Slottsholmen means a lot to me – Björn Ulvaeus speaks out

Björn responds to critics in an open letter
Björn responds to critics in an open letter

Björn Ulvaeus has been offended by some of the negative criticism of the motives behind his plans to redevelop Slottsholmen.

In a response published yesterday in Västerviks Tidningen, Björn writes:

I recently received a letter that affected me quite deeply. It was signed “The Svensson Family” (fictitious name), and I saw a picture in front of me of how they had all sat around the dinner table and discussed it, for the children as well as the parents were deeply involved in the letter’s contents. The subject, of course, was Slottsholmen. I understand that it is a very common topic of conversation in Västervik these days and that the letter was written with the best of intentions, but what upset me was the following statement:

‘People think that the rich Ulvaeus wants to show his power and put pressure on the ‘ordinary’ people with his wealth.’

It has been a long and tough process to get a detailed plan of Slottsholmen off the ground. That is how it goes in a good democratic country such as Sweden. Everyone should be allowed to have their say, especially when it comes to such a sensitive site like this. Although I have been frustrated by the slowness at times, I am happy that everything was done according to the rules of the game.

There is a widespread perception that I, as a member of ABBA, always get treated with favouritism. Certainly that can sometimes be the case, but just as often it works to the contrary. People I meet who are in public service, those who work for the Council, County and State, are almost without exception very careful to ensure that they could not later be accused of having given me preferential treatment. In this particular case, it feels rather as though I have repeatedly been placed at the back of the queue.

It is true that Slottsholmen is now very much associated with me, and many people find that problematic. I fully understand, but it is unfortunately not something I can do much about. However, it is my firm belief that when the building stands there in years to come and my ashes have long been scattered across Nämndöfjärden, well, then the name Slottsholmen will be on everyone’s consciousness while the names of those who once helped steer the project will have fallen into oblivion.

You cannot write songs that everyone likes. There are songs that so many love, but which a small group hate. Certainly Benny Andersson and I have written a few of those! That’s what happens when you write from the heart.

Slottsholmen is close to my heart and I am driven by the vision that the site should be treated with the significance I think it deserves. That’s why the letter that came today shook me for a while.  However, after several conversations with people from Västervik that I trust, and who have their ear to the ground, my confidence has more or less returned.

Now we will take the matter all the way. The Land and Environment Court next. Then the court of appeal? The European Court of Justice? The last in the line is God and he is definitely not sympathetic to me!

Björn Ulvaeus – municipality resident, musician and builder of ‘New Slottsholmen’.

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