Window on the Past

Townhead Bridge, Kirkintilloch - photo courtesy of East Dunbartonshire Archives and Local Studies
Townhead Bridge, Kirkintilloch - photo courtesy of East Dunbartonshire Archives and Local Studies

20 years ago

Strathkelvin residents were set to pay less council tax after the new East Dunbartonshire Authority took over.

However council house rents were set to rise by £1.13.

And, while Strathkelvin residents were set to pay on average £23 less, neighbours in Milngavie and Bearsden - also part of the new authority - faced council tax increases ranging from £58 to £174.

Before announcing its budget, the ruling Labour group had to make cuts totalling over £8million to bring the new authority in line with the capping limits set by the Scottish office.

Council leader Charles Kennedy told the Herald that in order to come in line with the capping level, services had been ‘pared to the bone’.

Councillor Kennedy said: “Although very stringent cuts have had to be made across all services, the council has identified savings which allow the available cash to be targeted at areas of most need.

“We have even set up a special monitoring group to examine all areas of spending in detail and to make sure that every penny we spend buys the most it can for the people of East Dunbartonshire.”

Savings earmarked in the Labour administration’s budget included a 10 per cent increase in school catering charges, 50 per cent reduction in school grounds maintenance and a 40 per cent reduction in school repairs and maintenance.

Increases were also planned for meals on wheels.

15 years ago

Pupils at an East Dunbartonshire Primary were the latest group to suffer from the foot and mouth epidemic which was gripping the country.

Primary seven pupils at St Matthew’s Primary School, Bishopbriggs, were told that their school trip to Garelochhead was cancelled as a result of the movement restrictions put in place by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Eight cases had been confirmed in Scotland, with a further six suspected outbreaks, but East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire were so far untouched by the disease.

William Gilchrist, former president of the Kelvin branch of the National Farmers’ Union Scotland and owner of Rushyhill Farm in Auchinairn, described the situation as a “timebomb”.

He said: “We are just hoping and praying that it will not hit us, but we are sitting on a timebomb.

“Farmers are absolutely terrified. It’s like sitting in your house wondering whether a plane is going to crash down on top.

“The last time there was a foot and mouth outbreak was in 1957 and it lasted for five months.

“We would be finished if it hit us. We would get compensation for the stock, but it takes five years to build that stock up, so we would not have any income for four to five years.”

The council had restricted farm refuse collections and set up two helplines.

10 years ago

A talented singer-songwriter from Bishopbriggs was set to follow in the footsteps of chart-toppers David Gray and James Blunt with the release of his debut album - Beautiful Lies.

Former Thomas Muir High School pupil Alex McEwan had just finished a successful 18-date UK tour supporting Katie Melua, playing to sell-out crowds in venues like Glasgow’s SECC.

Alex says the experience he gained on the tour was invaluable.

He said: “Katie’s live set is fantastic. I also made a lot of good contacts and the plan is to return to the cities I visited with Katie to play smaller venues.”

As a solo artist armed with an acoustic guitar, it was inevitable that Alex was compared with the likes of David Gray and James Blunt.

However, the 32-year-old was keen to distance himself from the MOR genre.

He said: “ My music is a bit more optimistic than those particular artists, it’s a bit rockier and more country.”

Alex gave up a career in the engineering industry to follow his musical dream in London and Nashville. He had been working with Beach Boys collaborator Lou Natkin and respected producer Mark Freegard on his album.

Alex listed Del Amitri, Prefab Sprout and Bruce Springsteen as his major influences.

Album track More To Me, featured Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie.