£104m Queen Street revamp is joined-up thinking for city

IT TAKES a good plan to get me interested in any construction proposal.

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Glory days...Scotland v Brazil in the 1998 World Cup in France
Glory days...Scotland v Brazil in the 1998 World Cup in France

Down through the years, I have looked at hundreds, perhaps thousands, of proposed developments at the planning stage, to make sure that they didn't endanger public safety.

Well, this week, I have seen a good plan, a very good plan, to revamp Glasgow's Queen Street Station.

The £104million redevelopment, will completely transform this well loved corner of George Square, with a stunning facade and a host of other benefits.

The work will extend the length of the existing platforms towards the George Square side, allowing longer trains to be accommodated and therefore, more passengers to be carried.

Indeed, the existing 20million passengers who use Queen Street, will rise to 28million, once the works have been completed.

The works will also allow the existing Millennium Hotel to link much more effectively with the station, in the same way as the revamped Central Hotel does at Central Station.

The former North British Hotel, has a proud and distinguished history.

Not many will know, that the Second World War outcome, may have been very different, but for a dinner held there.

Winston Churchill hosted a meal for Harry Lloyd Hopkins, a trusted adviser to US President Franklin. D. Roosevelt. At the Dinner, Hopkins agreed to a $50billion aid package for the Allies, changing the course of the war and the world forever.

The final piece in the development jigsaw though, is the better connection of Buchanan Galleries to the other parts of the same site.

However, there are a few warning signals that need to be addressed.

For instance there needs to be a proper assessment of the impact of the development across the rest of the city centre, lest we find prosperous retail centre surrounded by an urban wasteland of shops to let.

SIMILARLY, a realistic look at the impact of such lengthy closure of the station needs to be properly scoped to minimise the short-term damage caused.

In the same week that we learned of the Queen Street redevelopment, we also learned of a significant, European Union investment in Glasgow's motorway infrastructure.

Some £175m will be invested, in improving the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the M74 and also the M73.

The improvement in these three major arteries will be welcomed and with the recent improvements on the M9 and the M77, give the Metropolitan Glasgow area, a world class motorway infrastructure.

It may however, be time for a bit of road art swapping.

I like the M9 Kelpies, (the big Horses heads) very much. I'm not so keen on the large funnel thing (like a foghorn for the Teletubbies) on the M8, so I think a swap would be a great idea.

In the meantime there is no denying that this £300m or so, combined investment, will reshape transport infrastructure across the city, attract inward investment and stimulate both business and wider economic growth.

Great news for the economy, great news for Glasgow.

No easy path for Scotland

I SEE that Scotland has again been handed a tough draw, in their attempt to qualify for the 2016 Euro Football Championships, scheduled for France.

With Ireland, Poland and Georgia for company this won't be easy.

Any light relief provided by Gibraltar, will surely be punished by the might of Germany.

Scotland hasn't qualified for a major football tournament since the World Cup was in France in 1998.

Eighteen years of absence is long enough for any nation and so I think it's time to renew that famous Auld Alliance, Come on Scotland.

Tighten up laws to help reduce metal theft

I SEE that my former fire service colleagues have this week been holding a Glasgow summit, to highlight the dangers of metal theft.

Metal theft puts lives at risk and it costs the Scottish Economy, millions of pounds a year.

I recall, as a young firefighter, being sent to a severe house fire, in a high rise block of flats in the Gorbals.

In the higher blocks,there are internal water pipes, for fire service use, which go all the way up the block, allowing us to fight fires at high levels.

To do so, we access that pipe, via valves, at each landing.

At this fire, the landing valves had all been stolen and we couldn't use the internal water main.

I remember running hose up 14 flights of stairs, and our efforts to ensure that no one died.

We undertook eight rescues that night and mercifully no-one died. All that, for a few quid, of scrap metal.

I also remember, just a few years ago, a cable tunnel, where the cables ran under the ground, a gang had cut the cable at both ends, and pulled the cable through, tied to the back of a four-wheel drive jeep.

These thefts have caused power cuts to hundreds of homes, including Greenock, where copper was stolen from an electrical substation, and they have also killed a perpetrator, in Shotts.

These mindless actions are putting the lives of both the public, and firefighters at risk. If there is no market, and no reward for this metal, it won't get stolen.

We need to make sure that we tighten up the law on licensed scrap dealers who would buy metal such as this, knowing full well, the fatal consequences it could have. No market, no demand, let's stop it.


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