With the passing of the oil age, the prospect of Aberdeen developing an economy based on renewables is looking rather remote. While it’s clear that the oil has been good for many local citizens, any positive impact on the city from this five decade long adventure, is somewhat less evident. Culturally we’re a distant fourth to Edinburgh, Dundee, and Glasgow.
Due to the enormous (but private) wealth kicking around the area, Aberdeen is penalised in terms of government expenditure, with our city council receiving the lowest funding per head of population in Scotland. Regardless of who is in power locally or nationally.
A Cooperative Economy
Black Cat believes that the city should get ahead of the curve by moving to embrace post-capitalism, and working to develop a cooperative economy prior to the end of the oil boom. A template for this being the Cleveland Model, where a city’s anchor institutions are serviced by a network of cooperatives.
Commerce is attracted to cities with good local facilities, which offer a high standard of living, thereby facilitating easy recruitment. Craning in vanity projects, will not achieve that outcome. Instead Aberdeen should be seeking to attract entities trading not-for-profit, entrepreneurs who are looking to enhance the city and make it a more desirable place to live. That’s how to build a real “cafe culture”. A thriving and vibrant local ‘scene’, developing organically from grassroots level, is absolutely key to inward investment. This may in turn give rise to a downtown business district, with company headquarters relocating to be alongside artisan retailers, bringing with them an influx of business to surrounding industrial estates.
Exempt from Business Rates
It’s counter productive and even somewhat bizarre to tax any entity that exists to advance the common good. Therefore, Black Cat advocates varying degrees of business rates exemption for worker cooperatives and non-profit social enterprises, trading within the square mile from Rosemount Place to Trinity Quay, from Holburn Street to the promenade, but excluding those retail units within the shopping malls.
Our vision is for a zone of artisan retailers surrounding and even scattered throughout a downtown business district, with the high street chains consolidating in Marischal & Union Squares, and the Trinity, Bon Accord & St Nicholas Centres.