AM
You mean the Boston Institute of Contemporary Arts I think?
#25 Posted by Hammy on 14 May 2012 at 11:03 AM
Yes, sorry but another similar project for the gullible and naive.
#26 Posted by Corrector on 14 May 2012 at 11:18 AM
MP you are a scream-! Crit time at Uni must have been an extremely painful experience for you. In summary : As a concept it's clearly too much for you to comprehend, perhaps putting a concrete lid on it is more your kind of thing ;-)
#27 Posted by Hammy on 14 May 2012 at 12:40 PM
The gullible, naive and stupid.
William Alvis
#28 Posted by William Alvis on 14 May 2012 at 14:59 PM
Hammy, speak about gullible and naive - you have clearly been taken in by Labour doing things for all the wrong reasons. They do not give a damn about the Gardens and they have only brought this up because it appears to conflict with the SNPs wishes.

To my knowledge no Labour members of the council opposed Ian Woods plan when it was being pushed through to be listed as the only plan avaliable on the referendum.

So clearly, you are indeed stupid like all the rest who voted for them on this basis.

#29 Posted by Hammy on 14 May 2012 at 15:09 PM
I am an SNP voter and votrd SNP in the council elections
#30 Posted by dirige on 14 May 2012 at 16:15 PM
Ban this project and all others like it, lets 'KEEP SCOTLAND S**E'
Jaco Justice
#31 Posted by Jaco Justice on 17 May 2012 at 18:05 PM
Hilarious that the Granite Web is seen as a far superior scheme to Brisac Gonsalez/Peacock on the basis of its superior 'connectivity'. Connectivity of what exactly.. folk going to see a cutting-edge panto then getting the bus home?? Aberdeen currently has almost no cultural base, NOTHING that folk - certainly on a touristic level - will travel to see/visit. How GR addresses that need, as well as for its own citizens, is entirely unproven. What's going IN it again?? Oh, wait, I can get to the vodka bar quicker! RESULT.

And for the record some 40,000 said no to GR so added to the 16,000 council election votes for Labour then that makes.. yeah, see what i did there?? DEMOCRACY in action, ha.

Viva Dundee!
#32 Posted by Rodders on 17 May 2012 at 18:21 PM
#19,sorry but the TIF is fatally flawed,the business rates are only gathered from companies that have come to Aberdeen due to the project that the TIF has been applied to,if the rates are not met by these new businesses then the Council is liable for the debt/loan,no red herring there,however plenty red herrings from the CGP camp,6500 jobs £122m pa,funny but the Olympic Games this summer hasn't even made any way near that amount of jobs in a City the size of London,also given that the CGP camp spent easy 000's of thousands on a PR campaign,the local media in fear of losing advertising contracts and being biased towards the CGP lot,maybe just maybe people have realised that they were fed a trawler load of red herrings,as the TIF negatives started getting mentioned more and more AFTER the referendum
#33 Posted by Flash on 17 May 2012 at 18:37 PM
The referendum question was loaded. The CGP lobby spent 12,500% in excess of the limit for registered campaign groups. The postal vote was not in favour. The electronic vote heavily if favour, suspiciously so. The presiding officer refused to let anyone examine the maker register. Conclusion: the referendum was rigged.

In spite of that they still only managed a 2% margin of victory, presumably anything larger would have been too blatant.

The way democracy works in this country, Labour is perfectly within it's rights. We must after all play by the rules???

Another project of similar scale was Union Square, a conventional shopping mall build on a flat and levelled brownfield site, with excellent access from three sides. That was delivered on time and on budget for £250m.

Do you architects really expect the public to believe that The CGP, to be built on a landlocked greenfield site, requiring significant excavation, which must span a large road and railway line, and tie into several buildings on Belmont Street, not to mention support tons of topsoil and a landscaped garden cum forrest, can reasonably be quoted at £115M (this is the latest figure).

Come on, they're having a laugh!
#34 Posted by Spartacus on 17 May 2012 at 19:05 PM
one wonders why the folk that apparently supported the CGP in the referendum didn't follow through by voting for councillors that shared their vision? in fact the other thing happened and folk voted for councillors who were clearly opposed to the idea and had been since it was first proposed? it does make one wonder....
Aberdonian M
#35 Posted by Aberdonian M on 17 May 2012 at 19:50 PM
William, Labour councillors (As well as several others) were against this scheme from the start. Corrector, the Peacock scheme was designed to revitalise the gardens, improve the city but mainly be a home for and boost the city’s art scene. This 1960’s ‘vision’ of the year 2000, it is claimed, will save the city from decline, create 6500 jobs, and secure the city’s future once the oil reserves are depleted. The case backing these assertions is flimsy at best. People narrowly voted in favour of this on the back of a massive PR campaign by an unofficial group claiming that there was no alternative, when there clearly is. The jobs count etc are based on industrial parks in other parts of the city which have begun construction already – long before this project to ‘regenerate them’ into happening. It’s claimed that this project is needed to ensure businesses locate their HQ’s in Aberdeen and yet, for all the “Bilbao effect” not one major company has relocated there. For every Bilbao, there are dozens of failed ‘major regeneration projects’. This simply isn’t a good enough project or design, and having spoken to people from a range of cities around the world, – this will do nothing to encourage them to visit.
The questions no-one seems to have asked are:

1. If we’re borrowing £90m over 25 years is the best investment to turn a garden into a garden?
2. Could the benefits we can expect realisitically from this be gained in any other way?

The answers are no, and yes, respectively. The councillors who gained / retained seats this time round are those who tended to be against this plan, or from Labour, who objected to the original referendum. Having been elected on a pro-UTG stance, they are somewhat obligated to prevent this disaster from happening. It is, however, difficult given that more people voted in the referendum than the election. One might argue, however, that if people backing this plan weren’t motivated to vote in the election, then perhaps they’re not that fussed about the issue. There’s also the argument of ‘buyers regret’. Though anecdotal a number of people voted yes on the basis that they thought it was planned for a different site, or they thought the funds could be used without building the web.
Based on the merits of the design and the case, it has to be turned down (and indeed may yet be by the Scottish Futures Trust who have to decide whether or not the TIF case stands up to scrutiny).
#36 Posted by Egbert on 18 May 2012 at 10:00 AM
#35 Aberdonian M
Spot on. Couldn't have said it better.
#37 Posted by queriesman on 18 May 2012 at 14:50 PM
There was research carried out in the build up to the UTG vote. Face to face interviews were held with over 60 Aberdeen based residents, on Union Street at the gardens corner. The vote for and against the scheme was pretty close - with the for's just slightly ahead. But the interesting thing was that of those voting no to change, 96% hadn't been in the gardens for years and had no intentions of using it in its current state! Comments like "you wouldn't ever go down there" and "it's full of jaikies and drunks" and "there's no safe places or appropriate access for elderly/disabled" etc etc.were often sited.
Interesting too that the research was carried out between 10.00 and 14.00 on a sunny (but cool) bank holiday Monday - highest number in the park at any one time - around seven - and three of them were dugs!
"we don't like it, we won't use it, but don't change it 'cause it's what we've always had" - interesting attitude.........
Wee Alickie
#38 Posted by Wee Alickie on 18 May 2012 at 15:17 PM
"There's none so deaf as those how won't listen...."

It doesn't matter what scheme is proposed for the gardens - Granite Web / Giant Slug / Flower of Scotland - whatever it is, those who are against are against no matter what.

A "sympathetic restoration" or a meek arts centre stuck into the side of a hill won't regenerate a single thing about Union Terrace Gardens pure and simple.

Face it : it needs a major intervention to reconnect all points of the compass.
Aberdonian M
#39 Posted by Aberdonian M on 21 May 2012 at 11:02 AM
There must be something wrong with other Aberdonians’ legs. It’s not exactly a long way around, and yet somehow we ‘have to reconnect all the sides.” Why exactly, and how exactly will this, and only this, create £122m per year income to the city and 6500 jobs? Or would we have been better going with the PVA plan, and perhaps covering the road and rail later – economic benefit would have been seen before now. The majority of people I speak to would love to see change, but not change for change’s sake, and not this old fashioned, out of date out of place idea. If t’s all about ‘getting people to use the space, then explain to me why you think people will visit this web, more than the PVA plan?

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