Council U-turn On The George Square Revamp

Earlier this month 6 ideas were proposed for the re- design of George Square, Glasgow. We blogged about the this and made mention of which one,  some of us in the office would have liked. All of the proposals were ambitious and most involved some form of fountain or water feature. £15 million  was the budget and in this financial climate it seemed a large price tag  for a cash strapped council. The schemes drew strong negative public reaction and because of that the  Councillors have decided to drop the idea of a redesign and go for a “facelift” instead, involving  the replacement of the red surface of the square, but not much else, by the sounds of it. It was interesting to note that our choice was not the winning design. Yes, someone did win even though it is not going ahead. The winning design was by John McAlsan  (the first design we described in our blog) and one can only imagine that he would be pretty annoyed with the council: one minute he learns he has won and the next  he is told it is  abandoned. You can only feel sorry for those guys. But in saying that it is a brave move of the Council to back track so resoundingly.

Ode To Mitchells Roberton

In celebration of Burns Day, Harry Mackie, one of our staff members wrote an ‘Ode to Mitchells Roberton’:-

Mitchells Roberton the “Auldest” lawyers in Glesca Toon
It’s at 36 North Hanover Street their offices are “foun”
Donald B Reid is the Chair of this clan
With Morag, Managing Partner also part of the brand
And then to the partners Alastair, David, Stuart and Neil
With Ian and Ronald completing the deal.

The consultants at present number just two
That would of course be Willie and Hugh.
The Associates are Yvonne, Alison, Ross and Euan
They’re the team “when there’s trouble a brewing”

The assistants six ladies, just the one man
i.e. Paul, Fiona, Jacqui, Kathryn ,Marie and lastly Jan
With Liz covering marketing as part of her chore
And Chris our trainee who’s just in the door.

The paralegals are divided into two separate sections
With Francis, Patricia, Keri and Angela in the conveyancing/ court direction
And Michelle, Gillian,Dianne and Aliah handling executry and Trust affairs
Both sections are diligent and completely aware!!

Eddie and Dave look after securities and tax
Ensuring that dealings are on the right tracks
To the Cashroom now with Sandra, Elizabeth and Kay
Their motto is “Provide documentation then we can pay”

The secretariat: Liz N, Marion, Joyce and Louise
With Allison ,Phyllis, Roseanne and Lati added to these
Sheila is included as part of this crew
With the “Incorporations” added to her workload too

The Property Department Bridie and Rachel a pair so bright
Who’s belief is “ OK it’s your if the price is right”
Mark manages IT involved in admin
When problems arise he solves with a grin

Letitia, Office Manager covers all administration duties
With Margaret R (Phones) and Margaret M and Laura another three cuties
Bob and Harry are also part of this group
Happy to share in this hardworking troop
David and Alan are here to help out
And their support adds to the admin clout.

So that my friends is the Mitchells Roberton team
Who strive to ensure you achieve your dream.

Stirling Student Showdown

East Kilbride Hockey Club, sponsored by Mitchells Roberton Solicitors and Estate Agents, were in action this weekend with two hard fought performances against the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively.

Both sets of students took early leads, but well worked goals in both games brought East Kilbride back into the game. A penalty save at one end and converted penalty at the other kept East Kilbride in contention against a tough Glasgow University side.  Edinburgh University were certainly no walkover coming into the game sitting at the top of the league and proved to be a well organised unit.

It seems that the days of students spending all of their time in the Union are long gone as both teams were fit and on form.  Clearly things have changed since my day!

On the plus side, I managed two goals of my own so I will have to look at my sponsorship contract to see if that entitles me to any performance bonus…not holding my breath.

Happy Blue Monday

Today is meant to be the most depressing day of the year.  It is called Blue Monday and apparently falls on the third Monday of January which makes today the day. The idea of the worse day of the year was started by a psychologist called Dr Cliff Arnalls .  When he first ran his “January Blues Formula” in 2005 January 24th was touted as the worse day. Indeed I would have to agree as the 24th January 2005 was my birthday and it was a special one ending in 0.  I am saying no more than that. The “January Blues”  formula is 1/8W + (D-d) 3/8xTQMxNA where :



d=Money due in January pay

T=Time since Christmas

Q=Time since failed quit attempt.

M=General motivational levels

NA=The need to take action.

Such a formula is certainly not going to win the Nobel Prize for Rocket Science but it does actually make some sense. It is true the weather is miserable, it is a Monday, the Christmas shopping bills are due and New Year’s resolutions are starting to fall apart.  But you know thinking it is a Blue Monday day can be positive.  We cannot change the weather but we can plan holidays to look forward to and we can focus on enjoying the time we spend inside with our families. If we got a fright opening up a credit card statement we can put financial planning in place and learn how to budget. And the broken New Years resolutions… perhaps they were too big to begin with.  So I am going to start my New Year all over again.  Happy Blue Monday.

Mitchells Roberton Book Club

Most people like reading.  Many of us at Mitchells Roberton love reading.  So the suggestion by Elizabeth Baker in October 2012 to start an in-house book club was readily taken up by eleven hungry bookworms.

The first book proposed for our delectation was Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre.  This was duly digested by the book club and discussed at our inaugural meeting over lunch at the end of November.  For many, this was our first ever book club meeting and this inexperience showed when it quickly became apparent that the meeting would have been more fun with wine and nibbles.  Next time, after hours….

So what of the book?  A fleeting synopsis: It’s World War II (don’t let that put you off, this is not your typical wartime tale).  The Allies want to invade Sicily, an obvious target, so the Secret Service needs to persuade the Axis forces they have no such intention.  The answer: dress a dead Welsh tramp as a naval officer, float him ashore on the south coast of Spain (the apparent victim of a plane crash at sea) with important looking papers indicating an attack on Greece, so the Germans pull forces out of Sicily.  Throw in a few wily, scurrilous, heroic, romantic and downright objectionable characters (real and faked) and Bob’s your uncle.  Well, that was the plan.  The book is the story of how it worked and how it nearly didn’t.

So, were we satiated with Mincemeat or left with indigestion?  Most gave it a solid 7/10 with a few readers only prepared to award 4 or 5.  The actual story of this audacious plot was unanimously liked.  It appears some of the characters and sometimes heavily-detailed narrative lost the book a few points.  Certainly, there is a paucity of particularly likeable characters (and there are some right gits here).  On the other hand, the book involves real war and real people which, minus a Hollywood sheen, do not perhaps automatically endear themselves.  What the book does have in abundance are memorable characters and plot.

One particular point of interest from our discussion was whether the body used by the Secret Service for the imposture was the Welsh tramp as claimed by the author or, as believed by one of our more informed bookworms, a drowning victim from a ship accidentally sunk in the Clyde around the same time….?

In the end, a good few of our number were hungry for more from Ben Macintyre and Operation Zigzag was also commended to us.  An unforeseen bonus was a BBC4 documentary based on the book which was broadcast in early January.

So, having gorged on Mincemeat, we are now sampling Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid and our assessment of that book will follow here soon.

Commonwealth Games 2014

I normally get the train to Queen Street Station but this morning I arrived at Central and walked into a recruitment drive for volunteers for the Commonwealth Games. You know I signed up. 15,000 volunteers are apparently needed. Now I am no athlete and I thought the Olympic Games were going to be boring but from the start of the Olympics I was hooked. I rushed home from work switched the telly on and sat transfixed, gob smacked at the skill, tenacity, dedication and emotions of the competitors. Now in 2014 we are going to have the third largest multi sport event in the world on our very door step. The Games were first held in 1930 and 18 cities in 7 countries have hosted the event. The Commonwealth is an organisation of 54 member states working within a framework of common values including the promotion of human rights, egalitarianism and world peace. Some specialist volunteers are needed including medical staff and those with specific sports expertise but there will be plenty of general roles to be filled such as welcoming people and helping out at games venues.  What a wonderful opportunity for Glasgow. I hope I pass the interview and am able to be part of history. I might not be able to run but I can show that “Glasgow’smiles Better”

Which Monopoly piece are you?

I heard this morning that monopoly game pieces are changing. One of the iconic monopoly pieces has to go. Which one do you think?  The car, the thimble or the iron ?  Apparently your favourite monopoly piece says something about you. Our chairman Donald Reid always chooses the Scotty dog.  This choice reveals characteristics of loyalty, trustworthiness and warmth.  The person choosing the Scotty dog loves being with people and making them smile. They give their all to any task in hand desiring to succeed but also gain pleasure from others doing well .  A surprisingly apt description of our boss.  When the monopoly box is brought out Morag Inglis our managing partner  lunges for her special token, the boot.  This choice is meant to reflect creativity , innovation and determination. Again pretty spot on.  The new piece will be one of the following : a diamond ring, a guitar, a cat, a toy robot or a helicopter.  Personally I would have chosen an apple.  The game monopoly is based on the economic concept of monopoly. The players move round the board buying and selling property and developing their properties with houses and hotels. Over the past number of years the property market in Scotland has been depressed to say the least.  So what’s the latest news from our estate agency department  at the beginning of 2013? Well  the department had a very encouraging end to 2012 with 16 of our properties selling in the last 12 weeks ( more than one a week) and with 6 of them having a closing date with multiple offers! Our property manager Bridie Gillan believes that the key to this success is in the word “realistic”.  Mark Hordern Editor of the GSPC stated in his recent Blog that “the first signs of recovery in the market will not be a rise in prices but a sustained increase of transactions. Prices are no longer the key indicator of how the market is performing and any price changes will come later.”  Bridie wholeheartedly agrees with this. She believes that it is very important that our clients are not given unrealistic advice in relation to how much they may achieve for their property.

Plans for George Square

Yesterday the plans for the renovation of George Square became available to be seen in the Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane. There are six final entries to be viewed for this 15 million pound renovation of the square of our city.  There are arguments that the people of Glasgow have not been consulted enough as to what they would like in this civic space.  The offices of our firm are based in George House on George Square. At lunchtime a few of our staff members went to look at the plans.

The few of us who went have decided on which plan we like the best. But before we tell you which one, here’s a bit about the ideas.

Five of the proposals relocate the tall column of Sir Walter Scott and all the statues to either a cluster or a row on the north or south side of the square. All of the ideas keep the cenotaph where it is.

The six ideas are:-

  • Honouring the past- resurfacing the square in Caithness stone, adding ornamental  gardens with lights,  moving the monuments and planting on the perimeter. We liked the idea of extending the square by incorporating the roads on the east and west of the square so it means it is not surrounded by traffic.
  • Urban Salon-  includes event space, a ferris wheel and a permanent ice rink with a dramatic loggia.
  • Water mirror- this involves a good sized strip of  green space along the north side, a shallow pond which has been called a water mirror taking up about 25% of the square and  things like whispering poems and bells in the green space or “grove” of trees. It moves the monuments to the edges.
  • Water feature- this proposal is for arcs of water that people could walk through on the west side of the square and  a covered cafe and  trees on the perimeter. The monuments are moved to the edges. There is hardly any green areas in this scheme.
  • Circular fountain – great boulders are spaced out along the south side of the square, the statues clustered in a ring , greenery on the edges, a nice looking round, more traditional, fountain  and a round pavilion outside  George House.
  • Modern- this one ambitiously dispenses with all the monuments and statues but retains the cenotaph. The scheme incorporates all the surrounding roads and makes the square much larger, and has at its centre a fountain and lots of planting. Paths form a cross for walkers to reach the four corners of the square.

We liked this last one the best. We think that the scheme would bring colour from the planting and  movement and interest from  the fountain. The fountain can be turned off for event space. Its won us over with it ambition and we think it would enliven the city centre for pedestrians. But this choice has proven to be controversial in the office. What do you think ?