Aberdeen civic dinner to mark signing of Great Charter approved

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A civic dinner will be held next year to mark a medieval agreement between a king and the people of Aberdeen – despite concerns from opposition councillors.

The 700th anniversary event, which was approved by councillors yesterday, will mark the creation of the Great Charter, granted by King Robert the Bruce in 1319. It was signed after the city sheltered him during his days as an outlaw from the English.

Lord Provost Barney Crockett, who called for the council to hold the event, said the “momentous anniversary” should be marked by a “dinner in the first instance”, with citizens from all of the city’s 13 wards invited.

He added: “It’s important we do it in a way that echoes our past.

“Our link with Robert the Bruce is an important one and we should mark it in a dignified way.

“Our citizens may want to do other things that might be part of a general celebration but we should have a dignified event.”

SNP group leader Stephen Flynn instead called for council officers to provide options for an event that will be accessible to “all people in Aberdeen”.

He said: “There’s a real danger with a dinner that it becomes exclusive and not inclusive.

“We may end up with the same ‘well kent faces’ and I don’t think that would be the best thing in this situation.”

Liberal Democrat group colleagues also expressed concern over the plans.

Group leader of the party Ian Yuill said: “I agree it’s very important that we do celebrate the anniversary. Our concern is that a dinner, while nice for those that attend, is very transitory and would have no lasting benefit to the city and its citizens.”

The most lasting legacy of the charter is the city’s Common Good Fund, which is used for a number of charitable causes every year.

Robert the Bruce gave Aberdeen the Forest of Stocket, now the Midstocket area of the city, in return for a yearly rent.

As a result of the finances generated from the forest, the Common Good Fund was created to benefit the people of the city. The fund helped to create Marischal College and assisted citizens during the 1640 plague.

Other recognised Aberdeen institutions also benefited from the funds, and cash was given to Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Central Library, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and the purchase of Hazlehead Park.Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said he was “confident” the event would include members of the community who “do so much to make the city what it is”.

He added: “For me this is just part of what next year will be as a celebration year and there might be other events we could do to mark the occasion.”

Members voted 22 votes to 22 with Mr Crockett having the casting vote in favour of holding the dinner.