Scottish election: Union Terrace Gardens debate grows

Image caption,
There is a heated local debate about whether Union Terrace Gardens should be redeveloped

With the Holyrood election campaign in its sixth week, the BBC's Good Morning Scotland reporter Kevin Keane continues his journey to find out what matters to ordinary members of the country's electorate.

The flower beds are full of colour in this hotbed of controversy, Union Terrace Gardens.

And on a public holiday - with the right weather - this place should be aglow.

But it's not so rosy for the Labour candidate seeking re-election here.

A redrawing of the boundaries has put Lewis MacDonald second to the SNP, notionally based on the results of the 2007 election.

So what are the big issues for voters.

"Union Terrace Gardens. There's no way they should be allowed to destroy something as beautiful as this," Alastair Coutts told me.

"This just fits in perfectly with the backdrop of His Majesty's and look at all the beautiful trees.

"No other city in the world would consider destroying a green space like this.

"Sir Ian Wood should put his money to something like helping the homeless in Aberdeen, or pay for the park to be upgraded and maintained for say fifty years at £1m a year."

Long time resident Harold Ewen explained, "Union Terrace Gardens have been here for a long time and the Denburn Valley is just a valley where the Den Burn used to run to the harbour.

"I did write to the press and say that they couldn't see the trees for the wood."

So clearly one issue dominates, perhaps not surprising from people using the gardens.

But, for the often affluent residents of Aberdeen, other issues join it on centre stage.

Younger voter Catriona Strachan told me: "For me I think it's the price of property, banks lending and things like that.

"If they can help reduce the legislation on mortgage lending, perhaps? There are a lot of people who have good jobs and a good wage but still can't get a mortgage because of the percentage of the deposit.

"That's just been the result of what's happened before with the finance and that's not our fault.

"Having to rent property in the city's become really expensive and it just seems to be what everyone's doing at the moment because everyone's in the same boat."

For people who come to this park it's about escaping from the general hustle and bustle of city centre life.

One group I spotted here was taking a break from campaigning for one of the main political parties.

For them, it might be the last break they get for several days.

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