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Weekly reveals blunders which led to historic landmark being ‘reduced to rubble’

A Scottish weekly title has laid bare the ‘jaw-dropping’ sequence of events which resulted in an historic listed clock tower being demolished instead of repaired.

Stirling Observer reporter Alastair McNeill revealed the ‘sobering’ results of the city council’s ‘thorough investigation’ into the bungle which reduced the Christie Memorial Clock to rubble.

His coverage included a front-page lead, inside write-up and accompanying online content, while the incident was also mentioned by council leader Chris Kane in his regular Observer newspaper column.

A front page image of the clock being demolished, pictured below, was overlaid with the headline ‘Demolition bungle was failure o’clock’ and a strapline which read ‘Audit finds ‘jaw-dropping sequence of missed opportunities’.

The front page of the Stirling Observer.

The front page of the Stirling Observer.

Alastair’s copy recalls how residents looked on in horror when the C-listed tower, originally built in 1905-06, was brought crashing to the ground when crushed by the very excavator that had been sent to help remove it for crucial repair works.

Describing it as a ‘night-time repair gone wrong’ he wrote: “The council had received advice and recommendations that the clock should be removed for off-site repairs. However, much of the C-listed structure, erected in 1905-06, was reduced to rubble that evening with only the plinth remaining.

“Distressing social media footage showed an excavator hitting the stone column, eventually crushing it and the surrounding scaffolding.

“A significant proportion of the clock tower will need to be remade with new stone but, the newspaper states, it is not clear how much of the old clock mechanism can be restored.”

Among the 27 points raised by the council, Alistair listed, ‘there was a jaw-dropping sequence of missed opportunities (and) systematic failure’ as the council chief executive issued an unreserved apology.

Stirling Council leader, Chris Kane, writing in his regular Stirling Observer column, said: “A thorough piece of work by the audit team resulted in 27 recommendations to ensure nothing like this should happen again.

“I welcome the chief executive’s public apology given at the start of the meeting and share in her observations that the report brings nothing but extreme regret and disappointment.

“The council will learn from this episode and must work hard to rebuild both the clock, and trust, in its role as a guardian of Stirling’s heritage.”