Gathering storm over Bannockburn commemoration plans

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Sir Malcolm was critical of the 2014 event’s planning

SCOTLAND’S top clan chief has slammed plans for a gathering of expat Scots to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor said he was concerned the 2014 event was poorly organised and would not attract visitors.

Sir Malcolm, convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, made his outspoken remarks in a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.

He said the Bannockburn event was overshadowed by the 2009 Homecoming’s Gathering event, which marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, but resulted in the collapse of the private firm running it.

He also claimed the event next year was not being promoted overseas properly.

The event will see a re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn on its 700th anniversary in June as its centrepiece.

But the organisers have already faced criticism for axing the clan gathering so that the re-enactment of the battle can be made the main event.

Sir Malcolm said this had “not been well received” by American clan associations.

 

Economy

He said: “Feedback indicates that a re-enactment  with a clan village will not be enough to bring the diaspora to Scotland.”

Sir Malcolm added a minimum two years preparation time was needed to make sure events of this sort were successful.

He said: “We are now well within the two years period and we don’t know what is really going to happen at Bannockburn, apart from the re-enactment.”

The clan leader said the 2009 Gathering had been a success overall in terms of money spend in Scotland.

But he added companies were still chasing money they were owed at the event, which put a cloud over the forthcoming 2014 homecoming.

Sir Malcolm also said no one seemed to be in charge overall and there were no apparent plans for regional clan gatherings.

The 2009 event in Edinburgh attracted about 47,000 people and generated £10.4 million for the Scottish economy.

But criticism was made after the private company running the event collapsed, despite receiving £500,000 in grants and £180,000 from the Scottish Government.

Some 100 creditors are still owed about £300,000 from the event, it was reported in October last year.

Murdo Fraser, the Conservative MSP an convener of the Energy, Economy and Tourism Committee, said Sir Malcolm’s comments had to be looked into.

Organisers Homecoming Scotland said next year’s event was “on track to be a highly successful programme of events”.

A spokesman added: “We will announce the full programme for next year in the spring and the clans will have a strong focus in that programme.”

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