Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
In life, there is an easy way to do something, and a hard way. The easiest way to reach the top of Kinnoull Hill is from the Forestry Commission’s Jubilee Car park, which lies to the east. The hard way is from Perth, in the west, ascending along the top of a dramatic, craggy escarpment. Embarking upon the latter approach, I set out across Tay Viaduct, steps climbing from Tay Street to a slender metal walkway that accompanies the railway line over the river. On the far bank, a surfaced path and steps lead up to Dundee Road and, a little to the right, a side road branches off to the National Trust for Scotland’s Branklyn Garden, a magnificent horticultural collection that includes many rare and unusual plants. Approaching the entrance, a sign for Kinnoull Hill ushered me up a lane on the left to a cluster of information boards and, wandering along Fairmount Terrace and a path beyond, I left the city behind and entered Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park. Under a canopy of beech, oak and silver birch, I made a beeline for the edge of the scarp and immediately began to climb, the path rising in fits and starts. A viewpoint with a well-appointed bench offered brief respite and here I spied Kinnoull Hill’s cylindrical cliff-top folly, a landmark tower that will be familiar to anyone who has passed below the peak on the dual carriageway linking Perth and Dundee. Spurred on by its proximity, I hiked on up through the trees, the path a little muddy and a little slippery in places, cliffs to my right plunging ever higher and ever steeper beyond a protective barrier of vegetation. Eventually emerging from the woodland, I stepped on to the summit of Kinnoull Hill, a stone plinth offering a good spot from which to admire the vista over the River Tay as it snakes east towards the sea. The hill’s trig point sits back from the edge of the cliff and, after making a brief detour to the concrete pillar, I followed the path down through a cleft in the slope and up to the tower. Modelled on the fairy-tale castles of the Rhine valley in Germany, the folly was built in 1829 by Francis Gray, 14th Lord Gray of Kinfauns. He also commissioned Kinfauns Castle, which can be seen in the valley below, and erected a second tower on neighbouring Binn Hill. Below the folly, the footpath to the Jubilee Car Park sweeps down through mature beeches and, along the way, there are bird carvings to spot in the trees to the left of the trail. Skirting the edge of fields, I branched off the Jubilee path, picking up a well signed route to Corsiehill Car Park where I left the woodland park and headed down into Perth on the Geddes Way, re-joining Dundee Road by the Isle of Skye Hotel. This is not an easy bit of road to negotiate safely so I made a short deviation right to pedestrian crossings near the eastern end of Queen’s Bridge before progressing down a wee lane to Kinnoull Burial Ground. Surrounded by city life, some of the great and good from Perth’s past rest peacefully in this quiet, concealed kirkyard. Overlooking the river, I too rested awhile after a hard morning on the hill. ROUTE 1. Cross Tay Street at zebra crossing and cross railway bridge. 2. Continue past 20mph sign then go left, ascending path to Dundee Road. Cross and go right, bearing left up to Branklyn Garden. 3. Turn left (signed Kinnoull Hill) up lane then go right, along Fairmount Terrace then path, to Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park. Continue ahead, ascending path to summit of Kinnoull Hill. Ignore all paths branching left. 4. Continue east on path (signed Jubilee Car Park) to tower. 5. Continue east then north on path, bearing right at next junction. 6. Go left and follow signs for Corsiehill Car Park. 7. At junction above footbridge, turn right, descending past quarry. Stay to right of stone plinth and descend to road. 8. Descend path (signed City Centre) then Mount Tabor Road and Manse Road. 9. Cross Dundee Road and continue ahead on lane, bearing left at Kinnoull Burial Ground on path through Riverside Park to railway bridge. INFORMATION Distance: 7km/4¼ miles Ascent: 250m/825ft Time: 2-3 hours Grading: A moderate route, primarily following woodland and urban paths with some strenuous ascent. Part of the route runs along the top of steep cliffs where great care should be taken Start/finish: Fergusson Gallery at junction of Tay Street and Marshall Place, Perth (Grid ref: NO 120230). Parking available in South Inch Car Park (50p/hour, Mon-Sat) Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 58; Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 369 Tourist Information: Perth iCentre, 45 High Street, Perth PH1 5TJ (Tel 01738 450600) Public transport: Perth is well served by buses and trains
The first in a summer series of boat trips along the River Tay was officially launched on Friday. The return journeys between Perth and Broughty have been launched in a collaboration between Perth and Kinross Council and the Tay and Earn Trust. Bosses say the Tay is "the jewel in Perth's crown" and the venture is an exciting new way to make the most of one of the city's greatest assets. It follows the success of similar trips last year. The schedule has now been extended from May to July, offering passengers a fresh way to view Elcho Castle, Kinnoull Hill and other landmarks from the river. Shorter voyages, from the Fergusson Pontoon to Kinnoull Hill are also on offer, taking people under the Friarton Bridge and past the Willowgate Activity Centre before returning to Perth. The council and the trust are working in partnership with David Anderson Marine who will be providing the Broughty Ferry trips and Tay Maritime Action (Taymara). Perth and Kinross Council's environment, enterprise and infrastructure convener, councillor Angus Forbes, said the team were delighted to be able to offer the service this summer. "Qualified crews will provide safe access to the exciting River Tay marine environment, providing a memorable experience for all," he added. Perth and Kinross Provost Dennis Melloy said: “The Tay is an important and unique asset for Perth and improving access to it by offering boat trips is a great way to attract visitors to the area. “It is important that we continue to develop opportunities on the river. Having the pontoons in place is an important stage in continuing the delivery of the infrastructure to support this. “I hope that visitors and residents of Perth and Kinross will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity." Simon Clarke, chairman of the Tay and Earn Trust said: “This year's visitors will not only be able to explore the Activity Centre but also be able to sample the home made cakes at Willowgate Café. “The Willowgate destination continues to grow and is proud to be working with Perth and Kinross Council in introducing and re-introducing people to the jewel in Perth’s crown that is the River Tay." Due to the tidal nature of the river, the trip will run at different times throughout the day. Tickets start at £9 per adult and can be found at perthcity.co.uk/boating-on-the-tay.
Sir, In his article, Keen to get the boot in, has Kieran Andrews, for once, strayed from that steep and narrow path of political neutrality that he normally treads with such skill and assurance? It does not matter which parties are under discussion, call them Party A and Party B if you like, Kevin Keenan was doing what he, and many of your readers, consider to be right in drawing to the attention of the public the possibility that Dundee City Council has deliberately kept quiet about the escalating cost of the V & A, and kept the highly questionable closure of Menzieshill High School from public debate to a politically convenient time. It is the duty of all councillors to represent the tax payers by contesting policies with which they do not agree. Nor should Mr Keenan wait for the McClelland report. These matters are in the public eye right now and are being discussed right now. This public interest will not wait for a report nor be stifled by any newspaper article. Indeed the timing of such reports and their content has been a matter for debate these last few weeks. Mr Keenan is doing what he was elected to do and it ill behoves your distinguished correspondent to chastise him for it. We have a problem in Scotland. If any party commands a big majority, be it in council or parliament, and chooses to pack the “cross-party” committees with its supporters, we, the electors, have no way of stopping them when they produce policies that might be ill- conceived. There is no upper house nor, as far as I can see, any judicial procedure which can act as a buffer. This puts such a party into a position of dictatorship which might well be envied by some of the less desirable rulers of parts of Africa. Robert Lightband. Clepington Court, Dundee. Vote them out of office Sir, I refer to the reported comments of Kevin Keenan (Courier, January 28) concerning an alleged “bad news cover-up” by the SNP over the closure of Menzieshill School and the huge budget overspend on the V&A building. It is inconceivable that the governing body only became aware of these issues shortly after September 18. If this was the case, then it simply proves huge management incompetence. If, on the other hand, it was a deliberate decision to delay bad news until after the referendum vote, then it displays a combination of cynicism and opportunism on the part of the SNP that is just as bad, and in this case somewhat worse, than the machinations of the Westminster Government about which the SNP complains so much. It seems councillors and politicians of all shades of persuasion are tarred by the same brush of dishonesty and contempt for those who elect them to office. In either case, it would seem expedient to vote these councillors out of office. Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstruther. Council should think again Sir, With regard to Perth & Kinross Council’s proposal to cull deer at Kinnoull, I was in conversation some weeks ago with a lady from the monastery area of Kinnoull, and we both expressed our concern that the deer seem to be absent from our abode. Is nothing sacred anymore? Kinnoull is a beauty spot and if walking there and sighting one of those beautiful creatures, one ought to feel a little humility and realise that it is a privilege to catch a glimpse of such beauty. The council should think long and hard about their proposal. I cannot fathom the statistics, I never catch a glimpse of deer now and I am an avid walker. Irene Gunnion. 15 Bowerswell Cottages, Perth. The tune’sthe thing Sir, In my letter advocating Scots Wha Hae (January 28), the word “and” crept into the sentence “magnificent and with a jauntier tempo”. I do recognise that, in most renditions, the tempo is painfully slow, rendering it as a dirge (even the SNP murder it in this way at their conference). What I propose is that with a jauntier tempo it is transformed. Imagine a roll of drums, crash of cymbals then a stirring upbeat delivery. If the words are too anti-English for some though lots of national anthems hark back to ancient battles then (heresy?) write new ones. The tune’s the thing. David Roche. Hill House, Coupar Angus. V&A now looks like a ‘bargain’ Sir, Recently, I was glancing through a magazine in an accountant’s office. There was a very interesting article on government projects over the years. Here are some details. In the interests of fair play, I have stated respective party involvement. Blue streak and Concorde projects: Expenditure £1.3 billion. Conservative. Written off. Millennium Dome: Expenditure £828m. Labour. Sold for a £1. ID Cards: Expenditure £300m. Labour. Abandoned. NHS IT upgrade: Expenditure £2.7billion. Labour. Scrapped. The V&A could almost be described as a bargain! Gill Wilson. Hilton of Fern, Brechin. Crackpot thinking Sir, By introducing slavery into an argument about global CO2 emissions, Mary Henderson (Letters, January 26) aptly illustrates the brainwashed and crackpot thinking of those who inflict needless economic distress on the UK, with demands for needless CO2 reductions. Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.
Sir, I was shocked to read about proposals to slaughter deer on Kinnoull Hill. Newspaper reports this week state that “officers are keen to preserve sites of scientific interest” and a mass shooting is needed to safeguard Perth’s woodland areas from further damage. Where was the preservation interest a year ago when Kinnoull Hill was devastated by the felling and transporting of hundreds of trees for commercial use, not to mention the ruinous waste left behind to paths which had been there for decades. I suggest that it is not the deer that are having a negative effect on Kinnoull Hill. Many friends, like myself, have walked our dogs several times a week in this once beautiful area of Kinnoull for 20-plus years and still delight on the odd occasion to catch a glimpse of a deer. This is a very rare sight these days even with all the clearances and devastation. A council report states there are 15 and 20 deer in a square kilometre patch of Kinnoull Hill. When was this information collated for the council and by whom? Prove it, I say. I, for one, simply do not believe it. Two years ago the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said that Scotland’s deer population was dangerously low. Who pays attention to them the experts? I remember reading an article several years ago about stalkers being brought in to cull deer up north and the carcasses of many of these beautiful creatures were left to rot where they were shot. Friends of Kinnoull Hill, let us stand together and not allow our deer to be slaughtered by a council who have no idea what they are proposing but are simply allowing themselves to be guided by someone’s statistics. Maggie Burns-Bellingham. Bowerswell Cottage, Perth. What would you expect? Sir, The rushed Smith Commission “reforms” look bitty and incoherent, but what else could have been expected from an intervention by the infamously incompetent Gordon Brown? The intention behind his eve-of-referendum “vow” was to give Scots enough rope on welfare to hang themselves if they want gold-plated benefits, to make sure they paid for them. As regards devolved income tax, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warns that Scotland’s weak tax base and relatively older population means there will be a serious fiscal shortfall. In any case, the nationalist government’s performance in the fields already devolved has been deplorable with health and education ever more monolithic, obdurate and ineffectual. Finally, any hope that the Sturgeon era might be more synergistic died with her unprincipled and opportunist abandonment of the SNP’s agreement not to vote on “English” bills. John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews. Couldn’t ignore the temptation Sir, It was more than disappointing to read the change to the SNP code of practice and behaviour at Westminster. I long believed they were correct to abstain from legislation which affected English voters specifically and for a very good reason. Those voters who are our neighbours and share our government have no opportunity to vote for the Scottish Nationalists, and according to the Nationalists should not be governed by an administration for whom they cannot vote. The question then would be: why now? Regardless of any rhetoric from Edinburgh it is obvious that the nationalists believe they have a chance at the general election and cannot avoid the temptation of realising their ambitions to rule the English through shadow influential tactics which might affect the overall balance of power. The SNP represented a wish for the independence of Scotland but were defeated by the voters, so it is an historic moment indeed to see them put honour and principle aside for the hopes of some little power over our neighbours. In addition, their behaviour may change politics at Westminster forever, causing a change in the law so as to disqualify Scottish MPs from voting on any English legislation. Alan Bell. Roods, Kirriemuir. Predictions are coming true Sir, The “once-in-a-century” blizzard that has blanketed the east coast of the USA is one of the completely predictable consequences of climate change. Big snowfall, big rainstorms, is what climate scientists have been predicting for years. More very large events becoming more common is a consequence of climate change, particularly in northeast USA. The Eastern USA seaboard is the big winner in the “extreme precipitation” sweepstakes dealt out by global warming, with the region seeing the biggest increase in the severity of the most severe blizzards or rainstorms across the United States. Such heavy storms have increased by more than 70% in the last six decades, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment report. Called extreme precipitation, these are the top 1% of blizzards or rainstorms that pack the heftiest punch, threatening sudden floods or paralysing snowdrifts. The trend has hit all across the USA, but with less impact in drier regions such as the south-west, which has seen only a 5% increase in such events. These storms result from a paradox of global warming in which warmer air temperatures mean more moisture is stuffed into clouds. That’s why when it rains or snows it pours harder than ever out of those overstuffed skies. In New York City, where Monday’s storm is expected to break snowfall records, five of the 10 biggest blizzards since 1869 have come since 2003. The extreme snowfall the USA is experiencing is completely typical of what you would expect to see in a warming climate. Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee. Mockery of a consultation Sir, Although tinged with some anger, what a pleasant surprise to read, courtesy of Stewart McKiddie’s letter (yesterday’s Courier), that my fellow citizens did in fact opt for what I, too, thought was the best design for the V&A. Evidently, their input was just for show and the “arty” design team ignored that choice and went for their own. That said, why the mockery of a consultation? Why the impression that the people had a say? Now the waterfront has become an affront to the common-sense, down-to-earth outlook of my fellow citizens; a trait of which I will always be proud. They will be, therefore, totally aware that with such an incredible increase in cost, so early on in the project, it will now inflate even faster than the universe ever did. Inflation is the reason given for the increase and that is with a significant reduction in the aims of the initial design. I was under the impression that inflation has been running rather low for the past few years; so much so that deflation is now regarded as being mildly possible. It seems we poor citizens really do not understand the deep and profound thinking of the truly cerebrally-blessed experts of the V&A project. As I look upon the wasteland, where once busy docks are buried deep; where my great-grandfather’s business once was; where my grandmother’s business once was, and where I worked for many years, I ask: where is the carnival of life that once played upon these simple streets, and why is this scene of rampant destruction spread before our winter sun and the wide wonder of our silvery Tay? Leslie Isles Milligan. 18b Myrtlehall Gardens, Dundee. No rush, let’s get it right Sir, Jim Crumley recently asked: “Why not Flower of Scotland?” The brusque answer is that it is a maudlin dirge, but the main objection is that it is a folk song albeit a good one and very popular more suitable for pub or terracing. It lacks pretty well every requirement of an inspiring national anthem gravitas, dignity, stirring melody. The pipes can’t deal with it and the dismal tempo usually means a ragged ending. Although I have campaigned for “Scots Wha Hae” for years magnificent and with a jauntier tempo, words by Burns etc I have concluded that the Scottish Government should commission a new anthem. We have terrific composers and poets aplenty. Above all there should be no “popular competition”, which will be hijacked and dumbed down by the tabloids, and almost certainly bring forth a cringe-making compromise. Who would bet against “Stop your ticklin’ Jock”? Incidentally, there need be no conflict with “God Save the Queen”. This would be played on distinctively British occasions or when Royalty is present, alongside the Scottish National Anthem. Several countries do this perfectly comfortably. There is no hurry to choose an official anthem. Let’s do it properly and get it right. David Roche. Hill House, Coupar Angus. We already have an anthem Sir, Our national anthem is “God save the King/Queen”. I have sung both in my lifetime. The third verse (never sung, it makes it too long) does indeed refer to “rebellious” Scots, who were, of course, mainly Jacobites. Yes, there were English Jacobites too. For religious reasons mainly, the majority of Scots wanted their rebellious countrymen suppressed as well, so that, as loyalists, they could get on with their lives in (relative) peace, and sing “God save the King/Queen” where relevant, and enjoy empire-building, the industrial revolution, or whatever, and the Enlight- enment. I hope that clears up a tetchy irritation. “Flower of Scotland” is racist, in my opinion. A T Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes. Frustration with call centres Sir, I wish large UK comp-anies would stop employing international call centres to handle their customer inquiries. I realise that this is purely a financial move on the part of those organisations trying to cut costs but to customers it is increasingly frustrating. It is also socially immoral, as there are a large number of unemployed people in our own country who could benefit from this type of work and they could stimulate the economy in the UK instead of helping out poorer countries. I will now refuse to do business with organisations that use international call centres. I find it too irritating to have my inquiry dealt with by someone who cannot understand a Scottish accent. Recently I tried to get in touch with BT and each time I got through to an Indian call centre. After 15 attempts I gave up. I was told that if all the UK call centres are occupied a call will be rerouted but 15 times? Please, organisations, put your customers and UK unem-ployed first. Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth. Eat a cow and save the world Sir, The green lobby (and, alas, some of our MSPs) are obsessed with saving the planet by building windmills to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But there is a more potent greenhouse gas methane. Do they know that cows produce prodigious amounts of it (from both ends) every day? And that there are millions of cattle in the world? So, the answer to global warming is not to build a windmill; everyone should eat a cow. John Dorward. 89 Brechin Road, Arbroath. Safer forms of energy needed Sir, Apparently, the government is about to introduce a bill this month to carry out fracking under our homes. At the same time, scientists are said to be warning that the use of such fuels will bring nearer the point of no return in climate change. We should be exploring safe sources of energy such as hydro-electricity, solar power and the sea, with its unlimited power in the tides. Malby Goodman. 70 High Street, Aberdour.
A controversial plan which objectors claimed would spoil the romantic setting of a Perthshire folly has been rejected. The Tay Landscape Partnership had applied to build three stone plinths with interpretation panels in a semi-circle close to the B-listed Kinnoull Tower which overlooks the River Tay from the top of Kinnoull Hill. The main thrust of the objections was that the close proximity of the plinths to the 18th century structure would spoil the visitor experience. A council officer has refused the application under delegated powers due to the number of signs and their “inappropriate siting”. “The proposal, by virtue of its inappropriate siting and design, would have an adverse impact on the setting of the adjacent listed building,” it was concluded. The application caused a storm of protest from objectors who feared – while well-intentioned – it would detract from the experience of visitors. The tower, which is a landmark to motorists travelling along the Carse of Gowrie, is one of Perthshire’s most photographed structures. A large number of objections were lodged with the council, including one from its own conservation officer. Typical was the letter from Marie Morris who said: “The proposed signage is totally unsympathetic to the natural area, and will completely ruin the aesthetics of the tower itself, and its immediate surroundings. “The tower is an iconic attraction for many people, tourists and locals alike. “Perth and Kinross Council have a duty to ensure the sustainability of this attraction for future generations to enjoy, not allow it to become forever devalued by tacky, unsightly and wholly inappropriate signage. “I am sure that there are, as others have already commented, more appropriate areas for the information signage to be sited.” Another objector, Norman Renfrew of Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park Group welcomed the decision saying: “For many years the public have made it clear that Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park should be a place of natural beauty with the absolute minimum of ‘made items’ whether they be seats, bins or signs.” The Tay Landscape Partnership say they will now discuss their options in conjunction with the landowners.
Smart Parking has been called upon to resolve a potential issue with a parking payment app that led to a teacher being caught out at a notorious Perth car park. The much-criticised private parking firm allows motorists to use an app, RingGo, as one of the options for paying to use the Kinnoull Street multi-storey car park. The app allows motorists to pay for parking either by using a location code, or by selecting their position on a map. However the position pins for Kinnoull Street multi-storey car park and Kinnoull Street itself appear on top of each other. Users selecting what appears to be a single pin are told they are at “Kinnoull Street” with the location not changing to “Kinnoull Street multi-storey” unless tapped for a second time. Stewart Digney, who teaches English at Perth Academy, said he had appealed a Smart Parking ticket three times but the firm insists the charge stands. The 29-year-old said: “As far as I was concerned, I had paid for parking at Kinnoull Street car park. It turns out there are two parking zones, both called Kinnoull Street, where the pins are on top of each other. “I hadn’t been able to see the location number anywhere in the car park so used the map – it said ‘Kinnoull Street’ so naturally I thought that was correct. There is no reason to think that wasn’t correct. “I went back later to investigate and although there are lots of signs saying you must pay, there is one small RingGo number tucked away and you could easily walk past that. “I think that given there are two similarly named tags on the app then Smart Parking could make this much clearer. “I haven’t deliberately gone to do them out of any money, I’ve even offered to pay the £2 for parking but it’s an issue with the RingGo system and a lack of clarity. “If you are not aware there are two tags for two locations then you’ve pretty much got no chance. Smart Parking needs to make their RingGo code more prominent if they are offering that as a method of payment.” Pete Wishart, who has long campaigned against the firm, called on Smart Parking to fix the fault. He said: “This latest issue with RingGo, should have been easy enough to fix but yet again Smart Parking would rather issue ‘fines’ than deal with the inherent problems with their technology. Smart Parking must cancel any charges triggered by this fault. ‘People are paying for parking in good faith and are being hounded by this company and their debt collectors for a problem the company have so far refused to fix. “I would encourage people to continue to stay clear of this car park until its many problems are resolved, or until another parking operator comes along – whichever comes first.” A spokesman for Smart Parking said: “Ringo is a simple and straightforward app used by millions of motorists. Mr Digney accepts he did not pay to use our car park and that is why he was correctly issued a parking charge.” The Courier was unable to contact RingGo for comment.
A plan to enhance the visitor experience at one of Perth’s most well-known landmarks has caused a storm of protest. The Tay Landscape Partnership has applied to build three stone plinths with interpretation panels in a semi circle a few feet from the B-listed Kinnoull Tower which overlooks the River Tay from the top of Kinnoull Hill. The main thrust of the objections is the close proximity of the plinths to the 18th century romantic feature will spoil the visitor experience. Among the objectors is Mrs Marian Coburn who says: “The location of the signage is extremely poor and will have a huge negative effect on the natural beauty of the tower. “The proposed location of the signage will devalue the tower’s iconic status. The tower is one of the most photographed landmarks of Perth by visitors and locals alike, adding ugly modern signage is wholly inappropriate and vandalism." In his objection Norman Renfrew of the Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park Group said: “The plinths are an alien feature for a natural landscape. To tell the story of the tower one small plinth is all that’s needed, the need to tell a wider history will only make an unsightly and unnecessary clutter, seriously detracting from the beauty of the natural environment.” Council conservation officer Diane Barbary also objected, commenting: “The folly is sited at the top of steep cliffs, and also creates a dramatic viewpoint on the hill looking out over Perth and the Carse of Gowrie. “The existing flat open grass area to the immediate north of the folly provides space to appreciate these views. “While more distant views of the structure would not be affected, the immediate setting of what was intended as a romantic architectural addition to a wild, isolated location is likely to be compromised by the over-engineered and visually intrusive structure proposed.” A spokesperson for the Tay Landscape Partnership said the interpretation boards were part of a wider collaboration with various community groups. "The three new panels not only explain Kinnoull Tower but also help visitors understand the landscape and view beyond it," they said. "Once Perth and Kinross Council has considered the planning application and given their formal response to the objections, the Partnership will review our plans accordingly."
Urgent action must be taken to secure the future of one of Perth’s most historic buildings, according to a former councillor. In his role as chairman of Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park Group, Norman Renfrew attacked the council’s lack of commitment to maintaining the B-listed tower which overlooks the Tay from a dramatic rocky outcrop. He said the council had been quick to condemn the owners of other listed buildings for their neglect – notably in the case of St Paul’s Church in the city – but claimed they were not speaking from a position of strength. Mr Renfrew, 79, of Riverview Park, Perth said the tower is second in its iconic status only to St John's Kirk in the city centre. He said: “The council’s record of maintaining its own List B building is not good. “In 2012 the council did a survey of the tower and the report recommended repairs costing £6,000. They were never done. The next survey was due in 2015.” Concerned about the issue Mr Renfrew obtained the council’s position via a Freedom of Information request which revealed that the 2015 survey did not take place due to a “reprioritisation of work to suit available resources”. The FOI response went on: “The resources issue has also led to the condition survey programme being reprioritised and reorganised to suit not only the number of staff, but a risk assessment for each building. Therefore, the tower is due to be surveyed in 2018.” The revelation shocked Mr Renfrew who said: “That is hardly the view of an enthusiastic guardian of a List B icon. “Perth and Kinross is a council with good resources of funds but obviously chooses not to put enough into heritage buildings maintenance. “What actually is the state of the tower? A tech-savvy member of the public has, with permission, done a drone survey. This shows serious cracking of the tower with much missing mortar. “Surely repair cannot wait till a 2018 survey?” MSP Murdo Fraser said action must be taken to preserve an iconic piece of local history. “Ensuring that listed buildings are maintained is incredibly important and by not undertaking repair work early the council is storing up expensive problems for the future,” he said. “With Kinnoull Hill enthusiasts noting further decay to the stonework, Perth and Kinross Council cannot afford to wait until 2018 before carrying out an additional survey and it would be folly to do so.” Councillor and MSP Alexander Stewart agreed saying the tower must not be “left to rot”. “This is part of the culture, tradition and history of the community,” he said. A council spokesperson said there was light at the end of the tunnel in securing the future of the tower. “Perth and Kinross Council Property Services have been approached by Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (PKHT) in connection with the development of a conservation project for the tower on Kinnoull Hill. “The council has agreed to PKHT's proposals in principle although this agreement is subject to all necessary checks being carried out. "The council would retain ownership of the tower and any works undertaken by PKHT would be underwritten to ensure responsibility for any defects following completion. "Independent surveys do not suggest any major work on the structure is required." The spokesman added that while St Paul’s Church is a privately-owned building, the authority is working with the owner on securing repairs "or alternatively taking further action itself in respect of repair with a view to potential acquisition.” An historic feature inspired by the Rhine A castellated folly dramatically sited on the extreme edge of Kinnoull Hill, the tower was built in 1829 by Lord Grey of Kinfauns. The dramatic cliffs on the south side of Kinnoull Hill reminded the 9th Earl of Kinnoull of the lofty crags along the Rhine Valley in Germany and the fairy tale castles that dot the rocky outcrops there. He felt that Perth needed its own version of those castles so he erected fantasy towers on top of Binn Hill, which is in private ownership, and at Kinnoull Hill. Consisting of a round tower set between walls, battlements and arches, the Kinnoull tower is a popular destination for walkers.
The spectacle of over 500 santas running through the streets of Perth brought a smile to the faces of Christmas shoppers today. A new event for Perth’s Winter Festival, the 5km fun run was started from outside Perth Concert Hall by Provost Liz Grant. The route took the runners along Mill Street, Kinnoull Street, High Street and Tay Street before crossing Queen’s Bridge and continuing along Dundee Road, Gowrie Street and over Perth Bridge. After a final stretch on Tay Street, the route ended with a circuit of the North Inch.Click here for a full photo gallery by The Courier's Steve MacDougall.Video by Richard Burdge