I TRUST that very soon you will regret your editorial in favour of the proposed defacing of George Square (“Make George Square fit for 21st century”, The Herald, September 14).

One sentence in particular will be the subject of some disbelief: “Does Edinburgh’s Sir Walter Scott merit pride of place on an 80ft high column?” Why not extend your censure to Ayr’s Robert Burns, whose statue also stands in the square? Or point to the mistake Glaswegians made in rejoicing over the success of Dunblane’s Andy Murray?

Scott remains a writer respected all over Europe, who changed the nature of the novel in many countries, who inspired Italian opera and became a model for writers everywhere and here he is dragged into the most petty of Glasgow-Edinburgh disputes.

I have shown many visitors, some of whom were writers, around Glasgow, and several commented on the fact that giving prominence to a writer was an eloquent statement on the values of the city. None was surprised that Scotland’s most eminent novelist should occupy that position. There are statues to Alexander Fleming in many countries, as well as to Robert Burns, and not only in countries to which Scots have emigrated. Maybe the promised consultations would include questions over who should replace Scott on the column. I would propose Liz Lochhead, the makar, but she hails from Motherwell, which might put her beyond the pale in the restricted view of today’s Herald. What about Alasdair Gray? He is a Glasgow man and a good writer. He could keep an eye on developments, and to save money you could put him there and save the expense of a statue.

The serious fear is that we are about to return to an age where the planners will be free to wreak the havoc they did in the 1960s. The deeper fear is that we are in the hands of people with no sense of history and no vision or culture to guide their plans. There are no comparable plans for St Mark’s, Red Square or even for Siena. Is this what a civilised man like council leader Gordon Matheson wants for Glasgow?

It is one of the regrettable curiosities of Glasgow that it has preserved so little of its history. The city is as old as Barcelona or Florence, but unlike these cities has not managed to retain specific areas which testify to past ages. Glasgow has always knocked down and built on top of what was there. Here we are at it again.

On the subject of George Square, get rid of the parked cars, get rid of that stupid red stuff on the ground which was laid after the last botched attempt to restructure the square, move elsewhere one or two of the statues of the more obscure figures celebrated. But appreciate what is there, which is not as bad as your leader-writer thinks.

Professor Joe Farrell,

7 Endfield Avenue Glasgow.



I READ with interest the article on the proposed renovation of Glasgow’s George Square (“Campaigners to fight city square statue removal plan”, The Herald, September 14) . George Square is a disgrace and terrible to look at and, as your editorial states, nothing short of a roundabout. It is time to remove and relocate most, if not all, of the statues that very few people look at in any meaningful way. The plans are a way of generating future revenue from events, according to the pressure group Restore George Square. Isn’t that what this city needs? I do not advocate attracting investment at all costs, but the more outward spending and investment Glasgow can attract, the better.

The statues should be relocated throughout Glasgow, and not just to architecturally aesthetic areas but to the outlying schemes where they could form the basis of regeneration efforts.

Finally, and I suspect to the anger of many, I would propose relocating the Cenotaph as well. It takes up too much room, acts as seating for many, and as a place where people can leave their litter. I do not mean to disrespect the sacrifice that Glaswegians made in times of war but it is time to move on and the Cenotaph can be equally as important sited in Glasgow Green.

There is no need to concentrate the city’s statuary in the city centre (or indeed in any one place) and doing so disregards the contributions of all Glaswegians, past and present, to the success of our city.

Gabhan Mac a’ Ghobhainn,

180 Camphill Avenue, Glasgow.