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Key Stakeholder

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  1. [...] unless he has some serious scotch blood or a hankering for the lowlands, as well as a rather thick skin (both physically - ideally with some subcutaneous insulation - as well as emotionally) i cannot think of a worse place to go. Well, Leeds perhaps. Or Corby.

    When I lived in Aberdeen, I must have been suffering from a sort of Stockholm syndrome, coz I just know I'd have taken exception to that remark.

    Now that I'm in recovery, I have to say, I couldn't agree more. If I never visit the place again, it'll be too soon. I only wonder how I managed to endure the indignantly abrasive mindset of the provocatively insecure inhabitants for as long as I did.

    I've not been to Leeds, or Corby, so I can't comment. What's worst in those places, Is it the urban environment or the people?

  2. No shortage of jobs in Aberdeen, unfortunately there is a shortage of home grown graduates hence the huge number of overseas nationals working in the engineering houses. Yep engineering is a tough course, but as with most things in life you get out of it what you put in. Maybe engineering degrees should be dumped down to the level of arts degrees to make it easier ?

    Younger generation not entering the industry.....oh boy thats a good one........our graduate training scheme could be filled 10 times over with quality applicants (unfortunately only 30% of them will be from the UK).

    And this is the crux of the issue, real degrees are just too difficult for a youth that expects to be handed a living on a plate with their event management or media studies degree. Unfortunately the jobs market does operate in the real work and those degrees earn the salary they deserve, peanuts !

    I just congratulated you on being quite nice earlier on, didn't I?

    But now you've gone and spoiled it.

  3. I wish the original poster finds happiness in his choices.

    Ah, thats kind of you, thank you very much - I appreciate it. By saying that you've kind of invalidated my statement that Aberdeen is a charmless place full of cold people. But then there are always exceptions to the rule, and I've always found Torry people to be a bit more communitarian in their outlook and bohemian in their lifestyles than the mainstream of Aberdonians.

    However, you also say stuff like this:

    [...]

    Oils be good for soon, the source of envy for others. Its more of a saddness at my age to see the bitterness that can source from life choices.

    Yes, I and many others have been very lucky in our life timing [...]

    I'd caution against the characterising of your "lucky" generation being subject to the "bitterness" and "envy" of younger people. Frustration and disappointment perhaps, would be closer to the mark. Particularly when we also learn from you that:

    [...] part of the reason the bottom end of the Aberdeen property market remains inflated relative to the incomes of most people........these, 90% of the guys I'm working with, guys all own their own flat while many also invested throught their Ltd Cos in BTL in the city, where the returns have performed very strongly.

    […]

    90% of the guys we employ only live in the town Mon-Thursday night - every company will negotiate a 9 day fortnight or 10 hour day deal, so you can get home at the weekends […]

    Thanks very much for that information. It's enlightening.

    You confirm that many of the people you work alongside conduct their domestic, community and cultural life elsewhere; treating Aberdeen as a kind of dormitory; going "home" elsewhere and meantime driving up the costs of accommodation as they collect rent from those for whom house purchase in Aberdeen has become a hopelessly unattainable dream. Unless, of course, they choose to work in oil and gas. The ageing demographic of the o&g workforce suggests that the younger generation finds that an unacceptable compromise, thinking perhaps either that it's a sunset industry, or that it's an unethical one. Or both.

  4. Swings and roundabouts I suppose as someone that grew up in Dumfries and has lived in Aberdeen since finishing my PhD, Aberdeen offers far more opportunity to me than anywhere else in the UK bar London.

    Yes, as you say, swings and roundabouts. And horses for courses. I'm lucky that my opportunities are not geographically delimited - so where I've chosen to locate has been based upon liveability, community and quality of (urban) environment. As well as, of course, the fact that I could buy twice the property for my money. The 2dec C average higher temperature here compared to Aberdeen is also a welcome bonus. :)

    Though, having said that, I have had to buy a new raincoat!

  5. [...] There are, of course, many extremely successful business people in the area and as always, attitude is important to be successful. Perhaps the OP didin't realise this. Good luck LP if you make the move, there are far worse places.

    Of course there are far worse places than Aberdeen. But - as you well know - there are many, many far better places. Particularly for those whose life is in the creative arts, Aberdeen is a bit of a howling void.

    You're so right about the attitude thing: The attitude of most Aberdonians towards the creative arts is absolutely abominable, and their philistinism is close to legendary. Aberdeen will never succeed culturally until this attitude problem changes.

    I did realise this and I tried to help ease the situation; I and others like me, we really did - but the lack of respect (if not outright suspicion and hostility) directed to the creative arts in Aberdeen (local press references to "artist-lovers" was one particular dog-whistle I didn't appreciate) makes it feel like you're swimming against the tide. Whereas, in many other parts of the country where the arts are the centre of the community, if you are involved in the creative sector, it feels like you have the wind at your back.

  6. Hah...just took at look at your blog. Love the comments by readers

    [....]

    I think perhaps Aberdeen is as glad to see your going as you are.

    [/indent]

    Yup. And I know of many others, writers, film-makers, painters, sculptors, fashion designers and musicians similarly hounded from the town. The creative arts and progressive thinkers don't get a good reception in Aberdeen, as a rule. I put those comments gleaned from some of the blog posts up on the blog's "about" page to demonstrate the actively hostile philistinism that a lot of Aberdonians are happy to display. Some of them don't even bother anonymising themselves. Interestingly, it seems that most of the hostility came about when I suggest that active and sustainable transport options, rather than grandiose road-building programmes, would be a good way to tackle Aberdeens traffic congestion. Saying stuff like that doesn't go down well in Aberdeen, where people seem almost childishly attached to their motorcars. I have to ask, Quine - do you agree with the hostile comments?

    One ex-Aberdeen writer, during a review of John Aberdein's splendid "Strip the Willow" (a speculative fiction novel set in a near-future Aberdeen) mentioned my blog:

    There is a blog called Other Aberdeen, and in that blog are considered, topical, psychological and social arguments concerning the contemporary development of the city, usually framed with some humour or actual historical digging from the author. Other Aberdeen is about pyschogeography on the whole, and most British cities have at least one such blog, dealing with these issues, in this manner.

    Why Aberdeen's perfectly lucid psychogeographical blog attracts such awful local internet trolls, however, is unclear. Only in Aberdeen do the rank and file conservative gibbering classses arm themeslves with aggressive catchpharses such as 'This is shite!' and take the time to post their hateful feelings, instead of just browsing on to something more to their tastes.

    It is then, war in Aberdeen. The stushie regarding Aberdeen's Union Terrace Gardens and its proposed development into something called The Granite Web is a good example. In Aberdeen, everyone takes things personally, it appears, which is why hackles are up, people are raging and the slightest boat rocking is shouted down.

    I think my unpleasant experience of Aberdonians in a small way demonstrates something insidious about the town: Should Aberdonians continue (as they seem hell-bent on doing) to discourage progressive and creative elements from locating in their town, they'll end up living in the Aberdeen they deserve. A good example - times are tough for many sectors, yes? As budgets tighten for even Scotland's symphony orchestras, axes must fall somewhere. So, last year The SCO and the RSNO cut back the number of concerts they performed during the season at the Music Hall in Aberdeen. They didn't cut their performances anywhere else in Scotland, indeed some places got more performances. Why, do you think, did these national arts organisations choose Aberdeen over all other venues in Scotland as a suitable place to implement cuts?

    Thus hounded from the town, high art, fine art, progressive thinkers and creative enterprises locate/perform/write/code elsewhere to the benefit of other communities in Scotland where the arts are recognised as a vehicle for regeneration and revitalisation. What does that leave for Aberdeen? Some sunset smokestack industrial activity and lots of upscale shopping but with no soul, no philosophical or spiritual underpinning, Aberdonians will live in the town they deserve.

    At least they'll have nice handbags?

  7. Interesting as I'm considering moving to Aberdeen from Southampton.

    Just down the road in Banchory/Torphins area, there seems to be a thriving small business community.

    Commuter-belt dormitories. Sure there's a thriving small business community, but as I've said - those businesses tend to be somehow involved in the O&G supply chain, or dependent upon the spending power of those who are. The yummy-mummy-moneygoround is quite something in Aberdeen "City and Shire" (as they say).

    But my business is not dependent upon the proximity of local disposable incomes, and my product is new media stuff with a production cost which tends towards zero, my major cost is accommodation. So my choice of location comes down to liveability and connectivity. Aberdeen loses.

    check out my old Aberdeen-based blog:

    http://otheraberdeen.blogspot.co.uk

  8. Why? I'd assume additional demand from relatively well-paid oil industry workers, but do correct me if it's not really like that.

    What else has Aberdeen got?

    Yup. I suppose the point I'm making is that the mono-economy of Aberdeen has formed a sort of event-horizon. It's increasingly difficult for businesses with 'normal' business models (ie those not involved in the oil&gas supply chain, or dependent upon the disposable income of O&G employees) to exist there. So I and others like me take our expertise and capital elsewhere. The economy in Aberdeen becomes less and less diverse, less and less resilient, all the while *looking* more and more vibrant.

  9. In Aberdeen, where I endured sub-standard low-rent accommodation until recently, I couldn't afford to buy the amount and standard of accommodation I needed in order to continue operating the fast-expanding business which I'd set up after uni (freelance, new economy, new media arty stuff). I couldn't afford what I needed, at least not without taking so big a mortgage that I would have been effectively working for the bank, rather than working for myself. (As well as adding to the difficulty of risk management in these adverse economic times.)

    I did a bit of research, and decided to move away from Aberdeen. Which I did in the summer. And good god have the scales fallen from my eyes since. With the benefit of hindsight and distance, compared with my new location, Aberdeen seems like a charmless place full of cold people. Or a cold place full of charmless people. I'm sorry if that's offensive to some, but that is really just the way it looks from all points south of Lawrencekirk, and it doesn't take long to come to that conclusion once you've escaped. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised that so many of my contemporaries fled Aberdeen just as soon as they'd graduated.

    My new home+atelier cost just more than half of what a similar property in Aberdeen would have cost. And the council tax is cheaper too. And the broadband's faster. Much, much faster.

    If small-scale entrepreneurship is to provide a sustainable economic future for communities, Aberdonians must realise that the high house prices of which they seem so proud are a disincentive to small-scale creative enterprises locating in the town. My advice to anyone who doesn't need to be in Aberdeen is to just get out of the place. You won't regret it, and you'll be able to afford a much better level of accommodation elsewhere.

    </dons flame-proof overalls and crash helmet>

  10. I post it for a number of reasons.

    1. It makes much more sense that huge mile square reservoirs of hydrocarbons have been formed by the mantle than it does saying they were formed by dead animals. The calculations alone to work out how many animal would need to die to make these fields is enough to discredit the theory. If you work out the energy produced from so far from drilled oil and then work out how many calories equivalent you get from biomass, it seems to me impossible to get one to equal the other. In fact have you worked out how much algae / dinosaur flesh / squirrel juice it would take to power a car for just 400 miles (one tank)? In fact have you ever worked out how many calories there are in just 1 litre of petrol? That's a lot of dinosaur flesh.

    2. I don't trust the elites who run the oil industry. They are know liars, murderers, and rapists.

    3. I don't see any shortage of oil. All i see is price rises and oil company profits rising.

    4. There are hydrocarbons on other planets / moons. Which means they are produced naturally as part of the geological process, or there were trillions of dinosaurs roaming around falling in big holes and turning into oil.

    I find this all quite amazing to read. What does the poster think that limestone consists of?

  11. Oh, someone wants oil prices to go up again?

    </shock horror>

    Not me. I'd like advanced western economies to work towards a transport and energy paradigm where the effect of the inevitable oil price shocks referred to in the OP FT link became of much less of a concern than they are today. Stability would be the prize.

    Don't you want that too?

    Edit, aside.

    Oh, and personally, interested in buying property in the NE of Scotland, I actually have an interest in seeing oil prices fall; the current all time-high (in GBP/bbl) is sustaining the all-time-high house prices here. I'd like to see the oil industry collapse into irrelevance. But that's unlikely to happen in car-crazy Britain (and especially excessively car-crazy Scotland, and triply excessively car-crazy Aberdeenshire) no?

  12. Err, I can't see anything in the link that mentions transport at all.

    The Bloomberg link seems to have moved, but there's plenty breathless excitement here:

    http://citybreaths.com/post/19964841260/istallinneuropesmostinnovativecity

    and the beeb's more measured reportage here

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17517106

    and from inside estonia

    http://news.err.ee/society/e065014d-9d67-43a2-8f3a-f6cacb54cdae

  13. Surely the key benefit of doing it - and why it's worth doing it - is the reduction in associated costs...

    Nah, it's much simpler than that - it's about making Tallinn a great place to live; a "global city" competing for footloose talent to come and work in its burgeoning IT sector. Any costs associated with deciding to regard infrastructure like this as a common good and provide it free at the point of use will be more than returned in increased economic growth. US cities are increasingly taking this view too as part of the New Urbanism agenda.

    It's an interesting sidebar to note that Tallinn's IT predominance ("a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic", says the NYT) stems from the Soviet-era Institute of Cybernetics which was located there and is now part of Tallinn's University of Technology.

  14. We already have universal road charging

    It's called fuel excise duty

    :)

    Surprised you didn't mention "road tax". :)

    Of course FED and VED are pollution levies, not road charges. Roads are a common good, paid from the public purse. In the same way, Portland regards city centre trams as a common good.The people of Tallinn have voted to regard public transport, similarly, as a common good, in the same way that they regard free blanket WiFi coverage for residents and visitors (since 2005) as a common good. These policies reap rewards in comparative advantage for their host cities.

    http://citybreaths.com/post/19964841260/istallinneuropesmostinnovativecity

    Tallinn has been working on its technological and innovative comparative advantage over the past decade. It now houses a substantial amount of technology startups and more established companies. Ericsson has located its production and innovation on 4G technology [t]here and Skype is a renowned and successful startup from Tallinn.

    And now Tallinn joins Porland Oregon with free-to-use public transport, regarded as a common good. Talinn will benefit from this innovation...

    ...not only because of the environmental advantages and the fact that car use is becoming less attractive (which can also contribute to the liveliness of the city), but especially considering the innovative technology companies that Tallinn houses.

    Cities that are well-known for their clusters of innovative businesses, such as San Francisco, Portland and Amsterdam, are also known for their easy mobility. Whether it is because they are good cities for bicycling or because of the good and affordable public transport, there seems to be some kind of correlation between non car oriented cities and innovative clusters.

    Car-dependent petrol-addicted UK seems hopelessly old fashioned by comparison. Stuck in the middle of the car-crazy 20th century.

  15. Funded by local purchase taxes.

    So instead of paying to get into town

    you pay extra tax on whatever you buy when you get there

    Net effect = NOT FREE

    :blink:

    The metropolitan authority didn't increase tax rates to achieve this public transport project. Rather, the project increased tax take by regenerating the retail centre of Portland. The metropolitan authority funded the project by borrowing against the increment in tax take which the project would generate thru the reversal of economic decline in the downtown area. No-one is paying 'more when they get there'. Its just that more people are getting there more conveniently and quickly than they had been since the middle of the car-crazy 20th century. So, the project was funded by the economic growth it would provoke and the ongoing operation of the tram is regarded, similar to road infrastructure in urban areas, as a common good.

    Perhaps you advocate universal road charging too?

  16. Downtown Portland, OR (where your Nikes come from) now has free tram transport in the central area. A big success, being run as a 'common good' by the metropolitan govt (via a not-for-profit public benefit trust corporation) funded from local puchase taxes (which have increased because of greater footfall in the downtown area since the tram was installed in 2001). Whoda thunk that the 'Merkins would go for free public transport? And make a success of it?

  17. http://www.citywire.co.uk/money/mortgages-expect-interest-rate-rises-next-year/a550165

    Despite troubling economic conditions and a bleak employment outlook, despite restricted lending and pitiful property transaction levels, despite even sustained unaffordability, British house prices aren’t falling through the floor. Why not? According to a new survey, the answer is blind faith.

    [...]

    The Bank’s report also contained a no-nonsense warning: 'At the beginning of the financial crisis, when funding costs rose sharply, banks were relatively slow in updating the price of new mortgages and the residual remained negative for around a year. This suggests it may be during 2012 that any significant increase in banks’ lending rates occurs.'

    In other words, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen to the base rate, expect real interest rates to increase in the new year. And don’t be surprised to see the real effects of more expensive mortgages filtering through to house prices. It'll take more than blind faith to overcome those kinds of forces.

    Low rates are not "normal".

  18. Yes, that high oil price is the answer! As those nasty crunch-time graph markers ski-jump menacingly upwards - ever up - measuring species extinctions and habitat destruction; social inequality and political instability; resource depletion, global heat budget, ocean acidification and carbon emissions; business uncertainty, food price inflation and a deepening economic depression - the encouraging news is that one of the mechanisms which is critically bound up in all that contributes to all that delivers affluence for a handful of Audi A8 drivers in Aberdeen. You can tell they're affluent cos of the Audis A8's they drive to an industrial estate to do the 65-hour weeks they work, thank-you very much. Some people say that industrial estates are soulless battery-sheds for cubicle clones, but in fact they are dynamic, vibrant innovation hubs - thank-you very much!

    Yes, somehow its also great that this mechanism delivers bubble-level house prices for a few in Aberdeen, for to the dynamic people who work in the oil industry, high oil house prices serve mostly to demonstrate to others and to confirm to themselves just how vibrant, dynamic and splendid they are; it's no more than they deserve! Thank-you very much!

    Some people say that this high oil price is acting as a disincentive to the re-deployment of capital away from oil exploration and production and into the development of sustainable carbon-free energy sources, like deepwater wind and subsea tidal race turbines or CCS for coal fired electricity generation; that the oh-so-certain return on investment afforded by the high oil price militates against the reallocation of that capital into 'alternative' energy. But, in any case, why would anyone risk their capital on unproven technology which is supposed to fix a problem which isn't a problem anyway? Haven't they heard? Global warming is now recognised as a good thing. FACT. And Aberdeen shows the way, thank-you very much!

    And - don't forget! - it's clear that this high oil price and 70 hour working weeks is the reward which the oil people of Aberdeen deserve, for is is the inevitable result of their own vibrant life choices - That dynamically red-faced 55-year old splendidly doing very well thank-you very much bellying out of his M-class in the car-park of some peripheral yet vibrant industrial-estate oil-shed innovation hub at 6 am made that high oil price happen! Somehow, his influence clearly reaches across the globe and influences global flows of capital, population trends and the capacities of millennia-aged geological strata. Obviously, anyone who doesn't love and praise vibrant Aberdeen (along with the splendid oil-people who make the town what it is today) are bitter resentful socialist layabout renters with a sense fo entitlement who missed the boat. But yes, it's their own fault for being born more recently than those baby-boomers who grabbed the lot while the grabbing was good. Thank-you very much!

    Either that, or they are highly amusing wordies and book-poofs, like this guy:

    Christopher Brookmyre - 'A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away'

    Europe's Oil Capital. Honestly. The first time he heard the expression, he'd assumed it was a bit of self deprecatory humour. That was before he learned that there was no such thing as self-deprecatory humour in Aberdeen, particularly when it came to the town's utterly unfounded conceit of itself. It was a provincial fishing port that had struck it astronomically lucky with the discovery of North Sea oil, and the result was comparable to a country bumkin who had won the lottery, minus the dopey grin and colossal sense of incredulous gratitude. The prevalent local delusion wasn't that the town had merely been in the right place at the right time, but that it had somehow done something to deserve this massive good fortune, and not before time either.

    I guess some young 'pseudo intellectual' people don't like the idea of doing a 'technical' diploma or working offshore in order to help destroy the atmosphere for money. Can't think why...

  19. Oil industry helps shore up cost of homes.

    ABERDEEN is continuing to show the way when it comes to house prices.

    New figures show Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have the highest average house prices in the country.

    According to the Scottish House Price Monitor from Lloyds TSB Scotland, the average cost of a home in the Granite City is £210,877.

    And the figure for the North which includes Aberdeenshire, is £187,815.

    Edinburgh is third on the list with homes costing an average of £179,912

    Scotland's national average house price is £155,805.

    John MacRae, chairman of Aberdeen Solicitor's Property Centre, said: "We are very fortunate with our economy.

    "It is the oil industry that makes the difference, it is as simple as that.

    "We are not roaring ahead while everyone else is plummeting

    "We are maintaining our position"

    The figures, which are for the year until October 2011, show a 2.7% rise in the price of property in Aberdeen and a 0.1% in the North sector.

    Mr MacRae said: "The average price is probably down slightly on earlier in the year, but it does dip in the winter."

    "The most encouraging news for those in the industry is the steady level of sales.

    "The level of activity has recovered quite well," said Mr MacRae.

    "We are not as busy as before the slump but we are back to a normal level.

    "There were around 1,400 sales in the second quarter and a similar amount in the third. I am reasonably confident we will continue to do well in the spring."

    Across Scotland the number of house purchases was down by 9% in the first nine months of 2011 compared with the previous year.

    Donald MacRae, chief economist with Lloyds TSB Scotland, said: "The Scottish housing market has adjusted to the recession with a halving of sales and a period of volatile price movement.

    "A faster recovery awaits a resurgence of both business and consumer confidence."

    my italics

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