We have recently learned that Govan Community Council have been discussing the future of Govan Graving Docks for several months. However while this is most encouraging, apart from their Secretary’s attendance at a steering group meeting we set up earlier this year, there appears to have been surprisingly no mention in their discussions of the heritage park campaign or the Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative. Their published minutes show they have been discussing the graving docks at least since March 2015 and the timing seems to suggest it is the heritage park campaign (and the petition launched in April 2014) that has put the site on everyone’s radar. Yet so far they have not invited The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative to participate in or inform their discussions.
We welcome Govan Community Council’s endorsement in their discussions of our strategic objective to protect the heritage of Govan Graving Docks. We also look forward to their active support for our efforts in due course now that we have recently brought our work to their attention.
It is important that we avoid a situation where rival factions arise around the graving docks. We have been harshly and vehemently criticised by a number of City Councillors for setting up The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative without a prior consultation – which they claim they had explicitly instructed us before hand not to do. However these same Councillors have offered no suggestions for how such consultation would be undertaken. Others have criticised us by suggesting our objectives are somehow “elitist” and not relevant to local people – which seems somewhat stereotypical and condescending to the very same people our critics claim to be speaking for.
However we have already launched an online survey to gather public feedback on the future of the docks. We recently ran a series of guided walks from Water Row to the Graving Docks for Glasgow’s Doors Open Days (and received very positive feedback about efforts to preserve the docks) and we are considering more ways for engaging consultation in due course – in which wide participation is encouraged. We are also collaborating with the University of the West of Scotland’s Govan-Gdansk exchange programme, which looks at parallels of heritage in post-industrial waterfront areas in the two locations. In addition we have had discussions with major civil engineering companies on what would be involved in restoration of the docks.
The position of The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative is that an independent charity or non-profit organisation would be the best vehicle to take on stewardship of Govan Graving Docks for its protection as a heritage asset. The level of innovation, creativity and forward-thinking that will be needed to develop a micro enterprise / social enterprise hub in the context of a world class heritage attraction would simply not be possible with the kinds of bureaucratic constraints that exist in the public sector or in quango-type organisations. Nor would the public sector be able to justify spending on the level of investment needed at a time when councils are making drastic cuts in core services, staff and budgets. That isn’t to say though that support from these bodies will not be required in an advisory capacity and input from organisations like Historic Scotland will be vital. Conversely a commercial profit-making venture would not necessarily be in the best interests of the community or the heritage protection.