John Bullough, chairman of Perth City Development Board, writes for The Courier on why he believes the Stone of Destiny belongs in the Fair City.
The Scottish Government has announced a six-week public engagement on options for the future location of the Stone of Destiny, one of the UK’s most important cultural objects. The choice is between the Stone of Destiny remaining in Edinburgh or being relocated to the City of Perth.
Anybody who has visited the Stone in its inaccessible, dark and claustrophobic room at the back of Edinburgh Castle will have realised that it does not form an essential part of the Castle’s core collection. As our greatest national artefact, it has not been given the spotlight and prominence that it deserves – which is a central part of Perth’s excellent bid.
Perth and Kinross Council and the UK Government are investing £23m in a spectacular new museum in the former Perth City Hall, which is due to open in early 2022. The Stone of Destiny would be the centrepiece of that project.
There are many compelling reasons to bring the Stone of Destiny to our Fair City:
*Inclusion – it would be free to visit, whereas people currently have to pay up to £20 to enter its current home at Edinburgh Castle.
*Accessibility – Perth’s unique location provides access within 90 minutes for circa 4 million of Scotland’s population.
*Historic context – the Stone would be only two miles from its original home at Scone Abbey, now demolished, within the grounds of Scone Palace. Perth was home to the Stone for almost 500 years prior to being stolen by Edward Longshanks in 1296.
*City Centre Regeneration – up to 280,000 extra visitors a year would visit Perth by 2024, transforming our struggling High Street and becoming a catalyst for the regeneration of our city region.
*Productivity – new jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships would build GVA and boost the local economy.
*Rural economy – there would be significant spin-off benefits for communities across the region beyond the City of Perth.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and I urge every single person interested in the success and vitality of our City to take five minutes to respond to this consultation.
We need all our active citizens to use their networks and resources to make the case to bring the Stone of Destiny to Perth and bring to a successful conclusion a project that members of the Perth City Development Board and Perth and Kinross Council have been working on for more than a decade.
We need to use every channel possible to get the result we want – directly via the online engagement process, and by leveraging your own personal, social and business networks. Please seek the support of your friends, family, work colleagues, suppliers, partners and opinion formers you are close to, not just in Perth or our wider region, but nationally and even internationally.
Perth Council have provided a webpage (www.pkc.gov.uk/stoneofdestiny) with background to the bid and the compelling reasons for the Stone’s relocation. It also includes collateral for use on social media or in your business.
We would request that everyone that has submitted their bid to download a “I’ve had my say, have you?” twibbon to their social media profile picture to encourage their friends to do the same.
It is impossible to stress enough the importance of the next five weeks for our City and wider region. By the private, public and voluntary sectors working together with our extremely supportive fourth estate, we can seize this unique opportunity to Bring the Stone Home.
Please go online now and enter consult.gov.scot in the address bar, then search for Stone of Destiny.