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.

Campaigning for Human Rights in Gambia

Yesterday, I met up with activists who have established a Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia. 

Since it became independent in 1965 and a military coup enabled Lieutenant Jammeh to take power, all political parties and political activity has been banned in Gambia.  The rise to power of Lieutenant Jammeh has resulted in a deterioration of human rights according to Amnesty International.

Members of Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia in George Square.

Activities organised by Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia including petitions, social events and stalls have helped to raise awareness of the unlawful arrests, detentions and ceasing of public protests.

Useful link:

Amnesty International in the Gambia -

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Transplant medicine and illegal organ procurement

In recent weeks, I have received correspondence highlighting that transplant medicine is facing a shortage of suitable organs and there is evidence that illegal organ procurement is taking place.

There is a report by David Kilgour and David Matas, called "Bloody Harvest", which identifies organs are being used from executed prisoners in China.

I will make further enquiries about the report's findings and seek ways to stop this barbaric practice.

Useful links:-

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) -

Wild Swans on the Canal

Usually, on a Sunday I try to go for a jog or cycle. Today, I made a cycle trip along the Forth and Clyde Canal between Port Dundas and Maryhill Road at the Mackintosh Tea Room. 

On my travels, I crossed paths with several cyclists, a dog walker and fishermen.  I had the good fortune to meet up with some wild birds; a female swan and her cygnets.

A female swan known as "Pen" and her cygnets at Port Dundas.

Across the country, lead poisoning in mute swans has declined since the restriction on lead weights was introduced in 1987. However, research has provided evidence of continued lead poisoning in some localities.  Swans are protected as native wild birds.

Useful Links:

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Dealing with dog poo

Dog dirt can spoil our enjoyment of public parks and open spaces.  Dog owners are encouraged to clean up after their pets. Local dog shows in local communities can help to get the message across effectively. 

Yesterday, I was a judge in a dog show which brought together people in the Hyndland area. The prize winners included "Most laid back dog over 7 years", "West End Woofer - best mannered dog" and "Hound of the Year".  There was a great atmosphere and plenty of enthusiasm amongst the participants.

Dogs at the dog show in Old Station Park

Dog mess can be placed in a bag and usually, it ends up in landfill.  Alternatively, there are bio-degradeable pick up sacks that can be used and flushed down the toilet. This is the sensible way forward.

Useful Links

Community Dog Show Help -

To report dog fouling -

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Get on your bike!

In recent weeks, I have heard of continuing interest in cycling and people are requesting better facilities to encourage them to get on their bike.

As part of the council's efforts to improve our air quality, resources are being spent to improve provision for cyclists including cycle parking facilities. I have requested additional cycle parking in the Kelvinbridge area but there may be other sites that should be included. Any suggestions?

Bike parking at Hyndland Secondary

It is very enjoyable to cycle along the Forth and Clyde Canal or Kelvin Walkway. Dedicated cycling routes such as these make it easy and convenient for cyclists to travel to/from the West End to other parts of the city.

Cycle parking at Kersland Street

More resources are needed to encourage cycling for schools, universities and workplaces. I would support any initiatives that develop safer cycling and reduce bike thefts.

Useful links:-

Go Bike -

Health Benefits of Cycling -

Additional health benefits of cycling -

Bike Club -

Cycling Scotland -

CTC Scotland -

212 Days

Within Glasgow University, a student occupation took place at the Hetherington Research Club, as part of a movement standing against the cuts across Higher Education. I have given my support to students and staff seeking to reverse the cuts. This has involved meeting with students involved in the occupation.

Window of the Hetherington Building on 31st August 2011.

The occupation ended on 31st August 2011. This was agreed after negotiations between students and senior management.

The last day was an emotional time as people waved each other goodbye never to meet at the Hetherington Club again. The door closed peaceful on the occupation about 12.30pm.

I am glad to have been able to give assistance to help stop cuts to courses at the Glasgow University.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Your home and fire safety advice

Today, during a discussion at a council meeting we shared experiences of fires in the home. 

I recalled my experience as a teenager when I got woken up in the middle of the night by my parents because our home was on fire. Thankfully, everyone was able to escape and the fire engines arrived in time to prevent major damage to our home.  However, that night will stay with me. It was very frightening and not something you want to repeat.

Now, I have fitted smoke alarms to my flat and try to keep my home safe. 

I heard about an initiative by the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service last week which offers free home fire safety visits. It is worth considering if you want advice and have still to fit smoke alarms.

Useful links:-

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service -