Secret Scotland

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Goodbye Buteman – Hello Isle of Bute News

I wish I was a good enough judge of popular opinion to make a forecast I had any faith in regarding the chances of a weekly newspaper which is being launched in the wake of the Isle of Bute’s incumbent ceasing publication.

I’ve already committed to my opinion that The Buteman was doomed from the day of its last takeover, and not having a local, let alone an island presence.

Although I wasn’t a resident of the area, I did follow the online version of the Dunoon Observer as I’d spent so much time over the years with Argyle and Bute as my favourite ‘holiday playground’, and the two publications allowed me to keep in touch with many of the local features I’d come to know well, and appreciate.

In fact, I used to read all the Clyde coast, or resort papers provided online.

Sad to say, I gave them all up a few years ago – they all belong to the same publisher, and they all began to feature reports on crime, drugs, and violence.

It was all too depressing.

Like the Buteman, I’m afraid the Observer suffered badly when it was taken over. The online format changed, and ultimately became practically useless, as it moved to a subscription model. Not being a resident, just an interested party, meant it simply wasn’t worth paying just to satisfy my curiosity.

As noted below, there still won’t be an island presence.

Newpapers are struggling to find working, effective, models.

I’m afraid I don’t hold out much hope for another startup, suspect that it will not make critical mass, either from subs, ads, or reader numbers. It might run for a while on nostalgia, or curiosity, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on its longeveity.

A new weekly newspaper for Bute is to launch next week, a week after the island’s previous local paper announced it was to cease production.

The Buteman will publish its final edition later this month after its circulation dropped to below 550.

But Argyll Media, the publishers of the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard, announced the launch of new title The Isle of Bute News on Friday.

The first edition will be published on Friday 21 June.

Dunoon Observer and Isle of Bute News editor Gordon Neish said: “We are all sorry to see The Buteman will no longer be published, as the people of Bute deserve a newspaper to be their voice, and to keep them informed of what is going on, both on and around the island.

“I have thought for some time that as Bute and Cowal are physically so close to each other and have so much in common, such as a council area committee, health board – and even sports teams, that a newspaper covering both areas would be ideal.

New weekly newspaper for Isle of Bute

For what it’s worth, I’d have thought the way to go would have been to add a section to the existing Dunoon Observer, especially with no dedicated island presence.

I know the idea wouldn’t have been popular, at least not to start with, but if persevered with, I believe could have proven itself, and without the overhead of being a new, stand-alone, publication.

Just my rambling.

I’ll be interested to see how this goes, if I’m around for long enough.

A reminder of the ‘good old days’ – a Bute car sticker that gave me a real surprise the day I spotted it in Glasgow some years ago.

Bute car sticker

Bute car sticker

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14/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

There’s a surprise (said nobody) as The Buteman ceases publication

The Buteman, founded in 1854, will publish its final edition on 21 June 2019.

The opening para of the article probably says enough:

A weekly newspaper that has been serving an island community for 165 years is to close after a fall in readership.

The Buteman will publish its final edition later this month after its circulation dropped to below 550.

Owners JPI Media confirmed the closure of the paper but did not make any further comment.

It is understood the decision will be explained to readers in next week’s edition.

No jobs will be lost as a result of The Buteman’s closure.

Its sole reporter and its editor are both based in Edinburgh where they work for other titles in the group.

The weekly, which was first published in December 1854, had recently launched a plea for readers to help fill its pages with “local stories”.

The Buteman weekly newspaper to close after 165 years

I’m not sure when the paper was taken over, but the most notable point to me (as a mere visitor to Bute) was the closure of the local office, confirmed in the line “Its sole reporter and its editor are both based in Edinburgh where they work for other titles in the group.”

It was probably hard enough keeping the paper going when it was owned and run locally.

Taking it out of context and turning into a part-time job was probably the death stroke.

I have to confess to always being on the ferry home when I remembered I’d forgotten to buy a copy while I was on the island – except on one rare occasion. That copy will be a collector’s gem now, and is quite old, so will have just jumped up in value!

I used to read the online version.

Until it was taken over by JPI, after which it completely lost its identity.

Previously, I could find local stories and archived material on the original Buteman web site.

Once it had been taken over that site was purged and the information lost, and The Buteman just became a clone of all the other titles in the group.

It didn’t even retain a unique identity.

A few headline stories from Bute would head the list of articles, then they just ran on into stories from the rest of the UK with no apparent differentiation.

I just gave up and stopped even looking.

I was slightly amazed that it ultimately lasted as long as it did after the takeover.

If the new owners had dumped it after a few months, I would not have been even a little surprised.

Intriguing to see the BBC and STV don’t quite agree on how long The Buteman was published – 1854 to to 2019 is (I’ll let you do that one).

The Buteman newspaper to shut down after 164 years

Wonder if anyone got this job advertised back in 2017?

Buteman reporter wanted 2017

Buteman reporter wanted 2017

I wonder if it would still be going to be around had it not been part of the earlier takeovers?

Could it have been kept going if it had stayed small and local?

I always worry when little businesses become part of bigger businesses (as opposed to growing naturally, or accepting that their size is their size, and just getting on with what they have).

05/06/2019 Posted by | Lost | | 1 Comment

Window madness on the Isle of Bute

Cat window breakI seem to have been following this story – and its variants – regarding replacement windows, the council, listing (as in ‘listed building’), planning permission, and appeals for years.

And I have, as a quick search of the archives on this subject goes back to 2008, which probably means it started some time before then, and that is just when it began to hit the media.

At its simplest, the saga revolves around heritage legislation and the need for planning permission to be granted by the council before work can legally be carried out to modify a listed building. This leaves Bute hotel owners (and others) who want to upgrade their properties with uPVC double glazing (or any other modern window type) with a problem, as they can find that listing means they are obliged to replace like with like. In other word, if the building came with single glazed wooden frames, then that is what they must fit if replaced old worn out windows.

The same rules apply to any owners with listed properties, even private home owners.

The situation has become one of stalemate, with the owners reluctant to fit old style wooden frames, as they wish to upgrade their facilities to make the rooms quieter and warmer for their guests, but the council is standing by the rules and refusing planning permission for the newer and more efficient window, despite repeated applications, and even an appeal to the Scottish Government (also rejected).

There seems to be no way forward, even though the owners have the support of their neighbours, and a number of residents in favour of the new windows, the council appears unwilling to compromise.

Now, an online petition has been organised, together with a paper petition being made available in local businesses:

Bute House Hotel

We, the undersigned, disagree with the decision of Argyll and Bute Council to refuse planning permission for the installation of double-glazed UPVC windows at the Bute House Hotel in Rothesay. Following the Scottish Government’s dismissal of an appeal against refusal, we call on Argyll and Bute Council to reconsider its decision and to work without delay towards a solution which will address the urgent need for quality hotel accommodation on Bute, and be of benefit to the economy of the island.

Petition Bute House Hotel

Web site: Bute House Hotel

See also: Petition urges Bute House Hotel rethink – The Buteman

If you visit The Buteman’s web site, and just insert the word ‘windows’ into the Search Box which appears at the top right of their page, then you will be given a listing of the many stories which have appeared in that publication over the past few years.

Bute House Hotel can be seen below, and is the narrow white building on the right, on the corner of Rothesay’s Guildford Square, just inland of the harbour on the left edge of the pic, as captured by Zak’s Photo Galleries at pbase.com during October 2013.

Update

A response from the council appear later, published in The Buteman and available online:

‘We understand planning frustration’, says councillor – The Buteman

Argyll and Bute Council has apparently gone power mad

At the same time, a local builder working on a private home, which is NOT listed and therefore presumably NOT covered by the rules attached to that status:

John Morrison installed the windows in the property at 19 Battery Place last year, but has now been told Argyll and Bute Council will seek to take action against him unless the windows are removed.

Mr Morrison has hit out at council planning officials’ attitude towards conservation in Rothesay, pointing out that permission was retrospectively approved for UPVC windows at a neighbouring C-listed property in Battery Place – even though Mr Morrison’s own building has no listed status at all.

Council threatens Rothesay builder with action over UPVC windows – The Buteman

While the case of the hotel has to be resolved within the scope of the relevant rules and regulations which apply to listing, the action being taken against the owner of a property which does not fall under this category clearly shows that the personnel within Argyll and Bute Council are not competent to discharge the duties for which they are responsible, and need to be subject to some sort of audit and review which holds them accountable for their actions.

13/02/2014 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Appeal for memories of Rothesay Pavilion

Rothesay Pavilion, overlooking the bay and located at the west end of the town on the Isle of Bute, dates back to 1935, when the local council announced a competition to find a design for a new attraction in the form of a pavilion to occupy the site it had purchased in the town’s Argyle Street. 24 entries were received, and the winner was JA Carrick of J & JA Carrick of Ayr. The building was recognised for its heritage value in 2005, when Historic Scotland upgraded its listing to that of a Category A Listed Building.

Argyll and Bute Council has since worked with The Prince’s Regeneration Trust on the Rothesay Pavilion restoration project, and in 2012, the pavilion benefited from a grant of £500,000 from Historic Scotland’s Building Repair Grants fund, as one of 16 buildings across Scotland which received a share of the available £4,061,535 fund.

Opened on July 1, 1938, the Pavilion sees its 75th anniversary in 2013, and the island’s newspaper, The Buteman,  is planning to publish an article on the building’s history in the next issue of its sister title, Back In The Day. Due to be published just before the anniversary date, the paper has launched an appeal for any readers with memories of working, playing, or dancing in the landmark building:

If you have especially vivid memories of a particular concert or event at the Pavilion, if you have fond (or even not-so-fond!) recollections of working there, or if the building played a big part in any unusual or memorable events in your life, please let us know. You can call our news room on (01700) 502503, or you can get in touch by email by clicking on Craig Borland’s name…

Via Appeal for Rothesay Pavilion memories – Community News – The Buteman

email news@buteman.com

We noted its 70th anniversary in 2008, but nobody was celebrating then, and various problems were causing a decline its use as a venue.

But, in the following years the building’s significance has led to better things, with both grants and plans are appearing to refurbish the building and save it from decay.

Last November, it was announced that this had resulted in the first stage of securing some £2.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and this month saw an announcement  that the project had been given ‘stage one’ development funding of £103,000, to be used to work up a bid for the larger ‘stage two’ award.

See the full gallery of Zak’s pics Pavilion pics over the years at:

Rothesay Pavilion Photo Gallery by Rothesay at pbase.com

25/05/2013 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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