Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The Rothesay pier fence farce

In what seems to have become an almost classic example of why you should never listen to or believe anything that anyone involved in any sort of politics tells you, the story of the fence for Rothesay’s pier looks set to become a benchmark.

We first noticed this beginning of this epic fantasy tale towards the end of June, when See Rothesay, See Alcatraz was noted. At this stage we noted:

Now, it seems that Rothesay pier is to be permanently closed to the public by an eight foot high security fence topped with barbed wire, and it’s due to be installed mid-August, the busiest time of the year as the Bute Highland Games take place then. The fence will stretch from the Albert Pier to the moorings, with gaps for passengers and vehicles.

The fence will be supported by 3-metre tall steel posts, spaced at 3 metre intervals, carrying welded mesh steel sheets 2.5 metres high, and topped of by three strands of barbed wire.

The fence is said to be needed to comply with the Department of Transport’s ‘Transec’ policy on the protection of passengers, ports and shipping.

The question of Planning Permission for the installation was raised, but brought the response that it would probably be classified as “permitted development”.

Councillor Isobel Strong added: “I think this is security gone mad. Do the powers that be think that Rothesay is in the forefront of international terrorism, and that a high fence with barbed wire is necessary?”

A few day later, at the start of July, we followed up with Rothesay pier security fence on temporary hold, when a delay was announced in order for further consideration of the design and necessity for the fence to be given by those responsible.

A few days later it seemed that Alcatraz on the Clyde may be curtailed, when we observed:

Bute councillor Robert Macintyre perhaps summed things up more tactfully, “I think the regulations have been somewhat misinterpreted by our officials”, when quote in this week’s Buteman. Councillor Macintyre was further quoted as saying, “At this stage I would say there is some dubiety about the height of, and maybe even the need for, a fence”.

After the passage of another few days, we had made it past the middle of July when we announced Escape from Alcatraz, and the following quotation:

“I confirm that there is now no question of our erecting a permanent structure – it simply is not going to happen.”

So said councillor Duncan MacIntyre, Argyll & Bute Council transport spokesperson, as quoted in this week’s Buteman article on the subject of the proposed 3 metre steel security fence and its topping of three strands of barbed wire.

The fence was initially claimed to be needed to comply with the Department of Transport’s ‘Transec’ policy on the protection of passengers, ports and shipping. Then, in the face of the resultant outcry, it transpired that things might not be quite right and that this insanity had been dreamed up by someone who had been reading the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which applies to ships larger than five hundred gross tonnes in weight, and making voyages in international waters. Quite which of their brain cells was responsible for equating this code to the likes of Bute ferries will probably never be known, but it should be pensioned off sharpish if it is ever found.

While the news is welcome, after reading the carefully chosen words of the authority, I find myself remaining concerned about the future for free access to the area of Rothesay pier by members of the public – that’s you and me.

I dislike articles dependent on carefully selected short quotes, generally taken out of context to change their meaning, and commend you to read the full article to confirm that while I am indeed making a few carefully selected quotes, these are only for the purpose of review.

From the first quote given above, we have a specific reference to “no question of our erecting a permanent structure”, which leaves the door open for temporary structures.

That looked like the end of the matter (if the statements were to believed) but I wasn’t holding my breath in anticipation, and sure enough, at the beginning of October we were able to roll on the fence story again with It’s Health & Safety madness time again, and this pulled the famous H&S card out of the pack as we observed:

After reporting that some sort of Common Sense had miraculously taken over from the insanity, it seems that those in power have taken umbrage, and are determined to see a fence installed on Rothesay’s pier “By any means necessary”.

Having failed to achieve their initial aim of a three metre steel fence topped with barbed wire, necessary to meet the increased threat of terrorism, the new plan is to install a mere two metre fence, and forget the barbed wire – and it seems it will be a nice, calming blue.

This seems to contradict the last report from a few weeks ago, where we were quoted:

“I confirm that there is now no question of our erecting a permanent structure – it simply is not going to happen.”

So said councillor Duncan MacIntyre, Argyll & Bute Council transport spokesperson, as quoted in this week’s Buteman article on the subject of the proposed 3 metre steel security fence and its topping of three strands of barbed wire.

Councillors defend fence

After all the above, all three councillor have now joined to defend the installation of the two metre fence on Rothesay pier, as reported in this week’s Buteman article.

Reporting on last week’s community council meeting, we are told community councillor Peter Lingard said it was his clear impression that the fence was "not going to take place".

But Councillor Len Scoullar replied: "I always knew there was going to be a fence. You couldn’t have youngsters playing about in there while the boat is docking – it’s dangerous. Look at Wemyss Bay. All the working area there is restricted too."

Cllr Isobel Strong added "whatever regulations there have been in place before have now been superseded", while Cllr Macintyre added: "I can’t imagine the pier not having any means of regulating where cars can go and where people can go.  I just don’t understand all the hullabaloo about a fence of a similar height to the one that has always kept folk walking in the right place. I can’t understand why certain people seem to think that it’s absolutely abhorrent to have any type of fencing down at the pier. Remember that it is the year 2008."

Comment

I could go on endlessly about this now, but think it may be more pertinent to observe that the issue now is probably less about the fence, and more about the credibility of those who are supposed to represent the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent.

Having gone first from a fence proposal, to a proposal consideration and withdrawal, we are now in a position where we have a no proposal, a fence under construction, and an appeal from Councillor Macintyre:

“I would ask people to give it a chance. See what it looks like and make your views known then – don’t add to the storm in a teacup some people are making at the moment.”

So we have to go to the expense of building the fence, then deciding whether ot not we like it, and if not, having it removed – who’ll pay for that then? The councillors? The taxpayers?

Time to get get used to the new fence I think, like it or not.

Maybe someone will come up with the bright idea of extending it and adding barbed wire in a few years “For security purposes”.

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October 26, 2008 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] pier fence farce trundles on The farcical story of the fence on Rothesay’s pier has now swung all the way from legal necessity demanded by […]

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    Pingback by Rothesay pier fence farce trundles on « Secret Scotland | October 31, 2008


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