Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Pollok Country Park Hijack?

Pollok Country Park is Glasgow’s largest park and the only Country Park within Glasgow. Its extensive woodlands and gardens are described as a quiet sanctuary for both visitors and wildlife, and lie to the south west of the city, just three miles from the city centre.

The countryside park with superb walled gardens and woodland walks was once part of the Old Pollok estate, and the ancestral home of the Maxwell Family for seven centuries. In 1966, the parkland and house was gifted to the City of Glasgow by the family, together with the remainder of the estate, used for farming and recreation purposes such as golf. It contains a number of facilities such as a Police Dog Training Facility, and the Glasgow Mountain Bike Circuit.

Notable features with the grounds include Pollok House itself, and the Burrell Collection. The collection was gifted to Glasgow by Sir William Burrell and his wife, Constance, Lady Burrell, and the collection of over 9,000 works of art gave the city one of the greatest collections amassed by one person. William Burrell had been an art collector since his teens, and the collection contains a vast array of works covering all periods and from all over the world. Pollok House is an impressive 18th century mansion, filled with outstanding collections of Spanish art, antique furniture, silverware, ceramics, and an impressive library.

It would appear that the peace of the park is may be set to come to an end, as ‘High Wire Forest Adventure’ operator Go Ape has plans to create one of its aerial assault courses and walkway in a secluded area of the country park’s woodland. They would charge £20 to £25 for access to their course of rope bridges, swings and zip slides in a formerly quiet area of the park. The private developer’s plans to create their adventure playground in what is a public park is reported to have infuriated the ancestral family owners of the land, and the Maxwell family has described the plan a “totally inappropriate” and expressed doubts as to its being in accordance with the terms or spirit of their gift to the city. Guardians of Pollok House, The National Trust for Scotland, have lodged an official objection.

A ‘Community Consultation‘ was held into the Go Ape proposal, however the principles involved in allowing a private developer access to public land mean that wider views should, indeed must, be sought with more publicity. The consultation is closed (I live in Glasgow and never heard as much as a whimper about it) and you can make up your own mind about the results and how it must have been carried out…

  • In total, 237 responses were received to the consultation, both by post and e-mail. The total number of positive responses was 199 (84%) and the total number of negative responses was 38 (16%).
  • The age range of respondents varied widely, with the majority of respondents (who listed their age) being in the range <17-24 years old (55%). 41% were between 25 and 54, and 4% were over 54. Of those who listed their gender, 54% were female and 46% were male.

Having a look through the details provided regarding the protection of the environment provides an impressive array of measures the developers claims will be carried out to prevent damage to the trees – but one can’t help but think that these would not be needed if the trees were not being abused in the first place, an of how effective, or ineffective, they may be in practice.

I notice the proposal includes a reference to not allowing any vehicles into the development, but that the facility will use the existing car parking facility provided at the nearby Burrell Collection – I wish them luck, and note that the local council have an interest in this. While entry to Glasgow Museums is free, if you want to visit the Burrell Collection you need to go by car due to its location, unless you are local and know the buses. To get to this particular free museum you are obliged to use the nearby car park, conveniently provided with a ticket machine, and attendant if you’re lucky. Pollok, sadly, is not one of the most desirable areas of Glasgow, and on each occasion I have visited the Burrell I have have been thankful that mine was never the car involved in the ‘Smash and Grab’ that ruined some visitor’s day out on each of them. Doubtless some unfortunate tourist, or someone unfamiliar with the area, who left too many goodies on show inside their car, and was relieved of them for their carelessness. However, it does make the parting of a few £s for the privilege of leaving your car unattended while swelling the council’s coffers just than bit more indigestible – if they did something for the money (like, god forbid, look after the cars in its car park) it might not be so bad, but all you get is usual disclaimers – fortunately unenforceable in law, but only if you already know that before they fob you off with “We accept no responsibility…”.

Oops, have I given a secret away?

Seriously though, if you care, do something about this nonsense in the park. One, we don’t need imported ideas of how to have fun; Two, why should a private developer be able to move in and make a profit from a public gift; Three, the park is just fine as it is, it doesn’t need any help to make it ‘better’.

You can find more details and comment on this related thread in the Hidden Glasgow forum.

Addendum January 20, 2008:

I thought this Comment deserved to be raised into the Main Body as an Appeal. Unfortunately, I see the original contributor got the month wrong, and the meeting date was in January, not February as originally posted, so the opportunity has passed.

However, you can read about the shameful behaviour of Glasgow’s councillors in this Herald report: Tempers flare at meeting over Go Ape plan. There is also a selection of reader’s comment following the report.

If you care about the future of Pollok Park send an ojection to the Go Ape planning application. E-mail: sean.mccollam@drs.glasgow.gov.uk quoting ref 07/0308. Please send a copy to: contact@savepollokpark.com and let your local elected representative know your feelings too.

Please come to the public meeting on Tuesday 22 Jan at 7.30pm at Pollokshaws Burgh Hall. Tristram Mayhew of GoApe who will make an audio-visual presentation as will SavePollokPark. We believe Glasgow City Council will send representatives too but they haven’t bothered to reply to the campaign’s official invitation. This will be an opportunity for all sides to air their points of view and microphones will be provided for comments from the floor. We expect a lively debate but we ask all participants to temper their passion with politeness.

It seems from the body of the meeting that I was not alone in wondering just when this ‘consultation’ was held, and who might have taken part. According to the the report…

The council has been derided over its public consultation in October, where a majority of respondents were in favour of the Go Ape proposal, half of whom were pupils from a local secondary school.

Like it or not, Glasgow’s councillors have also earned themselves a reputation for riding roughshod over anything or anyone that doesn’t happen to agree with them (granted, this may not always be a bad thing, but then again, is hardly democratic or representative of the people they are supposed to represent), and this proposal seems, at present, to be something they want, regardless.

When asked if they would reopen the consultation in light of the meeting’s outcome, their reply was a firm refusal, and a statement that the neither the National Trust, nor the Maxwell family, had any influence. “They have no right of veto. That is our legal opinion” said Mr Booth for the council.

The meeting concluded with a show of hands, where only 7 of the 550 people in the room were in favour of the Go Ape proposal.

Addendum February 17, 2008:

Go Ape protestThe proposal has hit the news again, with campaigners holding a demonstration in Pollok Park to highlight their feeling of being ignored and not properly consulted in respect of the proposed development.

Glasgow Govan MSP and deputy leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, joined protesters at the demonstration.

She said people loved Pollok Park and they wanted to see it remain as it was.

There’s plenty of activities in other parts of the park but the North Wood is somewhere that people come to get away from the noise and bustle of the city, to enjoy the environment, to take walks and there’s a real feeling that we don’t want to lose that“, she said.

She went on to add that people do not feel they have been consulted.

I think the consultation was flawed and I think it would be in everyone’s interest, not least Glasgow City Council’s, to take a step back from this and allow people to have their say and for that say to be listened to“, she said.

Tristram Mayhew, chief executive of Go Ape, said he was aware of local people’s concerns.

He said: “Go Ape is also firmly committed to encouraging a new generation of visitors to experience the woods from an entirely different perspective, in a way that will inspire them, we hope, for life, and encourage them to live their lives more adventurously.

Image from Save Pollok Park web site.

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20/01/2008 - Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. If you care about the future of Pollok Park send an ojection to the Go Ape planning application. E-mail: sean.mccollam@drs.glasgow.gov.uk
    quoting ref 07/0308. Please send a copy to: contact@savepollokpark.com
    and let your local elected representative know your feelings too.

    Please come to the public meeting on Tuesday 22 Feb at 7.30pm at Pollokshaws Burgh Hall. Tristram Mayhew of GoApe who will make an audio-visual presentation as will SavePollokPark. We believe Glasgow City Council will send representatives too but they haven’t bothered to reply to the campaign’s official invitation. This will be an opportunity for all sides to air their points of view and microphones will be provided for comments from the floor. We expect a lively debate but we ask all participants to temper their passion with politeness.

    Like

    Comment by Bill | 20/01/2008

  2. As an ex-pat Pollokshaws boy living in Ayrshire I think the whole idea of selling off land beloning to the people of the city stinks , I spent many days as a lad with my pals playing in those woods and to sell them to private interests is against the spirit of the donation of the Maxwell family .

    Like

    Comment by Alistair Yule | 19/02/2008

  3. […] Go Ape over council decision We blogged earlier about the efforts of Glasgow City Council to Hijack Pollock Country Park, and it looks as if we were right. In a move which many locals will see as reinforcing opinion that […]

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    Pingback by Glagow will Go Ape over council decision « Secret Scotland | 06/04/2008

  4. […] Scottish Government has declined to become involved in the matter of plans to create a controversial tree top adventure course in Pollock Park, home of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, and a […]

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    Pingback by Scottish Government runs away from Pollock Park problem « Secret Scotland | 04/09/2008

  5. […] and lease the land gifted to the city and allow a commercial eventing company to set up an outdoor adventure feature next to the collection – despite the objections of those who live around the area. Even though it […]

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    Pingback by The Burrell Collection is 25 « Secret Scotland | 16/11/2008


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