Mission Statement

The aim of the Scottish Stone Liaison Group is to enhance availability, promote utilisation and advance knowledge and skills in design, specification and use of indigenous Scottish stone in existing and new build projects.

NEWSLETTER

Stone Industry Project

Issue No. 8 Summer 2004

Slating & tiling courses

The case having previously been made, namely that there were no such college based courses north of Arbroath, the SSLG Chief Executive is delighted to be able to report that the Northern College will be offering slating & tiling courses this autumn in Alness. Already considerable interest has been expressed and, with this new facility pending, there has already been an increase in the number of trainees for this trade.

This demonstrates, as does the stonemason facility at Elgin, where training is local that there is an increase in the number of employers sending their trainees to these colleges. The avid reader of the Newsletter will recall that, whilst the normal drop out rate for trainees is somewhere in the area of 20%, where travelling to the “central belt” for training this drop out rate rises to between 40% - 60%. What a waste of money, effort and time – this can only lead to disillusionment and contribute to the partially / semi-skilled operatives that can result in the proverbial “cowboy builders”. This leads very nicely into the next subject.

Mobile training rigs

The case is simply put – if trainees in rural areas are unable (or perhaps unwilling) to attend college (which may necessitate living away from home) then colleges, particularly in the Highlands, should consider some innovative ideas which might result in taking the training to the trainees!

Such training facilities are apparently available in America and Colleges, outwith the central belt of Scotland, should consider the possibility of emulating their American colleagues. OK the actual size of the rigs would have to address the road conditions in such areas but the challenge is there. The question is – are any of the colleges able to consider, let alone address, this challenge?

Glasgow project

Details of this project were outlined in the previous Newsletter but, for new readers, a brief recap.

In order to determine the number of stonemasons required to ensure the appropriate maintenance of Glasgow’s built heritage for future years the SSLG considers that it is first necessary to determine the skill level of the current workforce, assess the “health” of that built heritage to determine the skills that will be required in the future and then, and only then, is it possible to determine if there are sufficient stonemasons with the necessary skills to meet that need.

A funding bid was submitted to Scottish Enterprise and, whilst not wishing to be over optimistic, a structure is being established, to enable us “hit the ground running” if and when approval is received.

The project will be overseen by a management team which will included Professor B Bluck, Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Mr John Gilbert, nominated by the RIAS - Glasgow Chapter, Mr A Stark, formerly a Director of Watson Stonecraft, Mr Graeme Ogilvy, Scottish Manager CITB, Alan McKinney Chief Executive SSLG, and nominees from the City of Glasgow Council and the Scottish Civic Trust. In addition there will be a Project Director – Mr Dennis Urquhart, formerly RGU.

Centre of excellence

Price Waterhouse Cooper has been commissioned to undertake research into the feasibility of the creation of a Centre of Excellence based at Fyvie Castle and its report is imminent. The National Trust of Scotland is the co-ordinating body and Alan McKinney, Chief Executive SSLG, is on the Steering Group progressing this possibility.

National planning policy guidelines

Following the coverage given to this matter in Newsletter No.7, seeking to determine how Scottish local authorities were addressing their obligations listed under NPPG 18 para 20, three Councils were named for not having responded – these were Dumfries & Galloway, North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire. It is a matter of regret that, even after four letters and a public naming, no response has been received.

However the issues raised during this research are now being pursued at a different level.