Scotland Ten Years Ago - and Now
- June 2002 - June 2012
BackgroundThe Scottish Snippets (which began in 1997) was published regularly and covered a wide range of items of news and Scottish culture. After over 590 issues of these Scottish Snippet, the newsletter had to be brought to an end - though it is still kept alive with a newsletter on additions to the Rampant Scotland site which are sent to subscribers every couple of weeks. I often refer to the back issues of the Scottish Snippets to check on news items that were covered and it is surprising to see how many of the issues are still relevant today! So here are selected items from ten years ago for the month of June 2002 - with an additional comment from today's perspective. It is surprising how some things never change - and also how things have developed ten years later!
Royal Bank Commemorative Note (2002)From time to time, The Royal Bank of Scotland issues special commemorative banknotes - they began in 1992 when the European Summit Conference of heads of state was held in Edinburgh. They also issued a special £20 note to mark the 100th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The opportunity offered by the Queen's Golden Jubilee was too good to miss, so a new £5 note was issued this week. Two million notes have been printed with a date of 6 February 2002, the actual anniversary of the day of succession to the throne. The back of the note has, at the centre of the design, two hand-engraved portraits of the Queen. One shows her as she appears at the time of the coronation and the second depicts a recent day image in a less formal style. At the top right of the note is an engraving of the Rose Window from Westminster Abbey, the place of the coronation. The pattern in the border to the left of the portraits is composed of elements based on the Order of the Thistle. Whether by accident or design, the note does not designate the Queen as "Elizabeth II" - a bone of contention with nationalists who say that as Scotland never had a Queen Elizabeth I, the present Queen should be designated as "Elizabeth I" or "Elizabeth, Queen of Scots." And the Royal Bank scored another victory - the serial numbers don't rub off - unlike the new Bank of England £5 notes which were issued this week and then had to be withdrawn.
Royal Bank Commemorative Note (2012)Ten years on and it's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this time. Lots of events to mark the occasion around the country, including nearly a 1,000 boats sailing up the Thames in London with the Queen's barge leading the procession. Royal Bank of Scotland (now with the UK government as its largest shareholder to save it from the meltdown of the financial crisis) has issued another commemorative banknote - this time a £10 note instead of £5... See Commemorative £10 Bank Note.
Storm Over Cairngorms National Park (2002)The proposed area of the national park to be created around the Cairngorms mountain range was published this week and immediately created a storm. The plans outline an area which is half of the size originally discussed and excludes the Angus glens and the southern part of the Cairngorms within Perthshire. Unlike the Loch Lomond and Trossachs Park, which opens in June 2002, responsibility for the future planning process for the park is to be split between the park authority and all the local councils - a recipe for disaster. The park will stretch from Granton-on-Spey in the north to Glenshee in the south, taking in Ballater in the east and Kingussie in the west. Campaigners said that excluding a third of the high mountains in the area was like "taking out the first three holes of the Old Course at St Andrews and ploughing up half the fairway."
Cairngorms National Park Extended (2012)
In 2008 it was announced that the Cairngorms National Park would be extended to take in Blair Atholl and Spittal of Glenshee. Then in 2010 the Park was extended further into Highland Perthshire and Glenshee. The total area of the park is now 4,528 square kilometres (1,748 sq miles). Even before the expansion, it covered a larger area than any other national park in Britain.
Crack of Doom Sounds for Kirk (2002)The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, conducting their annual meeting this week in Edinburgh, has agreed to set up a "task force for change" to reverse decades of declining membership and its worsening financial predicament. The 800-strong General assembly was told that the church's reserves had fallen from £32 million to £25 million and membership is declining by 15,000 to 19,000 a year and at that rate it will cease to exist by 2050. There is also a problem of minister recruitment - over the five years from 2000 to 2004, 211 ministers will retire but the number of candidates in training totals just 96. There are already 163 vacancies at churches around Scotland. To help recruitment, the Assembly approved an increase in ministers' pay which will cost the church £1 million a year.
Church Membership Continues to Decline (2012)Communicants in 2010 stood at 445,646, a far cry from the 1,319,574 of 1956, the peak year following the amalgamation of the Church of Scotland and part of the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929. The number of new members joining each year has dropped by nearly 80% since 1981. The Church also faces a £5.7 million deficit, and the costly upkeep of many older ecclesiastical buildings. In response the church has decided to 'prune to grow', reducing ministry provision plans from 1234 to 1000 funded posts supported by a variety of voluntary and part time ministries. At the same time the number of candidates accepted for full time ministry has reduced from 24 (2005) to 8 (2009), threatening viability of the Kirk's theological training colleges.
Flagship Music Store Closes (2002)US giant Tower Records has closed its flagship store in Glasgow's Argyle Street. It had been battling with rival stores HMV and Virgin as well as online sales of CDs. Last September, as a result of continued losses, it closed two-thirds of the store and reduced staffing levels in a bid to stay in business. But the lack of choice meant that many customers went instead to the larger outlets.
HMV Struggles Against Online Sales (2012)In 2007 a management buy-out team named Zavvi purchased Virgin Records from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. At that time it was the UK's largest independent entertainment retailer but was placed in administration in December 2008. HMV took over some of the Zavvi outlets and it is now the largest High Street music retailer in the UK. It has had a number of takeover offers but has rejected them, saying that they undervalued the company. HMV reported a sharp fall in sales for the Christmas period in 2011. The HMV group reiterated concerns about its ability to trade in its current form and it may be forced to sell its live music business in an effort to cut its £160m debt burden.
£60 Million Investment in Scottish Airports (2002)Responding to mounting criticism about excessive landing charges at Scottish airports and the lack of direct international flights, the British Airports Authority (which operates Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in Scotland) has announced that it has earmarked £50 million over the next five years to attract more direct international air services to and from Scotland. More discounts will be offered on airport charges and support will be given on marketing.
BAA To Sell Edinburgh Airport (2012)
After a long inquiry, the UK Competition Commission decided that BAA's ownership of so many airports was anti-competitive and ordered the company to sell Gatwick and Stansted near London (while continuing to operate Heathrow) and one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh (while carrying on owning Aberdeen Airport as well). BAA announced that it would sell Edinburgh instead of Glasgow and in April 2012 it was announced that the airport is to be sold by BAA to the owner of Gatwick and City airports for £807.2m. BAA, of which Spanish company Ferrovial is a major shareholder, operates six UK airports including Heathrow and Southampton.
Forth Wonder of the World (2002)It used to be that painting the 112-year-old Forth Rail Bridge was a never-ending task - as soon as the painters got to one end, they went back to the beginning and started again. Railtrack, the company currently responsible for maintaining the bridge, decided that using modern paints would allow them to cut back on the constant maintenance. But the company they hired to do the job ran well behind schedule and were sacked at the end of 1999. It has taken Railtrack over two years to appoint a new contractor - construction giant Balfour Beatty. Using paints developed for the North Sea oil rigs, which are expected to last for 20 years, it will take several years and 10,000 litres of paint to cover the 589,743 square feet of surface which makes up this distinctive bridge.
Forth Bridge Painting Completed At Last (2012)After 10 years and at a cost of over £130 million, the scaffolding which has covered parts of the bridge was finally removed by the end of 2011 - amid claims that the painting work had finished "ahead of schedule". A team of 220 men have applied a triple layer of new glass flake epoxy paint, similar to that used in the offshore oil industry. It means that the bridge will not need painting again for 25 years, bringing to an end the expression "like painting the Forth Bridge" to describe a never-ending job, which takes so long that when you have finished, it is time to start again.
More Delays for Glasgow Tower (2002)
A series of problems, first of all with the lifts and now with faulty bearings, have resulted in the Glasgow Tower being closed for half the time since it opened in June 2001. The latest problem to the 400ft high tower, beside the Glasgow Science Centre, should have been fixed over four weeks ago. But specialist engineers are not available to jack up the 500 tonne structure to allow examination of the special bearing (which is the size of a motor car tyre). It is thought that water has leaked in to corrode the bearing, causing the structure to sink by half an inch.
Glasgow Tower Closed Yet Again (2012)The closure noted above in 2002 lasted from February 2002 to August 2004. Then in January 2005, ten people were trapped in the lifts and the rescue took over five hours to complete. Following that incident, the tower did not re-open until December 21, 2006. But in August 2010 the tower closed again due to "technical issues stemming from its original design" and is not expected to open again until 2012 at the earliest (still closed in June 2012). The Glasgow Tower holds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest tower in the world in which the whole structure is capable of rotating 360 degrees. The entire wewight of the tower (500 tinnes) rests on one bearing 65 centimetres (less than 26 inches). The tower has only been open for 25% of the time since it was built in 2001.
Plan to Ban Solo Motorists from Fast Lane (2002)
It is a mystery to all except politicians why the main road linking Edinburgh with Glasgow, the busiest road in Scotland, is not all of motorway standard by now. A notorious stretch of the A8 does have two lanes in each direction, with a central crash barrier, but there is no hard shoulder, slip roads are minimal and there is no restriction on the type of vehicle - cyclists can use the road, if they dare. At last, the government is looking at upgrading the bottleneck section to a six-lane motorway (don't get excited, that's three in each direction) but they are considering making the fast lane restricted at rush hours to cars with two or more on board, in order to encourage car sharing. In England, where multiple-occupancy lanes have been introduced, solo drivers are given £40 fines and three penalty points on their licence if they use the restricted lanes. Of course, when the new stretch of motorway is built, it will revert to two lanes not far from Glasgow - as in this picture.
Upgrade of A8 to Motorway Standard Nearer (2012)Plans to upgrade the motorway network in central Scotland will cost £415m. The upgrade, which was given the go-ahead in December 2010, includes the six-mile "missing link" on the M8 in North Lanarkshire. Construction work is due to start in 2013 and is expected to be completed by 2017 (that's "only" 15 years after the announcement that the Scottish government was looking at the upgrade). The threat to limit the use of the fast lane to cars with multiple occupancy at rush hours doesn't seem to have progressed.
Rolls-Royce Choose Inchinnan (2002)The favoured location for a new £85 million Rolls-Royce aero-engine production facility is a site at Inchinnan, which has been derelict for 25 years. But there are objections by local businesses and residents. The company have been looking for a site to replace their ageing Linwood plant for two years and the new 50,000 square metre plant will safeguard the jobs of 1,000 workers. But formal objections have been lodged by software company Graham Technology, Scotland's largest privately-owned indigenous software provider, which has invested £10 million converting a Grade A-listed Art Deco building (pictured here) to create a sophisticated sales and marketing environment for their head office. They claim that the proposed Rolls-Royce plant will be only 150 metres from their futuristic building and that it will cut them off from the rest of the local business park.
Rolls Royce Factory at Inchinnan Opened in 2004 (2012)The Rolls Royce Inchinnan factory opened in October 2004, close to Glasgow Airport. The factory manufactures aeroplane engine components and employs 1200 workers.
Granary Ground to Dust (2002)The Meadowside Granary, which has been a landmark on the banks of the river Clyde near Partick, is being reduced to rubble to make way for the new "Glasgow Harbour" development which will include 2,500 new homes, an entertainment centre, hotel, nightclubs, restaurants, theatre and cinema. But before that happens, one of the largest brick-built buildings in Europe will create 80,000 cubic metres of debris which will be ground down to dust and then recycled for use by the construction industry.
Glasgow Harbour Project (2012)The Glasgow Harbour Project, by the Clyde Port Authority at the former Meadowside Granary, Yorkhill Quay and confluence of the River Kelvin in Partick, has consisted of high rise residential accommodation and the construction of a riverside walkway. The project includes high-rise apartment towers, including a 23-storey, 134 metres (440 ft) residential block. The new Museum of Transport opened on the site in 2011.
Petrol Price War (2002)Supermarket chains across Scotland have sparked a price war by cutting the cost of petrol (gas in some parts of the world) by up to 25p a gallon, resulting in the lowest prices for some time. In recent months, petrol prices have been slowly rising, so this move by the supermarkets was welcomed by motorists. In some cases, though, customers have to spend large amounts in the store to obtain discount vouchers for petrol. A spokesman for the Petrol Retailers Association predicted that there would be a general price drop by the end of July from the current level of 74.9p a litre to 70p.
Petrol Prices Rise to £1.40 per litre (2012)World petroleum prices have soared in recent years, particularly in the UK where government taxation is heavy. Although prices recently fell back a little, a litre of petrol has been costing over £1.35 (of which government taxation accounts for over 60%), while diesel has been even higher. That converts to nearly US$10 per US gallon...
Five Year Upgrade for Glasgow Zoo (2002)The zoo at Calderpark in Glasgow has been struggling to survive for some years. But now they hope to improve their finances by the sale of land to a housing developer. The zoo will contract in size as a result, but it is claimed that there will still be big cats, monkeys and other exotic species. Glasgow Zoo used to extend to 100 acres but will eventually shrink to 20 acres as more land is sold to developers to create the cash to upgrade the zoo to modern standards.
Glasgow Zoo Closed in 2003After failing to obtain planning permission for the housing development, Glasgow's zoo at Calderpark closed in 2003, due to declining visitor numbers and financial problems. Proposals some time later by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which owns the highly popular and successful Edinburgh Zoo, to create a £35 million Amazonian rain forest environment on the banks of the river Clyde in the east end of Glasgow never materialised.
Record Whisky Sales (2002)The sale of exports of whisky last year exceeded one billion bottles for the first time, according to figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association. The previous peak was in 1997 when exports fell just short of the billion bottles mark. Whisky was exported to 200 countries around the world. France was the biggest market by volume (154 million bottles) followed by Spain (137 million), USA (110 million) and Japan (70 million bottles). But the higher value malt whisky which is exported to Spain makes it the largest market by value, followed by USA and then France.
Whisky Sales Over £4 Billion (2012)The export of Scotch whisky rose by 23% last year reaching a total value of £4.23 billion. Sales to the US grew by 31% last year but the largest increase in sales was recorded in emerging markets for the drink such as Brazil (48 per cent), Singapore (44 per cent) and Taiwan (44.5 per cent).
Clydefast Ferry Delayed (2002)The first regular ferry service down the river Clyde for more than 30 years has been delayed until later this summer. And the Clydefast service from the centre of the city could be scuppered if a new bridge over the Clyde at Finnieston is not made higher or becomes a swing bridge (opening 18 times a day if the full potential of the ferry service is realised). The company hope that the new ferry will be fully operational before the city council give planning approval for the new bridge. Designers have already been looking at raising the bridge by a metre or so which would have allowed the original ferry to pass under. But the withdrawal of the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry service between Gourock and Dunoon has caused Clydefast to order bigger vessels with capacity of over 200 and these require even higher clearance.
Clydfast Ferry Going Nowhere (2012)After a trial on the river in 2008 the proposed ferry project seems to have sunk. Even the "Pride of the Clyde" - a former Amsterdam cruiser - which ran from the centre of Glasgow to Braehead stopped running on the Clyde when it was moved to Loch Katrine and renamed "Lady of the Lake" after the Sir Walter Scott novel of that name.
5,000 Jobs Safeguarded (2002)
The ministry of Defence has confirmed that the new Astute class nuclear-powered submarines will be based at the Faslane naval base on the Gare Loch, safeguarding 5,000 jobs. The first two batches of the new class of submarines, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, will be based at the Clyde naval base, rather than at the English port of Plymouth. The first of the new subs, HMS Astute, is due to come into service in three years' time with others to follow. With a planned life of 25 years, the decision commits the navy to its historic presence on the Clyde until after 2030.
Faslane Nuclear Submarine Would Close if Scotland Leaves UK (2012)Since the Scottish National Party (SNP) has a non-nuclear policy which applies not just to a ban on more nuclear power stations but also to nuclear weapons, Faslane has become an issue in the independence referendum debate as any the SNP government policy in an independent Scotland would be to close the down the Royal Navy's Faslane base which is the base for the UK's nuclear deterrent submarine fleet. Indeed, because of European Union competition regulations, Scotland could not be given any more preference for future orders by the Ministry of Defence.
Rangers Line Up Double-Header (2002)The season will get off to a cracking start for Rangers with friendly matches arranged against two giants of European football. AC Milan are to visit Ibrox on Sunday, July 28 and Leeds United, who had a successful run in Europe last season, will arrive on Wednesday, 7 August.
Rangers Go Into Liquidation (2012)On 14 February 2012 Rangers entered administration over non-payment of £9 million in taxes to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and facing a court case for tens of millions of pounds for paying players in previous seasons via an offshore arrangement which the HMRC claims is tax evasion. On entering administration the team was deducted 10 points by the SPL, effectively ending its 2012 championship challenge. Rangers have not submitted accounts for 2011 and were not granted a licence to play in European football in season 2012–2013. HM Revenue and Customs then voted against a Company Voluntary Arrangement which might have allowed the club to continue in the SPL, albeit subject to undecided (so far) penalties. However, Ranger Football Club entered liquidation on 14 June 2012 following the rejection of a proposed CVA by HMRC. Following this, the Club's assets were sold off to a group headed by Charles Green who has so far refused to divulge who else is providing financial backing.
Celtic Manager Martin O'Neill Tipped for Leeds (2002)
It may just be newspaper speculation, but as soon as Leeds United manager David O'Leary was sacked earlier this week, it was being suggested that Celtic Manager Martin O'Neill was a likely candidate for the job. However, it has been pointed out that O'Neill has a further year of his contract with Celtic to run. But then, managerial contracts always seem to be there just to be broken.
Martin O'Neill Moves OnO'Neill joined Celtic as manager in 2000 and resigned as manager at the end of the 2004–05 season, giving as his reason that he wanted to spend more time caring for his wife Geraldine. But he later admitted that he signed a conditional agreement with the Leeds United chairman in January 2003, to leave Celtic and become Leeds United manager. This deal subsequently fell through on the departure of the chairman from Leeds United. O'Neill has since described the agreement as 'full of conditions that hadn't been true' and blaming Celtic's failure to offer a new contract as his reason for the deal.
Scottish Claymores Keep World Bowl Hopes Alive (2002)In the NFL Europe American football league, Scottish Claymores kept alive their hopes of a place in the World Bowl finals by beating Amsterdam Admirals at Hampden Park, Glasgow, by 17-13 last weekend. Their position was enhanced further when table-topping Frankfurt Galaxy were beaten by Barcelona Dragons 35-10 in Germany. The Claymores next game is a crucial one against Berlin Thunder in the German capital.
Claymores (2012)On October 21, 2004, NFL Europe announced that the Scottish Claymores would be discontinued in favour of a franchise in a more competitive German market. Despite closing, the Scottish Claymores identity was maintained to induct players to their Hall of Fame, and as a means for promoting amateur American football in Scotland. Their Web site is also still operating.
Problems for New Aberdeen Stadium (2002)The controversial plans by Aberdeen Football Club to build a new stadium at Kingswells on the edge of the granite city were plunged into confusion this week when it emerged that the club was involved in a legal dispute with the farmer who owns the land. A visit to the site by city councillors, who will decide on the planning application later this summer, had to be reduced to driving past the area on a bus. The owner had blocked access to his land because of "legal problems." But the club claim that they have a "legally binding contract" to buy the land.
New Aberdeen Stadium Goes Ahead(2012)In April 2009, the Arena Project Board recommended a site near Cove Bay and Loirston Loch in the far south of Aberdeen for the new stadium. Even though many fans objected to the proposals, Aberdeen City Council approved the project in May 2009. In August 2010, a planning application for the new stadium was submitted to the Council, which was approved in February 2011. It was announced in August 2011 that Barr Construction Ltd will be the contractor for the construction of the stadium, which is scheduled to begin in 2012.
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