John F. Crawford’s comment (Sep.4) adds to the extensive discussion in your columns of the nature and causes of the collapse of the wall in Wilton Street on Monday 27 August). Many of your correspondents, and indeed your headline article and leader (August 29), have focused on problems in the maintenance of Scotland’s stone-built Victorian heritage. As someone living beside the devastated site in question, however, I wish to point to yet more disturbing issues.
First, it should be stressed that the collapsed wall was not a tenement gable-end but the already-weakened remnant end dividing wall of a terraced town house. Secondly, a major new-build development project was being carried out on the adjoining gap site with, on the very day of the collapse, significant excavations close to the wall in question.
The local community is demanding a full and rigorous official inquiry, including statutory investigations by the Health & Safety Executive. This is because an aggressive development project, carried out adjacent to an old building in precarious condition, seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen.
Fortuitously, fatalities and serious injuries were avoided. But I would urge Glasgow City Council to recognize this near-catastrophe as a wake-up call that should provoke serious examination of the fundamental lessons to be learnt for its future development policy and procedures. One of these might well be greater restraint in its less discriminating efforts to cover green and leafy areas with concrete. The next time, there may be blood as well ink on the Council’s hands!