Local residents are petitioning the City of Hamilton to request a pedestrian-activated stoplight at the corner of Kent and Aberdeen Streets.

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Statement by Andreea Andreea

I think the problems are two-fold.Firstly, the cinocul place too much weight on the opinions of business leaders. I'm not anti-business by any means, but it's a mistake that people in the public sector in particular can easily make. If someone has made a lot of money in business, it means that they've made a lot of money in business, it doesn't mean that they have a better understanding of what people need, how cities should develop or anything else. Being successful' in business is easy to measure made lots of money? success! The problem is that being good at making lots of money doesn’t mean you’re good at improving cities, or inspiring people to take pride in their city, or anything.It was interesting to hear that the two most recent Aberdeen City Council chiefs had a “local businessleader” sitting on their interview panel. This might be good, or it might be bad. Why not have a local cinocul service user? Or a small business owner? I think an effect of this is the abandonment of a strong plan for the city, on the promise of ‘prominent business leaders”.The city had a plan, which started with moving the cinocul HQ into Marischal (– a brave decision, which was neither the cheapest nor the most expensive, but did solve 2 problems in one go), followed by the demolition of St Nicholas house and the creation of a civic space, showcasing two of the city’s most important buildings. Helping to boost civic pride. At the same time, a plan to rehome one of the areas most important artistic organisations would have seen a DCA style gallery, rejuvenating the city centre gardens. This idea had a business plan, supported by Acsef, Scottish arts cinocul, Scottish enterprise, local cinoculs, and with investment of less than a314m (mostly funded from outside the area at last) would have brought in a return of several million a year to the local economy. Instead, we have a vague idea, which will cost ten times as much, and either not enough faith in the concept to release a business plan, or no plan at all. Meanwhile, people who don’t like the idea are written off as ‘whingers, tree-huggers or anti-progress”, all of which makes people more disillusioned with the way their city is going, leading to more of…The second problem. A lack of pride, a lack of ownership and of any sense that the city belongs to the people and that the people belong to the city.I’ve lost the link, but there was an article on what makes a city appeal to its inhabitants, and right near the top of the list was having a sense of control over how the city is shaped. Aberdonians don’t feel they have any control over this. The city has developed without any thought as to te effect on the people, and communities within it. It’s not a new thing (St Machar Drive/School road happened in the 1920s, I believe, but the effect on the community of Old Aberdeen is still clear.– and it’s not unique to Aberdeen – look at the way the M8 splits Glasgow in two – (and I’m only using roads as examples here), but most cities have learned the lesson. Aberdeen hasn’t, which means that while almost everyone in the city agrees the place needs to change, people are divided on how to do it, because they worry the same mistakes will continue to be repeated.It leads to more frustrations – think of the AWPR “just build the road”, vs “don’t build the road”, with a lot of people in the middle alienated by both for asking “is it in the right place?”Aberdeen’s people are some of its greatest assets, but instead of working on ways to encourage positivity, and to get people to shape an idea they all want to be behind, instead a small number formulate a plan, and try to persuade us that everyone else likes it.We don’t listen to questions – we don’t think critically enough, and if we do ask the awkward questions, we’re dismissed as ‘negative naysayers’.I love this city, and would love to see investment in improving it, but it needs to be a strong plan, instead of any plan, and trying to spin it as something good.It’s a very old fashioned way of doing things – and it doesn’t work. People question and query and ultimately get sick of the whole thing and move to Dundee

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