A referendum is being held for the people of Aberdeen to decide the fate of Union Terrace Gardens. The postal ballot is to be held in the last two weeks of February and the choice will be between retaining the Gardens and building the proposed City Garden Project.

The Friends of Union Terrace Gardens aim is to save Aberdeen’s city centre park from development and to help restore the park to its former glory. We are launching their referendum campaign today. It will focus on three main areas:

COST TO THE CITY:  The businessmen running the City Garden Project want Aberdeen Council to underwrite a £70 Million loan to fund the project through a tax scheme. The Council is £562 Million in debt (2010 figures) at a time when jobs and services are being cut. They should not be borrowing money for a project that is not going to create significant employment in the city or provide any amenities that we don’t already have. There is no clear business case for the City Garden Project and the expenditure cannot be justified

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:  Both City Garden designs will involve felling most if not all of the 77 mature trees in the Garden. It would take decades to replace them as many of the big trees are up to 200 years old. They absorb the city centre traffic fumes and help to reduce the dangerously high levels of pollution in the nearby streets.

The technical feasibility study for the project gives an estimate that it will take almost two and a half years to build the proposed scheme. This will involve the movement of dump trucks, bulldozers and cranes causing traffic gridlock and increased pollution levels in the city.  Large volumes of rock will be removed from the site causing further problems. The technical study recognizes that - “this would have large environmental and social impacts on the local area and community surrounding the gardens.”

HERITAGE: Aberdeen is the Granite City, and our heritage gives Aberdonians a great sense of place and belonging. The look and feel of Aberdeen is under threat from the plans to replace Union Terrace Gardens with a “21st century contemporary garden”.  We believe that this would destroy the character of our city for ever, a scheme described by Annie Lennox as an act of civic vandalism.

If Union Terrace Gardens looks and feels as if it belongs in the city centre, it is because the architects that planned the park also designed many of the nearby buildings; the Art Gallery, the Cowdray Hall and the frontage of Marischal College.  Union Terrace Gardens is a key part of what makes Aberdeen the great city we live in.

Mike Shepherd, chairman of the Friends of Union Terrace Gardens said:

“Aberdeen should look like Aberdeen, and we urge the city to vote to save our heritage for our children and their grandchildren. We must allow future generations to share our pride in living in a unique city that looks like nowhere else. Union Terrace Gardens is the green heart of the Granite City. Without the gardens, Aberdeen would never be the same place again.”

A REFERENDUM FOR UTG? - November 2012

At the council meeting in November council members decided to postpone a decision on a referendum for UTG until the next council meeting in December. The debate surrounding the wording of the referendum, who should run it and how much it will cost remains heated . The council have stated that they would not be able to run a “binding” referendum as that would cause legal problems should they win and then not subsequently gain planning permission for the City Square...

FoUTG recognise that the public have already been ignored once when they said NO to the City Square however we feel the it is important the referendum takes place and we are confident we will win. Talk of having an opinion poll instead or a referendum run by the council or The City Garden Project is something we would fight vehemently. It must be independently run, collated and published with all sides consulted on the wording of the ballot. Expect a lot of City Gardens Project items through your door in the run up to the referendum. I’ll be using mine for lighting the fire and puppy training.