Journalistic objectivity requires that a journalist not be on either side of an argument. The journalist must report only the facts and not a personal attitude toward the facts. Clearly not applicable to the Evening Express, who in recent weeks have demonstrated anything but journalist objectivity in their reporting of the application by AFC to build a stadium at Kingsford. We never thought for one moment that Aberdeen Journals would remain neutral – it’s well known that they rely on AFC to sell papers, however it now seems that they are prepared to print absolutely anything that AFC tell them to, with no regard to checking facts. On Saturday, the front page of the Evening Express had the headline ‘Fraud Claim Over Dons Stadium Objections’. A fraud claim made on one person’s allegation. Did they do any research to see if this allegation could be corroborated? Did they try to uncover some more ‘fraudulent’ submissions or wrongdoing? For balance, did they reference the clearly fraudulent support comments on the council website? For example, there is one currently listed from a ‘ Mr AFC Chat’. One keen fan likes the Dons so much that she has lodged 8 online support representations (all blank). Indeed, some 1,300 support comments are blank. But the Evening Express chose to ignore those, instead building their whole article on the say-so of one person, himself a big AFC fan and member of the various ‘Yes to Kingsford Facebook groups’. Did they not consider that even the teeniest bit suspect? The answer to all these questions is no. So that brings us nicely on to this week’s sook-up to AFC. Yet another interview with George Yule. Let’s have a look at what kind of truths he is twisting now….
“The encouragement we have taken from the Shire is the fact it was also a split vote, 6-5. If it had been 11-0 we would have been more concerned. But the narrowness of the vote shows there is strong support for what we are hoping to do out in the Shire”.6-5 split vote? Wrong. It was 8-7. And to be very clear it wasn’t 7 for the proposal with 8 against with the chairman having a casting vote. Not one councillor supported the application. 7 councillors voted to object outright and 7 councillors voted to place a holding objection on the consultation awaiting further technical information. So where Yule gets “strong support for what we are hoping to do out in the Shire” is anyone’s guess. And remember – this is the second Aberdeenshire Council Committee that voted to object. The reason the recommendation to refuse the application was carried, was due to the chairman having the casting vote. A bit like Len Goodman on Strictly. In the event of a tie the decision goes with which way he voted, with him effectively voting twice. And don’t we repeatedly get told it’s not in the Shire, but in the City? Make your mind up George.
“What could happen now is if the city back our bid it could potentially be called in by the First Minister. In that case, she would have to look at how close the Aberdeenshire vote was and the fact the chairman, Westhill councillor David Aitchison, voted twice – once for the motion and once for the casting vote”.The First Minister will have been in more committee meetings than Yule has had hot dinners. She will be well aware how the ‘casting vote’ system works and will have no issue with how Aberdeenshire voted. It is quite normal practice for a Chairman to have a casting vote. But we’re sure she will value the advice of George Yule to look closely.
‘Police Scotland and SEPA have made positive noises’
Have they?Police Scotland has only submitted a crime prevention report. They have not yet submitted their full feedback on issues such as management of traffic, segregation of fans, safety of 1,000s of fans crossing the A944, CCTV etc. SEPA have listed 6 holding objections in their report in regard to planning conditions and have stated ‘if any of these will not be applied, then please consider this representation as an objection’. Granted, there may have been some ‘positive noises’ in these statutory consultee comments, but it would seem George has been somewhat selective in which statutory consultee comments he has listened to … there are far from positive noises coming from many of the others. What about the Aberdeen City Roads Department, the City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority (SDPA), the City Council Economic Development Department and the City Flooding and Coastal Protection Department? Each has written a damning report, slating the AFC application in a multitude of ways. What about the positive noises coming from them? We’re listening….. It’s a bit quiet.
Yule is conveniently forgetting that the club are already on Plan C. Bellfield, Loirston and now Kingsford. We have heard this rhetoric all before. The end of AFC is nigh blah blah blah if the club don’t get a new stadium. They have been saying that for the past 17 years and they are still going strong. There’s maybe no Plan B for George as he might get fired if he doesn’t get this one through! It is clear for anyone with a modicum of sense that what AFC are doing is simply applying pressure to the Councillors via the press. ‘There simply aren’t 30 acres of unzoned land available, so we can’t go anywhere else than Kingsford’. He seems to be conveniently overlooking the sites that have been identified in the Local Development Plan – Kings Links and Loirston. The club’s unwillingness to separate the training facilities and stadium is the problem, not the availability of land.
‘There is no plan B…’.
‘The fact the stadium would be built close to the new bypass would also make it easier’.Would it? What about the 55% of season ticket holders that come from the city? What about all the people coming from Westhill and further West? They won’t come on the AWPR. What about the people coming from Inverurie and over that way – surely they will come over the back-roads to avoid the traffic jams in the vicinity of the stadium? And quoting from the SDPA report:
“The purpose of the AWPR is not to facilitate development, but rather alleviate traffic congestion in the greater Aberdeen area”.We are still awaiting Transport Scotland’s comments to be lodged. Perhaps they are considering the junction to be under-designed to cope with the traffic of today, never mind adding on stadium traffic. It is of no consequence that it’s ‘only once a fortnight’ or whatever – they can’t permit a development that would allow traffic to back-up onto a 70mph road. So the AWPR might actually prove to be the achilles heel in the AFC proposal – the very thing they were hanging their hat on. Scottish Planning Policy states that developments that draw large numbers of people should be placed close to city centres. Aberdeen City Council’s departments have reported multiple issues with the club’s application for Kingsford; the joint City and Shire Strategic Planners have stated that the development should be on the identified sites; Aberdeenshire Council, Kingswells Community Council, Westhill & Elrick Community Council and nearly 5,000 individuals have objected to AFC’s plans for a stadium at Kingsford. The recent article in the Evening Express featuring George Yule is a desperate attempt to talk up a development that is now almost certainly destined to be refused planning consent. You might want to have a look at more reasoned and balanced reporting in The Times and The Herald