Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Angus Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee blocks Spitfire Way

Spitfire and pilotIt’s sometimes hard to follow the logic of some council decisions, and the rejection of a proposal to give an unnamed road in Montrose a memorable one is possibly one such example.

However, reading into the media articles issues on the matter, it would seem that while the finger is easily pointed at the council, the truth appears to be undue influence of Angus Council’s infrastructure services committee, and the Town Hall bureaucrats it empowers. Cue the jokes about committees, all of a sudden, not so funny. Notably, all four Montrose councillors,  David May, Bill Duff, Paul Valentine, and Mark Salmond, were in favour of naming the road Spitfire Way, as a tribute to the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre.

The town is home to the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, which has made great progress over the years and grown into a substantial museum and collection, with increasing numbers of visitors seeking to find it. And I use the word ‘seeking’ intentionally, as it was many years before I ventured into the centre. Located in an industrial estate formed from a collection of wartime buildings left behind after the original air station was abandoned the war, the centre is not prominently located to attract passing trade, or visible from the main road as it passes the estate at the north end of the town. There are signs on the road, but to be honest, they’re easy to miss and be past the road that leads down to the centre. I have to admit to having done this many times, and only made my first visit to the centre while attending a Classic Car event taking place on the adjacent shore-land.

See Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. Britain’s first operational military airfield.

The local Montrose Review carried a brief item on the rejection:

Angus Council’s infrastructure services committee

However, when I had another look, I found a longer and more detailed story on the subject:

deadlinenews

The bureaucrats from the Town Hall claimed the reason was the cost of new signs, and objections from business on the road.

But it has been claimed the signs would only have cost £200, and while one business on the road did register an objection to the naming, at least three were in favour.

The Deadline article reports:

Peter Davies, secretary of the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, is particularly angry because the council asked them to come up with a name for the nearby road.

But after suggesting “Spitfire Way”, the SNP-controlled council’s infrastructure services committee rejected the idea, claiming businesses on the unnamed road would face “significant” costs such as new stationery.

Mr Davies said: “All it is is two signposts which would cost around £200, nothing more. No-one has objected except one business. Everyone thinks it’s a bloody farce – they’re talking about it in the town. I have never heard such nonsense that if an unnamed road has a new name it needs a new postcode.

He joked: “There are some people who think the council wants to call it Alex Salmond Way. I wouldn’t say there’s a political motive but it does make you wonder.”

The museum’s membership secretary Neil Wernick said: “As a group we think they’re potty!”

Terry Beedie, manager of Howden Joinery in the estate, was one of at three firms to back the plan.

He said: “There’s not any cost to us. I’m a local guy born and bred and it would be great to have a bit of nostalgia. The council has never contacted us. It’s just red tape getting in the way as is so often the case.”

And a spokesman from Royal British Legion Scotland joined in the criticism, saying:

“It is unfortunate that Angus Council feel unable to consider renaming the street outside Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre as Spitfire Way,” he said.

“The site is of considerable historical significance as the UK’s first airfield and it seems regrettable that cost appears to be the obstacle. The Royal British Legion Scotland hopes that a way can be found around this either now or in the near future.”

Independent councillor for Carnoustie on the committee, Brian Boyd, said he was uneasy about the scheme because of the council’s need for cutbacks. He said:

When times are hard we shouldn’t be burdening companies with extra costs, and there are also financial implications for the council through the time of officials. I just feel we’ve got more to worry about and I don’t think we should go ahead with this.”

Granted, the figure of £200 quoted above is probably considerably less than it would actually cost the council to install the road signs, I doubt it would cover the materials and takes no account of the labour, but on the other hand, I doubt the council is so poor it cannot afford to install these signs purely on a financial basis, especially as the street name would attract tourists, and the Scottish Government did ask that everyone do what they can to pick an additional 50% from tourist pockets by 2015: Has “50% by 2015″ been forgotten and forsaken?

If nothing else, I’d say they are missing (another) trick here.

Other Spitfire roads

For what it’s worth, a quick search found two streets (in England) named after the Spitfire, and I might add that you will find other roads in Scotland named after wartime aircraft. Have a look at the area around Prestwick Airport, for example.

00042UTBBU000 | Street Record | Street Record Spitfire Road Norwich Norwich City Council

0012X8NZBU000 | Street Record | Street Record Spitfire Way Hawkinge Kent

 

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June 26, 2013 - Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, council, World War II | , ,

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