Thursday, 29 March 2012

Design of sheds on Allotments

This month, allotments associations have been very concerned about about Glasgow City Council's policy relating to sheds on allotments. 

It has been assumed that the Council is supportive of investment in facilities at allotment sites including sheds, as this encourages people to get involved, especially families and improves security for storage of tools and gardening equipment.

New sheds have been proposed for several sites. The process of developing plans to invest in allotment sites, including provision of sheds, has involved voluntary effort and dedication to fundraising. This work is a boost to everyone interested in allotments and supports the implementation of the current allotment strategy. 

At the full council meeting today, I made an enquiry about whether a design guide for sheds on allotments can be developed. This aims to clarify what type of shed is permitted on allotments and provide reassurance to everyone seeking to invest in their allotment. It was agreed to take up the idea of a design guide.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

How can Local Councils support the LGBT Community?

Yesterday, I took part in a workshop on local government held at the National Union of Students' LGBT Conference in Glasgow. There were a series of questions about support for LGBT representation, funding of services and resources to tackle homophobia.

I received a copy of the manifesto from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) National Youth Council which outlines the key issues which I endorse:-

- Support marriage for all people in Scotland

- End the discriminatory blood donation ban for men who have sex with men.

- Challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in Scotland's schools

- Continue work to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crime

- Make democracy relevant and accessible to young people

- Ensure educational opportunities are available for all young people in Scotland

- Challenge negative representations of young people in society

- Listen to what young people think about society and citizenship across Scotland.

Within Glasgow, support has been requested for the Pride March and the rise in Hate Crime highlights the need for further work to tackle homophobia in our communities.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Support the Palestinian Hunger Strikers

There was a march and rally in solidarity with the Palestinian Hunger Strikers in Glasgow, today. Deep inside Israeli jails, a young Palestinian women, Hana Al-Shalabi, has entered her sixth week of hunger strike. 

Hana Al-Shalabi along with 300 Palestinians is being held under arbitrary "administrative detention" which allows Israel to hold Palestinians without charge or recourse to a trial. Hana was arrested in February 16th, 2012 and immediately began a hunger strike. Her life is now in danger according to doctors.

Supporters gather outside the BBC in Glasgow, this afternoon.

Hana's struggle for dignity and freedom is being supported across the world. Her sacrifice is not hers alone. It is recognised as a call for action by other Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Over 25 prisoners have now joined Hana on hunger strike.Those in solidarity with the Palestinian cause are mobilising to ensure that their efforts do not go on in vain.

Useful links:
Palestinian Hunger Striker at risk of death -

Updated on 1st April 2012:
Hunger Strike ended - 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Supporting the National Tree Collections

The fern collection in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens is a beautiful place to visit. I went for a look round today. The sun was shining and it was packed with people exploring the plantlife. 

Ferns in the National Collection.

The Fern Collection is one of the highest quality tree collections in the National Tree Collections of Scotland. This is an initaitive which aims to promote sharing of expertise, and raise awareness amongst the wider public of their value.

Useful link:

National Tree Collections of Scotland  -

Friday, 16 March 2012

Local Priorities for Tackling Poverty

Today, I participated in the 3rd Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty 2012 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. This involved taking part as a speaker and panel member debating local approaches to tackling poverty. I referred to the financial crisis of historic proportions and society becoming ever more unequal. Our priority has to be to stop the re-float of the failed economic model. The Coalition Government's Welfare Reforms are impacting on vulnerable groups in society very hard indeed.

In my view, the priorities include:-

i) Children who are most affected when the income of a family is reduced. Local Government has to focus its efforts on maximising income and helping to reduce costs for low income families.

ii) Supporting women has to be taken forward as they are most affected by cuts to jobs, particularly in the public sector. Rather than the pay gap continuing to close as it done in recent times, the Fawcett Society fear we may see a widening pay gap in future.Women use local government services and benefits more than men for many reasons - during pregnancy, as carers, and due to their relative economic inequality and poverty.

iii) Local government has to work with communities to develop regeneration initatives, and provide support and practical help to organisations and individuals working at a local level.  Through neighbourhood based projects, resources can be directed at improving the life chances for disadvantaged individuals and groups and supporting health and wellbeing.  

Local government has to use every lever currently available to us to secure new investment and create and safeguard jobs, in the face of severe cuts.  We have to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, and meet climate change targets.  There are opportunities within the housing, public transport, creative industries, health care, manufacturing and renewable technology sectors to develop training, apprenticeships and jobs.

We have to believe that economic policy does not just value material wealth, but the things which truly make life worth living - our health, our relationships, our human need to co-operate, and create a sense of equality and community.

Useful link, including my comments on video clip:-

Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty -

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

It's Climate Week

This evening, I attended an event organised by Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST), a group of students working to try and improve sustainability at Glasgow University. They held an environmental summit during Climate Week, to discuss Glasgow University’s current environmental practice, and look at ways it can move forward in future.

It was a very informative evening with updates on the University's energy efficiency programme and carbon management plan. As a panel member, I was able to share my experience from supporting the Council's energy efficiency and carbon management activities.

I gained an insight in to the immediate environmental concerns that students have, including safety issues for cyclists, recycling services, sale of plastic water bottles,  and ineffective heating systems in some University buildings.

Cycle rack next to the University's Library.

It is evident that many students want to cycle but are nervous about going on the road, and motorists are fearful of cyclists due to the risks of accidents. I am hoping that improved communicaton between the University's cyclists and the Council's road safety staff could lead to a reduced level of fear. Further funding to support cycling infrastructure is highlighed by cyclists as key to success.

Useful Links

Cycling Embassy Tour in Glasgow -

Monday, 12 March 2012

Artworks and Cobbles

Yesterday, I was invited to meet residents involved in the lane improvements within a back lane at Montague Street and Park Road, in Woodlands.

A group gathered in the lane to pick up the litter and clear away the grim to expose the beautiful cobbles. In the past year, about half the lane has been improved and artworks have been added.

The efforts are all worthwhile when the transformation of the grubby lane takes shape and it becomes litter free.

 Collection of black bags in the lane.

Getting involved in a resident group to improve a back lane or backcourts can bring neighbours together for the first time. It makes an amazing difference to people's quality of life.

Cleaning up our greenspaces

In the West End, our greenspaces are precious and need to be looked after. Residents have organised clean ups in neighbourhoods within Hillhead to help make this possible. 

Friends of Kersland Lane is a new group which is making a difference to a gap site off Kersland Street. On Saturday, 10th March, I helped out with the regular clean up and observed the transformation of this site taking place.

 New beech hedging has been planted.

Along with hedges, the fencing has required repair or replacement around the site.

New fencing erected on Cecil Street.

Through the dedication and talents of people involved, new fencing has been organised in the last month.

Useful link:-

Keep Scotland Beautiful -

Women and the Austerity Cuts

On Saturday 10th March, I join campaigners against the cuts to services which are creating economic hardship for women and their families. The difficulties women are facing when they want to access further education were highlighted. It was recognised that women who dream about improving themselves and taking up better job opportunities are facing barriers, especially from lack of finances and childcare.

 March against the cuts on George Street.

The march within Glasgow's city centre provided an opportunity to protest at the changes proposed to the Welfare State and growing inequalities arising from the financial crisis.

Scotland has a poor record in terms of rape convictions and it is acknowledged that services provided by rape crisis and women aid projects require additional funding to change this situation. Women shared concern about not being able to access support if they experience domestic violence or rape due to cuts in services.

Useful links:-

Fawcett Society -

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Walking The Glasgow Bridges

This afternoon, I was invited by Soroptimist International to participate in a bridges walk to demonstrate support for the 2012 United Nations International Women's Day (UNIWD). The theme is "Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures". 

 Members and friends of Soroptimist International walk the bridges across the River Clyde.

"Join me on the Bridge" is the theme of the organisation 'Women for Women International' to raise awareness of the need for women to be involved in political peace processes across the world. 'Soroptimiist International has worked with 'Women for Women International' since 2003. 

Useful Links:

Women for Women International - 

Soroptimist International Glasgow City - 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Support for district heating

This week, the development of district heating schemes has been a talking point. There is an appetite to support district heating schemes across Glasgow as part of efforts to tackle fuel poverty. 

In the last year, I have become aware of the efforts being made by Cube Housing Association to reduce the fuel bills for their tenants by installation of district heating. The 2014 Village and National Indoor Arena has been designed with a bespoke district heating scheme.

There are many other communities who could benefit and investment is needed to take forward new proposals.

Useful link:

Cube Housing Association -

Celebrating Glasgow's artists

Today, I escaped for an hour to the GOMA to enjoy the various exhibitions celebrating Glasgow's artistic talents. 

View of GOMA, Royal Exchange Square

The photos taken by Alan Dimmick feature many well known faces and highlight the people, places and events which have helped shaped Glasgow's arts scene.

The exhibition by Alan Dimmick presents over 300 photographs. 

In another studio space, the art works by Alastair Gray are not to be missed. The exhibition has compositions from the City Recorder series created in 1977.

Memorial Garden on Hopehill Road

There is a memorial garden for the people who died or were affected by the explosion at the Stockline Plastics Factory, on 11th May 2004. This is located on Hopehill Road, within the Woodside area of the Hillhead Ward. The memorial garden is well maintained and a peaceful place to sit.

 View of the memorial garden.

In recent weeks, I have become aware of a litter problem in the open space adjacent to the garden. It should be possible to get this cleaned up for the Springtime.

View across the site including the open space covered in litter to the left.

There is a Grovepark Fund and other groups who may have suggestions or views on improvements needed to this area. I would appreciate hearing from anyone with an interest in looking after this site.

Useful Links: