First on the agenda was an attempt to spin something positive out of last Thursday's public debate, the Evening Express honed in on a throwaway comment by Tom Smith, that "The City Square would be like the Dons Signing Ronaldo." Now, not that I know anything about football, but I'm sure that if Aberdeen FC was to sign Ronaldo, that would mean that it's budgets would be so stretched it would have to cut other players or be forced to employ cheaper ones, and wouldn't the investment in Mr Ronaldo be a bit of a waste if it has a knock on effects on the rest of the team? Not only that but it implies a direct relationship between cost and quality and that money is the only benchmark by which a City is measured.
The reaction to Sir Alex's announcement, which was pushed in the press through a release from ACSEF, highlights the side-switching double standards of the Economic Forum, who two weeks before had blasted Annie Lennox for speaking out in favour of saving Union Terrace Gardens saying "Ms Lennox’s near 40-year absence from the city made her views somewhat irrelevant" punctuating this with a comparison to Sir Ian who "is an Aberdonian who lives here." How these statements still stand with Fergie's support when he was born in Govan and has lived and worked in Manchester since 1986. However Sir Alex did in fact helm Aberdeen FC between 1978 and 1986 and was granted Freedom of the City in 1999 this gives him as much say as anyone else with an interest in the future of Aberdeen, including Aberdeen-born Lennox. Shame ACSEF do not believe this, with Wood quick to "hit out" at Lennox as her views were not to his liking, even though her opinion had seemed important enough to include her image in the booklet advertising the project. Of course that is before they knew what her opinions are.
FSB have yet to ballot their members or indeed inform them officially of this stance, at least the Chamber of Commerce, also represented on the ACSEF board by the Aberdeen and Grampian President, Colin Crosby sent out an email to their members informing them of their position. Albiet the statement was sent out the same day as the original article appeared in the press and stated "We recognise that some members will have a different view, and urge you to also express your opinion" yet only after "we would urge you to express your view in support of the City Square Project, which your Chamber endorses." The email also included a reworking of the Chamber of Commerce header which now includes an image of the City Square project.(pictured)
ACSEF's final release of the week told of three Architecture graduates from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture who have produced eight new possible images of the City Square. While the ingenuity and vision of young professionals is not to be sullied, the three graduates seem to have only been given Sir Ian's personal perameters to work with and not the Haliday Fraser Munro technical appraisal or indeed Aberdeen City Council stipulations on the site.
Amid all this publicity there still has been no demonstrable evidence of how the creation of the Square is "essential to safeguard the future prosperity of the city", even though this has been a major question posed to ACSEF and Sir Ian. As we enter into the final week of Consultation, with representatives from ACSEF, Sir Ian, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Youth Council receiving frequent reports from consultation body Weber-Shandwick as to how the process is progressing, time will only tell what fantastical promises await before the consultation closes this Friday 5th March.
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