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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mini spectacular societies

Guy Debord, thou art avenged!

Or not… listening to Rubella Ballet songs off their website and thinking about the week ahead. I had an invite to attend a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 15th but will be at home looking after Callum. Right now he is busy throwing / dropping stones on to the patio/ wheelchair stand. Been busy doing this for an hour or so. Now he has finished and is in bed wrapped under a duvet to thaw out. Something to watch out for with people in wheelchairs - because they are sitting still rather than moving about they generate less heat and so can get colder more quickly. But back to this text…

Is there such a thing as a micro-situation? Or put otherwise - is the Society of the Spectacle really such a totality , or does it exist in mini-versions? Does , for example, Dumfries and Galloway have its own ‘spectacle’? I suggest it has. Or at least contains within itself some striking contradictions and profound social /economic problems which the localised spectacle smoothes over with endless glossy ‘regeneration strategy ‘ reports.

I could pursue this analysis further, but will leave it here for just now . To illustrate my hardly revolutionary point - read on….


First taken from this blog site http://drumsleet.blogspot.com/2006/03/chapter-6.html

Last year Pete Fortune and I wrote a book entitled 'Dumfries a History and Celebration'. As possibly any book with such a flatulent title deserved, it attracted little publicity on its publication. It's an attractive looking book with 5 chapters of largely plagiarised drooling about Dumfries and its rich History and, in the last of these, an upbeat assessment of Dumfries' potential to re-invent itself and survive rather than do the decent thing and slide discreetly into the Solway. We were very much against the lunatic feeling of optimism that we were forced to inject into Chapter 5, so much so that I wrote a secret Chapter 6 as an antidote.

Here it is:

Actually it's a shit-hole isn't it? All these famous people might have come from Dumfries but they all fucked off as soon as they could, and no wonder. The only exceptions are folk who died prematurely before they could fuck off. Walking through Dumfries on a Saturday afternoon is enough to make you weep. The streets are filled with junkies, knock-kneed whores, thieves, pedarasts, religious maniacs and Rangers supporters.

Every second shop is a fucking Pound emporium selling glass paperweights made by Korean schoolchildren and umbrellas that break as you leave the premises, or a Tanning Salon where you can go to cultivate that particular orange complexion unique to the town's tarts. The streets are filthy, coated in chewing gum, the riverbanks covered in kebab boxes and the only people with the energy to complain are monomaniac serial letter writers who in any sensible community would be beaten to death or locked away in an upstairs room. The pubs are full of the same pissed old men or a legion of able-bodied drunkards on incapacity benefit, and the only pub entertainment is Sky Sports or watching some old dosser shite himself.

At night the town fills with bottom feeders or fat old bags on hen-parties from Newcastle the only town in the world comparable to Dumfries in its subnormal and retarded inhabitants. The town's packed with inadequate single mothers on benefit and their cock-eyed boyfriends on crack although there is a huge population of middle class wankers who live in overpriced encampments on the edge of town and depend on the burgeoning ranks of irredeemable scum for their livelihood.

800 years of History but you'd think the town had been designed by some humourless, possibly syphilitic, presbyterian. Every building of any importance has been knocked down, or soon will be, apart from those associated with Robert Burns, the poet of choice for Scotlands masons and unionists. The football team's crap, the leisure centre, if it ever gets built, will fill up with the town's young, an under-educated mob of proto-criminals, and going to Tesco's and making it back without being ambushed by some Sandside skip-rat will remain the highlight of everyone's week. The council's full of old bores or drunkards whose collective imagination would fit in the shell of a hazel nut. The only tourists you see are here by mistake, or are disabled pensioners from East Kilbride who got the Mystery Tour Booby Prize.

The Crichton Campus is the university of choice for people with one C pass at Higher or saddos who can't bear to leave their thick boyfriends and go to a proper University. Guid Neighbours is an orgy of drink fuelled violence with no origin in history at all, apart from an attempt in the 1930s to convince the townspeople they had a sense of community and heritage.

Second from Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray’s website http://elainemurray.scotparliament.co.uk/


Labour politicians met with council officials on Friday (2 February) to discuss their frustration at the lack of action taken by the council to tackle the decline of Dumfries town centre. They demanded meetings to press for more action after claiming recently that the public will lose faith that Dumfries town centre will ever be regenerated unless there is less talk, and more action from the council.

Elaine Murray said,

“There is a recurring theme whenever we press council officials for more action to regenerate our town centre. We are always shown the glossy documents and strategies, but there is no comprehensive programme in place to implement these plans. Everyone understands that it will take time and that a start is being made with the new leisure centre taking shape and work is due to begin soon on environmental improvements in areas such as Friars Vennel. But it’s obvious from what I’m told on the doorstep that local people do not believe progress is happening fast enough.

“To me it’s clear that we need action on four key issues. We need a commitment to extend Community Wardens into the town centre to help tackle anti-social behaviour and vandalism. We need a clear pledge to traders that the council will not introduce car-parking charges. We need to see the establishment of a real partnership between public agencies and small businesses in the town centre to give them the support they need and to help attract new retailers into the town. And finally we need a concrete proposal to tackle flooding on the Whitesands. There is a lot of work to be done and it’s vital that the council does not duck at the challenge.”

What the ‘Crichton situation’ - the threat by Glasgow University to pull out of Dumfries - has done is expose the reality which has until now been papered over with the ‘glossy documents and strategies’. I have a whole box full of them. And guess what Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Enterprise: Dumfries and Galloway’s response to the ‘situation’ is? You’ve guessed it - they will commission a £30 000 economic impact assessment study…

But I reckon they could save the £30 000 with a short phone call..

Third…following - Appendix 5, pasted below - is taken from final page of the 2004 Crichton Strategic Development Framework online at

I have highlighted key documents. The Economic Impact Assessments were carried out by Roger Tym and Partners. Here are the contact details for their Scottish office
Roger Tym & Partners
19 Woodside Crescent
Glasgow G3 7UL
T:0141 332 6464
F:0141 332 3304
E: scotland@tymconsult.com

I suggest that a direct approach to R. Tym and Partners from a person of sufficient status should be able to establish the following :

1. have the several Economic Impact Assessments undertaken by the firm assumed the continuing presence of Glasgow University at the Crichton University Campus?
2. How essential to the overall Crichton Project is the Crichton University Campus?

On the assumption that the firm have not factored in the loss of Glasgow University in their Economic Impact Assessments , the firm will not be able to provide any details of the likely impact of the loss of Glasgow University . However any professional opinion expressed on the situation should count as fairly expert knowledge.

Crichton Strategic Development Framework
Appendix 5

Relevant Reference Documents
Dumfries and Galloway Structure Plan 1999 (Dumfries and Galloway Council)
Finalised Nithsdale Local Plan 2002 (Dumfries and Galloway Council)
Caring for the Built Environment (Dumfries and Galloway Council 1997)
Memorandum of Guidance on Listed buildings and Conservation Areas (Historic
Scotland 1998)
PAN 57 Transport and Planning (Scottish Executive 1999)
PAN 65 Planning and Open Space (Scottish Executive 2003)
A Policy on Architecture for Scotland (Scottish Executive 2001)
Designing Places (Scottish Executive 2001)
NPPG 17: Transportation and Planning Maximum Parking Standards (Scottish
Executive 2003)
Guide to Transport Assessment in Scotland (Scottish Executive 2003)
Dumfries and Galloway Local Transport Strategy (Dumfries and Galloway Council
Crichton Master Plan (Page and Park 1997)
The Crichton Business Plan 1997/2002 (Crichton Trust)
Crichton Historic Landscape Survey (LUC, Patricia Thompson and GUARD 1998)
Crichton Vehicular Circulation and New Parking Facilities (LUC, Mouchel Consulting
The Crichton Business Plan 1998/2003 (Crichton Trust)
Crichton Electrical Infrastructure Reinforcement (Harley Haddow Partnership 1999)
Crichton Technical (Communications) Strategy Plan (Mason Communications Ltd 1999)
The Crichton: Regeneration Strategy 2000 (Crichton Trust)
The Crichton: Landscape Conservation/Management Plan 2000/05 (Crichton Trust)
The Crichton: Marketing Plan 2000/05 (Crichton Trust)
The Crichton: Business Plan 2000/05 (Crichton Trust)
Crichton Economic Impact Assessment (R Tym & Partners 1998)
Crichton Economic Impact Assessment Review (R Tym & Partners 2000)
Crichton Economic Impact Assessment Second Review (R Tym & Partners 2003)
Crichton Stakeholder Strategy 20003/08 (Crichton Trust)


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