Comment: Thorburn’s humility helps ease pain

Terry Murden. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Terry Murden. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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CLYDESDALE Bank went to great pains to tell us how different it was to the other banks. Now it is learning fast that people in glasshouses should not throw stones.

The fine meted out for a mortgage blunder three years ago is a reminder that Clydesdale is hardly without sin. Nor is it alone among so-called alternative banks in failing to convince customers that it is any better than the bigger boys. The Co-operative Bank’s attempt to play the ethical and mutual card backfired spectacularly when its capital position was exposed.

Clydesdale boss David Thorburn has at least been grown up enough to admit the bank’s and his own failings, a show of humility so conspicuously absent when other banks have fallen short of required standards.

Although he was not in charge at the time, Thorburn has been at the bank for 20 years and will take the £8.9 million penalty as a personal punishment. He felt bad about the 1,400 redundancies the bank has made but has described the mortgage miscalculation as the worst crisis of his career and pledged to resolve it at minimum inconvenience to the 22,000 customers known to have been affected.

Sadly, Clydesdale is not a first-time offender. It was also caught up in the payment protection insurance and interest rate swap debacles and last year reported its first ever loss, largely a result of bad debts.

Despite a huge cheque being paid to the public relations company Big Partnership every month, there was no suggestion yesterday that it was putting any PR spin on the crisis. Thorburn willingly conceded it would damage Clydesdale’s reputation.

But his refusal to shy away from the problem is a first step towards restoring it.

Hydro will be a money spinner for Glasgow

the opening of the 12,000-seater SSE Hydro in Glasgow is a momentous occasion for the city, marking as it does the completion of a mightily impressive arena.

The Hydro shows how far entertainment venues have progressed. Halls such as the long-gone Apollo may be revered by those with memories of notorious shows and concerts, but in truth they were a tad tawdry and smelly. Some may say that this added to charm and atmosphere.

The new venue on the banks of the Clyde, with its UFO-like swirl of coloured flashing lights, is a world away from the Renfield Street haunt, and when it opens its doors to Rod Stewart next week it will set the cash tills ringing on what could be a £130 million-a-year windfall for the local economy.

Next summer it will be used for the Commonwealth Games, giving it a worldwide audience and promoting the city to new conference business. Before then it will host the Mobo awards, another event with international appeal.

The Hydro is perfectly positioned on the edge of the city centre – arguably where Hampden Park should have been rebuilt. It not only means it will quickly be absorbed into the fabric of the city, it will also help in the redevelopment of the river which has been a long and chequered exercise. Glasgow’s riverside remains a bit of a patchwork and in places the new developments are somewhat soulless.

But together with the newly- expanded Edinburgh International Conference Centre the Hydro provides Scotland with another top class venue and a competitive advantage in hosting a range of events.

Twitter: @TerryMurden1