Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Not millions, but BILLIONS said to be needed to repair Glasgow’s tenements

I almost included this item in this earlier post:

Glasgow’s million pound problems – after the 2014 Commonwealth Games handout

But I thought it would be better to keep it separate, lest the difference between the references to millions and BILLIONS was lost by having the two together.

Billions may be needed to fix Glasgow’s crumbling tenements after it was revealed that thousands of closes are in ‘critical disrepair’.

A shocking new report has estimated that around 46,600 tenement flats, which were built before 1919, have been deemed dangerous and need structural, weather-tightening and restoration work.

Many of those buildings are thought to require more than £500,000 worth of work to bring them up to scratch.

That could mean the final repair cost may stretch to as much as £2.9bn across the city.

The council has around 70,000 tenements in total which were built prior to 1919.

Govanhill, Ibrox, Cessnock, East Pollokshields, Strathbungo, Haghill and Dennistoun have all been identified as areas with pre-1919 houses in “poor condition”.

In the last 40 years funding for repairs to the old tenements has come from the Scottish Government’s private sector housing grant, with around £6m annually having been allocated in recent years.

Council chiefs have admitted that the number of tenement properties having to be evacuated or requiring emergency stabilisation work is rising.

The local authority has blamed lack of appetite from private landlords, affordability issues and poor forward planning for the state of the city’s tenements.

He revealed that one tenement in the southside, which now sits vacant after being deemed too dangerous to live in, has a repair bill of more than £700,000.

Another in the south side has also been deemed too dangerous and the cost to repair it is more than £800,000.

Over the next 12 months the council will carry out condition surveys of around 500 pre-1919 tenement properties across the city.

‘Billions needed’ to fix Glasgow’s crumbling tenement blocks

The usual response will NOT be acceptable

I don’t seem to have seen any follow-up articles to this story, but I can’t see it being ignored.

I expect, at some point, to see the usual army of council-bashers appear, and provide their normal knee-jerk reaction, kicking the Glasgow City Council, and producing a list of reasons blaming it as the cause of this issue.

But I suggest a moment’s thought before accepting their standard vitriol, and a review of the problem, and who contributed to it.

I happen to have personal experience of tenement repair dealings some years ago, and it cost me tens of thousands of pounds, directly and indirectly.

I inherited a tenement flat, probably then worth around £20 k in the east end.

Didn’t need, so it was to be sold.

Guess what?

UNSELLABLE (or at leat no buyer would get a mortgage) as it needed serious structural repairs – a survey showed one wall facing the street to have a bulge.

Being a tenement, the repair needed consent and money from ALL the tenants sharing the wall, which included shop owners on the ground floor.

The shop owners (and I can’t make a racist comment here, but we didn’t ‘look’ like ‘their people’) told us to ‘Go take a running jump’ as they had no interest in talking to us, in the repair, or contributing, as the bulge did not affect their business, and fixing it would not make them any money, or bring them any benefits.

The other flats were owned by the local housing association, whose only interest was to get ‘us’ out of the building so they could add the flat to their portfolio. They also had no interest in contributing to the repair.

And their tenants didn’t want to know, since they were just renting their flats.

Total stalemate for decades!

There was no compulsion since the building was not unsafe, just unmortgageable.

We were, of course, invited to pay for the work ourselves, rather than paying just our share, we were welcome to pay for everyone else’s.

We eventually lost the flat for a few thousand, because we had managed to get the council tax suspended, but the collector was getting fed up, and looked as if the suspension would not only end, but the unpaid tax would fall due as well. And as I said, this went on not for years, but decades.

The reason I illustrate this point in some detail is merely to demonstrate that while the council may be at the top of tree in some respects, it is NOT responsible for the detailed day-to-day handling of tenements, but does come into the headlines when others land problems in its lap.

And the parties who are REALLY responsible sneak off into the shadows with a ‘Not my problem mate’ smirk.

I’ve also read one or two histories of our tenements, and would point out there were just as many ‘cowboy builders’ around in 1900 as there are today.

While the sandstone facades may seem superior, I’ve read it was not uncommon to find that the brickwork behind it is shoddy, and that some were found to be packed out with newspaper and cardboard during the demolitions carried out in the 1960s and 1970s.

This sort of stuff simply can’t be seen from the outside, but can explain why some tenements are falling apart today, and in such bad condition.

This issue needs to be addressed responsibly, by those who have had a hand in it over the years.

NOT by simply kicking the council as if it was the ONLY party involved.

Glasgow Tenement

Glasgow Tenement (now demolished)

30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Cat humour

I’ve been getting a little serious recently, but I’ve also been coming across some nice cat related humour too, so this might be a good time to share a couple.

One that needs no explanation, but could make the world a better place.

Graffiti Cats

Graffiti Cats

If cats could caption pics.

Pick it Up

Pick it Up

I can’t think of another post where I could put this one, so…

Poop Play

Poop Play

30/11/2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Oops, Sorry Aldi Shettleston, storm Diana beat your opening

No luck.

Since I’d followed it so far, I thought I should at least mention this.

But with storm Diana arriving about the same time, and me not being close enough to mean the wind and rain I’d meet on my there and back to be insignificant, I’m afraid the opening of the new Aldi in Shettleston was onto ‘plums’ yesterday.

This quick look at our local rainfall from 00:01 on Thursday until now (13:00 Friday) gives you an idea – unfortunately, rainfall sensors just don’t show the little showers that go on all the time, they just accumulate, then trigger a larger reading.

Diana Rain

Diana Rain

Even the offer of a bag of vegetables (I think the first thirty customers through the door got that as a free gift) wasn’t enough to tempt me.

Today’s no better, as the wind and rain is still coming in waves – no doubt intended by Diana to tempt the naive out of the door during the quiet spells – to catch the unwary if they dare step outside if the Sun shines, which it actually does at times.

But most of the time, the rain is bouncing off my windows, and I’m pulling the duvet over my head.

So, no update to this last pic.

Aldi Fitting


Oh – looking at the weather forecast, tomorrow (Saturday) looks like light cloud and a gentle breeze, with rain at 20% or less probability.

That’s better than Sunday (75% chance of rain, even if it is a bit warmer), so I might have to try to remember to take that first wander tomorrow, and not make the mistake of waiting for better weather.

30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

60 bikes – £30,000 – will this man go to jail?

(I’ve just realised Twitter lifts the pic and the post title – so have to note that the two are NOT RELATED, it’s just a sometimes annoying quirk of Twitter’s automatic formatting. I don’t write the tweets.)

It’s a pity the media jumped into this story before the conclusion was known.

Anybody stealing £30 k (as money) is probably going to jail.

And the US has a Three Strikes and You’re Out policy, referring to de facto life imprisonment of habitual criminals after being convicted of three violent or serious felonies (there are more details, but the idea is all I want to mention here).

I think 60 cycle thefts counts as ‘habitual’ though, so merits a more serious response that someone wandering off with just one.

I don’t know if the reporter concerned with bother to follow-up on this story, or the media will catch the conclusion, nor do we know when sentencing (if he is found guilty) will take place.

But, it would be nice to know how this ends.

And if he said “I just found them”, or “Never saw them before”.

Will he just get a slap on the wrist, or something juicier?

A man has been arrested and charged following the theft of more than 60 bicycles worth £30,000.

Under an initiative dedicated to tackling bike theft, the 41-year-old was arrested in August in connection with an attempt to sell a stolen bike online.

Following further enquiries, Edinburgh’s Community Investigation Unit (CIU) subsequently executed a warrant at flat in the Saughton area on Tuesday 27th November

The 41-year-old has now been charged with the theft of 62 pedal bikes, collectively worth over £30,000, which were stolen from common stairwells and outbuildings across the city.

Man charged over theft of 60 bicycles worth £30,000

I don’t suppose this is him, but in line with never giving a sucker an even break, this is a pic of a real bike thief.

And, guess what?

Bike thief caught in the act: “I was just checking if the lock was good” (video)

There’s no video now.

But, can we assume there is a connection between bike theft and a certain McDung fast food associated with a yellow ‘M’ on a red background?

Real Bike Thief

Real Bike Thief

30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Mild issues

The Blog seems to be suffering a couple of minor issues, nether is serious, but that doesn’t mean they’re not irritating, even if readers can’t really see them – I can.

They’re not only irritating, but for me, frustrating, as I can’t do anything about them.

The first seems to affect the tweeting of post as they are published. I’m not sure, but I think this occasionally fails.

I had noticed this in the past, if my finger slipped and I published an unfinished post (which I had to ‘unpublish’) – having generated the automated tweet, it did not generate a later tweet when the post was published again.

However, I’ve noticed one or two where I didn’t make this slip, but there was no tweet at the expected time, and I’ve had to jump in and do it manually. That’s fine, but it is a bit irritating as the manual tweet doesn’t show the full image if the post has one, just a thumbnail, which is a pity, and out of my hands to alter.

And then sometimes (rarely), like today, the tweets take an hour to appear! And I have to go delete my manual ones.

The second is, unfortunately, more insidious, and falls into the ‘Dirty Tricks’ category.

A filthy scammer, and I mean that literally as this person is selling fake medical crap that can kill people, is ‘Comment Spamming’ the Blog.

This means they have some sort of automated system that picks on a blog, and either post fake comments, or register as a ‘Follower’ of the blog. This trick means that they effectively bypass all spam filtering and similar safeguards, as these follows and comments don’t carry any spam.

The spam aspect come from having their dirty little web sites ‘hidden’ behind the icon that appears in the list of bloggers who ‘liked’ a post – if any visitor is curious, and clicks on their apparently genuine icon to see what that blogger is doing, they unwittingly get taken to the scum spammer’s web site, where they are pedalling their rubbish.

The worst aspect of this scam is that WordPress does nothing about, and won’t.

Having checked on how to ban or remove comment spammers or similar, they simply say something along the lines of this being public material, the idea of blogging (to attract comments/likes) and something they won’t be offering the option to delete/remove/ban.

Strange, since I see a fair number of other bloggers asking for the ability to remover commenters and likes that they don’t want associated with their blogs, or that are being a nuisance.

They really don’t seem to understand the frustration of having these people (or more likely their bots, since every one of their ‘follows’ is always double, in other words not one registration, but two within seconds of one another, and often seconds after a like) keep up their constant effort to follow our blog, and how frustrating it is to see them come back a few hours after removing them as followers.

Thanks, WordPress – that’s about as useful as the ‘Great’ new editors (like the utterly dire Gutenberg) you keep trying to get us to use instead of the ‘Classic’ editor. Ever hear of “If it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT”!

This one is particularly irritating to me personally.

He seems to time his ‘attacks’ just before lunchtime, which mean he gets follow confirmation just after registering as a ‘Follower’ because I like to do a lunchtime Blog post. If I don’t get warned about the new follower before I post, and can remove him, he gets notified.

So, I’m now either going to have give up my lunchtime post, or make it appear later, to avoid giving this piece of filth any gratification.

I would identify the individual concerned…

But that would just give the dirty little creep a free advert and more publicity at my ‘expense’.

Frustrated Cat

30/11/2018 Posted by | Site News | | Leave a comment

Glasgow’s million pound problems – after the 2014 Commonwealth Games handout


In recent weeks, we’ve seen Glasgow presented with a number of ‘Million Pound Problems’…

First to come to mind was the Clyde Tidal Weir, which saw its repair bill jump from around £5 million to something more like £7 million.

Glasgow Tidal Weir Low

Glasgow Tidal Weir Low

Then there was the Winter Gardens attached to the People’s Palace, which coincidentally has a similar bill on the table for repairs to render it safe, ranging from £5 million to £7 million.

Peoples Palace viewing gallery above Winter Gardens

Peoples Palace Winter Gardens

Now, another of our ‘institutions’ has a large repair bill which will need to be paid to save it from self-destruction too (and you’ll see shortly that this is a tad more than a mere £7 million).

Millions are needed to stop the Clyde Tunnel falling down, according to city roads bosses.

The shock claim was made as Glasgow City Council have been trying to get the Scottish Government to take responsibility for funding for more than a decade.

Norrie Campbell, the city’s Roads and Lighting Manager, admitted that £2.5m will be required every year to maintain the structural integrity of the tunnel.

But the local authority only receives around £90,000 a year in grant aid for repairs, meaning there is a huge funding gap that has to be made up by the council itself.

Speaking to members of the city’s Environment Committee, Mr Campbell said: “In terms of the Clyde Tunnel, we’ve been putting forward an argument for a number of years that it is of national importance.

“What we’ve not been able to do is persuade the Scottish Government to take on ownership of the Clyde Tunnel and its approaches, which are very costly to maintain.

“The £2.5m is an accumulation of everything we need to maintain the structure. Every single year to stop the tunnel disappearing into the Clyde we have to spend that. That includes concrete repairs, lighting, and maintaining the support structures and turbines.”

Glasgow City Council is responsible for maintaining the tunnel, which sees around 64,000 vehicles driving through every day.

City bosses have pleaded with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to take responsibility for the tunnel, claiming it is of national importance.

But those pleas have been rebuffed by ministers and national roads chiefs who say the road is more important to Glasgow than it is to Scotland as a whole.

Councillor John Kane, whose ward the Clyde Tunnel falls under, claimed the Scottish Government’s argument was “nonsense.

In a report to the council, the council’s roads department will recommend £25.8m is spent on the tunnel to make it “pristine”.

Clyde Tunnel needs millions to stop it falling down, road safety bosses warn

And, let’s not forget the one right on my own doorstep…

Tollcross Winter Gardens

Tollcross Winter Gardens Broken Glass

Tollcross Winter Gardens Broken Glass

Some might even add the restoration of the Mackintosh Building to that list (just saying, not arguing).

I don’t know how well the books were ‘cooked’ following the 2014 Commonwealth Games hosted by Glasgow, but whatever it cost Glasgow to host this nonsense, everybody should be aware, and remember that the bill for hosting this is NOT paid for by the people behind the games.

They get a ‘Free Go’ as the host city has the ‘privilege’ of paying for them.

There’s plenty of spin following the event, with all sorts of claim about how much the dopey games made for Glasgow, but it seems like a lot of rubbish, especially given a recent article which revealed that Glasgow Celtic makes more for Glasgow EVERY YEAR than the Commonwealth Games did in its one ‘glorious’ year.

So, I won’t go with any reports or claims subsequent to the2014 ‘Games’, which appeared after the wordsmiths and accountants got to exercise their skills on the numbers.

Before it all started, the media reported on the projected cost rising from around £300 million to £500 million, as early as 2010.

Cost of hosting 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow rises above £500m

I think we can believe that figure range.


Have you ever seen a project that came in BELOW BUDGET (before the bean counters massaged the figures)?

I don’t claim to know all the number, what the real cost was, or what the real benefit was for Glasgow, in financial terms at least.

But, it does look as if, in hand-waving terms at least, if we had kept the money we had, instead of handing out to the Commonwealth Games, we’d have had sufficient funds to deal with all the dramatic emergencies we’re seeing come to head in 2018.

I KNOW things in the real world are not as simple as this, or as black and white.

BUT, I do suggest we should think about being more careful about where our money goes, and look to out our bills before paying for ‘vanity projects’.

Time to practice…


30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tesla gas lamp at the Hunterian

I must have been asleep in the past, or this is something they’ve brought out as an exhibit since I was last at the Hunterian with any regularity.

The displays do change, as I miss seeing a lot of items they once had on display relating to transatlantic communication and cables.

This one is nice to see, given the lack of mention Tesla has been given in the past, and the delusion claims made for his work by many loonies, who attached themselves to carefully selected quotes from Tesla’s work, and misrepresent them.

Tesla Gas Lamp Plaque

Tesla Gas Lamp Plaque

The item is displayed alongside a Swan/Edison incandescent filament lamp.

It’s possibly hard to make out in the pic, due to the slightly unfortunate positioning of reflections on the cylindrical glass tube, but it is worth noting that this lamp only one connection on its base, leading to a circular metal disc inside the tube, at the bottom.

This would therefore have needed a high voltage, low current, AC supply to excite the gas within, and make it glow.

Unlike our modern fluorescent lamps, the light is emitted directly from the excited gas, so depends on the gas fill/mix for its colour.

Fluorescent lamps generally work by creating invisible UV (ultraviolet) light in the gas, which then excites a phosphor coating on the lamp glass, and it is that which emits the visible light we see.

These are essentially AC devices only. Although they will work with DC, it also ruins them, and shortens their working life.

Tesla Gas Lamp Display

Tesla Gas Lamp Display

30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Computer Security Day

30 November is Computer Security Day.

Given the attitude I see of many to this aspect of computers, I almost think I’d be as well finishing this post here.

But, we can but hope that every little bit of publicity will help make one or two a little bit more aware.

Computer Security Day dates back to 1988, roughly the time when computers were becoming common, but far from ubiquitous in homes. Increasing adoption of the devices saw Computer Security Day being created to raise awareness about computer security.

I’m not even going to try to tell you how.

I’ll just suggest you do something about your computer security, if you haven’t.

There’s plenty of advice online, but be careful, and make sure you look at legit sources!

Computer Security

Computer Security

30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Mousse Day

30 November is Mousse Day.

Another irresistible day.

While dessert mousse is the most popular and well-known creation, especially chocolate mousse, not everyone knows that there are actually many different varieties of mousse, both savoury and sweet, hot and cold. Mousse Day celebrates them all.

It seems the original mousse was actually made in the 18th century, by French culinary experts. Those first mousses were savoury, the sweet variety didn’t arrive until the late 19th century. Originally created with eggs, whipped cream is usually substituted, especially in sweet flavours.

Mousse actually means “foam” or “froth”, and comes from the French roots of the food.

I’m going with strawberry mousse – it takes a MUCH better pic than chocolate mousse (which can things look as if a naughty dog has visited).

Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse

30/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

78 Derngate – Another Mackintosh creation to be saved (but in England)

Not sure how well-known 78 Derngate is outside the circle of Mackintosh ‘fanatics’, but it is a unique property which Mackintosh was involved in later in his career. He didn’t design the property, but was responsible for its later style.

78 Derngate was famously re-modelled by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1916 for his client, Northampton model engineer, W.J Bassett-Lowke. Purchased for Bassett-Lowke by his father as a wedding present, the house had originally been constructed 100 years previously.

You don’t have to head for Northampton if you want to get a feel for the house, there’s a reproduction of part of the interior to be found in the Mackintosh House exhibition which can be found in the Hunterian Art Gallery. Note that the art gallery has free admission, but there is a charge for the Mackintosh House exhibition within.

Not sure if I have any pics from past visits (the exhibition was free for a while, many years ago, so I did visit quite a few times), but this video – really a collection of stills – gives a tour of the actual house itself.

The house had to be restored to its original condition (as redeveloped by Mackintosh, not as originally built) after the work was covered over by drab paint.

In it original finish, it was yellow, very yellow, and very bright.

Led by Jane Preston, great niece of W.J Bassett-Lowke.

29/11/2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Another Clutha story appears

Interesting to see the Clutha stories are still being spotted by the media, the last one was only seen a week ago. Another a month before that.

This one is more personal though.

It is five years since a helicopter came crashing down onto the Clutha pub in Glasgow killing 10 people. Here, one survivor recalls the night and the last conversation she had with her partner who died.

Mary Kavanagh has suffered many sleepless nights since the Clutha helicopter crash.

For the last five years the grandmother has been wracked with survivor’s guilt, after losing partner Robert Jenkins in the tragedy.

“Some nights I just couldn’t shut my eyes because I didn’t know what would go through my head,” said Mary.

“When I pictured the pub I saw Munch’s Scream faces coming towards me, bodiless.”

Marking the fifth anniversary of the crash, Mary told how Robert promised to buy a drink at the bar – the last words she heard from him on 29 November 2013.

After the police helicopter plunged through the bar’s roof, Mary escaped from the venue by grabbing hold of a stranger’s coat and following them to the door.

Clutha survivor: ‘Going back to pub helped my recovery’

I’m never sure about returning to such places.

I’ve had lesser incidents happen to me on streets I had to return to, and while they were nowhere near the magnitude of that incident (but still reasonably traumatic for me), and while I no longer find this disturbing, there is a degree of recall I can’t shake off.

It would be nice to forget, but it doesn’t seem to happen, even if the memory fades.

Clutha Tributes

Clutha Tributes


Ann Faulds was pinned against the wall of The Clutha bar when she heard voices calling to check she was alive.

Dust and debris filled the venue moments after a police helicopter plunged through the roof on 9 November, 2013, obscuring her way out.

“I was three feet away from where the helicopter hit, it’s a miracle I’m here,” she said.

Regaining composure, Ann followed the voices that guided her through gaps in the wreckage, and eventually escaped.

He could have saved me

Five years on, Ann has now met Michael Byrne – a fellow survivor who ran back into the bar to help those left behind.

Having heard his story for the first time, Ann realises Michael could have been one of the brave souls who led her to safety.

Clutha survivor meets rescuer five years on

29/11/2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: