Friday, 25 April 2014

Another eagle lost

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. It seems like only yesterday that I was congratulating a young East Coast pair of Sea Eagles on their first fledgling. Now that young male is missing, presumed dead, in an area of Aberdeenshire fast becoming known as the Bermuda Triangle for eagles. Thanks to modern technology, his last known movements have been pinpointed to the North Glenbuchat Estate in Strathdon and police investigations there are ongoing. Coming so close on the heels of the mass poisoning of Red Kites and Buzzards in Ross-shire, this sad incident confirms 2014's designation as the Annus Horribilis for raptors in Scotland and we are not even one-third of the way through the year. I can only hope that some good will come of these terrible events and the Scottish Government will finally take action to stop the slaughter. A good start would be to re-examine the whole issue of Scottish estate ownership, as highlighted in an excellent article by Andy Wightman. How the SNP can talk about wanting a fairer Scotland where wealth is shared more equally and yet continue to allow estates to be owned by companies based in offshore tax havens is beyond me. Such non-transparency of ownership makes it very difficult to hold an owner to account for the actions of their estate workers. It's time the Scottish Government stopped kowtowing to wealthy landowners and made it clear that no-one is above the law in this country, no matter who they are or how much money they have. Choosing the Eagle, rather than the Red Grouse, as Scotland's national bird would be a good signal of their intentions. Meanwhile, I grieve the loss of a promising young Sea Eagle and hope that future East Coast youngsters will be born into a safer Scotland without the threat of poisoning.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Red Road demolition - a symbol of failure

Calton was in two minds over the demolition of the Red Road flats in the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, indeed he is in two minds over their demolition at all. It certainly would not have been a symbol of regeneration - more a symbol of failure and so, on balance, Calton is glad that the idea has been dropped. What he can't stomach is trendy lefties bumping their gums over the supposed insult to asylum seekers. The demolition hasn't been stopped - it will still be a spectacle watched by hundreds, if not thousands of people. It will just not be part of the Games. As for the asylum seekers, their main concern is not so much that they are living in a tower block, it's the lunar landscape of rubble around them which will be created by the mass implosions of the other five blocks. Many of them are grateful for the homes they have been given and feel secure in a community of other asylum seekers. It is truly sad that people from difficult situations in other countries have to show us here in Scotland, secure in our detached houses with six-foot garden fences, what community really means. The Red Road flats were built to provide better homes than the toiletless tenements of post-war Glasgow and were much appreciated by the first residents, who looked after them and built a community in them. Unfortunately, the 80's spirit of individualism, coupled with a growing disregard for property or other people, led to the breakdown of that community and the rise in problems at Red Road. The flats were not to blame - it was the people in them and a lack of maintenance. So now we are dynamiting them even although there is a chronic shortage of social housing. High rise flats are not suitable for everyone but, properly looked after and with the right tenants, they could provide part of the solution to today's housing crisis, if only we Scots could learn from the asylum seekers in the one inhabited block. Learn how to value what you've got and look after it. Learn how to live together with your neighbours in community instead of separately cheek-by-jowl. Perhaps Calton should move to Glasgow, to a room with a view, and change his name to Red Road. It would be harder for him to keep an eye on Holyrood but the neighbours might be friendlier.