TOO BIG: Billy Connolly statue campaigners told it’s too big for pavement

I believe it could be for Glasgow what the Molly Malone statue is for Dublin and what Greyfriars Bobby is for Edinburgh, said Colin Beattie. Picture by Bill Heaney

By Democrat reporter

The larger than life bronze figure has lingered under tarpaulin for 10 years after champion of the arts Colin Beattie was told by Glasgow planners it would obstruct pedestrians if erected outside Oran Mor.

The bronze likeness was commissioned a decade ago by businessman Colin Beattie, a long-time champion of the arts.

But has sat in a warehouse covered by a tarpaulin ever since. Planners say it would obstruct pedestrians, although they’ve allowed advertising kiosk nearby.

Mr Beattie commissioned the larger- than-life bronzes of Billy and fellow comedy legend Chic Murray a decade ago, but the statues have sat in a warehouse covered by a tarpaulin ever since.

He wanted to install the 3ft-deep piece on a wide pavement outside Oran Mor, his bar and theatre venue in Glasgow’s West End but city council planning officials signalled it would be an obstruction.

Mr Beattie, 68, wants to see it on a strip of pavement on Great Western Road. He said: “It’s a superb piece of art and I believe it would be an asset to the city and to the country.

“I believe it could be for Glasgow what the Molly Malone statue is for Dublin and what Greyfriars Bobby is for Edinburgh. Billy has indicated he is for it and Chic’s family have said they are too so I really hope it will happen.”

Entertainer Elaine C Smith led calls for the council to help find a way of allowing the statue to be finally unveiled. Pointing out another Scots city has hailed its comic legends with statues, she said: “If Dundee can move pavements for Desperate Dan and Minnie The Minx, surely Glasgow can do that for these giants of comedy and sons of the city?”

Actor and creator of The Steamie, Tony Roper, also called on officials to reopen discussions with Mr Beattie over the proposed site, adding: “It would be a wonderful tribute. I doubt it would even be a question in New York or Paris, but Glasgow seems to see things differently. Maybe we have tougher by-laws?”

Actor Colin McCredie joined the calls for a reopening of discussions, saying: “He’s the funniest man Scotland has ever produced, a true one-off and I believe he should have a statue. It would be great for it to be around when he’s still around. I hope the council and Oran Mor can find a way to make this work, and get that statue out of storage so that the public can enjoy it.”

Two Doors Down star Jonathan Watson said: “A statue would be a fitting legacy to one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. A ground-breaking satirist whose observations and routines stand the test of time. A genius.”

The stars’ calls for progress were echoed by councillors. Labour’s Malcolm Cunning said: “It would be much welcomed if people could get together and somehow find progress that moves this on. Whether the spot outside Oran Mor is the most appropriate place is up for discussion, but I think this statue is something the city would like to see. I hope the planning authorities could facilitate placement of it if possible.

“If anyone is adored by the city of Glasgow it’s Billy Connolly. I believe there would be great affection, and public support, for a statue honouring what Billy Connolly has done and, in particular, has done for Glasgow.

“A permanent statue to him would be wonderful. He is Mr Glasgow and is just one of those people that the public likes.”

Conservative councillor Euan Blockley, who sits on the city’s planning committee, said: “Glaswegians are proud of Billy Connolly and I can think of no one more deserving of a statue in the city. If there is a dispute about the proposed siting of it, I would encourage the council to sit down and talk in order to find a resolution.

“This could be a prominent tribute to one of Glasgow’s most famous sons and could become a visitor attraction in its own right.”

Mr Beattie believes the pavement at the proposed site is wide enough that the statue would not be obstructive and points to an advertising kiosk which was erected nearby.He said: “It would fit between trees which are there and create a seat, and you could get your picture taken with Billy Connolly and Chic Murray.

“We would ensure it was fitted properly. It’s robust. I have no doubts it would work at the location we have in mind.

“It’s frustrating that we can’t move on with this and get the statue put in place. I believe it would be a great asset to the city, a fantastic talking point and a fitting tribute to these two legends.”Glasgow City Council says there has never been a planning application so it has never been rejected, although officials have advised Mr Beattie that consent for the proposed location was “unlikely” as it would “reduce the width of the footway”.

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