Dismayed by attempt to derail democracy

by Ken McEwen, Ken McEwen Public Relations

Along with a substantial proportion of the local population I am dismayed at the threat to vote out the City Garden plan for Aberdeen city centre, despite the result of the democratic referendum held earlier this year.

That referendum received the sort of ‘turnout’ that councillors can only dream of.

The ink was barely dry on the result, when the smell of sour grapes started to fill the air. Yes, the vote had been narrow, but it was clear cut.

City Garden 6

From where I stand, it seemed that those opposed to the City Garden were enthusiastic for a referendum when they thought they would win. But, when the people spoke, the majority said “yes” to the Granite Web proposal and the City Garden. Attempts were quickly made to rubbish the results.

“The referendum was nothing more than a smokescreen”, according to a Labour spokesperson today.

The new Labour administration at Aberdeen City Council – propped up by the Conservatives and four Independents – now intend to ignore the ‘will of the people’ as expressed in a democratic referendum and attempt to vote the project down.

Worryingly, there is no word of the new administration’s Plan B.

  • I despair for democracy. What was the point of holding a referendum if the results can then be ignored?
  • I despair for Aberdeen. We need investment in our city centre, to revive its vibrant heart.

For too long, Aberdeen has had to watch as government money is pumped into the regeneration of the city centres of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.

Despite the fact that the Aberdeen area (with 9% of the population) accounts for 28% of Scotland’s business turnover, precious little has been invested here. Now, finally, it seemed it would be our turn.

The City Garden was the first time we had seen a bold and creative plan to breathe new life into the Victorian heart of the Granite City.

Just imagine what would have happened if the councillors in the 19th century had voted out the bold and controversial plans for Union Street, Rosemount Viaduct and Union Terrace?

With the vote on June 13 too close to call, we may be faced with decades more of ‘make do and mend’ in our once proud city centre.
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