Eigg’s not all it’s cracked up to he, say islanders

Residents oi Eigg claim the iiebridean island is being misrepresented to potential buyers.

Members of the Isle of Eigg lieritage Trust say the brochure, produced by estate agents Knight Frank, paints too rosy a picture of the island. The group was formed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), the Highland Council and islanders to raise the £2 million asking price, a price which most observers think excessive.

Highland Council has organised an independent valuation and early indications put the true worth closer to £1 .1 million. It is also estimated that the island requires £1 million investment.

Despite the alleged overpricing, islanders fear being outbid due to the brochure which glosses over Eigg’s many problems.

Trustee Colin Carr says many of the advertised properties are in poor repair and claims pictures of forestry

in the brochure were taken in July 1991 and bear little resemblance to the current woodland, much of which has been sold for timber. The brochure also describes as vacant a property occupied by a Scottish Wildlife Trust warden for the last seven years.

‘Eigg is not nearly as idyllic and glossy as it appears in the Knight Frank brochure,’ Carr added.

ileports that the ilighland Council was planning to take legal action over misrepresentation of the island have been denied, although the Council has asked Knight Frank to ensure the island is described accurately.

‘We will be going through the brochure to see if there are any inaccuracies,’ said ilighland Council’s head of policy and research flick Writer. ‘I would be surprised if we were in a position to take legal action, but we could seek legal advice.’

Colin Strang-Steele, senior partner with Knight Frank, refused to

Eigg: Islanders claim brochure is misleading

comment on the allegations.

Fears are growing that Eigg will attract a foreign buyer unaware oi the island’s problems. The present owner, reclusive German artist Marlena, bought Eigg iiiteen months ago for $1.5 million but is now eager to offload it. ‘it’ll go to the highest bidder,’ said Stan Blackley, spokesman for the SWT. ‘ii an Arab sheik or US money-launderer comes along with the right money they can have Eigg.’ (Peter floss)

‘Good sauna guide’ sparks heated debate

An extraordinary new guide to Britain's saunas has angered women in Glasgow and Edinburgh with its frank reviews of the services on offer.

While unlikely to be found at your local newsagent. McCoy's British Massage Parlour Guide is the definitive, not to say the only, work of its kind. Considering the exhaustive research which has gone into the book it might be seen as a snip at £l0.

in a conscientious quest for accuracy. George McCoy researched all 370 premises himself. on an odyssey which took him throughout Britain. from Somerset to Glasgow. ‘I would have

continued.‘ he claims. ‘But red light establishments don‘t seem to exist any further nonh.’

The subjectivity of the ratings make the guide quirky to say the least. and McCoy admits he couldn‘t afford to try out the services in most saunas. He rates them on appearance of staff; performance; ease of access and decor.

Two establishments. one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow. are highly recommended. Others are less happy with reviews such as: ‘Staff presentable but nothing special‘ and ‘not unattractive, but older than average.‘ The latter - awarded to a sauna in

Leith. Edinburgh - sparked criticism from the owner.

The woman. who would only be identified as ‘Lula‘ said McCoy's views were unreliable. ‘lf he didn’t stay long enough to experience the services. I don’t think his impressions are valid. The staff change from night to night and anyway the older staff are often the most popular.‘

The only problem for author George McCoy is he can't find a place to sell the photocopied booklet. ‘Newsagents don‘t know how to categorise it. Distribution is proving difficult.‘ he explained. (Conchita Pinto)

Theatres unite against franchise scheme

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Wildcat: Poor festival reviews followed by new threat

Scotland's iive touring theatre companies have united in opposition to cuts which could force at least two to close, prompting fears oi a ‘clvil war’ for funding.

Wildcat, Communicado, TAC, 7:84 and Borderline have slammed a Scottish Arts Council (SAC) scheme requiring companies to bid against each other for cash. The proposals, dubbed ‘frauchise funding’, will reduce the number of touring companies receiving full grants from five to fear. it is believed the SAC will award a grant to a new dma grow,

meaning the best the five touring companies can hope ior is for three oi their number to survive.

The Scottish Arts Council currently awards total grants oi around £960,0ill to touring companies on an annual basis. The new proposals are prompted by a desire to give other companies an opportunity.

The close~knit nature oi the Scottish drama scene means old friends and colleagues will be competing to keep their lobe, a scenario Borderline’s chief executive Eddie Jackson likened to ‘civil war’.

But the five touring companies are determined not to allow Scotish Theatre to be torn apart by the funding crisis. In a recent meeting with SAC, they presented a united opposition to the proposals.

‘The bond between the five companies has been strengthened by this threat,’ said llell Murray, general manager oi 7:84. ‘Settlng people up to bid against each other is not the way to bring about change and renewal.’

The SAC claims the scheme will increase opportunities for actors and theatre workers, offer greater security to those receiving franchises, and give audiences a wider choice. llowever, it has acknowledged the opposition oi the touring companies and the franchise scheme could be significantly altered when iinal details are announced in October.

‘There may be changes, but the principle remains,’ said SAC dance and drama director David Taylor. ‘We are committed to improving the conditions of the companies we fund and helping new groups develop their work.’ (Peter iioss)

Glasgow book gap plugged

Glasgow is to have its own book festival with a series ofevents in October plugging a gap in the city's cultural scene.

Reading Lights. The Glasgow Festival of Writing will attempt to remedy the city‘s lack ofa high-profile literary event in the city. with a focus onexperimentation and debate. rather than book-launches.

The festival‘s impetus has come from the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) and booksellers John Smith & Son Ltd. who are funding events along with the City ofGlasgow Council.

One of the organisers. freelance joumalist Ann Donald. said the city needed a literary event. ‘Glasgow is represented in every other aspect of the ans but doesn‘t have anything to do with books.'

She claims the festival is not trying to compete with Edinburgh‘s bi-annual gathering. ‘This will not be a traditional book festival. The emphasis is on writing and an international outlook.‘ she added.

Running from l7—2() October. the boundary-crossing event includes readings from Gil Scott Heron and rap artist Jonzi l). Alternative magazine Rebel Imz. will employ DJ‘s at the launch its anthology of Scottish writing Children ()f/‘llbimi Rovers, which includes an Irvine Welsh story.

The festival will emphasise writing in all its forms, Donald added: ‘lt won‘t be a case of having a glass of wine, and listening to a reading in a musty old bookshop.‘ (Stephen Naysmith)

Fringe to have headstart

The Edinburgh International Festival and the Festival Fringe could run out oi synch in 1998, due to a difference of opinion over when to launch the events.

While the international Festival will not open until the middle oi August, Fringe organisers want to keep a prompt start. in that case the Festival as a whole could run for a full month from the first week oi August in both 1998 and 1999.

‘Cur board will be discussing this in liovember,’ confirmed Stuart Buchanan, chiei press officer for the Festival Fringe. ‘Although no vote has been taken the general feeling is that we should pull it forward a week.’

Because of the way the August touring season works, the organisers of the International Festival prefer a later start. ‘Some of their big shows can only open in the last three or four days,’ Buchanan explained.

He admitted separate schedqu could confuse visitors and cause practical diiiiculties, but insisted: ‘The separate parts of the festival will have a clearer identity and we will catch the good weather and the tourists.’

A spokesperson for the international Festival said they did not wish to

comment. (Stephen Kaysmith)

4 The List 6- l9 Sept 1996