Friday 21 May 2010

Concrete vision

There's been an ongoing row in Aberdeen about the proposal by local businessman Sir Ian Wood to donate £50 million towards a new civic square. Singer Annie Lennox is one of the objectors:
Lennox, who has attacked the scheme as civic vandalism, declared on her website: "Concrete wins out. Something told me that this was already a done deal – no surprises really."
I'm not that familiar with Aberdeen and have only visited the city three or four times. Generally, I've assumed that what motivates many of the objectors to Sir Ian's proposed gift is a distaste for capitalism and I think I'm correct.

Nevertheless, the plans I've seen in the papers did indeed demonstrate "civic vandalism" as claimed by Ms Lennox. What I saw would be out of place in our worst council estates, never mind in the centre of Scotland's third city.

But what about this:

Sixteen months ago, when Sir Ian first announced his philanthropic £50 million donation towards the project, he said his aim was to transform the five-acre site into a square that would be a combination of a grand Italian piazza and a miniature version of New York's Central Park.

He said: "I actually used the words a 'mini Central Park.' It was never setting out to be concreted. But the initial diagrams and designs produced showed a big concrete base.

"There has been this continuous myth that this is a big flat concrete square that is going to possibly involve retail and shops. It has never ever been that."

So now it turns out that Sir Ian wouldn't be funding a concrete disaster after all:
John Stewart, the leader of the city council, who led the move to back Sir Ian's proposals at Wednesday's marathon meeting of the authority, admitted he had been "appalled" by the early concept drawings for the project. They had created a "rod for the back" of those supporting the visionary scheme.
Sir Ian Wood became very rich by providing world-class services to the oil industry. I doubt that any of his presentations to clients were misleading. If they had been he wouldn't have been so successful. And yet when he tries to donate £50 million to his hometown the PR goes haywire. I suspect that the local politicians and bureaucracy are at fault here for not showing the locals just what was planned with Sir Ian's money. Let's hope that Aberdeen gets its Central Park, preferably with Italian food, wine and weather...

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Colin Finlay
Obviously the ovine, Marxoid Aberdonians perceived Wood's gift as relating to Balzac's amusing maxim, viz., "Behind every great fortune is a great crime".

2 June 2010, 08:33:04 GMT+01:00
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Twould be a breath of the Mediterranean in the north.  Munchy box and chianti.

26 May 2010, 21:14:13 GMT+01:00