Saturday, 31 December 2011

What future for local government?

I discovered that there is a Commission on Local Government gathering evidence on various issues relating to Civic Enterprise. Today, I submitted my comments highlighting some examples of collaboration between the Council, the Private Sector and the Third Sector.

In the year ahead, Local Government services have to adapt to scale of the bank bailouts, the economic impact of the recession, increasing demand for social housing, falling public revenues and rising government debt. Cost reduction strategies and cost management of services require to be addressed.

Decision-making on reducing the cost of services can be participative based on principles of disclosure, openness and transparency. Different perspectives can be gained from people across the private and voluntary sectors, service users, professional experts, trade unions, Glasgow's citizens and taxpayers, and politicians. This can unlock the development of smarter working between people who are stakeholders in the services, better coordination of resources, and innovation to bring efficiencies and more effective service provision.

New services and investments should fit with an economic strategy based on the transition to a low-carbon economic model. This work is led by the various groups including the Transition Town Movement, New Economic Foundation and the Green New Deal. Developments in energy efficiency and renewable energy production are the key to success. A warm homes agenda is required with investment in the social rented housing sector to provide affordable places to live for young people and families.  Public transport infrastructure (railway stations and rail network, buses, existing roadways) require to be improved. Low emissions and/or electric vehicles, which are fully accessible and affordable, can support sustainable travel choices. Further investment is required in dedicated cycle paths and footways through our towns and cities to promote active living and relieve congestion.

Over the festive break, I have read "Re-imagining Government - public leadership and management in challenging times" by Barry Quirk. This book gives helpful insights and promotes Local Government's role in encouraging the emergence of cooperation. 

The main message I have gained is that Local Government should be able to govern by facilitating public discussion, mediating between different interests, building common goals and assisting people from different sectors to come together to address their common concerns. Local politicians have to seek to help their citizens to be self-reliant, resilient and resourceful by building their capabilities and confidence in face of rapid change.

Useful Link:

Commission into the Future of Local Government -

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Tax chiefs accused of bending rules for big firms.

During the last year, the public have been seeking reassurance that big business has been paying tax due to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

In Glasgow, activists from UKUncut have been raising awareness of some of the businesses in our shopping streets which they believe are tax dodging.

Recently, an Inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee gathered evidence from David Hartnett, Head of the HMRC. Commenting on the committee findings, the chairwoman, Labour MP Margaret Hodge stated, "This report is a damning indictment of HMRC and the way its senior officials handle tax disputes with large corporations.”

I have submitted a letter of complaint to the HMRC seeking action in response to the committee findings.

Useful links:-

Public Accounts Committee - Report Findings -

38 Degrees -

Street lights at Kelvinbridge in need of repair

There are street lighting problems on the bridge across the River Kelvin between Lansdowne Church and the Glasgow Academy. Council staff have managed to ensure the bridge remains lit but some of the lamplights are not in working order. The Council has advised that,"This is due to the deterioration of the cabling infrastructure as a result of water ingress and traffic vibration".

Streetlighting at Kelvinbridge requiring repairs to cabling.

To complete the repairs to the cabling, a specific access platform would require to be built and lighting would need to lifted via a crane. This would have to funded from the Council's Lighting Programme and information about funding will not be available until April 2012.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Future plans for 261 West Princes Street

There is a proposal to use the former Ballet school building as a student residential accommodation including demolition of rear buildings, external alterations and repairs, erection of two student residential blocks with associated landscaping and alterations to boundary treatments.

Further to receiving representations from neighbours, I have highlighted my objection to the proposal for two new built residential blocks. It is my understanding that the proposal would contravene the planning policy DES 3 - Protecting and enhancing the City's Historic Environment - as the proposed blocks do not respect the architectural heritage and the historic context.

The proposed new blocks will detract from the former Scottish Ballet building which is a tenement sandstone designed and built between 1895-97.

View of the former Scottish Ballet Building at 261 West Princes Street, Woodlands

Also, with reference to the City Plan, the proposal does not appear to fit with the policy DES 2 - Sustainable Design and Construction as it has features which are not in keeping with the conservation area status of the site. The provision of a terrace using a glass balustrade in Block C and  Juliet style balconies for each apartment are flawed design features as they are not acceptable within this tenement area. These features will compromise the character of the former Scottish Ballet building. The terrace and balconies are not acceptable as they will overlook the existing neighbours and the balconies / upper rooms will directly look in to windows of adjacent properties.The design of the new blocks will create a visual intrusion which diminishes the design quality and privacy of neighbouring tenement properties.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Medical help for survivors of Bhopal Disasters

During 2011, I received a copy of the newsletter for The Bhopal Medical Appeal which brought back my memories of horror of the Bhopal Disaster on 2-3rd December 1984. This was when a cloud of gas  five hundred times more toxic than cyanide leaked from a factory in Bhopal belonging to the Union Carbide Corporation, a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals, resulting in thousands of deathes and ongoing suffering for the survivors and their children.

Currently, in Bhopal, there are over 100,000 people who are experiencing chronic illnesses due to the effects of the cloud of toxic gas. In addition, there are about 30,000 more suffering from consumption of water polluting by the derelict plant which is still to be cleaned up. This is a terrible injustice.The site remediation has not been progressed because Dow Chemicals are refusing to accept legal responsibility.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone has written to the Minister for the Commonwealth Games, asking for assurances that companies with poor social and environmental records will not be able to sponsor the 2014 Games.

Organisers of the London Olympics faced controversy this week when the Indian Olympic Association have protested over the involvement of Dow Chemicals, the company implicated in the 1984 Bhopal disaster, as a major sponsor. Greens have specifically asked that the Minister rules out sponsorship by Dow Chemicals, as well as any other company responsible for human rights abuses, serious environmental damage or tax avoidance.

Useful Links:-

Documentary about the Bhopal Disasters -

The Bhopal Medical Appeal -

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Getting grit

You should have noticed yellow grit bins located on streets across the Hillhead area. I have received requests for additional bins from local residents and the Council has agreed to provide the grit bins in the majority of cases.

Grit bin on Southpark Avenue.

Local residents have become involved as volunteer snow wardens, this winter. This volunteer scheme organised by Glasgow Community Safety Services is helping to ensure that local people are provided with the equipment, grit and advice to be able to grit the pavements if necessary. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Restoration plans for the bandstand and amphitheatre

There are plans in place to secure funds to restore the Bandstand and Amphitheatre in Kelvingrove Park before the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Photo of the bandstand on 17th December 2011

Through partnership working between the Council, Glasgow Life and Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, there is a fundraising strategy in place. 

It is a very special place for many Glaswegians. As a member of Friends of Kelvingrove Park, I have supported its restoration for many years.  I have great memories of Radio Clyde events and Woodlands Fun Days, there, during the 1980s and 1990s. I look forward to a variety of events and activities taking place once again.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Electricians in pay campaign

Electricians supported by their trade union, Unite, gathered outside the BBC in Glasgow on 17th December to highlight their campaign to halt the downgrading  of their pay by up to 35 percent and  stop the introduction of a new grade of semi-skilled worker on construction sites.  The campaign targets seven building contractors who want to impose the Building Engineering Services National Agreement (Besna) leading to de-skilling of electrical work and massive cuts in wages and terms and conditions.

Electricians gather outside the BBC.

I joined the rally in support of electricians and she called for building contractors to adhere to the existing Joint Industry Board (JIB) national agreement. It is unacceptable to try to force electricians to sign up to a 35 percent cut in their wages. The current electrician’s JIB rate of £16.25 per hour should be preserved, along with working hours split into 7.5 hour days, across Monday to Friday.
I am aware that Balfour Beattie, one of the construction companies seeking to impose the new agreement, has made massive pre - tax profits last year totaling £50.5 million. The current approach being taken by senior management within the construction industry seems to be only concerned with increasing these profit margins. As a result of management actions, electricians and their families are faced with financial hardship and it is not surprising that they organise protests and walkouts at construction sites across the country. The construction companies must withdraw the threat of imposing Besna terms to avoid further disruption within the industry.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Taking part in the Santa Dash

I helped raise funds for Glasgow Women's Aid at yesterday's Santa Dash. It was really good fun and the weather was fine for jogging around the city centre streets of Glasgow.

Useful links:

The Glaswegian -

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Time for a tea party

Today, the 10th of December, is human rights day! I backed up the initiative to support refugees by hosting a tea party for some of my close friends. 

 Booklet produced by the Refugee Council.

We helped raise funds for the refugee council and their work with refugees and asylum seekers.

Useful links:

Refugee Council -

Casting vote approves plans for Pewter Pot site

On Tuesday 6th December, I supported the objectors in efforts to stop plans for a 7 storey flatted development at current Pewter Pot site on North Woodside Road. There was a site visit and hearing on this planning application held by the Council's Planning Committee.

Residents gather to object to the proposed flatted development on Tuesday 6th December.

At the planning committee's hearing, I spoke against the proposals on the basis that they are an over development of the site and are not in keeping with the existing architecture or streetscape. The committee was evenly split on the proposal and the casting vote of the chair led to it being approved.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Save BBC's Introducing in Scotland

I am supporting the efforts to save the radio 1 programme, BBC Introducing in Scotland with Ally McCrae. 

Virtually all up and coming Scottish acts who have gone on to gain fame and fortune, have enjoyed airplays or recorded sessions on shows hosted by Ally McCrae or his predecessor Vic Galloway while still unsigned – from Biffy Clyro, Franz Ferdinand and Mylo to Frightened Rabbit, Twin Atlantic and We Were Promised Jetpacks. 

Please note that at the meeting of Glasgow City Council on 8th December, I am proposing the following motion:- 

“Council notes that as part of its operational restructuring plans – titled ‘Delivering Quality First’ – the BBC has proposed the scrapping of the Introducing in Scotland radio show which has been the only outlet provided by Radio 1 to showcase up-and-coming bands and solo artists from Scotland to a Scottish audience.

Council agrees to submit a response to the consultation by 21st December 2011 to demand that the BBC reverse its plans to scrap the Introducing in Scotland show and, to instead, protect and promote this unique programme.”

Useful link:

Sign the petition -

Monday, 5 December 2011

Stitch up and reuse

On Friday, I met up with people interested in creative reuse and repair projects. We discussed the various groups that are promoting reuse of second hand materials and clothing to reduce the amount of landfill as well as develop craft skills. It is a growing area of activity for many people in Glasgow. At this festive time, it is worth checking out the various craft fairs selling handmade good made from recycled materials. 

Useful link:-

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Up to 3 million workers in the public sector out on strike

There is an historic day of strike action on 30th November 2011. I will be joining students and workers in the rallies and marches taking place in Glasgow to support efforts to stop the attack on pensions.

 Demonstrators at Glasgow Cross.

Useful link:-

There is a better way -

Concerns about flood risk along the River Kelvin

Today, I became aware of the paths along the Kelvin Walkway and within Kelvingrove Park next to the river, being affected by rising water levels. 

 View of River Kelvin on 27th November 2011

I have asked for surveys to be carried out by council staff to check it is safe to use the paths. Any flooded areas will be closed to the public.

Useful links:

Floodline Warning Line -

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Reclaim The Night 2011

There is a march to Reclaim the Night on Monday 28th November 2011, meeting at 6pm at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, at the corner of Great Western Road and Queen Margaret Drive.

The route of the march will take in Byres Road and University Avenue arriving at the STUC in Woodlands Road for a rally. 

This is organised by Rape Crisis and it is part of the 16 Days to Elimination Violence Against Women.

I will be joining the march and giving my support to the programme of events for 16 Days which is themed as "'From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World".

Useful Link

16 Days -

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Support for Organ Donation

The Evening Times Campaign aims to persuade the Scottish Government to change the current system of organ donation to an opt out system.
This would result in  everyone being a donor but it would still be possible to opt out of the register.
Evidence suggests that about 90% of people are likely to support organ donation. However, there are only 30% on the register.
Momentum is gathering in support of change in the law. Opt out is backed by the British Medical Association, British Heart Foundation and Kidney Research UK.

I have signed up to their e-petition at:

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Call for a sweat free Olympics

There is a focus on protecting worker rights in the supply chain for sportswear firms taking part in the 2012 Olympic Games. The Playfair 2012 Campaign has been established by a coalition of trade unions and labour rights organisations which are taking the lead on this issue.  They found evidence of workers being employed by Adidas suppliers working for 80-hour weeks stitching footballs. The main sponsor of the Olympic Games 2012 is Adidas.

Companies are being pressurised to ensure they fulfil the principles of Decent Work across the Olympic supply chains, in countries such as China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The principles of Decent Work are "freedom, equality, security, and dignity". It is expected that workers are in receipt of a living wage, paid sick leave, maternity pay and are able to join a trade union.

Useful link:-

Stitched Up report available at:

Holding corporations to account

The autumn edition of the Citizen magazine published by Unlock Democracy features an article by Anthony Barnet who co-founded Charter 88 and founded Open Democracy. He refers to the underlying crisis of democracy and the need to challenge economic privilege.

There is recognition of the requirement for a new movement to create inspiration to develop the public's interest in democractic renewal and to set out the reforms needed to challenge the executive and corporate power in Westminster, Whitehall and the City of London.

There is a campaign to introduce transparency in the dealings of corporations with politicians and officials. The aim is to establish a statutory register of lobbyists. This is led by an Alliance of Lobbying Transparency which involves Unlock Democracy. It is worth finding out more about this work to curtail the power of corporations.

Useful links:-

Information available at:

Democratic Audit at:

Graffiti reporting

During my walkabouts of the west end, I take my digital camera and record any graffiti. My photos are sent on to Glasgow Community Safety Services who arrange for graffiti removal.

Graffiti in Ashton Lane, on 9th November 2011

There is a team of people who remove graffiti across the city and they provide a very responsive service. The majority of streets in the west end are located within a conservation area and graffiti has to be cleared up to ensure that the area's heritage is preserved.

Useful link:-

Glasgow Community Safety Services -

Overflowing waste continues to spoil our lane.

In the past week, I have heard from residents of their upset at seeing the rubbish dumped in the Burgh Lane, which is located at the rear of Hillhead Library. It is a beautiful cobbled lane and the location of bins for various commercial premises.

Overflowing commercial bins on 5th November 2011.

I have been following up complaints received about the mess in the lane and have asked for council staff to speak to businesses involved to seek improvement.

Fly tipped rubbish at rear entrance to Hillhead Library.

It is hoped that everyone who has access to the lane for their bin storage will take extra care to keep it tidy. Ideally, businesses would be able to organise bin storage in a secure area away from the lane.  Flytipping problems are being cleared up by the council staff.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Support to retain Bellahouston Park's Plant Nursery

This week, I visited the council's plant nursery within Bellahouston Park.This provided an opportunity to view the site and receive further information on the impact a proposed hospice would have.
Polytunnels which would have to make way for the new hospice.

The current proposal for the hospice would build on the nursery site which is designated greenspace and therefore, in principle, I have been unable to support this new build project.

I think the plant nursery requires to be preserved and additional growing spaces for the wider community to meet demand from residents should be the priority for the site.

I believe there are brownfield locations on the southside which could be regenerated as part of the hospice development.

Protesters move to Kelvin Way

There are continuing efforts to challenge the banking systems and create a fairer financial system through protest across the world. Glasgow's protest camp moved from George Square to Kelvin Way in the last two days. 

Tents set up at new site on Kelvin Way.

In the last three weeks, I have supported negotiations between protesters and council officials to ensure that an amicable agreement could be reached. Protesters can seek to campaign for change from the secure base in Kelvin Way and the various activities can go ahead as planned in George Square. 

The charm of Cresswell Lane

Yesterday, I enjoyed a walkabout in the sunshine amongst the gift shops of the Byres Road area. A destination for many people is De Courcy's Arcade, on Cresswell Lane.

Cobbled lane with a variety of shops to choose from.

I had a look around the many speciality shops seeking crafts and jewellery in this lane. It is a thriving space from which artists and designers can sell their products.

Iron railings and grills for the windows on the lane

There are tenements with a backcourt featuring iron railings and hanging baskets which adds to the charm of the area. This is a unique place which is well worth a visit.

Hillhead By-election on 17th November 2011

Due to the death of George Roberts, a councillor for the Hillhead Ward since May 2007, a by-election has been called on 17th November 2011.

Stuart Leckie and myself at the air quality monitoring station on Byres Road, on 5th November.

Stuart Leckie is the Scottish Green Party's candidate. He lives in Kelvinbridge and has a strong commitment to addressing housing concerns, particularly the management of houses of multiple occupancy, in the ward.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Vigil against violence and hate crime

There is a a solidarity vigil on Friday 28th October, from 6.30-8.30pm at George Square. This vigil seeks to show that Glasgow does not tolerate violence against women or any form of hate crime.

Useful links:

Stop Rape -

Time to cotton on

This week, I received information from Traidcraft and the Fairtrade Foundation highlighting that millions of cotton farmers in Africa are facing a daily struggle to survive.

The world's cotton production is valued at thirty billion annually. However, many cotton farmers in developing countries are facing hardship. It could be different and action is needed to bring about change.

In December, government representatives are meeting for a World Trade Organisation Summit. Talks require to deliver a global trade deal to help the poorest farmers. The US has to reduce its cotton subsidies and give African cotton farmers a fair price. 

The campaign for a better deal for poor cotton farmers can be supported by urging the UK Government to take positive action and end unfair European cotton subsidies.

Useful links:-

Traidcraft -

Improvements to pedestrian crossing on Gibson Street

In recent weeks, improvements have been made to the crossing at the junction of Gibson Street, Bank Street and University Avenue. 

New pavement crossing at Bank Street.

The pavement has been upgraded and traffic signal timings will be altered to improve safety. 

This work has been undertaken by the Council and will assist everyone who walks in the area, especially parents, children and young people of the new Hillhead Primary School in Kelvin Way.

Taking care of Community Planters

There are a series of planters located within the streets of the Woodlands area. These planters were funded by public subscription and are held in the care of the local community council.

A planter on West Princes Street.

In the last two weeks, a clean up has removed litter from each of the planters. Some have been adopted and cared for by individuals. It is hoped they can all remain litter free with help from local residents.

A planter on West Princes Street, next to Woodlands Drive.

I regularly walk up and down West Princes Street. The planters in the Woodlands area are unique community assets and a very important to part of the area's heritage. 

Several planters require to be relocated from Montague Street due to the new housing development. It is suggested they are relocated to Willowbank Crescent and West Princes Street. Comments and views are being sought from local residents on this proposal.

Support for energy efficiency champions

Due to the budgetary pressures we face and the introduction of the carbon reduction commitment, Glasgow City Council is taking action to reduce its energy consumption. Last year's consumption of energy, gas in particular, increased on the previous year. Clear guidance for staff on the arrangements for heating buildings over the winter months is being progressed to address this situation.

According to the Carbon Trust, organisations could save 21% of their total energy spend by increasing awareness.  Now more than ever, councillors have to support greater energy efficiency. We need to ensure that energy costs are cut.  We should grasp this opportunity and help to improve the profile of Glasgow City Council in its efforts to tackle climate change and cut carbon emissions.

Councillors should be willing to be part of a network of Energy Champions who help to reduce energy consumption in each of the council's services and arms length companies.  We have to monitor energy usage and minimise energy costs in the projects we make decisions about.

In my role as chair of the Energy and Carbon Working Group, I have been pushing for a proactive approach to reduce energy consumption in all council buildings. This was supported by all councillors in the City Chambers at a meeting today. 

Useful links:-

The Carbon Trust -

Energy Savings Trust -

Carbon Reduction Commitment -

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Taking the bus to London

This week, I made a bus trip to London and back again. It was a journey to visit members of my family but my time there coincided with the Occupation of the Financial District by peaceful protesters. On 18th October, I went along to the site of the occupation, next to St. Paul's Cathedral to see for myself what was going on.

The occupation outside St. Paul's Cathdral, London.

There were over 200 people gathered together in the early evening to share news and organise their activities. I joined in a debate about what the Occupation hoped to achieve and was inspired by people's belief in bringing about change in the financial system to create a fairer world.

Banner at occupation in Glasgow's George Square

On my return to Glasgow, I have meet up with people occupying George Square who share the same concerns as other people involved in the occupation movement in London and across the world.

We are living in a time of increasing financial hardship. It would appear that these protests are seeking change by collective action involving people who are not going to accept widening inequalities within our society, the ongoing banking crisis and the government cuts to jobs and services.

Useful links:-

Friday, 21 October 2011

Put a stop to modern day slavery

I visited London on Anti-Slavery Day, the 18th of October. Walking through Trafalgar Square, I came across a stall by the Slavery-Free London campaign and picked up various leaflets.

Human trafficking sculpture in Trafalgar Square.

They highlight that people are trafficked to the UK and forced to work in prostitution, domestic work, cleaning,and food industry.

Leaflet on responsible purchasing.

Information shared concern about the thousands of children trafficked into cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, and the West Africa Coast, where 75% of the world's cocoa comes from.

If you buy chocolate it is worth putting pressure on all producers to supply fairtrade chocolate as this can discourage the use of child labour.

Useful links:-

Stop The Traffik -

Buy Responsibly -

Friday, 14 October 2011

Women's Nobel Peace Prize Winners

This month, we have lost Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan Environmentalist and Political Activist, who inspired women across the globe. She died in the knowledge that she had brought about amazing changes in the quality of the lives of many families in Africa.

Wangari Maathai was the recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She became the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the prize.

Following in her footsteps three women have received the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman - "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work".

This award gives great encouragement to women who continue to campaign to promote peace and justice in the war-torn areas of the world.  

Useful Links:

Wangari Maathai -

Nobel Prize Prize -

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Living Streets

Yesterday, I took part in the Harvest Festival at the Woodlands Community Garden. There was a great turnout and lots of interest in food growing and home cookery.

Bike parking on West Princes Street during Harvest Festival

I got involved in discussions and general debate about how to improve cycling and walking routes in the city.  

Repairs and maintenance of pavements is a major concern for people who want to get around on foot. It appears the majority of investment is focused on roads and pedestrians want to see the potholes on pavements repaired with the same level of priority. I have advocated for resources to be allocated to maintaining existing roads and pavements rather than building new roads.

I also heard about a campaign hosted by Living Streets which aims to stop cars parking on pavements.

I will highlight these concerns as part of my ongoing efforts to enhance the city's environment for walkers and cyclists.

Useful link:-

Transition to the new economy

It has been an extraordinary week for the global financial system and protest movement against the cuts. I took part in the mass demonstration organised by the STUC on Saturday 1st October and joined with trade unionists, peace activists, students and young people concerned about people's future in the midst of the worst ever financial crisis the world has faced. Since then, we have seen the governor of the Bank of England printing another £75bn to ease the financial crisis but forecasters cannot guarantee this will bring an end to the ongoing economic misery facing the poorest and most vulnerable groups.

Memories of a rainy demonstration on 1st October 2011.

It is clear that humans are facing tough times. There is a way forward through support for progressive economic policies and development of local resilient communities, focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy production.

We can act locally and harness the talents, vision and goodwill of local community organisations and their membership. By getting involved in a local transition movement, our efforts can invest in ongoing local collective action that looks to adapt to the end of cheap oil, rebuild local agriculture, consume less "stuff" and localise energy production.

Inspiration can be found from the various projects being supported by the Transition Towns Movement and New Economics Foundation.

Useful links:

Transition Towns -

The Great Transition -

Towards Transition Glasgow -

Support needed for bee-keeping

There is a need to promote responsible bee-keeping within community gardens and allotments as part of efforts to preserve honey bees. I have been made aware of the existence of management rules for keeping bees. These rules set out the requirements to be met by anyone keeping bees including completion of a "Basic Beemaster Certificate" and membership of the Scottish Beekeepers Association.

Bee on flowers in Woodlands.

It is my understanding that a policy on bee-keeping is being considered by Glasgow City Council. I am hoping the model policy adopted for Edinburgh City Council's Allotment Strategy located in Appendix 5 will be adapted.

Useful links:

Scottish Beekeeping Association -

Model policy in Edinburgh's Allotment Strategy Appendix 5 -

Friday, 30 September 2011

Environmental improvements at Ashton Road Car Park

In the last six months, I have been aware of concerns about the removal of trees from the Ashton Road Car Park. There are plans for two new London plane trees to be planted on the site. However, further planting is needed to ensure the area is not an eyesore plagued by graffiti and litter.

View of substation in the car park.

I have asked for climbing plants to be identified and a proposal developed to cover the substation in greenery. This site needs regenerated with plants and shrubs.  I hope Scottish Power will support plans to enhance the site.

Access improvements needed at Hyndland Railway Station

Network Rail has developed proposals to upgrade access to Hyndland Station and currently, the changes to two of the three access routes are being considered by the Planning department.

Entrance at Queensborough Gardens

I attended a meeting today where concerns about current plans were discussed. Specific issues raised by local residents include the omission from the plans of any proposals to improve access and ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act at the entrance to / from Queensborough Gardens.

Current subway entrance to Hyndland Station from Queensborough Gardens.

The subway provides an access route with stairways to the rail platforms. I am supporting efforts by local residents to bring about a review of the proposals through dialogue with Transport Scotland.

Stairway to rail platform at Hyndland Station.

It is essential that disability access issues are addressed and there is improved accessibility for all rail passengers to/from Hyndland.

Useful links:-

Hyndland Railway Station -

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Courageous film-making on the trade in minerals

Yesterday, I went along to see a film featured as part of the "Take One Action" festival showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre.  The Scottish Premiere of "Blood in the Mobile" directed by Frank Poulsen was an eye opener for me. It exposes the links between the Congo's civil war and the supply of minerals to the electronics industry. This film brings to light issues that I had very little knowledge of and cannot ignore.

The director is centre stage in the film as he makes a courageous journey to the mining area of the Congo which supplies the minerals. The mines are established on mountainsides within the jungle and families are involved in working under mining conditions we could associate with the 1830s. There are child labourers caught up in deep mining which puts their lives at risk on a daily basis.

At the end of the film, we heard from the Frank Poulsen, the Director and Kathy Galloway from Christian Aid. They set out the work that is going on to change this horrific situation. Please take action and promote the use of conflict-free minerals in the electronics industry amongst friends, colleagues and the wider community.

Useful links:-

Blood in the Mobile -

Christian Aid -

Global Witness -

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Supporting our local food activities

I enjoyed a local food event which took place on 17th September from 12-3pm at Stravaigin restaurant, 28 Gibson Street. There were a series of short animated films to watch on food and climate change including Wake Up Freak Out, and Petrol in My Food.

View of Woodlands Community Garden.

We had plenty of informal discussion about growing your own, eating local food and promoting sustainable community responses to climate change. It is possible to become a Woodlands Climate Champion by taking a carbon reducing pledge.

Useful link: 

Woodlands Community Garden -

"Make Peace Festival” takes place 50 years after mass protests against Polaris on 17 September 1961.

I joined supporters of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in George Square to form a large human peace/CND symbol between 11 am and 12 noon yesterday. 

This “Make Peace Festival” was held 50 years since the public protests against Polaris on 17 September 1961. 

Paintings by children on display at the event.

Approximately 400 children sent entries to the Paint for Peace competition and some of the  winning entries are shown in the above photo. 

Painting of the Rainbow Warrior. Greenpeace celebrates its 40th anniversary.

It is one of the events taking place around the globe in support of the United Nations International Day of Peace held on 21 September.

Useful link:-

Scottish CND -

Continuing objection to proposal for phone mast

An appeal has been lodged with the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals challenging the refusal of the proposal to install a replica flagpole concealing three antennae to bell tower and ancillary meter cabinet at tower base of the listed St. Bride's Church in Hyndland.

I am continuing my objection to the proposal  and will submit an objection letter by 23rd September 2011 as follows:-

Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals 
4 The Courtyard
Callendar Business Park
Callendar Road
Fax: 01324 696 444

Dear Sir/Madam,

Case Reference: PPA-260-2023 (Planning Permission Appeal)
Address: St. Brides Church, 69 Hyndland Road, Glasgow, G12 9UX

Proposal: Installation of replica flagpole concealing three antennae to bell tower and ancillary meter cabinet at tower base of listed church
Planning Application Reference: 11/00355/DC

I object strongly to the above proposal on the following grounds:-

1.Strong local opinion against the proposal

There have been over 350 objections and petitions submitted calling for the proposal to be refused. The plans are not supported by the majority of residents living within the area which is overlooked by the proposed site on Hyndland Road.

2. Contrary to Planning Policy DES 3 - Protecting and Enhancing the City's Historic Environment

Within the City Plan, with reference to, DES 3, there is a presumption in favour of protecting conservation areas from inappropriate new development. The site for the proposed development does not meet the criteria for telecommunications on the Glasgow City Council’s own guidance for repairs, alterations and extensions detailed in DG/DES. Planning permission cannot be granted as “rooftop apparatus would be seen against, and detract from, historic and architecturally renowned skylines”. The proposal has an adverse impact on the skyline of an important listed building and is detrimental to the visual amenity of the area, negatively affecting the views of St. Bride's Church from surrounding streets and open spaces including Kingsborough Gardens and Westbourne Gardens.

3. Special importance of the proposed site to the city's heritage

St. Bride's Church is B listed and one of the five major ecclesiastical buildings in Dowanhill featured in the Glasgow West Conservation Area Appraisal (see page 68-69, Final Version – April 2011). It is a decorate Gothic Church begin in 1903 by GF Godley and completed in 1913 by H Tarbolton. As a significant part of the conservation area's heritage and a prominent landmark visible for miles, it is not a suitable location of mobile phone masts concealed as a flagpole. This jeopardises the integrity and appearance of this listed building and is detrimental to its special character.  The installation of a replica flagpole to conceal mobile phone masts in the tower of a B listed church is not in keeping with the area's architectural heritage or with the Glasgow City Council policies relating to development in a conservation areas.

4. Contrary to Planning Policy EN6 - Biodiversity

The proposed development will destroy the area's biodiversity, habitats and species. It will have an adverse impact on existing habitats or species protected by law including bats and birdlife.

St. Bride's Church is located within an architectural landscape characterised by specious private gardens, tree-lined streets and communal greenspace. Electormagnectic polution from the proposed antennae will affect the behaviour and abundance of bats in the vicinity. The disappearance of butterflies, bees, insects and sparrows vanishing from cities is attributed to mobile phone-related radiation.

5. Public health concerns

Radiation from mobile phones and towers has become a significant risk to public health in cities such as Glasgow. Analysis of the data from a Dutch study in 2003, showed effects of Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems ie. third generation (3G, 3.5G) mobile technology. The proposed antennae will have an adverse effect on health of the local population including loss of memory, lack of concentration, disturbance in the digestive system and sleep disturbances.  The well-being of local residents including children, pregnant women, and people with medical implants or chronic illness will be put at increased risk from the installation of the antennae.

6. Existing provision

There is a concentration of mobile phone masts in the locality with the Telephone Exchange, accommodating mobile phones on its roof, only 150 metres away. There should not be an unncessary proliferation of mobile phones masts which this proposal inevitable promote.

I urge you to refuse this proposal to install mobile phone antennae in St. Bride's Church.