Positively Promoting Cumbernauld

Cumbernauld Environmental Society was recently contacted by the Cumbernauld News and asked for a response to comments from local Councillor Alan O’Brien where he alleges that Cumbernauld Environmental Society is doing the work of North Lanarkshire Council spin doctors by defending the town against the annual Plook on the Plinth award.

We refute this claim and have provided the following response: “Cumbernauld Environmental Society always has, and will continue to, represent the best interests of Cumbernauld and to positively promote the town. The Urban Realm awards only serve to damage further the reputation of the areas which receive them. After all, why would any business or organisation choose to bring their company to a town that has been labelled among the worst in Scotland. Cumbernauld last received the Plook on the Plinth award in 2005 and people continue to talk about it to this day, even though the town has been awarded Civic Pride and Beautiful Scotland awards since then. While Councillor O’Brien is working to attract negative press and to talk Cumbernauld down, Cumbernauld Environmental Society will continue to work on improving our town and to attract investment”.

Cumbernauld Environmental Society is delighted that Cumbernauld has not been awarded the Plook on the Plinth in 2015, following a single petty nomination, and we will continue to defend the town against unfair criticism for as long as our organisation exists.

CES Supports Anti-Fracking Motions

Today, Thursday 18th December, two motions will be presented to a full meeting of North Lanarkshire Council regarding Unconventional Gas Extraction (UGE). The first, submitted by Councillors McGlinchey and O’Brien, calls for a moratorium on the development of UGE technology within North Lanarkshire; the other, submitted by Councillors P. Hogg and Baird, requests the designation of land as inappropriate for UGE where the Coal Authority has identified the site as falling within a High Risk Develoment Area, and also requests a moratorium on UGE and Fracking until the extraction techniques are deemed safe by independent scientific experts.

Cumbernauld Environmental Society has written to every North Lanarkshire Councillor, as part of a campaign co-ordinated by the local community, asking them to support both motions when they are presented to the council. The full text of our correspondence can be found here [PDF].

Cumbernauld Environmental Society has held a number of public meetings regarding Unconventional Gas Extraction, prompted by the granting of a licence by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and of corresponding planning permission by North Lanarkshire Council, for exploratory borehole drilling within the Cumbernauld area. The drilling works were originally meant to take place by the company Reach CSG at the Scottish Water site in Deerdykes but we are delighted that Scottish Water has now refused permission to drill at this site. The majority of the granted licence (80%) has now also been sold by Reach CSG to Ineos.

We have organised and facilitated public meetings with attendance from representatives of Reach CSG, Friends of the Earth, Scottish Water, and SEPA. Our most recent meeting with SEPA, held on Thursday 4th December, included a presentation, which can be downloaded from here in full [PDF].

Our next public meeting will be held on Thursday 29th January at 7:15pm in Cumbernauld College. Our guest speaker will be Professor Andrew Watterson, from the University of Stirling, who will talk about the impact on public health of Unconventional Gas Extraction and Fracking.

Celebrating Cumbernauld’s Environment

On Thursday 11th December, on a wet and wintry night, local Cumbernauld groups gathered at Dullatur Golf Club for the, now annual, Beautiful Cumbernauld Award Ceremony. The event, organised and delivered by Cumbernauld Environmental Society, recognised those groups from the area who played a role in this year’s Keep Scotland Beautiful campaign, where Cumbernauld picked up a Silver Award.

Organisations were presented with their own copy of the Beautiful Scotland award certificate by Gordon Wright, President of Cumbernauld Rotary Club. Copies of the It’s Your Neighbourhood certificate, previously awarded to Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden, were also presented to a wide number of local organisations who have worked to transform an overgrown area of land in Greenfaulds into a colourful community garden in commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.

Adam Smith, Cumbernauld Environmental Society spokesman, said “Despite the unfavourable weather, we were delighted with the attendance at the 2014 Beautiful Cumbernauld Award Ceremony. This event served to recognise the invaluable support, and enduring community spirit, of voluntary organisations working throughout Cumbernauld to improve our town. Pictures from the ceremony will be included in our 2015 Beautiful Scotland entry, where we hope Cumbernauld can continue working towards that elusive Gold Award”.

Beautiful Cumbernauld Awards 2014

Cumbernauld Community Campaigns

With planning permission previously approved, and the necessary licence granted, local people are continuing to campaign against proposals to drill an exploratory borehole within the Cumbernauld area for the extraction of coal seam gas. Reach CSG has recently sold 80% of their licence to Ineos, who are progressing plans to find a suitable site for the borehole location, now that Scottish Water have refused previously granted permission for the use of their site at Deerdykes.

There are a number of meetings taking place in Cumbernauld to better inform local people of the consequences of drilling for unconventional gas extraction. The first of these meetings takes place this evening, Thursday 20th November, at 7:30pm in the LINK Community Facility, and is organised by the local branch of Women For Independence; with Janet Moxley, an Environmental Scientist, as guest speaker.

Next Friday, 28th November, Halt Unconventional Gas Extraction (HUGE) Cumbernauld will be holding a public meeting in the Westfield Community Centre at 7pm. The speakers at this meeting will be Mary Church from Friends of the Earth, and Professor Andrew Watterson, Public Health Expert at Stirling University.

On Thursday 3rd December, at 7:15pm in New College Lanarkshire’s Cumbernauld Campus (formerly Cumbernauld College), Cumbernauld Environmental Society has organised a public meeting with attendance from a representative of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). The SEPA officer will be discussing the role of the organisation in protecting our environment through unconventional gas extraction and potential fracking.

SEPA CES Meeting - 4th December 2014 - Poster

Cumbernauld Environmental Society will continue to facilitate the prevention of damage to our local environment, while remaining a politically neutral organisation.

Cumbernauld Is No Carbuncle

Cumbernauld has yet again been nominated as “Plook On A Plinth” for Urban Realm magazine’s Carbuncle Awards. Local people have reacted angrily to this, the result of one single nomination, with some calling for the awards to be scrapped entirely. Cumbernauld’s repeated Beautiful Scotland award wins, along with the continuing hard work of dedicated local individuals and community organisations to improve our town, are just a few of the many reasons why Cumbernauld is thoroughly undeserving of this dubious accolade. Cumbernauld Environmental Society has written to John Glenday, Editor of Urban Realm magazine, to outline our objection to Cumbernauld’s nomination and detailing just some of the reasons why the Carbuncle Award should not be presented to our town. The full letter can be downloaded by clicking here [PDF, 311kb].

Awards Haul For Cumbernauld

Earlier today, Monday 27th October, six groups from the Cumbernauld area were awarded ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ awards by Keep Scotland Beautiful at the organisation’s annual seminar in Stirling.

Assessors from the It’s Your Neighbourhood campaign visited Cumbernauld earlier this year and judged the group against a range of criteria encompassing community participation, environmental responsibility, and gardening achievement. Each entrant receives a score ranging from zero to 100, and a corresponding level from one (Establishing) to five (Outstanding).

This year six groups from the Cumbernauld area entered the competition including: the Friends of Cumbernauld Community Park (Outstanding); the Friends of Cumbernauld House Park (Level 3 – Developing); Hope Community Garden (Level 4 – Thriving); Pride in Carbrain – Carbrain & Hillcrest Community Council (Thriving); and Watch Us Grow (Developing).

Also collecting an award at today’s ceremony was the Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden project; led by Cumbernauld Environmental Society, with the support of a large number of local organisations and community groups. The award was collected by representatives of local Scouts, Army Cadets, and Air Force Cadets, all of whom have been instrumental in developing the Peace Garden project to what it is today.

IYN Peace Garden Cert

Bobby Johnstone, Chair of Cumbernauld Environmental Society, said “I would like to thank Keep Scotland Beautiful for promoting and organising this wonderful event. We are very proud of the hard work and dedication from all our members, but it has been a great privilege for my colleagues and I to work with such wonderful young people who are a credit to their respective organisations. We thank them, and their group leaders, for the tremendous amount of hard work they have put in to this project and we are all extremely proud of each and every one of them”.

Each of the groups who have worked on the Peace Garden project will be presented with their own copies of the It’s Your Neighbourhood award certificate at a special ceremony later this year.

Silver Award for Beautiful Cumbernauld

The annual Beautiful Scotland Award Ceremony was held on Friday 5th August at the Dundee Food and Flower Festival in Camperdown Park in the city, where Cumbernauld, having won Best Small City in 2013, was defending its title against tough competition from the Fife towns of Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy. Despite putting together a strong campaign, Cumbernauld was unsuccessful in returning Beautiful Scotland silverware to the town for 2014, with the category won outright by Kirkcaldy. However, Cumbernauld was able to retain its Silver Award level of achievement.

Adam Smith of Cumbernauld Environmental Society said “While it was disappointing that Cumbernauld wasn’t able to retain the Best Small City trophy, the town can take some consolation in the knowledge that ‘Cumbernauld’ will forever be inscribed in Beautiful Scotland silverware following last year’s win. Nonetheless, the judges were very impressed with Cumbernauld when they visited and we’re pleased to have maintained our Silver Award. We expect to receive the judges’ marking sheets soon and we’ll be reviewing our scores to make sure next year’s Beautiful Cumbernauld campaign is as strong as it can possibly be”.

The Beautiful Scotland judges visited Cumbernauld on Thursday 7th August and were shown around the town by Fiona Kenny and Adam Smith of Cumbernauld Environmental Society, who collated the town’s entry yet again. The group planned and co-ordinated the judging visit and prepared a portfolio detailing some of Cumbernauld’s key achievements over the last year. The judging route included Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden, Broadwood Loch, the garden of the Scottish Spina Bifida Centre in Craighalbert, Cumbernauld Community Park, and Abronhill Primary School’s Outdoor Classroom in Cumbernauld Glen.

The judges also found out about the new Cumbernauld Town Centre Action Plan, as well as the work of Cumbernauld Living Landscape and the Living Window project. Ian McKenzie of Cumbernauld Living Landscape said “Cumbernauld Living Landscape is enhancing, restoring and reconnecting green areas of the town by protecting and improving woodland, restoring lowland peat bogs and connecting communities to their local wildlife. Projects like the Living Window are transforming empty shops into works of art to connect the residents of Cumbernauld with the town’s natural environment”.

Peace Garden Officially Opens

Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden was officially opened on Sunday, 3rd August, by Rear Admiral Michael Gregory OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, who cut the ceremonial ribbon and declared the garden of remembrance and peace open to the public.

Sunday’s official opening brought an end to the first phase of a near one-year long community effort, led by Cumbernauld Environmental Society, and assisted by various businesses, groups, individuals and organisations to establish a befitting memorial to the men and women, who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Groups involved with the project include 2496 Cumbernauld Squadron Air Cadets; 3rd Cumbernauld Scouts; Cumbernauld detachment, F squadron RTR, of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Battalion Army Cadet Force; Cumbernauld Rotary Club; and, the Royal British Legion. However, the list of local groups involved also includes Cumbernauld Community Forum; Cumbernauld Gardening Club; and Hope Community Garden; in addition to the assistance of various businesses and organisation who have donated equipment, granted funding, or provided services either directly or in kind.

AG Barr; Co-operative Funeralcare; Cumbernauld Action for Care for the Elderly (CACE); Denny Tipper Transport; George Beattie & Sons; Gillespies; Joseph Leckie and Sons; NHS Lanarkshire; North Lanarkshire Council; Ogilvie Homes; and Sanctuary Cumbernauld are some of the companies which have greatly assisted the project. As well as the project being developed and delivered by local people, the garden will also be maintained by the community in the years ahead.

Once everyone was assembled at the Peace Garden site, adjacent to Greenfaulds Bowling Club, Major Mary Wylie of the Salvation Army led the assembled attendees in prayer before representatives from the 2496 Cumbernauld Squadron Air Cadets; 3rd Cumbernauld Scouts; Cumbernauld detachment, F squadron RTR, of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Battalion Army Cadet Force; and the Royal British Legion read one verse each from Laurence Binyon’s war poem, “For the fallen”. Thereafter, there was a piper’s lament, before the Lord Lieutenant cut the ceremonial ribbon, and declared the Peace Garden open, speaking of his delight at seeing the community of Cumbernauld coming together to mark such an important event in history. He told attendees that events were “happening all across Scotland, none less so than here, in Cumbernauld, where the efforts of the community have created such a marvellous memorial to the soldiers who were killed in the First World War”.

The Lord Lieutenant was joined by Shannon McCluskey, Miss Teen Galaxy North Lanarkshire, who released special homing pigeons, in recognition of the service given by these birds to ensure communications lines were kept open in the Great War. Also present at the opening ceremony were a number of Airedale Terriers who were specially bred during the First World War and served on the front lines.

Bobby Johnstone, Chair of Cumbernauld Environmental Society, paid thanks to the wide range of businesses, groups, and individuals who have helped to transform the once derelict site into a fitting memorial for the many who have been killed in action at home and abroad since 1914; and presented Mr Gregory with a wreath, which he laid on behalf of the community of Cumbernauld at the entrance of the Peace Garden.

Bobby said he was “absolutely delighted” with the Peace Garden, adding “Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden is down to a great team of determined individuals, who were aided by a large number of fantastic businesses, groups, and organisations; turning a derelict piece of land into a stunningly befitting memorial to the men and women who laid down their lives for their country. I am delighted myself with the progress of the Garden, and the result at the end of phase one. However, we now move forward on to phase two, in the knowledge that we have created a true community-led project, which will last for years to come.

“Furthermore, as Chairman of Cumbernauld Environmental Society, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everybody for their support in helping us to deliver this wonderful project. I’d like to thank the various local clubs, groups, and organisations whose members helped on site; I’d like to thank the various sponsors of the project who’ve donated equipment or financing; and I’d also like to thank the many businesses who have assisted with the project”.

Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden can be found next to Greenfaulds Bowling Club, Ivanhoe Road, Cumbernauld, G67 4BH; and members of the public are welcome to visit the site at any time.

Beautiful Scotland Judges Visit

At last year’s Beautiful Scotland awards Cumbernauld picked up the prestigious Best Small City trophy, bringing Beautiful Scotland silverware to the town for the first time ever. Now the date has been set for this year’s assessment with Beautiful Scotland judges coming to Cumbernauld on Thursday 7th August.

Cumbernauld Environmental Society are again co-ordinating the town’s Beautiful Scotland entry and hope to retain the Best Small City trophy for another year. Adam Smith, Vice-Chair of the group, said “Last year’s award win was fantastic for Cumbernauld and saw the town featured in national press, commenting on our transition from Carbuncle to Beautiful. We’ve put together a strong program for this year’s judging visit which will show off some of the best environmental and community projects which have taken place in Cumbernauld over the last year, focussing on the Beautiful Scotland themes of Horticultural Achievement, Environmental Responsibility, and Community Participation.


“On Thursday 7th August, Beautiful Scotland judges will visit the Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden project in Greenfaulds, Broadwood Loch, the Scottish Spina Bifida Association’s Family Support Centre garden at Craighalbert, Cumbernauld Community Park, Abronhill Primary School’s Outdoor Classroom, New College Lanarkshire’s Cumbernauld Wildlife Garden, and the judges will also hear about the Cumbernauld Town Centre Action Plan and recent environmental improvements. Within our category this year, our ‘competition’ is Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy but Cumbernauld has a great chance of holding on to the Beautiful Scotland Best Small City trophy for another year and we look forward to hearing the result at the Beautiful Scotland Award Ceremony in Dundee on Friday 5th September”.

Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden, the first phase of which will be officially opened at a ceremony on Sunday 3rd August, has also been nominated for a Beautiful Scotland Community Involvement Award. The project is being delivered by a number of community groups including Cumbernauld Environmental Society, Cumbernauld Rotary Club, Cumbernauld Royal British Legion, Cumbernauld Army Cadet Force, Cumbernauld Royal Air Force Cadets, and local scouts, with support from North Lanarkshire Council and Cumbernauld Community Forum, with generous donations from local organisations and businesses. The Peace Garden project will also find out if it has been successful at the Beautiful Scotland Award Ceremony on Friday 5th September.

A copy of this year’s Beautiful Cumbernauld portfolio can be accessed by clicking here [PDF, 3Mb].

Cumbernauld Commemorates

With the centenary of the First World War fast approaching, and as we work towards completing the first phase of Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden, we’d like to share a story of one Cumbernauld man who lost his life in service of his country during World War One.

Private Frank McGuire was the eldest child of Peter McGuire and Agnes Maxwell and lived in The Wynd in Cumbernauld Village. Frank, like many local people at that time, was a miner, working at Knowehead Colliery for the Banknock Colliery Company, having previously worked as a Booking Clerk at Cumbernauld Railway Station for the North British Railway. As conscription did not come into force until the British Government passed the Military Service Act in 1916, Frank voluntarily joined the British Army shortly after the outbreak of war and was assigned to the 10th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry.

The 10th Battalion Highland Light infantry was formed in Hamilton in August 2014 and was posted to Hampshire for training and military exercises. Leaving Bramshott on the 12th May 1915 and travelling by rail to Folkestone, the Battalion boarded the SS Victoria and landed in Boulogne, south-west of Calais in Northern France, at 12:30am the following morning. The 10th Batallion then travelled from Boulogne to Armentieres; via Pont De Briques, Acquin, Wizernes, St Omer, and Bailleu; marching over several nights in difficult conditions for a distance of 80 miles. For the next several months the 10th Batallion marched throughout much of that region, north-west of Lille, continually receiving orders to move out at short notice, often while under heavy fire and shelling from closing enemy lines, experiencing heavy casualties along the way. By late September, the 10th Battalion Highland Light Infantry were billeted at Annequin, south-east of Bethune.


At 1am on the 25th September 1915, disposition and orders for attack were issued by Lieutenant Colonel Grahame, a recipient of the Distinguished Service Oder (DSO). The disposition ordered A, B, C, and D companies of the 10th Batallion Highland Light Infantry to the lines at Vermelles. The first objective was Le Briques Trench, the second objective was Lone Farm, and the third objective was the German 2-line trenches west of Haisnes, all of which were key strategic locations. These orders marked the beginning of the Battle of Loos, a mining town located north-west of Lens.

This battle was to be the first time the British used poison gas in their attack however, at 5:50am on the 25th September 1915 the gas cylinders were opened but the expected wind wasn’t there and the gas lingered around the British trenches, causing alarm and distress to British soldiers and forcing them to go over the parapet to escape the noxious gas.

At 6:30am the attack was launched and all British lines rose out of the trenches and moved simultaneously toward the opposing forces. The Battalion War Diary notes that the attack encountered very heavy machine gun and rifle fire and shelling and the first line was practically wiped out less than 20 yards from their trenches. On that one day, of that one battle, at that one location, from one British battalion, 160 soldiers and 9 officers were killed, 199 men were missing, 179 were wounded, and 50 had been gassed. Among those killed at the Battle of Loos were Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, brother of the late Queen Mother, and Lieutenant John Kipling, son of author Rudyard Kipling who wrote “My Boy Jack” for his late son. There was a total of 59,247 British casualties and around 26,000 German casualties during the Battle of Loos.

Private Frank McGuire was also one of the men who were killed during the battle, on 25th September 1915, at the age of only 19. His body was never recovered. Frank is one of over 20,000 casualties from the Battle of Loos who are commemorated at Dud Corner cemetery, just north of Loos. He is also commemorated at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle and on the Cumbernauld War Memorial in Cumbernauld Village, and at the opening ceremony of Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden on Sunday 3rd August Frank McGuire is just one of the men who we will be commemorating.