A Rant About Regeneration

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hi there!

As the title suggests this post is one of my world famous rants* so I might sound like I'm rambling for a bit BUT I promise you it is going somewhere, I do have a point, and it IS important! Okay, now we have that out of the way...

I don't know about you but I am sick to death of seeing the effect that the recession has had on our cities and towns! High streets that used to bustle, are reduced to long grey strips of concrete littered with bookies and poundshops, department stores that seemed like grand old dames watching the place crumble around them are now being sucked into the abyss, and in their place is another chain restaurant that probably wont last. Green Spaces- once home to day drinkers, sunbathers, couples in love, squealing children and yapping dogs, have become shady den of iniquities  strewn with needles and used condoms and the hopes of people that remember the good old days!

Where I live we are considered one of the well off parts of the country, the houses are huge, the house prices are second only to London, a G&T will set you back around £8 in anywhere that doesn't have a sticky floor and if you don't have a Michael Kors handbag you probably aren't a real Aberdonian. But it's all a facade! The recession hit us too (granted it hit us last but it did hit) and then the oil bubble burst. What was the Oil Capital of Europe to do?? It turns out the answer was bloody nothing, unless you count dusting 8792695% of the houses and flats with To Let or For Sale signs.

In times like this people look to their councils to inject some money into the city, bring it back too what we know it can be, but in recent years our council has chosen instead to: ignore the wishes of its citizens, turn down HUGE amounts of money earmarked for a fantastic regeneration plan, push through projects that don't benefit the city in any real way (and actually prompted protests and RIP Democracy shrines) and hand out planning permission to countless hotels- in a city that sees long standing hotels shut down because they are struggling to reach 40 % capacity!

I strongly believe that Aberdeen City Council are the reason we lost out to Dundee in the European Capital Culture 2017 shortlisting. Dundee has gone through so much regeneration in recent years it's like a whole new city, and Dundee City Council and Dundee's residents should be very proud.

But what about us? What have we got to be proud about? Where is our regeneration?

Well actually, I have found something, something to give us hope that things are being done in this city and that something is the Aberdeen City Centre Community Council! The Community Council is only really 7 people but they have already done so much. Today they launched what I believe is the final part of a regeneration project for the Skene Street area of the city- and they really have poured their hearts and souls into breathing life back into our city!
I don't know what the higher ups at ACC see when they look down from their gilded offices, but here, at street level, we see empty fountains left to mildew and rot, shop fronts that look like the blackened teeth of a sugar addict with a toothbrush phobia, play parks that look like concrete prison yards-last used before the zombie apocalypse, and yet more glass boxes being built that do nothing but hide beautiful architecture from times gone by.

But what the Community Council sees is opportunity! With Skene Street they saw a blank canvas that was begging for new life, they saw children that wanted to play, space that was begging for some greenery, and a project that just needed a leader- so they along with a few other great members of this community made a plan. They fought for what they wanted and they are so almost there all they need is a little help from the rest of us. I'm going to let them tell you all about it here and you can check out their facebook page here  and I'm going to leave you with this-

Use what your city has to offer. Play in the parks, eat in the restaurants, shop in the shops, travel on the buses. Eat local if you can, shop local where you can, and get involved when you can! Don't let faceless fat cats ruin your town like they're trying to do to mine. Stand up to them, write to them, call them, hold them accountable, help them if they ask for it and let's all breathe some life back into our home towns!!

p.s. Okay I've been pretty hard on Aberdeen City Council here and that's probably because I've had my own run ins with their members AND because everything I said above is true, BUT I would like it to be known that they have listened to the Community Council's ideas and plans, and donated an amazing 7K to the project, as well as allowing the regeneration to take place on their land. So I think it's important to point out that if you try to work with people instead of in spite of them, then GREAT things can happen.
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*maybe not WORLD famous but shhh! 

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