Public pressure pays off as Glasgow’s Scott statue saved

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A controversial competition to redevelop Glasgow’s George Square, which could have resulted in the removal of the city’s Sir Walter Scott monument, has been dropped in the face of public opposition.

Glasgow City Council announced its £15million radical redesign would now be axed, at an estimated cost of £100,000, and the square would receive a more modest and less costly revamp.

The council had selected a winner from a shortlist of six designs in the international competition, but added that it would not be implementing the plans.

Council leader Gordon Matheson said: “The people of Glasgow have made it clear they do not want a radical redesign of the square.”

The U-turn means plans to remove the centuries old statues of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, James Watt, William Gladstone and eight others to make a “new George Square fit for the 21st century” ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, will no longer go ahead. Instead the square will now receive a “substantial facelift”, replacing the red tarmac areas.

Glasgow’s Scott monument, created by John Greenshields and Alexander Handyside Ritchie in 1837, was Scotland’s first monument to Scott (before his native Edinburgh honoured his genius with its monument in 1846), and stands on a Doric column towering above the square’s other 11 statues, to reflect the high esteem for Scott.

The statue was due to be removed to an unknown location in February.

Last month the council told us it could not guarantee Scott’s statue would return. “We don’t know if it is coming back – it will depend on the winning design in the competition,” a spokesperson said.