Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Interesting plan seeks to make Pollok Country park frendlier for visitors

I didn’t realise that I wasn’t alone in thinking that Pollok Country Park wasn’t particularly visitor friendly or even well-organised with regard to its layout, and that observations about its roads and less than optimal internal allocation of space for cars/pedestrians/cyclists have been noted by others.

I’ve cycled out there two or three times, but the place is so unfriendly that (under its current layout at least) I don’t really want to repeat the trip. Unlike a number of parks I’ve visited throughout Glasgow, Pollok just isn’t fun to cycle around.

The good news is that I spotted an article which suggests this is not just my imagination, and has been noted by people who are involved in reorganising the park and its roads with a view to improving the current problems.

The Transforming Pollok Country Park Project aims to make major improvements at the showpiece greenspace — Glasgow’s largest park — ready for an expected increase in visitors when The Burrell Collection re-opens in early 2021 after a multi-million pound transformation.

Documents produced as part of consultation over the changes state that “[uncontrolled car parking] impacts upon visitor experience and safety, and diminishes the importance of the park as a green space for leisure and nature conservation.

“The overall vision of the project is to deliver a high quality green space within the city which is accessible to all. Through various landscaping installations and points of interest along the route, people will be encouraged to walk to attractions and enjoy the park’s diverse mix of green space.”

The large number of vehicles parking on main routes restricts other park users and emergency access. Cycle routes are blocked by parked cars, and vehicles regularly restrict access to pedestrian routes.

The statements continue: “During peak periods and events, the lack of controlled parking results in long delays for visitors both entering and exiting the park by car or coach.

“To ensure the proposed park infrastructure can operate effectively, it is necessary to implement a managed parking solution to prevent unrestricted parking throughout the site.

“The key principle of the redesigned access and reorientation strategy is to reduce traffic and unrestricted parking in the centre of the park by implementing an active travel management plan.”

A new 280-space perimeter car park with lighting will be constructed on the former red blaes gravel pitches at Nether Pollok, near the Haggs Road entrance. The Burrell Collection car park will be kept as will the Riverside car park next to Pollok House.

However all car parks will operate as pay and display. There will be no free parking outwith Blue Badge spaces. The level of charge has not been finalised although initial proposals are £2 for four hours and £3 for all day.

ACTIVE Travel Plan For Pollok Country Park Includes Charges For All Car Parks

That said, I find the wording somewhat biased, seeming to me to place ALL the blame on cars.

Blame (if there is such a thing to be allocated) should be shared between the people who cause the problem – the planners, and those who chose to park inconsiderately, maybe even those who have successfully attracted more visitors to the park, while neglecting to cater for the increased numbers.

I didn’t think there was much car parking inside the park, but I think that’s down to me seeing them empty due to the times I was there, and the only one I ever parked in was for the Burrell, and that always had charging in place – even if there was no security or staff in attendance, and each time I parked there I returned to my own car to see the police in attendance at cars which had been broken into.

Burrell Collection Building Works

Burrell Collection Building Works

12/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Vacant and derelict land IS being reclaimed, and historic buildings ARE being saved

What a difference a decade or two can make. Seriously.

It doesn’t seem that long ago I was swept up with the crowd of baying hounds that were the (very) negative critics of what I (as an apolitical type) will refer to merely as NOT the current Glasgow City Council. The attitude of what I’ll refer to simply as ‘My Forum Buddies’ was so derogatory that I had to leave, for fear of being associated with some of the more outrageous claims they made.

I won’t repeat any of the slurs levelled at named councillors back then, suffice to say it was alarming as a concerned outsider to see how many claims of ‘dubious’ business connections and interests appeared to be backed up by records dug up by moles.

There was also endless criticism of what then appeared to be near zero efforts to do anything about derelict land or buildings, or the alarming incidence with which building blocking up developments seems to suffer from the mysterious effect of spontaneous combustion.

Consigning that to history, archives, and documents that may be accessible via FoI inquiries nowadays, while I suspect the people who think there is some sort of ‘Magic Pot’ out there, full of money to pour over such land and buildings and stop the rot, will NEVER be satisfied, there now exist various department who are actively pursuing efforts to restore such land and buildings to service, and, unlike the zero budget situation faced some 15 years ago, there are now funding routes available to them.

Back then, organisation tasked with looking at such things had budgets that allowed them to investigate, record, classify, and recommend (or even issue enforcements), there was no access or organisation of any sort of funds which would allow work or purchases to be made.

Things really do look better today, 10-15 on from the days when there was a lot of looking, but no touching.

Two stories which just appeared together give a better idea of what is happening now, after years of apparent inaction, changes are being made.

Firstly, land:

SIXTY-four hectares of vacant and derelict land was returned to productive use in Glasgow last year — the equivalent of 90 full-sized football pitches.

This amounted to a 6.4 per cent reduction, from 1,069 to 1,005 hectares. These figures compared with reductions between 2016 and 2017 of 3.9 per cent and 42 hectares. It was the eighth year in a row that progress has been made.

There was also a cut in the number of vacant and derelict sites, from 761 to 721. Most of the city’s vacant and derelict land is in the north and east of the city.

Two-thirds of the land brought back into use was developed for residential purposes, with other uses including transport, recreation and leisure.

Nearly half — 349 — of the remaining sites are owned by the council. The council has drawn up a Vacant and Derelict Land Assets Plan as it prepares to make use of the land in the coming years.

Glasgow City Council will spend a £3.5million Scottish Government funding allocation on potential treatment and/or investigation of over 37 hectares in this financial year.

INCREASE In Amount Of Derelict Glasgow Land Brought Back Into Use

It goes on to list a number of proposals together with amounts – the amounts are not huge, but note my observation that the figure used to be ZERO.

Secondly, buildings.

I’ve already mentioned development at Buchanan Wharf, where two historic building (the only two left when development began, I think) remained standing, although decaying and largely unoccupied. It would have been easy for the developer to press for permission to demolish the derelicts, but that didn’t happen, and the developer has taken control of them, and will be remedying their condition, and reusing them.

RUNDOWN Grade A-listed premises in Glasgow City Centre could be set for a new lease of life.

The Campbell building at 71-75 Robertson Street, is mainly disused and appears on Scotland’s Buildings At Risk Register. The five-storey structure, which dates from 1901, was designed by architect J A Campbell.

It is beside the site of a proposed 14-storey office development in Argyle Street, the plans for which have been adjusted to allow sightlines of the Campbell building.

During discussion of the Argyle Street proposal at Glasgow’s planning applications committee senior planning officer Blair Greenock stated: “There is interest in the Campbell building.

“There is a gap side behind it which is likely to take a companion piece so, whilst confidential, we are discussing the reuse of that building.

“One would hope this investment [the Argyle Street office] would be a catalyst for that.”

To address concern that it might be deteriorating beyond repair, he said: “We are in dialogue with the owners. There was a previous listed building repairs notice served on one of the owners.

FUTURE Looking Brighter For Historic Glasgow Building Of National Importance

The eternal Naysayers would have us (you) believe that there is no concern for Glasgow’s older buildings, especially if derelict.

It’s true many are, or have been razed over the years.

But it’s also true (now that we see more detail reported) that many of those were in poor condition, possibly for years, and maybe even since the day they were built (shoddily).

You can’t keep EVERY old building, not can you please EVERY Naysayer, but you can, and should, investigate each case and decide on merit.

See, for example, the Buildings at Risk Register (not available years ago) now online for all to see, and trying to gain attention for those which could be available.

This Really IS NOT the Glasgow of two decades ago, where some claimed there was no problem getting access to a tasty site blocked by a derelcit, provided you had a box of matches.

These are the buildings on the Buchanan Wharf site, and also The Monteith.

Clyde Place Buildings Kingston House

Clyde Place Buildings Kingston House – Beco Building behind


The Monteith

The Monteith – converted from hostel to flats

Both sit in the midst of land which has lain derelict and vacant for years, but which was taken over for redevelopment for a mix of business and housing recently, and would have been easy to clear and raze completely, rather than have the existing building retained, repaired (or had conversions made over the past decades reversed), and then redeveloped as part of the redevelopment of the area.

Another very recent example is 50 Argyle Street, said to be beyond saving due to deterioration after being surveyed years ago, and recommend for demolition as the only option, recent re-inspection (and I suspect revised methods and techniques which are now available as options), have led to this building being part of new development which will retain the structure.

Apparently that scaffolding, added to allow horrible adverts to be hung from the structure, allowed inspectors access they couldn’t get during earlier surveyors, and let them carry out a more detailed inspection of areas they couldn’t get to otherwise.

50 Argyle Street B

50 Argyle Street B

30/08/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Interesting – Was the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce based on my thoughts?

Just for fun, I thought I’d ask that question in the post title after seeing a news article about the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce.

In this recent post: Derelict Meadowpark Street up for development I suggested:

This is the sort of site that developers should be tackling, which had buildings in place, but for whatever reason have been razed, then left derelict.

I really don’t understand why (although I obviously don’t know the details of individual locations such as this, or the costs associated with them) developers seem to find the need to go after sites with existing buildings on them, which can attract local hostility with news of demolition in advance of new build.

If I was in the fortunate position of being able to commission builds, I’d run around and snatch all the gap sites such as this if they were available.

So, it was intriguing to see this:

Derelict land in urban areas could be used to create the next generation of allotments or city farms to increase local provision of fresh food, a report by a new taskforce has recommended.

Gap sites are described as a “persistent challenge” in Scotland but experts believe that bringing them back into use could help tackle social inequalities.

Derelict land in Scotland could be used for new generation of allotments

The article’s worth a little read, as it goes some way to explaining the puzzle I posed in my original post, as to why these sites are not picked up.

It seems it’s really just down to their having become ‘invisible’.

Having lain unused for so long, developers just can’t ‘see’ them, and go looking for something new, in the (probably mistaken) belief that a new site will be better than an old site.

It seems to me that is an ideal opportunity for one of those sessions I recommend when it becomes obvious those involved in making decision have lost all contact with Common Sense, and they need someone to take hold of them and bang their head together (literary, or figuratively, whichever works) to wake them up, and get their brains started.

Somebody really should – it might stop things like this being created.

A lovely flat piece of ground that has been like that since the locals were made ‘most annoyed’ as their Community Hub was razed to make way for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It hasn’t been used for anything, and their hub was forcibly installed in an annexe to the Emirates Arena.

After all that, it was almost closed down as Flagship 2014 Commonwealth Games ‘Legacy’ sinks

Dalmarnock Community Hub Site

Former Dalmarnock Community Hub Site

We’ll see if the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce comes up with anything in the months and years to come, or if it just fades away.

While I detect a will for change, I also see many projects which suggest, to me at least, that those behind them are still too keen to see something ‘New’, rather than something ‘Reused’.

They’re far too keen to be ‘First’ on a virgin site, and it’s almost as if they see not being first as some sort of ‘Second Class’ or downmarket stigma.

21/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Metro – Where did that come from?

(The answer’s in the linked articles.)

I’ll be honest and say I ran away from all forms of public transport as soon as I could, having spent much of my early life forced into using it – for example, a four year stretch of depending on the ‘Green Bus’ that got me into and out of Glasgow every day. Today, I have no idea why I had to use that rather than a Corporation bus, but there must have been a reason.

I first came across a metro system during the time our company had an office in Durham, which meant trips there, and Newcastle, and Beamish Museum.

Having tried driving and parking around the city, when I notice publicity for the metro, and was staying in a hotel not far from a connection, curiosity enticed me into giving it a try. I ended up impressed, and using it on a number of return visits.

A number of features made it attractive, not least of which being that it actually worked!

It had ‘Park & Ride’, so I could leave my car at the point where I arrived, outside the city, so no time wasted looking for somewhere to park.

Tickets came from a machine, took only a few seconds to set up and pay for, and were valid for the whole day, unlimited trips, so no need for detailed planning so long as you stayed within the zone you paid for.

Trains/buses/coaches were integrated, so you just jumped on and off whatever suited, and your ticket was valid for all.

I wonder if it still exists? After the office was closed after a few years, I never had much reason to get back.

I realise some aspects mentioned are common now, but this was years ago, before smart phones and contactless systems.

The Glasgow system appears, in summary at least, to be realistic, and based on actual analysis, as opposed to endless whining heard from naysayers who still think, for example, that buses run the same way they did some thirty years ago, but I suspect are people who have never actually been on a bus in that time. Their method of commenting on proposals is to look at their belly button fluff, and repeat whatever it tells them.

I’m reasonably sure I’d win a bet that said the haters will be out with their knives sharpened, and the ‘People who like to say NO!’ will be planning parties.

The only downside I can see is that I’ll probably not be around when it arrives.

Oh well.

Glasgow needs a city-wide metro system to reconnect left-behind areas and boost the economy, according to a radical new blueprint.

The Glasgow Connectivity Commission wants about £10bn to be spent over the next 20 years on a range of measures to upgrade the city’s transport capacity.

It said the first new link should be to Glasgow Airport via Renfrew, Braehead and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Other tram or light rail lines should then be spread out across the city.

The commission, which was set up by Glasgow City Council 18 months ago, wants the metro network to revive abandoned rail routes, convert heavy rail to light rail and develop on-street trams.

The commission proposed:

  • Developing a Glasgow Metro to connect areas of the city poorly served by rail
  • Connecting Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations by a tunnel to increase capacity
  • Extend Glasgow Central station to the south of the Clyde to prepare for HS2 services
  • Developing plans for bus priority on Glasgow’s motorway network
  • Preparing for the shift to electric vehicles by considering new methods of road charging

CONNECTIVITY Commission Reveal Public Transport Vision For Glasgow

Radical blueprint calls for Glasgow metro

Glasgow-wide Metro system part of ‘radical’ new proposals to transform city transport

I would/will be impressed if I ever see the old Edinburgh Road looking anything like this concept view.

Edinburgh Road Metro Concept

Edinburgh Road Metro Concept

Ever since the traffic was taken off it years ago, I’ve thought it looks like the biggest waste of road space to be seen around Glasgow.

Having sat in nose-to-tail traffic jams on it in the past, if you were brave enough today you could probably just close your eyes and walk across it without looking, such is the low volume of traffic there now.

As a final thought…

Glasgow really HAS to do this, if only to show Edinburgh how a project like this SHOULD be done, after the tram fiasco it ‘enjoyed’ recently.

30/04/2019 Posted by | council, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Glasgow City Council initiative that makes sense?

I wonder what stage of denial the die-hard council haters of the 1980s might be reaching by now?

Apoplexy seems like a fair guess.

It was a great time to be around if you wanted to meet people who had an almost mindless and automatic reaction to anything that was proposed by Glasgow City Council – and was always much the same: “Somebody’s getting a back-hander”, or some similar reference to corruption, croneyism, or membership of some clique. The sad thing was that some of them could come up with some sort of, evidence is perhaps to strong a word, so let’s roll with justification instead.

Today, those same people carry on their same ranting and raving, but now from their wheelchairs and zimmer frames, and their ‘church’ is the Comment section of the few media sources that still let them spout their nonsense. They have no audience other than one another, and that’s the only place that gives them free space to ramble in.

The rest of us, those with open minds capable of accepting change an innovation are moving on from those old and dated views, carved in stone, and not for changing.

I recently took a little bit of a swipe at a policy of ‘Compulsory Sale’ (as opposed to ‘Compulsory Purchase’) proposed and being introduced by some as their great idea to solve the problem of derelict buildings and land. My issue with that as a ‘Magic Bullet’ to solve that problem is simply that if the places were such a bargain and opportunity in the first place, the there would be no need for compulsion. Buyers and sellers should be beating a path to one another’s doors – they’re not!

By way of contrast, I seem (worryingly, once again) to be looking at a Glasgow City Council strategy that makes sense, or at least more sense than anyone else’s so far.

Glasgow City Council today (7 February) approved a Property and Land Strategy which will guide how the council makes the best use of its substantial property and land estate, the biggest in the city. The possible relocation of council offices from the city centre to key regeneration areas across Glasgow is one action being considered through the strategy.

Councillor Kenny McLean, City Convener for Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm at Glasgow City Council, said: “Over the next decade, the adoption of the council’s Property and Land Strategy will mean our estate will be used more efficiently and effectively, with the people of Glasgow more closely involved and better served. The council will also have reduced costs in the years ahead, as well as the ability to raise capital receipts to help deliver improved public services in the city. The proper location of these services will aid the regeneration of neighbourhoods throughout Glasgow, and deliver real, inclusive economic growth.”

Council approves new strategy to make best use of its property and land estate

Now, I KNOW such statements are written by someone who has a job to make them sound good, but ignore that and read beneath the stuff that sounds too good, and there’s a plan in there that makes sense because it’s not based in fantasy, over-achieving, moving too fast, or depending on any single ‘Magic Bullet’ to fix everything.

In fact, the biggest problem I see is that it calls on others to work with the council to deliver a workable result.

And that depends on NOT running up against the sort of people from the 1980s who are only interested in seeing anything planned by the council being a failure. We can only hope there are not too many of them still left on their feet!

The announcement is a long read, but worth looking at properly, rather than dismissing out of hand, just because it’s ‘The Council’.

The council’s Property and Land Strategy, approved at today’s City Administration Committee, has five key objectives driving the approach to the use of, and investment in, its property and land estate between 2019 – 2022:

  • A more efficient, sustainable, smaller, and better quality estate;
  • An agile estate capable of meeting current and future service delivery needs;
  • Collaborating and co-locating with community planning partners, third sector organisations and city region partners;
  • Achieving cost reductions, increasing income and generating capital receipts; and
  • Embracing digital and technological innovation to reduce reliance on and improve the performance of the estate.

In order to achieve these objectives, a number of actions are being considered, including the relocation of city centre offices to support regeneration through the identification of suitable locations owned by the council or its partners in key regeneration districts, and planning for a phased withdrawal from these higher-cost city centre locations. Such action would reduce public costs and increase local employment opportunities in these districts.

If you don’t/won’t read it straight from the council, then try this article from local media:

Derelict buildings in Glasgow will be brought back to life as part of a 10-year initiative which is being implemented across the city.

Glasgow City Council will work with the community as they deliver facilities which are fit for purpose, protect the city’s heritage, re-use neglected land and empty buildings and open up ownership to the public and other bodies.

The local authority has issued a 10-year vision, as part of the property and land strategy, which strives to reimagine Glasgow as a world-class city, where everyone can benefit from a thriving and inclusive economy.

The aim is to get the best from Glasgow’s assets so they deliver value for money and generate income to ensure that essential front line services are protected.

Derelict buildings in Glasgow to be given new life

As someone who has wandered around Glasgow since not long after the millennium, taken quite few pics, wrote about quite a few buildings, and more recently been surprised to see that building plans being completed today were not random happenings, but a part of plans but in place up to 15 years ago, the time to be a dumb naysayer is gone.

Nothing’s perfect, and plans don’t happen overnight.

Nor do they work if those who should be involved refuse to cooperate because of nothing more than senseless opposition bases on some archaic belief, or dogma from the ‘Bad Old Days’.

With luck, 10 years might not be too long for me, so I’ll be watching this one, and looking out to see who might be responsible for any lack of cooperation, because it looks as it that’s something it needs.

I might as well use my pic of the Lion Chambers as well, since it is a unique, but sadly abandoned and derelict building.

A handy, and easy, one to watch, to see if it benefits from the strategy.

The Lion Chambers Hope Street

The Lion Chambers Hope Street

12/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Intriguing to see yet more plans to open up access to Glasgow’s parks

I must be too easy to keep happy since I can’t really find much to complain about regarding Glasgow’s many parks that I access regularly.

There are plenty of them, ranging from the biggies such as Victoria Park and Alexandra Park, all the way to the tinies, such as Sandyhills Park.

Even Tollcross Park is pretty good, if you ignore the aberration of a swimming pool venue dumped in it, and the Winter Garden glasshouse and visitor centre lying in ruins – but those are both quite different issues.

Our parks look set to take a step up…

A new vision to transform Glasgow parks enhancing them is expected to be approved by councillors.

The proposal Our Dear Green Place is part of the Open Space Strategy (OSS) strives to maintain and improve access to parks and greenspace across the city.

The OSS is the latest city-wide document, which was first discussed by the council last August, and sets out a strategic approach across all council services for open space development in Glasgow.

It is hoped a multi-agency network with the NHS, Greenspace Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and Police Scotland can work together to provide outdoor education and rehabilitation.

Following community consultation which revealed members of the public wanted communication to be improved between the local authority and greenspace groups, the council has drafted 22 steps to benefit these areas.

Results show residents think parks should be made more accessible, maintained better, the council should be supporting community events and encouraging the community to have their say on how they should be managed.

Plans to transform Glasgow parks and greenspaces to go before city council

I suggest they don’t beat themselves up so much, with statements such as “residents think parks should be made more accessible, maintained better“, which seem to be detached from reality.

Granted, I might only be looking mainly at ‘my’ parks, but, on the other hand, that means I’m looking at parks in the supposedly poverty-stricken and deprived east end of Glasgow, where we don’t get any special treatment, or any ‘favours’ (according to some).

As for access, I was more than a little impressed to find I could cycle from the east end to Victoria Park, almost exclusively on cycle routes, and once at the park was provided with an underpass so I didn’t have to cross an extremely busy main road to get to the park entrance.

All that said…

Anything that makes our parks even better – I’m not complaining!

I’d say things are better than many naysayers would like people to think they are.

Perhaps they need to look at how funds/effort are shared.

I bet Kelvingrove Park gets a LOT more spent on it than any park at my end of the city.

And that may be fair – if it is providing a return to a larger community. A lot happens there, while not a lot happens in ‘my’ parks. Perhaps the new plan will consider such things.

Click for bigger.

Kelvingrove Park Tidy

Kelvingrove Park Tidy

06/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , | Leave a comment

High Street area improvement plan sails through approval

I must admit to a certain amount of amazement that the improvement and regeneration plan proposed for the High Street area, mentioned only a couple of days ago, went through the approval process without any moaning, wailing, or objection from naysayers.

I feel so used to seeing SOME people whose sole function in life seems to be to simply say ‘NO!’ to even most obviously beneficial and advantageous proposals, I just expect them to pop up and delay everything and anything.

Happily, they must have been somewhere else (probably still up in Sutherland, working on more reasons to object to the proposed spaceport) and unable to attend the council meeting.

The High Street Area Strategy can be viewed online.

It will run from 2019 to 2023 and contains a range of ambitious proposals to support the area’s revitalisation.

Key actions include:

— Working with partner agencies to promote the preservation of built heritage

— Establishing a heritage trail to link the area’s visitor attractions and highlight historical points of interest

— Introducing a new “Meanwhile Space” initiative to bring vacant shop units into positive use

— Expanding the “Independent Retail Fund” to support shopfront improvements

— Exploring more opportunities for quality public space and active travel

In response to concerns raised by local traders during the consultation process, City Property will also implement a moratorium on rent increases for its tenants in the upper High Street and Saltmarket areas, as well as improving its tenant engagement with local businesses.

STRATEGY To Revitalise High Street/Saltmarket Gets Go-Ahead

Plan to revitalise Glasgow’s historic High Street given green light

I’m still amazed/impressed/fascinated to think that I noticed this problem with the area long before this plan was proposed (I have referred to it, albeit casually, in this blog in the past).

The demarcation line formed by the High Street (and through Saltmarket) is a glaring feature if, like me, you have to walk across it every time you walk into Glasgow and the city centre.

That said, there isn’t really anything to the east of most of that line (accepting things like Glasgow Green and the now emaciated Barras area along Gallowgate), it’s mostly housing, with a few sparse shops below the tenements in Duke Street.

What I think the project will have to concentrate on is that demarcation line, as the shops and features along it are not well served, especially along its eastern edge, while the western side is not really much better. It was once kind of busy, but as the shops there closed or became run down, things just deteriorated further, and the ‘zone of abandonment’ has been slowly creeping further west, especially in recent years.

We recently lost the charity shop devoted to supporting the Britannia Panopticon, ironically closed due to increasing costs.

Hopefully the hint at a moratorium on rent increase will help those still there to stay there, and make it easier for other to join them.

Middle zone.

Britannia Panopticon Charity Shop Closed

Britannia Panopticon Charity Shop Closed

Top zone.

High Street Mural

High Street Mural

Bottom zone (OK, Saltmarket).



02/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

High Street improvement plan set for council review

I spotted news of plans to revive the stagnated area bounded by Glasgow’s High Street a while ago.

I found that interesting as I’ve always thought it was a shame that much of this area just feels ‘dead’ as I walk through it.

While there are a few interesting spots, there’s little to attract visitors (or even tourists) there, and non-locals are unlikely to just wander there for a look.

Now, “The High Street corridor, from the Cathedral to the Clyde, should be a vibrant and recognised district in its own right”.

The High Street Area Strategy (HSAS) was drawn up from a public consultation on High Street and the Saltmarket, with the council asking residents and businesses how best to regenerate the area.

It follows years of debate on the city’s medieval quarter – home to 6,000 people and including attractions like the Barras, Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Green, the Necropolis, Provand’s Lordship and the Tolbooth Steeple – being “left to ruin”.

If approved, the HSAS promises to ‘better promote the area’s rich history and built heritage, support small businesses and the local economy and enhance the public realm’.

The aim is to put those tourist attractions and independent shops and traders, artists’ studios, bars and restaurants in the spotlight for years to come, and if it goes ahead the strategy will run from 2019 to 2023.

Quoted in the plan, Councillor Angus Millar, deputy city convener for economic growth, said: “As the oldest part of Glasgow, the High Street area has played a leading role in the story of our city. But there has long been a feeling that the area has not been given the attention and recognition it deserves. This strategy aims to address those concerns.

Plan to ‘breathe new life’ into Glasgow’s historic High Street to go before city council

Echoing my own observations, they say “In recent years, too often the High Street has been treated as a boundary, at the fringes of both the city centre and the east end”.

I’ll be watching for reports of their findings on the plan – despite the sadly politically motivated negative criticisms levelled at Glasgow City Council, it actually does a pretty good job of these things, provided you leave your political luggage at the door, and actually read their analysis and ruling on application such as this.

As I noted in the first post, hitting High Street when either arriving in the city from the east, or leaving in that direction, really is just like crossing a boundary – vibrant to its west, and dead to its east.



Looking towards High Street from Saltmarket makes a handy reference.

To the left (west) is the city centre and lots of activity.

But, take only a few steps to the right (east), and you will find yourself in quiet, deserted streets, with no shops or other reasons to be there.

To be fair, Glasgow Green is just to the right of this particular spot, but that doesn’t mean anything as you go north towards High Street itself.

Then there’s The Barras (market) but as locals will know, this is really a shadow of its former self these days.

The rest is either open ground, or residential.

30/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

What’s wrong with the Forth hovercraft planning refusal?

Ship wreckI tend to stay away from council related stories nowadays. Too many look more like mindless ‘council-bashing’ than reasoned analysis – and I found myself falling into that very trap once, and decided to walk away unless something really didn’t stack.

The story of Edinburgh City Council’s refusal of planning permission for a project to introduce a hovercraft service to the Forth seems to be odd enough for me to risk breaking cover, and mentioning.

The service would connect Kirkcaldy and Portobello, and we noted the testing carried out back in 2008: Forth hovercraft could be floating away, when it was reported that a trial service operated in 2007 had attracted some 32,000 passengers, and near complete approval rendering it “an unqualified success”.

Despite this, and the fact that permission for a terminal at Fife has been granted, Edinburgh’s council has torpedoed the project.

Even stranger is the report of continued wide support from potential users for the service, that Fife councillors have been prepared to criticise the Edinburgh councillors’ decision, and that the support transport partnership SEStran (South East Scotland Transport Partnership, Travel Planning & Strategy) was also snubbed.

The project has, or had, been actively pursued for at least four years (since 2007 but would no doubt have been conceived earlier), but unless something surprising happens, is now dead, as the company behind the service has post patience, and said there will not be an appeal:

Stagecoach Group chief executive Sir Brian Souter said: “This has been a long and painful process. We are completely scunnered and have no intention of appealing against the planning decision.”


Stagecoach said it continues to support a proposed passenger ferry between Burntisland, Fife and Granton, Edinburgh. Stagecoach said it was prepared to put £7m into the project in a joint venture with Bland Group.

BBC News – Council ‘kills off’ hovercraft plan for Firth of Forth

Souter ‘scunnered’ as council rejects Forth hovercraft plan | Edinburgh and East | STV News

(The pic’s a shipwreck – royalty free pics of wrecked hovercraft are as easy to find as hen’s teeth!)

10/12/2011 Posted by | Civilian, council, Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Heating oil crisis?

Oil drum barrelIt looks as if heating oil became a source of panic and crisis over the recent cold spell, and it looks as if there were two causes. What seems to be less clear is whether or not there had to be.

We used to have oil-fired central heating, then the price of oil went up… and it had to go. In its heyday, we consumed the contents of a 600 gallon tank (600 UK gallons = 2,728 litres) such that we had to have it filled twice a year, sometimes maybe three times. That doesn’t mean we emptied it every time, rather we never allowed it to reach a level such that we were not ready for winter, and some crisis in supply.

I think it’s maybe called something like ‘Planning ahead’, or ‘Accepting responsibility for yourself’, or maybe even both.

Regardless, we understood we were not on any sort of fixed supply line like gas or electricity that was not down to us to maintain, and recognised that we were responsible for having heating oil in place, with a contingency in reserve. If we froze, then there was only one party responsible, and all we had to do was look in the mirror to find out who.

That’s why I have little or no sympathy for those referred to in this report about heating oil. To use one of the words of the complainants, the only ‘outrageous’ thing I can see it that they seem to expect sympathy for either for failing to plan for their own security, or have tried to play at price brinkmanship with the suppliers, and got caught out.

In any event, had they not all waited until the last minute, there would have been no ‘shortage’, or need for the Scottish Government to describe deliveries totalling 1.8 million litres that arrived by ship to Inverness and Aberdeen on December 20 as ‘vital’.

I guarantee they won’t learn, and there will be a new batch of non-planners and price-gamblers ready to provide another ‘oil crisis’ headline next year.


More serious in deserving of sympathy are those who find themselves affected by theft. They didn’t have a choice – and since they must have had enough oil in their tanks to make it worth stealing, are also the ones who acted responsibly and were ready for the cold.

Thefts of heating oil from properties in parts of the Highlands rose during the prolonged period of bad weather last year, police have said.

In a report, Northern Constabulary said domestic oil tanks may also have been targeted because of the current financial climate.

Thefts were reported in Ross and Cromarty and Lochaber.

They have done nothing wrong, but find themselves without oil and heating when they need it most, thanks to the attention of the lowest rubbish that we have to share space with, and are happy to indulge in potentially life-threatening crimes simply for their own personal gain. I doubt any of the thefts were for personal use.

Thinking back, our tank would probably have been relatively safe from such an attack. Being large, it was made from substantial steel plate, and was plumbed in to a remote filling point (so could not be back-syphoned. Even full, it made a noise like thunder of bumped. I can think of a couple of way it could have been stolen from, but these could also have been secured fairly simply.

Modern tanks seem to particularly vulnerable. They are smaller and lighter, and seem to have more vulnerable fittings. There also seems to be a tendency to fit them closer to the road for easy access, to make things easier for the delivery driver. Unfortunately, that makes it easier for anyone to get to.

We didn’t realise how glad we were to see our oil-fired system go when we could replace it with gas. For one thing, it was more reliable, cleaner, and didn’t smell, and it was only after a year or two we came to realise that the old system has been the source of an extremely fine black soot that was barely noticeable, but had been coating everything for years.

< a title=”BBC News – Heating oil prices: Your stories” href=”” target=”_blank”>BBC News – Heating oil prices: Your stories</a>

25/01/2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The lost projects of 2009

I suppose I could write this blog entry every year, but this seem to be the first time I’ve consciously had to make the decision to forget numerous ideas that I had set to one side, intending to pick them up in a few days or weeks time, after dealing with more important matters.

Some have lapsed simply because they weren’t particularly interesting, or well thought out, so had little future, and this is something to be expected. With staff, these can be farmed out together with orders and instructions for their completion, but when there’s only one of you, that’s not an option.

There is an upside, and in many cases the subject is not time dependent, and can be resurrected at some later date, and maybe even receive better treatment, as new information becomes available.

On the downside, developments may overtake things, as happened in the following example, where the CCTV explosion meant that an article which began with, at most, a few dozen subjects (the cameras), ended up with well over a hundred, and simply became impractical.

A case in point

One in particular has stuck with me, because it was a bit of a favourite I had been looking forward to completing, but the sheer amount of time needed to complete it meant it became impractical and would never be seen. However,  the reason for its demise is still worth thinking about (for a few minutes, at least).

As I walk to and fro from the two main shopping centres I use, I had come to notice that the number of CCTV cameras had steadily grown, and included both public and private installations, and these contained various qualities of camera, from the cheap and cheerful, to the fully automated pan, tilt, and zoom types. The original plan had just been to collect pics of all the cameras on the route – a total of some seven or eight miles – and post them all online in the order they were encountered, together with any relevant notes.

This started out on a fairly casual basis over a period of weeks, and became extended when I realised that it was easy to miss one camera while studying another, and I found I had to repeat the exercise a few times in order to mop up those that had been missed on earlier walks. This was the fatal flaw, and over that time I found that not only were cameras being added, others were being removed, so I was aiming at a moving target.

The real killer was when I sat down one evening and flicked through the collection in order to see how the cameras could best be picked out and displayed, and how many of them merited some sort of comment. After the revisits and updates, I found that the number of pics had passed the one hundred mark, and many of these contained more than one camera if a commercial site had been picture. Had I been merely uploading to pics to something like Flickr then there would have been little problem, but also little explanation along with the pics. When I did the math, and worked out the time to edit the pics for use, correct the exposure in cases where the cameras were mounted in places with poor lighting, assembled them into some sort of relevant order, added text, error-checked, proof-read, etc, etc, etc, this turned into a mini-marathon, and i could have written a book in the time this exercise would have taken to complete.

So, it’s never going to happen, but on the other hand, I do have a fairly complete collection of all the CCTV cameras on the main road through the east end of Glasgow, as seen in 2009.

One of the surprises encountered during the exercise was the disappearance of the rather interesting camera pictured below. This one was notable because it used two separate cameras modules within the one body. For some reason, I could never get a sharp picture of this one, which needed x15 zoom even to catch the detail shown, and even this is cropped from a much larger original. My camera would variously refuse to lock focus, lock but focus poorly (as seen here), and on one occasion insisted on steaming up every time I held it (but it was the middle of winter on that day). After getting home on numerous occasion to find the pic next to useless, I thought this one was jinxed, and I would never capture it.

Clydebridge CCTV camera

These cameras came in various combinations for security use, generally having a low-light or infra-red camera combined with a normal black and white, or colour model, among the various options. Without more detail available, I’m guessing the area around the lenses looks like an infra-red illuminator, to assist with night use. I was going to try something better to get a closer look, but as it’s gone now, that won’t happen.

11/06/2010 Posted by | Lost, Site News | , , , | Leave a comment

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