Crunch-hit council cancels Hogmanay bash

By Gordon Smith

Amy MacDonald headlined last year's celebrations (Courtesy of hardpeople.wordpress.com)
Amy MacDonald headlined last year's celebrations (Courtesy of hardpeople.wordpress.com)

Revellers in one of Scotland’s largest cities will be without their traditional New Year celebrations as the ongoing economic crisis takes another victim.

Officials at Aberdeen City Council (ACC) have admitted that a squeeze on finances has meant that any festivities will not be “on the same scale” as past years.

Staging last year’s event, featuring Bishopbriggs-born singing sensation Amy MacDonald, and local star Sandi Thom, had set the council back over £300,000.

Officials had already agreed to slash the 2009 budget by £50,000 as part of the council’s larger cost-cutting exercise to ease it out of a reported £60 million financial black hole. Yet this latest news will come as a further blow for many who had hoped to attend the free street party to see in the new year. Granite city residents had previously enjoyed world-class acts such as Travis, Wet Wet Wet, and The Proclaimers as part of their Hogmanay line-up.

Head of Corporate Communications at ACC, Louise Scott said that despite crowds of over 20,000 in previous years, many party-goers had been arriving shortly before the bells at midnight, and as a result, such a high calibre event was not justifiable.

As an alternative, a report to go before the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee has recommended setting aside around £50,000 for community groups in the city to organise their own Hogmanay parties.

A council spokesman emphasised a formal decision had  yet to be taken, with the city’s famous fireworks display from Union Terrace Gardens and the Castlegate still going ahead.

Conservative councillor for Torry and Ferryhill, Alan Donnelly told the Aberdeen Evening Express: “I feel that surely we should have been able to attract somebody up here, Aberdeen is Scotland’s third largest city.”

Aberdeen is not alone in facing spending cuts, with councillors at Edinburgh City Council recently announcing a 25 percent reduction in capacity for the Capital’s Hogmanay street party following budget issues.