Sunday, 26 June 2011

Solidarity with Syrian Revolution

There has been protesting and demands for freedom by the Syrian people over the past eight weeks. Syrian security forces shot dead 11 mourners at a mass funeral on 21st May 2011 and latest human rights reports indicate 1,800 were killed, 5,000 injured and more than 18,000 arrested since the start of the uprising.

Gathering at Buchanan Street, 26th June 2011

The gathering in Glasgow today reached out to those who are oppressed in Syria. I spoke condemning the unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply to its citizens.

The EU has adopted sanctions on close relatives and business associates of the President Al - Assad over repression in Syria. Those responsible for the crimes and violence against civilians shall be held accountable.  

A peaceful transition to democracy must be allowed to prevail.

A record number of MSPs back a motion on the violence in Syria, dated 1st July 2011.
*S4M-00459 Sandra White: Scotland for Syria—"That the Parliament condemns the brutal use of force by the Assad regime against peaceful demonstrators, many of whom are elderly or very young children; particularly condemns the use of battlefield weaponry against civilian populations and what it considers to be a deliberate policy of the Assad led government which has so far led to the deaths of over 1,300 civilians and the severe injury of many more; believes that President Assad can no longer play a positive role in any discussions on the future of Syria and calls for the President to recognise this, put the wishes and hopes of the people of Syria first, and step down without further delay."

Useful Links:-

Update on 18th September 2011: European Union expands sanctions against Syria -

Friday, 24 June 2011

Save subjects at Strathclyde University

Courses in Humanities and Social Sciences face closure following a meeting of the University's Senate on Wednesday 22nd June.

I am giving my support to the campaign to save Sociology, Geography, Community Education and Music, joining the students gathered outside the meeting on Rottenrow.

Photo taken at rally on 22nd June.

Without access to the course in Community Education, the city will be disadvantaged from a lack of specific skills and expertise required to enhance the life chances of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised groups. It is a vital course which enables the university to show it takes seriously its social responsibility. The University has a duty to address inequality and it should recognise the importance of community education, in terms of its benefits to the communities affected by poverty and neglect.

It has to be acknowledged that Strathclyde University takes 50% of all students studying Community Education in Scotland.  The only other universities offering this degree are on the east coast so if the proposals are accepted, there will be no Community Education degree available to students in the west coast of Scotland, one of the most deprived regions of Western Europe.

The University should be proud of this course, along with the learning and teaching provided in Sociology, Geography and Music, the graduates it produces and the work they do. Every efforts has to be made to fund these courses as our city's efforts to challenge inequality and injustice will be weakened substantially for the next generation if they are not available.

Stop The Cuts at Glasgow University

Over recent months, I have taken part in the consultation process on the future of various courses at the University of Glasgow. On Wednesday 22nd June, I attended the rally outside the meeting of the University's Court where reports prepared following the consultation were presented for ratification.

Whilst it is excellent news that the Adult and Continuing Education programme (DACE) will continue its programme. I am remain concerned about the proposal to remove the share of the teaching grant and that DACE should become ‘self-sufficient’ within three years. This may result in a privatisation of the programme, which leaves uncertainty for students and staff alike.

Slavonic Studies is faced with closure, but it has to be recognised that there are just two centres of excellence in Central and Eastern European languages and cultures in the whole of Britain: London and Glasgow. Each has its own natural catchment area. Both should be supported. Clearly, many students are not able to afford to live in London. Glasgow has a bright future and can continue to attract students. The language teaching at Glasgow as currently constituted is the best in the world and this high standard of Excellence should be retained not diluted.

I am aware that the provision for the teaching of lesser known languages and cultures will be under threat at Scottish universities, unless the Scottish government funding council provides targeted funding for these strategically important areas of study. Such targeted funding existed in the past in Scotland and still exists in England. I support the parliamentary petition calling on the Scottish government to introduce targeted funding for lesser known languages and cultures.

I am glad that it has been recognised by the University Court that the University of Glasgow, Nursing & Health Care School is one of the best, and is a viable, thriving and profitable department despite it's small intake.

Nuclear Abolition Day on 25th June 2011

Give your support to Nuclear Abolition Day and join the international movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. 

Photo taken outside the Faslane Base.

I have taken part in a peace gathering at Faslane Base to highlight the efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and bring about a nuclear free Middle East.

Useful link:

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Call for planned sale to be halted.

I have proposed that the planned sale of the Clouston Street site is halted.

Glasgow City Council is proposing to provide a new sports pitch serving the North and North West of the city. This is estimated as costing £3.4 million, according to a cost estimate from 2007 and £2.48 million has been allocated to date. The sale of a council owned site at Clouston Street is expected to generate a contribution of £1m to meet the shortfall.

This sports pitch project was discussed at a meeting of the Executive Committee.  I proposed that other options be considered to cover the funding requirements of the new pitch within North Kelvinside.  

View of the Clouston Street Site.

Clouston Street is well used green, open space which should be preserved for recreational activities. It has never been built on and is a much needed amenity for residents living in a densely populated tenemental area of the city.

I am aware that the majority of local residents have responding to the survey which opposed the Council’s plan to sell the land to a property developer and supported the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign’s proposal for a mixed-use green space comprising allotments and a community orchard, a wild meadow and a small wood.

Useful Link:

Save North Kelvin Meadow ­-

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Household clearances appear on the streets

It's been a week for finding mattresses, sofas and general household items scattered on the streets. I found an example of what appeared to be the contents of a flat on a corner in Woodside.

Household items dumped on the pavement in Woodside.

This can be avoided by arranging for a charity to assist with the clear out or arranging for items to be donated to furniture recycling initiatives.

Landlords need to make sure that their tenants are not leaving bulk items out on the street. Landlords should have developed plans to ensure that old furnishings are taken away for recycling and not dumped.

I have been requested to ask for more signs to discourage fly tipping in the area.

More promotion of charities who want donations of household goods and furniture is urgently required.

Clean Glasgow Signage.

Useful links:
Waste Aware Scotland -

Meandering through the Greek Market

There was a bustling market selling traditional Greek food and snacks at St. Luke's Greek Orthodox Cathedral today. I purchased some treats including baklava and chocolate.

Doorway in to the Cathedral

The congregation of the Cathedral largely originate from Cyprus, where I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in mid-1990s. As I sat with my coffee in the cafe area, listening to Greek music, my experiences of the Roman mosaics, the mountains, churches and restaurants of that trip flooded back.

Three angels at the table.

The Cathedral was gifted by the Stakis Brothers over 50 years and is a beautiful place to walk round. I was particularly impressed with the stained glass windows and paintings of angels.

I recall the journey I made to Nicosia during the holiday and my visit to the "Green Line" which separates the Turkish and Greek terrorities. It is still astounding that there is no resolution to the conflict arising from the ongoing Turkish occupation of the island started in 1974.

It was a relief to be able to light a candle for the people who have suffered and continue to suffer because of this illegal occupation of Cyprus by Turkey.

My last councillor's surgery at Willowbank Primary

I have held a monthly surgery at Willowbank Primary on the first Wednesday of each month since my election to Glasgow City Council in May 2007.

Willowbank Primary is merging with three other local primaries and moving to a new building on Gibson Street. The current building is closing at the end of June and my last surgery took place on 1st June 2011.

I spent some of my surgery reflecting on my visits to the school and the people I have met at the surgeries. One of the highlights is when I mixed with the staff and pupils at the Burns Celebration in 2010. I was invited to toast the Laddies. Great entertainment was enjoyed by all!

Piano and stool at Williowbank Primary

The room where I hold my surgery has an old fashioned chalkboard and a piano. I hope these items find a good new home. I am not sure they will be required in the new school known as Hillhead Primary.

After the school holidays, I return to provide my monthly surgery in Woodlands from The Albany Centre, on Ashley Street. I will be there from the first Wednesday of September, between 7-8pm.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Preserving our tenemental heritage in Woodlands

The land at 314 Great Western Road, Woodlands is the former site of an Esso Garage and a church. It is currently vacant and under pressure to be developed for a flatted housing complex, with ground floor retail units.

In the last year, the owners have put forward proposals for a new housing development and shop units, and these have been refused by both the Council's planning committee and a Scottish Government reporter. I have also objected to all of the proposals as they have been submitted to the planners. 

Neighbouring properties - front gardens on Montague Street, Woodlands.

I have been disheartened to hear that the area is seen as in need of an inappropriate flatted development because it has become an eyesore.

Due to a number of complaints about the poor maintenance and security problems, I have approached staff at the Enforcement Unit at Glasgow City Council on an ongoing basis to ask the site owner to keep the site from becoming unsightly; by clearing litter, as well as keeping the gate locked and secure. The owner has responded to some requests to do this and helped to keep the land inaccessible to cars. However, in recent months, this has not been maintained.

There have been expressions of interest in the land providing a temporary greenspace with raised beds until plans are finalised. There are examples from across the city where local groups and residents have become involved in setting up a community garden in gap sites. It could also be considered for 341 Great Western Road.

Current tenemental design on neighbouring streets in the Woodlands Conservation Area.

In the long-term, it is vital that any housing plans drawn up fit within the requirements of the Woodlands Conservation Area, where the site is located.

New housing has to conform, as far as I am concerned, to the historic streetscape of neighbouring Montague Street and Great Western Road. The new development should seek to provide four storey sandstone tenements with front gardens and backcourts on Montague Street. This design and layout should be complimented with four storey sandstone tenements and traditional shop units for independent retailers along the site boundary at Great Western Road.

Please note, this week, another planning application for 45 flats and 2 retails units which I view as overdevelopment on the site was considered and approved. This is not what I had hoped for.

Useful links:

Conservation areas in Glasgow -