Donald Trump has lifted the eviction threat hanging over families living around his planned £750million Scottish golf resort – declaring that he will not ask for compulsory purchase orders to be used against them.
After nearly two years of speculation, the US developer has said he will not request local government intervention to secure four homes – Mill of Menie, Menie Fishing Station, Hermit Point and Leyton Cottage – which he has included in his plans for the Menie Estate, in Aberdeenshire.
Mr Trump was granted planning permission to add the properties to his proposals in May 2009, despite the absence of an agreement to buy them.
However, he insisted that talk of compulsory purchase orders, or CPOs, should be shelved while his team negotiated with the owners.
The property owners rejected the deals offered to them, leading to claims that Mr Trump would ask the council to step in to use the powers. The action would have had to be agreed by councillors and, potentially, the Scottish Government.
Last night, however, the billionaire said he would not seek to have the families removed.
He told the Press and Journal: “We have consistently said that we have no interest in compulsory purchase and have never applied for it. It remains part of the Scottish planning process but we have not, and will not, request that Aberdeenshire Council use their CPO powers to purchase houses. The only reason CPO was even brought up by our opposition is that they have consistently lost on every other front and this is the only way for them to continue to gain free publicity on the back of the Trump name.”
It is understood that no further offers will be made to the homeowners, meaning the development will now go ahead around them, with Mr Trump planning to use trees to screen them from the view of his golfers.
A statement from the Trump Organisation last night said: “Through a combination of landscaping and planting, the preliminary work to eliminate the negative visual impact of the poorly maintained and unkempt properties that border our development has completely succeeded. As everyone knows, our great golf course, which is now well under construction, was never affected, either visually or physically, by the out parcels given that they are far from the course. The remedial work in relation to the other components of the development will therefore progress for the foreseeable future and no government intervention will be required.”
The Scottish Government granted Mr Trump permission to build two golf courses, a £250million hotel, 950 holiday homes and 500 houses in 2009.
However, speculation surrounding the use of CPOs has helped fuel a campaign against the development, and it emerged yesterday that Queen guitarist Brian May had agreed for the band’s hit Bohemian Rhapsody to be used in a film highlighting the plight of the families who fear eviction.
Mr Trump said the anti-development lobby was damaging Scotland’s reputation.
“There are consequences to supporting anti-development groups who perpetually spread false information and mislead people,” the statement said last night. Scotland’s international business reputation is being damaged and businesses regionally and nationally are being affected.”
The homeowners welcomed Mr Trump’s rejection of the use of CPOs last night, although they remained sceptical.
David Milne, of Hermit Point, said: “If this is true – because I have significant doubt about anything this organisation says – then it is a welcome development.
“We will need to wait and see what he is proposing regarding the landscaping he mentions. If it is true, I am very pleased. But I would like to see a letter from him stating this.”
Mr Milne rejected the American’s claims that he had never asked for CPOs at Menie, saying he had a letter from February 2009 that proved he had.
Michael Forbes, of Menie Fishing Station, was not available for comment last night. Mr Trump has previously described his farm as “a slum”. He and his mother, Molly, 86, have become Mr Trump’s most vociferous opponents, with Mrs Forbes now trying to block the development through the Court of Session.
May has previously been invovled
in campaigns against fox hunting
Rock hero Brian May has pledged his support for a group of anti-Donald Trump campaigners who want to use Queen's greatest hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, in a protest video.
The campaigners wrote to the musician, who now devotes much of his time to environmental and animal welfare issues, for permission to use the song, with suitably amended lyrics, in a video portraying the American tycoon who is building a £750 million golf resort on farmland and protected dunes on the Aberdeenshire coast.
They told May of the threat of compulsory purchase hanging over the homes of four families, including that of 86-year-old Molly Forbes, who live on the Menie Estate, ten miles north of Aberdeen.
The guitarist told them: "I can see there is a horrible example here of bullying the defenceless by a rich man who apparently can buy anything he wants. I deplore this kind of abuse and feel greatly for Molly and the others who are being ridden over by a very selfish man. And what the world certainly does not need is more golf courses. I am disgusted."
He added: "I sincerely hope you will be able to stop this nasty project in its tracks and I will do what I can to bring it a little more out in the open. I'm happy to secure you permission to try this yourself (make a Bohemian Rhapsody video]."
May expressed his sympathy after being contacted by Hazel Cameron, a Scottish poet who, with a group of fellow artists, had come up with the idea of using music to highlight the eviction threat. She said "I just happened to hear Bohemian Rhapsody on the radio as I was trying to come up with a new song to express my frustration about what had happened at Menie.
"I thought the words of Bohemian Rhapsody would be absolutely perfect if they were just slightly changed. And with the use of a Spitting Image-style character, you could have Donald Trump singing it, regretting the damage he has done."
The protesters plan to feature two of the leading figures in the furore in the video. One is Molly Forbes, who lives at "Paradise" on the Menie estate.
She raised judicial review proceedings against Trump International Golf Links and Aberdeenshire Council last year over the decisions that led to the massive resort being approved. The other is her son, Michael Forbes, 57, a salmon fisherman branded a "village idiot" by Trump, who sold a plot of his land to the anti-Trump protest group, Tripping Up Trump, in a bid to halt the development.
Cameron said: "Trump says he is doing this for his (Lewis-born] mother. But if he was that sentimental he would not try and throw an 86-year-old grandmother and her son out of their homes."
**Wed 26 Jan 11**
EXCLUSIVE FEATURE ON BRIAN'S EQUIPMENT
- IN MARCH ISSUE OF GUITARIST MAGAZINE
Out on 19th January - The March issue of Guitarist features a unique look at the some of the guitars other than the Red Special Brian has used on specific Queen tracks. Some retired amps and effects taken from Brian’s vault are also featured.
The magazine has an interview with Brian, who talks about the various piece, plus some gorgeous photography and highlights include the black Fender Telecaster used to play Crazy Little Thing Called Love live, the Burns electric used for Long Away, the Is This The World We Created Gibson classical guitar, the blonde John Birch Replica of the famous Red Special and much more.
Arguably top of the heap is a first-ever look at the Fender Esquire guitar that’s owned by Roger Taylor and used to record Crazy... in the studio.
**Wed 26 Jan 11**
PRESS RELEASE: BRAN MAY AND MARTHA ROSSI
BRIAN MAY BACKS “MUSICA SARÀ”, THE DEBUT EP OF MARTHA ROSSI
Brian May, the legendary Queen guitarist, who wrote some of the most successful hits of the British band has given his personal endorsement to Martha Rossi on her first solo EP called “Musica Sarà” (Music will be) which is going to be released next 1st February.
Brian May's enthusiasm also derives from Martha's idea to work on a cover version of his own track "We Believe", a special meaningful song to which Martha was determined to give a new life in Italian.
Martha 's passion for singing drove her through the years. This led her to be the star of the smash-hit musical “Peter Pan”, to bloom and stand out during the seventh edition of the Italian talent show “Amici” and, two years ago she was chosen by Queen to play the lead role of Scaramouche in the Italian production of the hugely successful musical “We Will Rock You”, based on the original music of the British band (with an attendance of over 100.000 people only in Italy last year and millions and millions of people worldwide).
Thanks to her experience in WWRY Italy, whose second touring season has just started and will run until the summer, Martha decided to focus also on her first EP and, as a first and direct consequence, the cover version of “We Believe” (“Credimi”) was born.
The album, an EP featuring "We Believe" and 5 pop-rock tracks with an international sound, has been produced by Martha herself and is being distributed by the multinational company Universal Music, whose commitment throughout the year 2011 is also to release of the entire Queen catalogue in a remastered edition. All those unforgettable albums which left an enduring mark in the history of contemporary music such as “A Night At The Opera”, “Innuendo”, “A Kind Of Magic”, to quote just a few, will finally be available with a new excellent high quality sound. The re-release of the back catalogue will also feature some previously unreleased tracks, deluxe editions for collectors, new sleeve notes, which will please the Queen fans.The remastered editions of “Greatest Hits 1” and “Greatest Hits 2” are already available in all the record stores since last January and from March onwards all the studio albums will gradually be released and featuring some additional bonus contents in the deluxe editions.
The talent that Martha Rossi has shown as a singer and a performer in the Queen musical “We Will Rock You” is therefore the latest and valuable addition to a very ambitious artistic project : to keep the magic of Queen music alive and to make it constantly available to the younger generations. The basic ingredients are all there .
Martha Rossi is an excellent soprano, with a powerful voice, an amazing temperament and versatility with a typical rock musical approach. Martha's debut EP is the result of a dedicated hard work and it features some skilled musicians such as Neil Murray (current bass player in WWRY London and former Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Brian May Band), Tristan Avakian (former lead guitarist of WWRY Toronto and WWRY Italy) and Max Marcolini (arranger and guitarist for Zucchero, Alexia and other Italian artists).
The album will also be available on iTunes and Amazon.
The Tracklist of “Musica Sarà” is:
1. Vita da rockstar
3. Musica Sarà
4. Life goes on
5. L'amore non ha età
6. We Believe (Credimi)
Visit Martha Rossi's site: www.martharossi.it/ to hear a snatch of "We Believe" in Italian - with Brian on guitar !!
Brian's video message:
Brian May here, speaking to you by the medium of digital video because I wanted to say a few words about Martha Rossi. Martha Rossi is releasing an excellent EP on the 25th of January this year on Universal Records and it's something I've very much encouraged her to do. We all have. It features a track written by myself called"We Believe" and this is something that was close to my heart. I wrote it for the Queen / Paul Rodgers collaboration, but theses things kind of get swept away with passage of time and I was really thrilled when Martha said she wanted to do a special version of it for the Italian audience.
Raffaella Rolla has done an excellent translation and this work has been going on for some time and I've taken a little part in it, but not a very big part. Anyway, I wanted to congratulate Martha on a fantastic piece of work, whiCh means a lot to me, and I hope we have a great success out there. And perhaps I can take this opportunity to say "Hi and much love" to our Italian fans, and be sure to check out Martha in the new version of We Will Rock You Italy, [running till] the summer.
**Tue 25 Jan 11**
LAST CHANCE TO VOTE IN WHATSONSTAGE AWARDS, 31 JANUARY
LAST CHANCE TO VOTE!
Polls close at midnight, Monday 31 January...
Over 40,000 people have already voted for their favourite performers and productions in the 2011 Whatsonstage.com Awards, aka the "theatregoers' choice", the only major UK theatre awards decided exclusively by members of the paying audience!!
Across so many categories, it's turning into one of the most competitive years ever. Amongst the very tightest races currently are: Best Play Revival, Best Actor in a Play, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Supporting Actor in a Play, Best Supporting Actress in a Play and our category for long-running productions, Best West End Show.
Voting closes on 31 January and winners are announced and trophies presented on Sunday 20 February at our 2011 Whatsonstage.com Awards Concert, which is held in aid of this year's adopted charity The Theatrical Guild and which will include performances from various nominees - and potential winners.
In recent weeks we have received many suggestions regarding the desirability of rescheduling for STARMUS Festival. The dates chosen for the month of March 2011 presented for a large segment of space enthusiasts certain problems related to the logistics of travel to the Canary Islands and incompatibilities with annual vacations. Therefore, after consultation with speakers, astronauts, musicians, sponsors and organizations, and in response to these demands, the Advisory Board and the Organizing Committee have decided to set the final date for Starmus Festival for June 20-25, 2011 to facilitate and guarantee the widest participation in this important event. http://www.starmus.com/
The Save Our Forests petition is growing fast: 180,000 of us have signed so far. If we can get the petition past 200,000 signatures this week, it will prove to politicians and the media this campaign is getting even bigger.
Click below to add your name to the Save Our Forests petition.
Our campaign to Save Our Forests hit the headlines this weekend! First our petition and then an opinion poll - paid for by hundreds of 38 Degrees members - were reported on the Today programme and BBC 5 Live breakfast. Then a group including the Archbishop of Canterbury backed our campaign - making the front page of the Sunday Telegraph! 
Our pressure is starting to work. If we keep the petition growing, we can make the government think again.
If we can get the petition past 200,000 signatures this week it will prove to politicians and the media this campaign is getting even bigger. Together, we can to stop these plans - before it is too late and our forests are already being sold, fenced off, run down, cut down or built over.
Our opinion poll proved that 84% of the public want our forests kept in public ownership for future generations. If enough of us get involved in this campaign, we can stop the government's privatisation plan.
At the moment our public forests are national treasures. They are beautiful places millions of us can visit for free. They have wheelchair and buggy accessible paths so that everyone can enjoy them and are precious habitats for woodland wildlife like the lesser spotted woodpecker and the song thrush. If they are privatised, all that could be in danger.
Thousands of us voted to launch this campaign. We've spread the word by forwarding emails and sharing news on Facebook and Twitter. We've put up posters in forests, car parks and cafes all over the country. We've got over 180,000 signatures on our petition. And now our campaign's in the news politicians will be paying attention.
Please add your name to the Save Our Forests petition, and help us get past 200,000 signatures this week:
Guitarist Extra: Guitarist gains exclusive access to some of the less well-known guitars, amps and effects that Queen guitarist Brian May has used over the years. Don't miss the March issue of Guitarist magazine, on sale today, for more exclusive images and words from Brian himself about his gear.
Queen’s Brian May will be forever associated with his original Red Special guitar and a boosted Vox AC30 running flat out. In the issue 338 of Guitarist magazine, Brian tells us about some of his lesser known pieces of gear - and here is an additional look at yet more gems unearthed from his vault.
THE DEACY AMP
Brian May: “It’s kind of magic, that little amplifier. I don’t how it really works and it’s amazing that Deacy put it together from bits out of a skip! Many people have spent hours, days and weeks trying to figure out how it makes that noise. The thing with getting those sounds was all about having the microphone in the right place, moving it onto and off the axis of the speaker, putting it round the back, to the side. All those trumpet and trombone sounds came from that and also using a wah-wah pedal as a tone control. It’s all very crude, there’s no electronic processing at all.”
THE HOMEMADE ECHOPLEX
Brian May: “I made that partly at college and partly at the rehearsal place we were working at at the time. It’s one of my last efforts at DIY and it did work! I bought the pickups, built the whole rail system, wired it all up, got the right little amplifiers... Very enterprising in those days! It did work, but it was really non-reproducable, and we discovered that we could get an Echoplex and modify it, which was better. I wanted two of them and, of course, they were always breaking down, those things. It was a nightmare, we had endless fun trying to make them work on the road: they were never meant to be transported around!”
An original EP3 modified by Brian to drastically increase its delay time. It was used, amongst things, on the track Stone Cold Crazy from 1974's Sheer Heart Attack.
Brian May: “Yes, I modified that for Stone Cold Crazy. I don’t think I could do it now... I can’t even work my TV remote these days!”
A close up of the EP3 showing the specific delay settings for Stone Cold Crazy written directly onto the unit’s front panel. A genuine piece of Queen history...
BEL BD-80 DELAYS AND PETERSON 450 TUNER
Two Bel BD-80 delays that together were used for Brian’s multi-delay solo showpiece. One unit was set to a delay time of 800ms, and the other to 1600ms. These days, a single patch of a Rocktron Intellifex takes care of all this. The other unit is Brian’s also-retired Peterson 450 stage tuner, which he kept atop his stack of AC30s.
This is Brian’s very first guitar that was restored to a mint and new condition by Suffolk luthier Andrew Guyton a couple of years ago.
VOX DISTORTION BOOSTER
A small piece of circuitry that Brian included inside his Red Special for a time before removing it once it became surplus to requirements.
Brian May; “It was called a Vox Distortion Booster, I think, and it came in a little rectangular, red box with a jack plug on the end. It was a fuzz box really, and you’d plug it into your amp, and your guitar into it. I remember, even in those days, that I would rather have the amp and guitar flat out to try and get the feedback naturally. But we would be in small studios and they wouldn’t let me turn up, and the only way to get any sustain at all quietly was to use something like that, a saturation box.”
The Fender Esquire belonging to Queen drummer Roger Taylor used to record Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and the black Fender Telecaster used to play the song live. What’s the true story behind that elusive Esquire? You’ll have to buy the magazine to find out...