SNP Government to build homes on Bannockburn Battlefield despite Council objection?

SNP Government Ministers have decided to hear an appeal by developers to build houses on the Bannockburn battle field DESPITE Stirling Councillors refusing planning permission last year.


Developers submitted a speculative proposal to build 250 houses on land that that wasn’t zoned for housing.  Among the 13 reasons for refusal given by councillors was that the development would not respect the battlefield, particularly the views and interpretation from the nearby rotunda and Robert the Bruce memorial. Developers appealed the decision and this week SNP Ministers decided to hear their appeal personally, rather than leave it to civil servants.  It raises the possibility that, bizarrely, the SNP Government might overrule Stirling Councillors and allow expensive houses to be built on a site SNP supporters, and much of Scotland, considers hallowed ground.

Bannockburn Councillor Margaret Brisley said,

“This is the most bizzare interference from the SNP Government in local planning issues yet. Councillors of all parties turned down this application because of the visual impact it would have on the battlefield.  The developer, as is their right, have appealed that decision to the SNP Government reporter but most people expected this to be a formality.  By calling this in, SNP Ministers either don’t care about the Battle of Bannockburn, or they don’t trust their own civil servants to do their job.  Either way, this is another sign of a controlling, centralising SNP Government that doesn’t care about local democracy and the rights of local people to make the decisions that are right for their communities.”

SNP Ministers have a track record of overruling their own councillors and trampling on local democracy when it comes to planning decisions.  Last year SNP Ministers granted planning permission for a development at Park of Keir, despite overwhelming protest from residents, Stirling Council and even the SNP Government’s own planning appeals Reporter.  Residents in Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead are still waiting to hear if Ministers will ignore the public and Local Authority decisions and grant housing at Airthrey Kerse.

Speaking after the rejection last year, SNP Councillor Alasdair MacPherson said, “the unanimous rejection of these plans by councillors represents our recognition of the national importance of the historic Bannockburn battleground and this Green Belt area – the Council fully agreed with planning officers that the proposals were completely inappropriate for such an important site in Stirling’s history and future.”

This story relates to our 2017 Stirling Council Manifesto Commitment:

  • We will put pressure on the Scottish Government to overhaul the planning system to put more power in the hands of our local communities, not the hands of developers or distant government bureaucrats

National Tennis Academy for Stirling

Commenting on the news that Stirling is to be the home of one of two new National Tennis Academies, Stirling Labour’s spokesperson for Sport, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Chris Kane says,

“With the National Swimming Academy and National Curling Academy already based in Stirling, our growing reputation as Scotland’s capital of Sporting excellent is further enhanced by this welcome news that one of two UK National Tennis Academies will be based at the University of Stirling.  Coupled with the excellent facilities at the Peak and the news last week that the University is investing £20 million in a new sports centre, we are fortunate to have world class facilities and coaches on our doorstep and I look forward to seeing the next Andy Murray or Gordon Reid supported from Stirling’s nursery school all the way to the courts of Wimbledon in the years ahead.”

Get help from the Stirling Citizen’s Advice Bureau when you need it

At the recent meeting of the Stirling Constituency Labour Party, Jim Roche, Chair of the Stirling District Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), gave a presentation on the advice services and assistance offered to people across Stirling.  From offering a drop in service at their offices in Upper Craigs, to providing outreach services in libraries across the District, CAB help Stirling’s citizens get support on everything from applying for benefits to changing energy supplier.

Jim talked about a new rural and Eastern Villages outreach service run in partnership with Stirling Council, which gives advice and support to people transitioning to the Tory’s horrendous Universal Credit benefits scheme.

Labour Councillor Chris Kane, who is Stirling Council’s Convenor of Community Planning & Regeneration, says,

IMGP9304 (1)“So many of the services we rely on in every day are only offered online, meaning we require access to a computer, access to the internet and the skills to use both.   While our children are being swept along by the digital revolution, the rest of us are trying to ensure we’re not swept aside by it.  Digital literacy should never be taken for granted and if you are struggling, please remember you are not alone. Through services such as the Rural and Eastern Villages Advice Network, Stirling Council and CAB staff are here to help.  Not everybody can afford a computer, meaning Stirling Council’s libraries offer a digital lifeline for many people. We want to ensure that nobody is excluded and everyone can get appropriate advice and support as close to home as possible.”  

CLP Secretary Jennifer Preston said,

IMGP9284 (1)“The Stirling District Citizen’s Advice Bureau work hand in hand with Stirling Council staff to provide Stirling’s citizens with the support they need, when they need it most.  Under the current Tory Government, there has never been a greater need for a service like the one CAB have provided so well for so long.  There are many things the Tory Government do that are bordering on inhumane, but the cack handed way they continue to mishandle the most vulnerable in our society through policies like Universal Credit is truly appalling.  Hearing first hand from Jim some of the issues that CAB has to help people deal with was heartbreaking.”

If you are, or know anybody, who could benefit from speaking with CAB, you can get in touch as follows:

  • CAB, 3 Cameronian Street, Stirling, FK8 2DX (their office is opposite the Stirling Observer office on Upper Craigs).  The office offers a drop in service from 10am-3pm Mon-Thu.
  • Outwith the drop in times, you can get in touch at any time by calling 0808 800 9060.
  • You can visit the local CAB website at

Comment on Royal Bank Bannockburn Branch

Reflecting on the news that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Bannockburn branch has had a short term stay of execution, Bannockburn Councillor Margaret Brisley says,

IMGP0497“If RBS are looking for our thanks for keeping the Bannockburn branch open for a few extra months, they can whistle.  They shouldn’t be shutting it at all.  

 The taxpayer – you and I – are the majority shareholders in the Royal Bank.  The Tory Government could if they chose to, intervene and tell the Royal Bank to develop and use a social backbone.  

 Our Tory MP, Stephen Kerr, has been worse than useless – despite having a direct dial to the Treasury, he’s been unable to influence his own party to do the right think for his constituents.  From bank closures to Universal Credit, Stephen Kerr and this Tory Government show time and time again they have nothing but hardship to offer working class communities and the most vulnerable in our society.” 

RBS announced some months ago that they were due to close the Bannockburn branch this month.  This week they announced the branch will remain open until a new branch opens in the Thistle Centre.  The new branch will also replace the premises at Pitt Terrace and occupy the former Costa Coffee unit at Murray Place and the Savers shop immediately behind it.

Councillor Chris Kane, whose Stirling East ward covers Hillpark and Whins of Milton, says,

IMGP9304 (1)“I’m at a loss to understand how this new Thistle Centre branch is any more convenient than Pitt Terrace.   Locals who need to use the bus will, I suppose, be able to move from the bus station to the new premises completely under cover.  But that’s cold comfort if you’ve been soaked to the skin waiting for the bus at the other end.  

 RBS continue to treat loyal, long standing customers and branch staff atrociously.  RBS were quick to take a taxpayer bailout when they needed it, after years of pocketing outrageous profits for shareholders and senior management.  

 When the customers who have remained loyal to them through the best of times and the worst of times need the bank’s help and support, they find the branch door slammed shut in their face.”

MSP visits Stirling library dedicated to the life of Scottish Labour Party Founder

Labour MSP Richard Leonard was in Stirling this week to tour the Cunninghame Graham Library at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.  Robert Bontine Cunninghame Grahame was a writer, politician, journalist and adventurer who became the first ever socialist MP when elected in North Lanarkshire in 1886. He went on to found the Scottish Labour Party in 1888 with James Keir Hardie and, much later, the Scottish National Party in 1934.

L-R Colin O'Brien, Chairman of the Smith Art Gallery and Museum (and former Labour Stirling Councillor & Provost); Gerry McGarvey, Secretary of the RBCG Society (and former CLP Secretary) and Richard Leonard, Labour MSP and Secretary of the Keir Hardie Society
L-R Colin O’Brien, Chairman of the Smith Art Gallery and Museum (and former Labour Councillor & Provost); Gerry McGarvey, Secretary of the RBCG Society (and former CLP Secretary) and Richard Leonard, Labour MSP and Secretary of the Keir Hardie Society

The library, which opened in 2016, houses the collected works of, and about, this giant of the early socialist movement in the United Kingdom.  Whilst the library is free and available to visit by appointment at any time, every Thursday it is staffed by volunteers who are on hand to answer questions from visitors.

As Secretary of the Keir Hardie society, Richard was keen to reinforce the ties with the Cunninghame Graham society.  He toured the library and the museum with Cunninghame Graham Society Convenor Gerry McGarvey and Smith Art Gallery and Museum Chairman Colin O’Brien.

Richard says,

“Keir Hardie and Cunninghame Graham were there at the very dawn of the Labour movement and without them, our political landscape would be very different.  I am passionate about ensuring people have access to history so we can learn from it and I wanted to meet the volunteers here at the Stirling Smith who are doing so much to keep the legacy of Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham alive.  My visit reminded me of the Great Dock strikes of 1889, which Cunninghame Graham supported and stood alongside the dockers fighting for a minimum wage for their work.  These were also the docks which operated a policy where men would gather at the gates, sometimes two or three times a day, and hope to be called on to work.  The dockers knew this the “call-on policy”, but today we might describe it as a zero hours contract.  Each generation fights for what is right, but the similarities of what has gone before can provide context and help focus today’s efforts.” 

Gerry says,

“Cunninghame Graham is such an amazing character.  In his day he was such a dynamic figure as a politician and a writer.  But he was also an Argentinian cattle rancher and a British aristocrat.  He travelled to Morocco disguised as a Turkish Sheik and he prospected for gold in Spain.  He befriended Buffalo Bill in Texas and taught fencing in Mexico City.  He founded the forerunner of both the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party.  The more you find out about Robert Cunninghame Graham, they more you want to know.”

Robert Bontine Cunningham Graham
Robert Bontine Cunningham Graham

Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham died in 1936 in Argentina, but is buried at Inchmahome Priory on the Lake of Menteith, near to his family’s estate at Gartmore.  For more information on the Cunninghame Graham Library, log onto  The Museum also has items related to RBCG on permeant display as part of the “Stirling Story” exhibition.

For more information on the Cunninghame Graham society, check out their Facebook Page.

For more information on the Keir Hardie society, log onto