"Dream not a Nightmare", says Cllr. John McMillan. Really?
We can tell you, John, about a Dream that's become a Nightmare on your watch ...
It is/ was 'our' Dream at the 1745 Battle Trust, 100% in line with 'your' declared policy for the development of tourism in East Lothian. An authoritative Edinburgh study affirmed that if done well, upwards of 100,000 day visitors could be expected. The then SNP 'Minister for Battlefields' visited us and pledged the Government's support. He nominated a Point Man inside Historic Scotland to see we didn't get run around its systems.
The 'Dream' so far ... In 2010 The Battle Trust petitioned East Lothian Council's Petitions Committee for support to enhance several elementary aspects of the battlefield - like signs pointing the wrong way, Gardiner's memorial neglected. And we asked for support to establish a Living History Centre at the Heritage Museum. We also shortly after proposed that the Prestonpans Tapestry should find its permanent home there. A senior officer was designated as Point Man for the Council to ensure we got things moving.
The Trust has not asked for any funding from the Council or Government, yet! We know times are hard and although funds were found for Bannockburn and for a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scottish History in the Borders, we are not jealous, much. Quite simply we are waiting for the Council to decide whether or not we can locate at the Heritage Museum. They've been thinking about it since January 2010.
John McMillan, we know you only became involved after the creation of the East Lothian Coalition Cabinet in May 2012. We had a very early meeting at which it was all systems go. We've honoured our part of the bargain. Even raised the funds to change that wrong signage and a great deal more. Attracted thousands of visitors too.
But absolutely no outcomes at East Lothian Council since May 2012 any more than anything happened between January 2010 and April 2012.
But hey presto. Without a word to anyone except Marie Sharp, the appropriately named Senior Reporter at the East Lothian Courier, Scottish Enterprise arrive mob handed with a plan to turn the lives of half our community along our Coast upside down. And you're all over them. You tell us to stop seeing a nightmare and recognise Dreamtime when it beckons. The aborigines in Australia have the rights to the word Dreamtime by the way, and look where that got them.
No John, it's not a nightmare we are having. We have our own dreams here. We are just not going to be rolled over. And forget about building Offshore Energy Sub-Stations on the battlefield and its burial grounds as long as the walls are painted green, or taking more as suggested in Scottish Enterprise's Scoping Proposals.
We don't want consultations or transparency [well done Marie Sharp for seeing through the opaque glass] on how we will endure ideas we don't necessarily want in the first place. We want determination of what happens next. Not as NIMBYs but as a community very much with ideas of its own for the post-industrial community we have become since the 1960s. In the 50 years since we last saw manufacturing/ engineering in our community we have crafted a new way of life. And whilst it might well be acceptable to see the land that Cockenzie Power Station as successor to Preston Links Colliery occupied still used for industry in the future, it needs to be wholly compatible with the communities which host it.
So don't go making decisions or approving proposals that the community at large hereabout opposes. That's not democratic and East Lothian Council as elected has no mandate for such actions. Go along to meetings of the extraordinary phenomenon of our Coastal Regeneration Alliance which Scottish Enterprise has unwittingly created. It's in a state of 'aestivations et liaisons dangereux' but as Barrack O'Bama [he's Irish don't you know] and Nigel Farage have shown, in today's digital world quite extraordinary things can happen.
P.S. In a spare moment, can you drop us a line about that plan to attract 100,000+ visitors to our community and give us the sort of support the Borders Council has given to its tourism prospects at the end of their new railway line? There's the 4th National Battlefield Symposium on October 24th. There's a platform to announce it really is all systems go, and that there wont be any construction on the battle site.
P.P.S. Apologies. The Battle Trust has asked for support for the annual re-enactments, which since 2007 have been funded by donations now totalling some £80,000 cash + £240,000 estimated benefit in kind from more than 600 volunteer re-enactors, 3,000 meals at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg [they buy their own real ale!] and 400 dawn breakfasts on the Riggonhead Defile of an apple and a freshly cooked Scotch egg @ 5 am [thanks Andrew Laurie & Carol Black]. And after 18 months consideration at the Council, the Trust has now gratefully received £5,000 towards this year's splendid re-enactments [the largest in Scotland mind you!] which take place just after the Referendum Vote, on 19th/ 21st September.
P.P.P.S. ... and the armies have got to sleep gratis on the floor in Prestonpans Town Hall although a fee for use of The Greenhills has lately been payable and Planning Application fees for each of the 8 Interpretation Boards installed. Mustn't forget them ...
Published Date: August 30th 2014