Stirling Council uses ‘administrative loopholes’ to avoid providing answers on Christie Clock

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The demolition of the Christie Clock has sparked outrage from Stirling residents, prompting many to demand answers from Stirling Council over the lack of care taken in handling such an important historic monument.

The clock tower was destroyed over safety fears following an inspection on September 1.

Following the destruction, Stirling locals and Evelyn Tweed MSP wrote to the Council to seek clarification of the circumstances surrounding the fate of a beloved City Landmark. Many who contacted the Council expressed considerable shock at the sudden and unexpected demolition.

Stirling City Heritage Trust issued a public statement which stated:

“The Trustees and staff of Stirling City Heritage Trust were utterly shocked and dismayed to see the events of Friday 1 September 2023 when the historic Christie Clock was demolished. This was a structure listed by Historic Environment Scotland.

“The Trust was involved in repair works to the Clock in 2006 when it offered a small grant for works to the masonry.

“The Trustees have written to Stirling Council offering any support and advice as the Council proceeds with [the] reinstatement of the structure. It is the full expectation of both staff and Trustees that there will be a full and faithful reinstatement of the clock, and we look forward to working with Stirling Council staff in the months ahead to achieve this.”

“There is no transparency here.”

On September 4, Evelyn Tweed MSP wrote to Stirling Council and was advised two days later that her letter was being treated as a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, with a response deadline being October 3. However, on September 29, Tweed received another response from the Council stating that her letter was now being treated as an Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations (EIRS) request.

This extends the Council’s response deadline by a further month, until October 31.

Tweed shared the Council’s reply on X (formerly known as Twitter). She commented:

“I was disappointed when Stirling Council treated my original enquiry as an FOI request, with a twenty-day deadline for a response. I have now received a response providing no answers but informing me that the inquiry is to be dealt with under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations. This comes with another 20-day deadline attached which, beyond disappointing, is outrageous.

“The Council made a mistake in demolishing the clock in the way that it did, and instead of owning up to their mistake, they are attempting to kick the issue into the long grass by using administrative loopholes to avoid providing answers. The people of Stirling deserve much more than this. I will continue to pursue answers and hold the council to account.’

Mike Watret, who works at Carlton Bingo in Stirling, also wrote to Stirling Council and received a similar response to Tweed. He said:

“I’ve heard a number of our customers in the club expressing their own concerns about how this has been managed. This part of Stirling is a nice area for people to take time out of their day and have a seat by the fountain with the view of the clock, which is represented in vast numbers of documented photos of Port Street over the decades. It’s changed forever in my opinion.

“There is no transparency here. Their failure to respond to a FOI request and hide behind legislation rather than releasing information requested by me on the basis that this is not in the public interest seems to indicate they are not in line with public sentiment here – and a real anger at what took place.”

Dozens of Stirling residents have taken to social media to express their dismay at both the demolition and the lack of answers from Stirling Council, with some describing their actions as “stalling tactics.”

A Stirling Council spokesperson said: “Stirling Council recognises and shares the public concern following the pulling down of the Christie Clock.

“This is why a report about the matter has been urgently prepared for this Thursday’s Council meeting that includes a recommendation to rebuild and restore this important local landmark.

“A review that was immediately commissioned by the Chief Executive into the circumstances of the incident is also ongoing.

“We have received a significant number of FOI requests seeking a wide range of information about the clock. We will respond to these requests within the timeframe set out in the legislation.

“We will continue to share key updates with public about the Christie Clock, including the decisions taken by Council on Thursday. The report can be downloaded here and the public can watch the meeting via our online broadcasting platform.”

Featured Image Credit: Stirling SNP

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