Blootoon campaigning

Blootoon campaigning

On May 4th.2017 Stephen Calder was elected to Aberdeenshire Council to represent Peterhead South, Boddam and Cruden.

May 4th 2017; local council elections. Peterhead South, Boddam, Cruden Bay

Go to the next image for more news.

As political activists, Stephen Calder and I campaigned together throughout the 1970s. It was a time of great international solidarity - anti-apartheid, Vietnam, Chile after the overthrow of Allende. It was a decade of national, student and industrial struggles, and an era of cultural upheaval. I haven’t forgiven Stephen for his Bay City Rollers phase! In '70s Scotland, Gordon Brown became a radical student Rector of Edinburgh University, warning that 'Labour owed no loyalty to a British state that had failed its workers'. Gordon is using post-P.M. time wisely campaigning against the savage 'unused spare room' housing benefit cuts. Whereas his predecessor as P.M. spends his time reassuring Cherie that the Mansion Tax will never be implemented.

Stephen studied music at Aberdeen Uni, where two of his contemporaries were Lewis MacDonald and Alistair Darling. What happened to those two? On the industrial front, we drew inspiration from the building workers, from Jimmy Reid and the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders workers' battles. Bob Cooney had a pint with us in the Trades Council Social Club – his stories of the International Brigade and battles against fascists on Aberdeen streets brought working-class history to life. The decade culminated in the 1979 Devolution Referendum, when we worked tirelessly for ‘Yes for Scotland’.

Like me, Stephen is still campaigning - in Peterhead, where he taught music at the Academy for 23 years.' The issues may seem less epic compared to the ‘70s, but they’re major concerns to the folk who stop him in the streets and want to discuss things that matter to them. If the Pope ever visited Peterhead, folk would ask, 'Who's that guy in the dress there with Stephen?'
At a demo in Aberdeen (July 19th, 2014) Stephen reflected that he had been protesting in St Nicholas Street for 44 years!

Not counting the nominations.. A senior Aberdeenshire Council officer acting as Returning Officer refused to declare the result of the Peterhead Community Council elections in August 2015, or to issue a Public Notice of those nominated and elected. When asked directly, he still refused to declare the results. When a Freedom of Information request was made, he still refused. He would only say there were "less than twenty". If there were fewer than ten, then a Community Council could not be constituted.

Aberdeenshire Council then tried to claim that there were eleven duly nominated candidates, as it had announced at the closing date. By this time Peterhead community councillor Stephen Calder (pictured leafleting at Drummers Corner) had evidence that there were only seven nominated candidates. Four candidates were still filling in forms two days after the closing date. It would be interesting to learn who they were, why they were so tardy, when they began and submitted their applications, and what contact they had with Aberdeenshire Council officials over this period.

Legal officers of the Council undertook a week-long investigation and found that Stephen was correct - only seven nomination forms had been received. Aberdeenshire Council will now have to investigate who was responsible, why he, she or they behaved in this manner, and to take firm action. This episode displays at best expediency; it was clearly a shambles, possibly malpractice, at worst skulduggery.

There was only one new name among the eleven candidates. Hopefully more Peterhead residents will submit application forms (on time) this time. The town needs a properly constituted Community Council. Organised by Peterhead Projects, the Community Council has an enviable track record: the sterling campaigning work must continue.

Update: Peterhead Community Council was dissolved at the end of August 2016.

Stephen stood as an Independent candidate in Peterhead North at the local Council elections in May 2012. He highlighted care for the elderly and infirm. In September 2013 he wrote to Aberdeenshire Council's Education and Social Work departments because frozen pre-cooked chicken for school meals is being imported from Thailand. He is requesting that all meals served in schools, care homes and to the elderly through the care system should be sourced and prepared locally. Such a policy could be extended to nursery and hospital meals. 'Our local beef, pork, lamb, poultry, grain, fish and vegetables are the best in the world,' he writes. 'Surely our elderly and children deserve nothing less than the best.'

In the 2012 Council elections he campaigned strongly on the provision of wardens in sheltered accommodation and classroom assistants in schools. Though unsuccessful at getting elected, he polled some of the highest votes (out of 8 candidates) in the three Peterhead town Polling Stations. He says, ‘There are advantages to standing as an Independent but, of course you don't have a party machine to campaign and to get out supporters.’

Impersonating a Conservative in every way bar name, one candidate elected was Alan Buchan, who has caused controversy recently by claiming that 'the Energetica project has stalled'. Another successful candidate was Alan Gardiner, who now preaches that he can cure people of terminal illnesses such as cancer. No reference was made to these remarkable skills when he stood for election. There have been public calls for Gardiner to resign his position as a Councillor and to give up his dangerous speeches. Some very vulnerable people might abandon essential medications if they believe his sermons, leading to fatal consequences. Illnesses and diseases are not caused by 'evil spirits' or 'demons' – they have medical causes, and should be treated by medical practitioners.

Alan Gardiner is a director of Rockview Properties Ltd, A & J Business Services Ltd., and A & J Investments (Scotland) Ltd., which has 31 outstanding mortgages with the Royal Bank of Scotland. Rockview Ltd has mortgages on 8 properties, including the Kairos Christian Outreach Centre in Peterhead. Before consulting their Councillors on issues concerning property in Peterhead - like social housing, redevelopment, leases and the ‘spare room’ benefit cut, for example - constituents are advised to discover who owns the buildings and controls the companies or organisations involved.

Stephen succeeded in getting the Apex/Assemblies of God (AOG) 'Teen Challenge' drug addicts bus taken off the town centre precinct, arguing rightly that addicts should be treated by medical and social care experts, not by religious cranks intent on exploiting the susceptible. On 23rd March AOG launched a "Cafe Church" at the Scottish Maritime Centre run by Banff & Buchan College at Peterhead Lido. The franchise for the cafe was awarded to Symposium, whose owners are members of AOG. The franchise was for a cafe, not a "Cafe Church". Complaints to Symposium about this change are met with accusations of anti-religious bias.

Stephen says:-'Conversely it is wonderful to read about an Episcopalian Kirk opening its doors to the Muslim community, because they lacked enough space at their Mosque for all to worship. This Church in Aberdeen displayed the true spirit of Christianity.'

He made a Freedom of Information request to Aberdeenshire Council asking for details of access given to religious groups and representatives to local authority schools in the Peterhead area – Peterhead Academy, feeder and special schools. In particular, he has requested details of those religious groups and representatives given access to RE classes, school assemblies, lunchtime- and after school clubs, as well as details of chaplains and members of any Chaplaincy Team attached to any of the schools.

Since the election Stephen has fought to keep Peterhead town centre pedestrianised. Opposition came from right-wing 'independent' Councillors.

Stephen is still working on issues at Peterhead Academy. The Council is restructuring the school week, intending to boost academic results, which he suspects will result in cuts in the creative arts.

He campaigned for the new Peterhead Civic Centre to be sited at Kirkburn Mill. The Policy & Resources Committee voted instead for the St Peter Street corner car park site. He writes about the Police station on Merchant Street:- 'According to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, Peterhead Harbour is among the most overall deprived areas in Scotland. Additionally the town centre is rated a deprived area for employment, education, housing and reported crimes. Peterhead Police Station is presently situated in this Multiple Deprivation area. The Buchan Area Committee, which includes all Peterhead’s councillors, voted 11-0 to move the police station out of the town centre.'

Stephen raised the following points at a meeting, 'Consultation: Visioning Aberdeenshire 2013 – 2050', held by Aberdeenshire Council on September 11th 2013.

The draft vision is complacent and out of touch with the reality of people’s lives and experiences in Peterhead and other parts of Aberdeenshire. In the past five years energy prices have risen by 61%, petrol prices by 44%, food prices by 37.5%, but average wages by only 9%. There have been increases in zero-hours contracts, low-paid and part-time work. The iniquitous Bedroom Tax has further impoverished some of the poorest in our community. Additionally rising house prices, rents and other cuts in benefits, along with declining wages, are forcing more and more into the jaws of property sharks. Housing benefit subsidises greedy landlords, who profiteer from increasing deprivation. Income support is going to subsidise greedy employers, who refuse to pay their employees a decent living wage. Council tax and social housing rent arrears are soaring to their highest levels. We are asked to contemplate the “challenges of living somewhere with the best quality of life.” The reality for many in Aberdeenshire is the struggle to pay essential bills on a decreasing income. People have been forced to rely on charity foodbanks to feed themselves and their families. The vision is of an economy “attractive to investors and employers”, while paying no regard for the well-being of the rest of us in the community.
Among the aims we should have in a Vision for Aberdeenshire are:
a) eliminate poverty and deprivation in our communities
b) offer services open and affordable to all
c) introduce a living wage
d) build more genuinely affordable housing
e) regulate private rents with rent controls
f) scrap the Bedroom Tax
At the meeting Stephen also said that we should have 100% renewable energy, freight off our roads, a new rail link between Peterhead and Aberdeen, and full regulation of public transport by 2050.

In a letter (Press & Journal, March 6th 2014), Stephen challenged the political system and priorities that allow poverty and hunger to exist in Scotland, one of the richest countries in the developed world. He quoted two inspirational Archbishops.
'When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.' Helder Camara.
'Christians shouldn't just be pulling people out of the river. We should be going upstream to find out who's pushing them in.' Desmond Tutu.

In a press release (‘Why Scots independence will secure a better future for our people’, 30th April 2013, reprinted in part below), Stephen argues for a modern and progressive independent Scotland and for a 'Yes' vote on 18th September 2014.
'I disagree that Scotland fares better governed by Westminster rather than by governing ourselves. Firstly, the case for Scottish Independence does not depend on support for the SNP, or being a fan of Alex Salmond. Supporting Independence does not make you ‘Anti-English’. Scots have always been outward-looking and internationalist. People are disillusioned with the political system and the major political parties. Last year in Peterhead only 31% voted in Peterhead North and 33% in Peterhead South. There is a feeling that the politicians don’t speak for the people. We’ve had austerity imposed on us and policies from Westminster that have seen a widening gulf between the very rich and the rest of us. A modern Scotland is an independent country which looks to the future with hope and confidence in our greatest resource – our people.'
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Blootoon campaigning

Blootoon campaigning

On May 4th.2017 Stephen Calder was elected to Aberdeenshire Council to represent Peterhead South, Boddam and Cruden.

May 4th 2017; local council elections. Peterhead South, Boddam, Cruden Bay

Go to the next image for more news.

As political activists, Stephen Calder and I campaigned together throughout the 1970s. It was a time of great international solidarity - anti-apartheid, Vietnam, Chile after the overthrow of Allende. It was a decade of national, student and industrial struggles, and an era of cultural upheaval. I haven’t forgiven Stephen for his Bay City Rollers phase! In '70s Scotland, Gordon Brown became a radical student Rector of Edinburgh University, warning that 'Labour owed no loyalty to a British state that had failed its workers'. Gordon is using post-P.M. time wisely campaigning against the savage 'unused spare room' housing benefit cuts. Whereas his predecessor as P.M. spends his time reassuring Cherie that the Mansion Tax will never be implemented.

Stephen studied music at Aberdeen Uni, where two of his contemporaries were Lewis MacDonald and Alistair Darling. What happened to those two? On the industrial front, we drew inspiration from the building workers, from Jimmy Reid and the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders workers' battles. Bob Cooney had a pint with us in the Trades Council Social Club – his stories of the International Brigade and battles against fascists on Aberdeen streets brought working-class history to life. The decade culminated in the 1979 Devolution Referendum, when we worked tirelessly for ‘Yes for Scotland’.

Like me, Stephen is still campaigning - in Peterhead, where he taught music at the Academy for 23 years.' The issues may seem less epic compared to the ‘70s, but they’re major concerns to the folk who stop him in the streets and want to discuss things that matter to them. If the Pope ever visited Peterhead, folk would ask, 'Who's that guy in the dress there with Stephen?'
At a demo in Aberdeen (July 19th, 2014) Stephen reflected that he had been protesting in St Nicholas Street for 44 years!

Not counting the nominations.. A senior Aberdeenshire Council officer acting as Returning Officer refused to declare the result of the Peterhead Community Council elections in August 2015, or to issue a Public Notice of those nominated and elected. When asked directly, he still refused to declare the results. When a Freedom of Information request was made, he still refused. He would only say there were "less than twenty". If there were fewer than ten, then a Community Council could not be constituted.

Aberdeenshire Council then tried to claim that there were eleven duly nominated candidates, as it had announced at the closing date. By this time Peterhead community councillor Stephen Calder (pictured leafleting at Drummers Corner) had evidence that there were only seven nominated candidates. Four candidates were still filling in forms two days after the closing date. It would be interesting to learn who they were, why they were so tardy, when they began and submitted their applications, and what contact they had with Aberdeenshire Council officials over this period.

Legal officers of the Council undertook a week-long investigation and found that Stephen was correct - only seven nomination forms had been received. Aberdeenshire Council will now have to investigate who was responsible, why he, she or they behaved in this manner, and to take firm action. This episode displays at best expediency; it was clearly a shambles, possibly malpractice, at worst skulduggery.

There was only one new name among the eleven candidates. Hopefully more Peterhead residents will submit application forms (on time) this time. The town needs a properly constituted Community Council. Organised by Peterhead Projects, the Community Council has an enviable track record: the sterling campaigning work must continue.

Update: Peterhead Community Council was dissolved at the end of August 2016.

Stephen stood as an Independent candidate in Peterhead North at the local Council elections in May 2012. He highlighted care for the elderly and infirm. In September 2013 he wrote to Aberdeenshire Council's Education and Social Work departments because frozen pre-cooked chicken for school meals is being imported from Thailand. He is requesting that all meals served in schools, care homes and to the elderly through the care system should be sourced and prepared locally. Such a policy could be extended to nursery and hospital meals. 'Our local beef, pork, lamb, poultry, grain, fish and vegetables are the best in the world,' he writes. 'Surely our elderly and children deserve nothing less than the best.'

In the 2012 Council elections he campaigned strongly on the provision of wardens in sheltered accommodation and classroom assistants in schools. Though unsuccessful at getting elected, he polled some of the highest votes (out of 8 candidates) in the three Peterhead town Polling Stations. He says, ‘There are advantages to standing as an Independent but, of course you don't have a party machine to campaign and to get out supporters.’

Impersonating a Conservative in every way bar name, one candidate elected was Alan Buchan, who has caused controversy recently by claiming that 'the Energetica project has stalled'. Another successful candidate was Alan Gardiner, who now preaches that he can cure people of terminal illnesses such as cancer. No reference was made to these remarkable skills when he stood for election. There have been public calls for Gardiner to resign his position as a Councillor and to give up his dangerous speeches. Some very vulnerable people might abandon essential medications if they believe his sermons, leading to fatal consequences. Illnesses and diseases are not caused by 'evil spirits' or 'demons' – they have medical causes, and should be treated by medical practitioners.

Alan Gardiner is a director of Rockview Properties Ltd, A & J Business Services Ltd., and A & J Investments (Scotland) Ltd., which has 31 outstanding mortgages with the Royal Bank of Scotland. Rockview Ltd has mortgages on 8 properties, including the Kairos Christian Outreach Centre in Peterhead. Before consulting their Councillors on issues concerning property in Peterhead - like social housing, redevelopment, leases and the ‘spare room’ benefit cut, for example - constituents are advised to discover who owns the buildings and controls the companies or organisations involved.

Stephen succeeded in getting the Apex/Assemblies of God (AOG) 'Teen Challenge' drug addicts bus taken off the town centre precinct, arguing rightly that addicts should be treated by medical and social care experts, not by religious cranks intent on exploiting the susceptible. On 23rd March AOG launched a "Cafe Church" at the Scottish Maritime Centre run by Banff & Buchan College at Peterhead Lido. The franchise for the cafe was awarded to Symposium, whose owners are members of AOG. The franchise was for a cafe, not a "Cafe Church". Complaints to Symposium about this change are met with accusations of anti-religious bias.

Stephen says:-'Conversely it is wonderful to read about an Episcopalian Kirk opening its doors to the Muslim community, because they lacked enough space at their Mosque for all to worship. This Church in Aberdeen displayed the true spirit of Christianity.'

He made a Freedom of Information request to Aberdeenshire Council asking for details of access given to religious groups and representatives to local authority schools in the Peterhead area – Peterhead Academy, feeder and special schools. In particular, he has requested details of those religious groups and representatives given access to RE classes, school assemblies, lunchtime- and after school clubs, as well as details of chaplains and members of any Chaplaincy Team attached to any of the schools.

Since the election Stephen has fought to keep Peterhead town centre pedestrianised. Opposition came from right-wing 'independent' Councillors.

Stephen is still working on issues at Peterhead Academy. The Council is restructuring the school week, intending to boost academic results, which he suspects will result in cuts in the creative arts.

He campaigned for the new Peterhead Civic Centre to be sited at Kirkburn Mill. The Policy & Resources Committee voted instead for the St Peter Street corner car park site. He writes about the Police station on Merchant Street:- 'According to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, Peterhead Harbour is among the most overall deprived areas in Scotland. Additionally the town centre is rated a deprived area for employment, education, housing and reported crimes. Peterhead Police Station is presently situated in this Multiple Deprivation area. The Buchan Area Committee, which includes all Peterhead’s councillors, voted 11-0 to move the police station out of the town centre.'

Stephen raised the following points at a meeting, 'Consultation: Visioning Aberdeenshire 2013 – 2050', held by Aberdeenshire Council on September 11th 2013.

The draft vision is complacent and out of touch with the reality of people’s lives and experiences in Peterhead and other parts of Aberdeenshire. In the past five years energy prices have risen by 61%, petrol prices by 44%, food prices by 37.5%, but average wages by only 9%. There have been increases in zero-hours contracts, low-paid and part-time work. The iniquitous Bedroom Tax has further impoverished some of the poorest in our community. Additionally rising house prices, rents and other cuts in benefits, along with declining wages, are forcing more and more into the jaws of property sharks. Housing benefit subsidises greedy landlords, who profiteer from increasing deprivation. Income support is going to subsidise greedy employers, who refuse to pay their employees a decent living wage. Council tax and social housing rent arrears are soaring to their highest levels. We are asked to contemplate the “challenges of living somewhere with the best quality of life.” The reality for many in Aberdeenshire is the struggle to pay essential bills on a decreasing income. People have been forced to rely on charity foodbanks to feed themselves and their families. The vision is of an economy “attractive to investors and employers”, while paying no regard for the well-being of the rest of us in the community.
Among the aims we should have in a Vision for Aberdeenshire are:
a) eliminate poverty and deprivation in our communities
b) offer services open and affordable to all
c) introduce a living wage
d) build more genuinely affordable housing
e) regulate private rents with rent controls
f) scrap the Bedroom Tax
At the meeting Stephen also said that we should have 100% renewable energy, freight off our roads, a new rail link between Peterhead and Aberdeen, and full regulation of public transport by 2050.

In a letter (Press & Journal, March 6th 2014), Stephen challenged the political system and priorities that allow poverty and hunger to exist in Scotland, one of the richest countries in the developed world. He quoted two inspirational Archbishops.
'When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.' Helder Camara.
'Christians shouldn't just be pulling people out of the river. We should be going upstream to find out who's pushing them in.' Desmond Tutu.

In a press release (‘Why Scots independence will secure a better future for our people’, 30th April 2013, reprinted in part below), Stephen argues for a modern and progressive independent Scotland and for a 'Yes' vote on 18th September 2014.
'I disagree that Scotland fares better governed by Westminster rather than by governing ourselves. Firstly, the case for Scottish Independence does not depend on support for the SNP, or being a fan of Alex Salmond. Supporting Independence does not make you ‘Anti-English’. Scots have always been outward-looking and internationalist. People are disillusioned with the political system and the major political parties. Last year in Peterhead only 31% voted in Peterhead North and 33% in Peterhead South. There is a feeling that the politicians don’t speak for the people. We’ve had austerity imposed on us and policies from Westminster that have seen a widening gulf between the very rich and the rest of us. A modern Scotland is an independent country which looks to the future with hope and confidence in our greatest resource – our people.'
Ref:
Date:
Location:
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