Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Borg seek perfection

How to build the perfect town - the centre page spread from the Sunday Herald
The centre page spread from the Sunday Herald
You know, I was halfway through writing a lovely wee story this week about lambs playing in the fields and the beauty of our late Scottish spring. But when I opened my personal copy of the Sunday Herald this morning I choked on my Coco Pops when I saw a desperately attention seeking article on the Scottish Towns Partnership. My mood darkened. 

The article was apparently written by obscure poet John Burnside and is obviously what is called a 'placed article' - basically an advertisement feature dressed up as some sort of hymn of praise to the man they call Chief Officer Prentice and his Auchterarder based cliché sect. It's an excellent way of keeping yourself in the news - even if you have nothing original or interesting to say. The RTPI have been in a similar position for years but to my knowledge have never sought to place an article in a Sunday tabloid. But apparently the Sunday Herald is the STP's media partner so placing this article must have been quite easy.
We are Borg! We are STP!
I should say that RTPI are now part of the STP setup - they have been absorbed as a partner organisation. This is bad news for Wee Craigie McLaren's outfit as once again, they have sold their identity, autonomy and independence down the river of partnering and uttering mealy-mouth words in committees. Do they have anything left to give planners in Scotland?
We are RTPI - no sorry, we are Borg!
Described as 'Essay of the Week: Dreamscapes: imagining the perfect Scottish town', this article is a collection of some very familiar thoughts about 'silver bullet solutions', 'model towns', 'ugly roads that dissect towns' and 'sticking points'. Then Burnside drifts into the realms of the absurd such as suggesting samba dancing or martial arts in public spaces. I think Police Scotland would clamp down on that. Then we have birds, foxes, deer, bats, hedgehogs and voles - all very important to old Mrs McClure's newspaper shop - just like the dawn chorus on the way to work apparently. It's the low-hanging soup of planning. 
each town will be perfect!
You know, the trouble with Burnside is that he isn't a planner. All this talk of newts and toads reminds me of the great Honorary Doctor Donald Trump and his wonderful golf course at Menie on the Aberdeenshire coast. He crushed these small animals with his own feet because he saw that enterprise was more important than a few slugs in the corner of a field. To talk of 'the perfect Scottish town' is hopelessly naive. As an expert planner I can tell you that applying the intelligence of rich and clever people to any situation is always going to be better than cosying up to rabbits and ferrets.
our portal is our call to action
Of course you might wonder if the deeds of the STP should speak more loudly than their calls to action, their portal, their workshops and their clutch of Scottish experts like celebrity shopper Leigh Sparks and master of economics, Sir Robert Crawford CBE. This is the man who single-handedly implemented a fantastic range of initiatives that revolutionised the Scottish economy during his time at Scottish Enterprise.

We are portal!

I completely see why Chief Officer Prentice wants to get as much publicity as possible - he needs to perform for the Scottish Government so he is under a lot of pressure. My advice is to work quietly and achieve good things - if you haven't done anything worthwhile, just shut up.

All the best from Auchterness - have a great week. I'll be back again soon. Cheeriebye for now.

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