It’s a shame that so many people are ready to cast scorn on any initiatives proposed by Glasgow City Council out of hand, without the slightest consideration of their merit. Granted, the council has suffered (and in some cases still does) from the possible existence of ‘Ego Projects’ at the behest of some councillors, but such dismissal is probably as bad as those wayward proposals.
I know, I used to be a member of a forum that enjoyed attacking the council regardless – but then I realised this was just mindless hate on the members’ part, and left.
I’m sure they’ll be having a little ‘hate orgy’ this week, and dancing around burning copies of the Glasgow City Council’s draft strategy and public consultation documents for the improvement of some 90 lanes within the city centre.
That would be a mistake.
While I was initially sceptical after seeing stories about the strategy in the media, actually looking at the detail for myself revealed a sensibly researched review and proposal within this strategy, and one which I hope will eventually come to be financed and adopted.
In fact, the strategy runs to some 90+ pages in a well presented document:
I’m familiar with many of Glasgow’s lanes (and seldom venture into them, and certainly not in the dark), and those that come to mind at first are not appropriate for the plan, being the back of many business, or access to their services. They also suffer from one of our good/bad ideas – giant wheelie bins for their waste. Admittedly better than the piles of black bags and waste, they still take up space, and can ‘go walkies’ since few lanes are level – I used to work near West Regent Lane for example. As can be seen, it’s needed for access, and the lane surface is old, failing, and on an incline.
Similar, but not on an incline, is Renfield Lane, but it has a fine crop of business related wheelie bins:
These are NOT the lanes of the plan, although it suggests that improving their condition would still make for a better, cleaner environment, provide improved access, and help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
In fact, taking the time to look at the proposals without an ant-council bias shows the selection of a small number of lanes in areas where they could be developed as attractions, and turned into public spaces with shops, restaurants and bars.
This has happened in other areas of the city, and those lanes have become favourites with both locals and visitors.
With this in mind, it’s now worth reading the media coverage:
Various hassles are getting in the way of blog entries, but I had to stop for a moment and capture this bit of Glasgow City Council silliness.
There’s a piece of road in Ardgay Street that is no longer actually road since it was converted into Sandyhills Park (back in the late 1970s, I think), so it’s only used by pedestrian.
It’s falling apart, and is better described as a collection of holes than either footpath or road, and has been breaking up for years.
This morning, on my way for the train,I passed a guy shovelling tarmac into one of the holes and another running a petrol-powered tamper over it.
When I went passed again on my way back home in the evening – the team had filled ONE hole, and left.
A pointless and futile effort, as there is at least a dozen (or more) remaining, and the whole area is breaking up as cars, vans, and lorries turn here in order to stop at the nearby shop.
It’s hard to see the extent of the holes in the pic below, they don’t show up well, but you can see the single patch on the right.
Crazy, pointless, and really just a waste of effort, material, and money, as the turning traffic will soon break the patch up.
Although it will not be the first council to convert its street lighting to LED (light-emitting diode), Glasgow City Council is the first to take advantage of a new scheme from the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank (GIB), the first of its kind in the world, set up in November 2012 with £3.8 billion of UK government money to help the UK move to a greener economy. GIB has already invested £75 million in energy projects. The scheme means that the council will receive the cash needed for the replacements upfront, but pays back over time as the savings materialise.
GLASGOW has become the first local authority in the UK to sign up for a new green loan to finance the switch to eco-friendly street lighting.
An upgrade of the city’s network of 72,000 ageing sodium lamps is predicted to slash energy bills by around two-thirds and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 45,387 tonnes.
Street lighting in the city costs around £8.5 million a year to run and is responsible for about 16 per cent of Glasgow’s spend on power.
Now councillors hope most of the outdated lights will be replaced with energy-saving LED (light-emitting diode) versions by the end of 2015, ahead of the 200th anniversary in 2018 of municipal lighting coming to Glasgow.
The outlay for installing the first 10,000 new lamps is estimated to be £8.6m, but the new technology is forecast to save the city £8.9m over 18 years.
Maintenance costs will also be lower as the modern lamps are expected to burn for 15 to 20 years, which is up to six times longer than the lifespan of standard sodium bulbs currently in use.
Not only will the change save money, it will benefit skywatchers and astronomers in the surrounding countryside, as LED lighting sends more light down to the ground and less to the sky – that which does go upwards arises mostly from ground reflection. Almost 100% of the light goes downward, unlike conventional street lights which can easily send a third of their output into the night sky, causing light pollution.
The new lights can pay for themselves within 5 to 15 years, depending on where and how they are used, and their expected useful life is at least 40 years.
LED street lighting is already here
A number of councils have already introduced LED street lighting. There’s some in Fife, and Dumfries & Galloway was an early user of the technology, in order to look after the Dark Sky award it achieved.
More noticeably, LED lighting has been used in all the new builds and new installations I’ve seen being built around the east end, particularly in places like the newest industrial estates and footpaths that surround them.
Negative reaction – roll on the naysayers
I’m not quite sure why this (and other similar announcements elsewhere) seem to bring out the naysayers, but a look at the comment sections (where provided) after these stories reveals a lot of negative reaction to LED lighting.
I don’t intend to analyse or refute it in detail (or argue with anyone who makes the same comments here), but observe that most of them quote reports, surveys, and analyses that are years if not decades out of dare. LED technology has advanced rapidly since around 2008 or so, when the once dull white LED started to make inroads as its efficiency increased, but even those devices are now ‘old’.
Others are pointing at cheap LED lighting being sold on the domestic market, poorly or badly designed and manufactured), and citing its poor life and illumination performance as if it was representative of reputable (and admittedly more expensive) hardware.
Just as bad are those I refer to as ‘half-baked scientists’, who selectively quote specifications and irrelevant parameters as they trash the technology, and spread misinformation that those who are not trained then pick up and repeat, as if it was honest and accurate research.
However, I’d also note that this is very new technology, being widely adopted very early in its life cycle, so there will be problems.
Back in the days of CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), I spent a fortune on some very high output lamps from a very reputable manufacturer – and was bitten because they all failed early in their life. But the net effect was still positive – despite the loss on initial purchase cost, I saved electricity while they were in use, and the massive hike in energy prices over the past few years meant I saved overall. Apart from those four (and some dubious little imports), I’ve had none of the problems that the naysayers promised me for using CFLs.
Seriously – just IGNORE the naysers.
I have no idea what their agenda is, or if they are just Luddites, but they’re not even worth listening to.
It’s rather hard for me to grasp the concept of the Burrell Collection having been in place for 30 years. I won’t even try and guesstimate how long I think it’s been around, but if I had been asked, I would have been well short of the real answer (until I had looked up the relevant date.)
It’s on the ‘wrong’ side’ of Glasgow for me. Although I’ve looked at the public transport option, it seems to involve so many changes that I never considered it realistic as I’d have been knackered (all hot and bothered and thoroughly fed by the time I got there – and still had the return trip to look forward to) by the time I got there.
While I could not even try to count the number of times I’ve fallen through the doors of Kelvingrove, I’m afraid my visits to the Burrell would probably need the fingers of only one hand, and not all of them.
I confess that the charge for the car park put me off, as the collection itself has not admission charge. And the problem was not the amount charged, but that there seemed to be nothing in return. On the few occasions I did visit, the car park was unstaffed (ticket machines took my money), and the high point of each visit was seeing the police attend as the locals seemed to see the cars as their own ‘Smash & Carry’ takeaways, which must have ruined the day for those who were targeted to have their windows smashed. At least I knew well enough to empty mine, and leave nothing on show, not even the car radio (removable).
I haven’t been there for some years now, so don’t know if the car park is still the same.
But the car park is not the collection, and that is still something to celebrate.
The Burrell is said to attract in excess of 200,000 visitors per annum. A good number, but I can’t think a more accessible location would see more feet through the door – but on the other hand, the building and its location were given specific conditions as part of Burrell’s bequest of his collection to the Glasgow, so I can only make that a personal observation and thought.
The building (which was A listed not too long ago) is due to close for some 4 years come 2016, in order to allow refurbishment to take place. The new works will ultimately allow an increase in the number of items which can be displayed.
it is hoped that items from the collection will be allowed to go on a World Tour while the building is closed, however there is some controversy associated with this proposal. Understandably, at the time of the original bequest, one of the conditions laid down by Burrell was that items would not be loaned, as he feared they would be damaged in transit. Clearly, transport has come a long way since then, and such items are now routinely moved without harm, so permission is being sought at Parliamentary level in order to modify the terms. The hope being that by circulating items from the collection, it will become better known throughout the World, leading to even more visitors to the collection proper.
They certainly have the space (and more after the refurb) as the building had appeared almost deserted on the occasions I did visit.
While I’ve generally withdrawn from public criticism of the insanity known as the Commonwealth Games 2014 – the reason for that is simply to avoid being associated with any of the truly vitriolic and offensive anti-Games sites that have been set up – some of the pandering to this waste of money for a few élite just can’t go without mention.
The latest imposition on the citizens of Glasgow is a four-month embargo on road works – lest we delay any of the élite as they try to make their way around.
Road works will be suspended for four months leading up to the start of the ‘fun’:
An agreement between the city council and major utility firms will mean that as many as 4,000 projects will be brought forward or delayed to ensure minimal disruption to the Games.
However, the announcement has raised concerns that “a frenzy of works” will result in major congestion issues as the deadline for the suspension of works approaches.
Roadworks such as resurfacing and general improvements will also be halted for the duration of the Games within restricted areas.
A report on the plan states: “To complement the [transport] plan and to ensure the free flow of traffic, cyclists and pedestrians on our road networks throughout Games time, it is proposed to introduce an embargo on disruptive roadworks from April 22 until August 5.
“These restrictions will apply to the Games Route Network, other key arterial routes within the city and to areas surrounding venues and live sites. The embargo will apply to all works planned by statutory undertakers and developers.”
Apparently we are supposed to believe this is no different from the run up to things such as Christmas. I just checked this tester I borrowed:
I’m not going to go searching, but I seem to recall the same council telling us that road works generally came to an end some time around October, and did not restart until spring, so it’s kind of had to give any credibility to a statement that this ludicrous suspension of road work for the games is in any way similar to any works suspension for the Christmas period.
The roads are falling apart, road users are already being taken for mugs as Road Tax (by whatever name) was killed off years ago, and VED (vehicle excise duty) just goes into the Treasury pot with no ring-fencing.
The people of Glasgow have been promised a Lasting Legacy from the Commonwealth Games – now we know what it will be – even more decrepit roads than we had before the Shames.
This embargo will put road works back not months, but years, as contractors wrangle over who is responsible for subsequent delays, and additional damage resulting from even more repairs being delayed.
I suppose the really sad thing about this is… the roads are so bad and the work is so far behind, this embargo and delay will not actually make any difference.
I’m surprised the cyclists have not already set up a campaign to have this decision reversed
Five year study
The first results of a five year survey which will gauge the impact (they call it “success of the games”, language which seem to suggest they have already decided what the result will be) of this nonsense were published recently, and will form the baseline for study.
Not too sure how cleverly the population has been chosen in order to ensure a positive result, but the sample does seem to have been carefully engineered. Academics from Glasgow University spoke to 1,015 householders, and the study to evaluate the Scottish government’s Legacy 2014 programme covered Parkhead, Bridgeton, Calton, Camlachie, Dalmarnock and Gallowgate.
I will be looking out for this survey over the next five years, and adding articles spotted to this Blog for later comparison.
While I couldn’t resist the inevitable poke at Glasgow City Council’s traditional habits last time round, I’ll keep my ‘funny bone’ in check this time round.
It’s true that when shipping magnate Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) made his original bequest to his city of Glasgow, and gifted his massive collection to city, transport of anything fragile was a risky business, and if anyone should know just how risky it was, Sir William should have, given his description as a shipping magnate.
One condition of the bequest was that his prized artworks and historical artefacts would not be loaned overseas, for fear of damage during transport.
In all fairness, transportation of such items has come a long way since Sir William’s day, and the chances of such damage occurring are slight when carried out properly – as might be expected in the case of Burrell artefacts.
It seems that some 30 or so requests for loan items are being turned down annually, in line with the terms of the bequest. A figure that could grow if the terms can be varied.
However, it also seems that items in the collection are parts of larger sets that were broken up many years ago, as they were acquired by Burrell, and by being able to share such items, it will be possible for such parted items to be brought together and displayed as a whole, which would be a bonus for all concerned. Think of it as a two-way exchange, as we could not only loan our items, but ask for others to be loaned to us. Something that is hard to do when you are unable to return the favour.
It’s hard to see how the Bill could fail reasonably, unless someone can make a case of the “Bequest being the bequest” and written in stone, never to be altered.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that what is on show at any given time is only a fraction of the total collection, with much of the content being held in storage, and out of sight.
Glasgow City Council rewrites bequest and Burrell Collection gets set for World tour when building closes for refurbishment
While I don’t subscribe to the general drivel that some promote regarding the behaviour of Glasgow City Council, it’s sadly true that the council does take advantage of its position to get its own way against the wishes of others.
Case in point, the famous Burrell Collection, and the wishes of shipping magnate Sir William Burrell (1861-1958), who made the bequest to his city on condition that his prized artworks and historical artefacts were not loaned overseas, for fear of damage during transport.
Glasgow City Council recently approved the promotion of a Private Bill in the Scottish Parliament to change the terms of the original bequest – the decision to tour some items belonging to the collection had to be passed by law as it went against the terms of the original bequest.
Apparently, Sir William was unable to attend the reading of the Bill, and contribute to the debate.
It was argued that a tour would reaffirm the collection’s status as one of the most important in the world but also help with public fundraising efforts toward the cost of the refurbishment.
The museum is set to close from 2016 to 2020, when many of its 8,000 exhibits going on a World tour now that the bequest terms have been overturned, or “relaxed” to use the council’s terminology.
I’ve taken the opportunity to slot in some pics that show the interior as it appears now, and we can maybe have a look again after it reopens, and see how things compare – I’m hoping for good things.
I hope they do something with the restaurant. In the flesh, it looks as if they just threw some tables and chairs along the window space, as nothing ties it together with the serving area, and if memory serves me correctly (haven’t been able to get back for some time) the lifts spill into the same area, so I don’t think it was originally thought out.
The Burrell Renaissance group has been formed to advise on aspects such as the display of items as well as developing a fundraising programme, and will be chaired by former National Galleries chairman Sir Angus Grossart.
The present museum building immediately gained recognition as a superb home for the collection, set in a uniquely beautiful setting.
But the building has been there since 1983, and is now in need of renovation, and the work is seen as an opportunity to create new gallery space, allowing more items to be displayed.
This seems reasonable, as a visit to the museum presents the visitor with a display that is undeniably extremely spacious, but shows only a fraction of the collection, when more could be made available. I know my second visit, when I had more time to reflect on what I was looking at, had me wondering about the remainder of the collection.
It’s interesting to note the comments of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, a former ambassador to the US and head of the Foreign Office,who has also been appointed to the Group and said he hopes the project will increase the collection’s international profile:
I believe the Burrell Collection is Scotland’s special secret and it’s high time for it to be more widely shared.
When I was ambassador in Washington I was shocked to find that so few in the States had heard of it, though the collection is comparable to the famous Frick in New York, and should attract comparable crowds.
I’m proud to be associated with the imaginative Renaissance plan, an initiative of which Glasgow can be justly proud.
This doesn’t surprise me, as I can think of few instances where I have come across mentions of the collection, or seen it figure in lists of well-known attractions.
One of the original features of the building was the incorporation of some of the features into the architecture of the structure, which meant that some of the larger artefacts could be accommodated in a way that led to their re-use:
Lest I be slotted into any sort of “anti-tour protest group” or suchlike, then I should add that this is not the reason for my opening gripe, which is really intended only to mark Glasgow City Council in my “Little Black Book”, with a documented instance of it not only doing as it wished, regardless of someone else’s wish, but of the extent to which it will go to in order to achieve that end.
In fact, the idea of a World Tour is an obvious means of gaining publicity for the Burrell, and I would hope that in the time since the bequest was made, we have the means and methods available to carry out such an event with little or no danger to the artefacts, and hope there is no story in 2020 about damage.
These days, I’m actually more concerned over the likelihood that artefacts will go missing.
And, the last shots we dug up showed the interior, and give and idea of the setting, with wide glass window that open onto the greenery of the surrounding.
The £15 million facelift (or revamp if you prefer), has been approved by Glasgow City Council, hopefully putting the nail in the 6 coffins holding the daft proposals that were presented for makeovers, and silencing the whining noise in the corner (the architects that won the contest to have one of those 6 proposals chosen, but was then jilted when Glasgow City Council saw sense, and dropped the lot in light of comments made by Glasgow’s citizens).
While the 6 designs proposals may – or may not – have been very nice, all of them suffered from lacking any grasp of reality regarding Scotland’s weather, and the heritage of the square. Within a few years, I am pretty sure they would have looked very tired, and been an endless source of maintenance costs.
That process is said to have a cost to taxpayers of £100 k, and of £200 k to the applicants. Apparently the applicants are not happy, but nobody forced them to take part, and whatever happened, 5 of them would not have been happy, so in reality, all that has happened is that one more is not happy, making 6 rather than 5… big deal (not) – and that extra one threw his toys out of his pram.
If you have the time, it’s interesting to follow the links to other sites (given in the news stories referenced below) with active members commenting on the process.
Because it’s rather amusing to see that they initially contained many negative comments regarding the 6 proposals, and suggestions that things in the square should be restored with more grass, and the statues in place, with near universal condemnation of the red ‘tarmac’ and calls for something to cover it up so it no longer offended the eye.
Now, would you believe that the same sites now have comments which largely complain about “Not much being done” in response to this approval.
Has someone else already coined the phrase “You can’t win”.
No radical redesign
On Thursday, Glasgow City Council agreed that the makeover of the civic space should occur in two stages, before and after the Commonwealth Games is held in 2014.
Under the plan, the red tarmac that is currently in place at the square will be removed and “a grey, surface treatment, using Epoxy Resin” will replace it.
The council hopes the first phase of the revamp will be completed by September this year, while it will also involve cleaning the statues in the square, installing new lighting and introducing two new grass beds at the site.
Councillors heard this first stage will cost around £500,000, while the second phase that will include further landscaping works and lighting improvements, would cost around £14.5m and further details of it will be presented to councillors this autumn.
Council leader Gordon Matheson told the executive committee meeting on Thursday that there will be a “possible public consultation” on the second phase works after the 2014 Games, although a report before councillors stated it would not include a “radical redesign” of the space.
A plan for the promised facelift of George Square is due for review and approval by Glasgow Council this week.
There’s no mention of any involvement by the architects who were so upset after they won the competition (the STV story does not give any indication as to who is responsible for the new plans), but were dumped when it was clear the people didn’t want the radical changes any of the entries had proposed, despite the architect claiming to have support. The designs – all probably more appropriate for Continental Europe rather than soggy Scotland – were dumped in favour of a facelift, and a degree of restoration of George Square to the way it used to be, when the people were quite happy with it.
Following a botched design competition in January, it was announced the square would undergo a substantial facelift rather than a controversial redevelopment.
The first image of how the civic space could look was released on Saturday, ahead of a report on the first stage of the redesign going to the council’s Executive Committee on Thursday.
Leader of Glasgow City Council Councillor Gordon Matheson said: “The people of Glasgow were very vocal throughout the design competition that they did not want a radical redesign of the square.
“They wanted the statues to remain, the grass to stay and the red tarmac to go. We listened to their views and have responded.
“Work will begin on phase one of the redeveloped square in July and is scheduled to run until September.
“The two grass beds on the western side of the square will be returned, ensuring a greener square at the heart of our city.”
“We are introducing feature lighting to the statues, the Cenotaph and trees within the square.”
A grey surface treatment using epoxy resin, which will replace the current red tarmac, is said to be extremely hard-wearing in icy conditions and should achieve a notable improvement in the appearance of the square.
To honour Glasgow’s fallen firefighters, the Firefighters’ Heritage Trail has been created to tell the stories of some of the people and places that have played an important part in the history of firefighting in Glasgow.
12 memorial plaques have been set into the city’s pavement to mark the sites where firefighters lost their lives.
Also, a number of sites have been identified which are of special interest to the history of the fire service in Glasgow.
The trail spans 140 years beginning with the Queens Court fire of 1832, to a fire in Maryhill Road in 1972, which was the last time firefighters perished while tackling a burning building in the city of Glasgow. It was funded with £54,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by Glasgow City Council.
Sites on the Trail:
- Queens Court
- Royal Exchange Square
- Renfield Street
- Hunter Street
- Miller Street/Argyle Street
- Graham Square Gallowgate
- Prince’s Dock
- Cumberland Place
- Hope Street
- Deanston Drive
- Kilbirnie Street
- Maryhill Road
- Cheapside Street
- Glasgow’s Historic Fire Stations
Click here to download a copy of The Firefighters’ Heritage Trail map
Click here to download a copy of The Firefighters’ Heritage Trail guide
By coincidence, I happened to spot the recently opened training centre for the emergency services, in Cambuslang, which may help reduce the chances of any more lives being lost in this way:
Coming just days after the collection made it into the news following the suggestion that Sir William Burrell’s bequest terms of ‘No transport for fear of damage’ be set aside at the behest of Glasgow City Council, and that the collection be sent on a world tour while repairs are carried out to the museum building, comes news of the building itself being granted category A listed building status.
The grant was made by Historic Scotland as the building reached its 30th birthday on the basis that it represents a masterpiece example of design from the 1970’s – the museum was completed and opened within the setting of the city’s Pollok Country Park in 1983, at a cost of some £16.5 million, and followed a 13 year path for its design and build.
The Burrell Collection housed within (literally, since some parts are architectural features incorporated into the fabric of the building) now attracts some 200,000 visitors every year, and comprises a collection of some 8,000 objects of art, paintings, and pieces of furniture which shipping magnate Sir William Burrell amassed over the years, and left to the care of the city of Glasgow after his death – with a number of conditions to be met. These included the provision of a suitable home for the artefacts, with a protective environment which would guard them from the horrendous pollution which then covered the city in Burrell’s time. The coal-fired industrial revolution was then completely unregulated, and both the city and the land were slowly turning black under a pall of soot which was pouring forth endlessly from all the chimneys and steam engines driving the Victorian industrial revolution. Burrell wanted his treasure protected from that black poison. And there was also the aforementioned restriction on allowing the exhibits to travel, as he feared such journeys would lead to the items being damaged while in transit.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:
The Burrell Collection is one of Glasgow and Scotland’s most impressive buildings of its period. This is a fantastic building that not only houses the internationally renowned collection of art and antiquities from across the world but is itself a masterpiece of structural design.
Category A status is the highest level of architectural protection given to buildings, and makes up about 8% of 47,600 listings in Scotland. It is awarded to buildings which Historic Scotland determine have “national or international importance, either architectural or historic.
Further information: Burrell Collection