Sunday, 26 February 2012

Installing medium sized PV arrays onto council buildings.

On Friday, 24th February,  as a member of the Energy and Carbon Working Group, I made a visit to meet the eco-committee and viewed the new Photovoltaic installation on the south facing roof at St. Benedict's Primary. 

The school site was identified as part of a report on the viability of installing medium sized PV arrays onto Glasgow City Council buildings. City Building has established joint working with Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) to deliver PV. This is the first of many schools who will benefit from renewable technologies.

Useful link:

Photovoltaics - 

Getting gulleys cleared

A week does not go by without spotting a gulley that needs cleared. If a drain is blocked, it causes flooding and is a major headache for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. 

 Large puddle blocks pavement on Kelvin Way.

The Council has a staff team who respond to requests for gulleys to be cleared of leaves and mud. A programme of gulley cleaning is developed in response to complaints.

An annual programme of gulley clearing as part of the road maintenance arrangements across the city would be preferable. This is needed in place of existing arrangements especially as we have increasing rainfall and more chance of flooding.

Comments on proposal for Eldon Street Underpass

The Council is proposing to improve the significant walking and cycling route at Eldon Street Underpass on Kelvin Walkway, which is very welcome. There have been complaints made about the poor state of repair of the boardwalk and graffiti is an ongoing issue. I have submitted comments highlighting this area as an important site in the wildlife corridor along the River Kelvin.

View of underpass

This location is a listed design landscape and the improvement works should be seeking to conserve the existing materials used in the pathway i.e. recycled and from sustainable, low carbon sources. The anti-flood bund is more crucial than ever and consultation with SEPA / SPT  is necessary to ensure the works take account of flood risks.

Trees could be removed as part of the proposed. I have asked for a copy of the tree survey which identifies which trees are getting crown lifted and thinned, also which shrubs are getting cut back and to what height. 

 View of boardwalk drapped in ivy.

The boardwalk is a unique place and has special character. Any plans should take account of the impact on wildlife in the area. A bat and general wildlife survey is required due to its particular qualities. The project should promote and protect wildlife along the river and in the park.  Partnership work can be developed to ensure that the views of the Council's Biodiversity team, RSPB or Scottish Wildlife Trust are incorporated into the design.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Safer cycling in Glasgow

At the full council meeting on 16th February, Green Councillors put forward a motion in support of the Cities fit for Cycling Campaign supported by the Times newspaper. I am particularly concerned about the fact that lorries account for 5% of road traffic accidents but 16% of cycling deathes.

The Safer Cycling Campaign has a manifesto which demands that lorries entering a city centre are required by law to fit appropriate sensors, alarms, and mirrors to protect cyclists and pedestrians. I think that the Council should support this proposal and welcome discussions at a European level on further improvements to standards for heavy goods vehicles to help reduce accidents caused by poor visibility.

As part of the Council's road safety campaigns, it would be helpful to support awareness raising activities which improve a lorry driver's knowledge of what is around them.  All operators of large lorries on the roads should volunteer to make their fleets of HGVs cycle friendly.

The UK Contractors Group with a membership of a third of the UK's construction industry has indicated it will produce a strategy to promote greater safety measures to protect cyclists, lorries and vans around building sites. Many members are involved in some of the biggest construction sites in Glasgow.  They could be encouraged to ensure they are protecting the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and road users as part of being a considerate contractor. 

Green Councillors asked the Council to develop its action for cycling to take account of the measures highlighted in the Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, and this was agreed unanimously.

Useful link:-

Cities Fit for Cycling campaign -

First signs of Spring

During visits to backcourts to check on the bin areas and find out about cleansing problems in Hillhead, I have had the good fortune to spot snowdrops. Many residents take great pride in their gardens and have planted a selection of plants including snowdrops to bright up the city's greenspaces.

Snowdrops in a Hillhead Backcourt.

You can also find many snowdrops in our public parks. This weekend, I am going along to a snowdrop festival.

New clothes shop on Great George Street

There is a new clothes shop opening up off Byres Road. It is a really positive addition to the town centre and it will complement the existing retail outlets providing items for children.

Shop unit at 174 Great George Street

The previous tenant was a sports shop. Over the last year, I have supported efforts to prevent another cafe opening at this location as there is evidence of an overprovision of coffee shops. I am very glad that this shop has retained its status a class 1 retail space within the Byres Road Town Centre.

Glass recycling bin has moved

This week,  a walkabout took place in Hyndland when I checked out litter problems with residents and council officials. A glass recycling bin located at junction of Novar Drive and Lauderdale Gardens had been attracting flytipping and has had to be moved to another nearby site. It is hoped that it will be well used.

Glass can be recycled in two bins located at the junction of Novar Drive and Hyndland Road.

Litter, dog fouling and fly tipping will continue to be monitored in the Novar Drive area.  Two new bins have been provided and it is hoped that these will resolve the litter problems. However, ongoing feedback from residents is welcomed.

Update on 3rd May 2013.
The on street recycling bins have had to be taken away from this site due to residents complaints about noise, and flytipping. There is also a concern that these bins have a negative impact on the local architecture especially the churches in the immediate area.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

For a bulletproof Global Arms Trade Treaty

There is a global trade in weapons which supporting human rights abuses. The ready supply of smalls arms is also capable of fuelling armed violence in non-conflict situations including criminality and deathes. As a result of the arms trade, millions of people are killed, injured, raped or forced to flee their homes. This year, countries are meeting to debate and finalise a global arms trade treaty. Campaigners are writing to leaders of the political parties to push for the UK to support a comprehensive treaty.

Useful link:

Creating wildflower meadows on vacant and derelict sites

During this week, I watched a TV programme featuring wildflower meadows and was inspired by various projects being developed. In recent weeks, Green Councillors have been discussing the possibilities of extending the number of wildlflower meadows on council owned land. There are vast areas of vacant and derelecit across the city that could be transformed to create suitable habitat for various plants and wildlife. It is a matter of identifying the people interested in developing local projects and coordinating activity across Glasgow.

Useful link:-

BBC Feature on Wildlflower Meadows -

Thursday, 9 February 2012

9th February - Budget Day.

All councillors gathered in the City Chambers today to discuss the council's budget for 2012-13. I made a speech in support of a Green Budget Amendment. Living in a period of financial uncertainty and harsh economic realities, we are well aware of the worsening poverty and widening gap between the rich and poor. The Council has to agree a budget to ensure that the Glasgow becomes more resilient and able to respond to the global economic and environmental pressures we face. 

Green Councillors have not accepted the Labour Administration's proposal for a review of  employee terms and conditions, and changes to Early Years Provision. We are very concerned that these changes will be made to the detriment of council staff.

It is our belief that the investment we are making in our budget amendment will help create new opportunities, address our financial challenges, reduce our carbon footprint, and combat climate change.

Our direct investment is in additional blue bin collections. This will provide weekly uplifts from tenements and houses across the city. Our plans also include increasing the number of on-street recycling bins and support expansion of the recycling services to businesses who are currently on a waiting list. Maintaining the current level of services is not going to get us closer to reducing the Council’s landfill tax burden and avoiding landfill allowance penalties. The Council has to dramatically boost the amount of plastic, paper, and cans recycled so it is on course to recycle 50% in 2013 and 70% in 2025. Our plans will help make substantial progress in increasing recycling by everyone.  

 Blue bins overflowing at a Dowanhill Backcourt

We have plans to save energy and carbon emissions by implementing an Intelligent Street Lighting System to control the street lights in non-city centre streets. This allows the council to dim some street lights between 1am - 5am. The system has fully adjustable settings, this allows the Council to change and have alternative settings for different days of the week, take account of British Summertime, or set to stay on longer e.g. for events or at Christmas and New Year. It is currently being rolled out in Suffolk County Council and we believe it can be adapted to improve energy efficiency in Glasgow.

We want to ensure that there is funding in place to increase the number of allotment plots available. By creating new, extended, or refurbished allotment and growing projects, the Council is meeting the demand from residents who want to grown their own food. We are supporting the promotion of the health and wellbeing of our citizens, giving them increased access to a healthier lifestyle, healthier eating and improved quality of life.

Whilst our budget amendment was not passed at the meeting, we hope that some of our ideas will come to fruition.

Please note that the Green Budget amendment was superceded by Combined Budget Amendment produced by Opposition Parties. I took part in the negotiations on behalf of the Green Councillors and ensured that the Greens budget options were incorporated. This was defeated by the Labour Administration's budget.

Useful links:

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Investing in Byres Road

 View of Byres Road.

In recent weeks, I have been calling on Glasgow Life to ensure that a lift is installed as part of refurbishment works at Hillhead Library in 2013/14. There have been very productive discussions this week with staff involved in this work. 

I am trying to ensure that the improvements to Hillhead Subway including the mural by Alistair Gray and pavement poetry by Edwin Morgan are linked up to the plans for the library.  The library could support cultural events and education activity involving poetry reading and public art talks.

I am pushing for a coordinated approach to ensure there is maximum public benefit from any funding to improve community amenities, pavements and public spaces within Byres Road.

Useful link:
Poem for National Library Day on 4th February 2012 -

Looking after our hedges

This week, I made several walkabouts of the Hillhead area with residents and various officers from the Council, Strathclyde Police and Glasgow Community Safety Services. Littering problems on pavements are ongoing concerns and hedges are seem as gathering places for rubbish.

 Hedgerow in Gibson Street.

There is a requirement to conserve and manage our hedges as they are an important feature of our streets providing privacy, a wildlife haven, and  a resource to alleviate air pollution or flood risk.

Useful Link:

Hedgelink -