Sunday, 29 April 2012

Public and Commercial Services Union Four Pledgess

PCS (Public and Commercial Services) Union has produced four pledges which it is inviting election candidates to endorse. I have endorsed the pledges as follows:

1.  I pledge to support PCS campaigns against public service job cuts and to ensure quality public services are delivered to those in need.
2.  I pledge to support the PCS campaign for fair pay and a Scottish living wage for workers and oppose regional pay.
3.  I pledge to protect quality public services and work alongside PCS, community organisations and other trade unions to ensure that no more public services are privatised, outsourced or mutualised.
4. I pledge to support the PCS campaign for fair pensions for all; including calling on the government to protect public sector pensions, ensure the state pension keeps in line with inflation, that the government addresses pensioner poverty and that companies are prevailed upon to ensure they fulfil their pension obligations to staff.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Sunshine on Speirs Locks

Wasteland next to the Glue Factory, on Farnell Street.

It was a beautiful, sunny day for a walk around Speirs Locks. I went along to enjoy the various activities taking place as part of a fun day which involved GAMTA, The Glue Factory, Scottish Opera, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, National Theatre of Scotland, and the Forth and Clyde Canal.

There were a range of artists showing of their crafts and artworks in the Glue Factory's Bazaar. I bought a poetry book as a momento of the event. People gathered together to get involved in knitting, crocheting, dancing and mask making.  Guerilla gardening was promoted with seed bombs given away for free.  Next to the Glue factory, a wasteland area was transformed for an outdoor arts activity on the Vikings.

The walled garden and bothy project.

Further down the street, it was amazing to find a walled garden being created.  It is known as the Bothy Project and plans are being developed for a performance space. The organisers were gathering people's views on ideas for events and activities that would be supported.

Walking along the canal to a cafe for a snack, I found queues waiting for a boat trip. There were pirates aboard the boats on the Canal and people seemed keen to join them for an adventure.

 View of the Forth and Clyde Canal's Boat Trip

My afternoon ended at the former Whisky Bond to view an art installation and I discovered that this is being refurbished to become the new home of Glasgow Sculpture Studios.

Useful links:-

The Bothy Project -

The British Council -

Friday, 27 April 2012

Sign up for better buses

I met up with Patrick Harvie at the Farmers Market in the West End to hear about the campaign for Better Buses. This is an initiative to gather the views of Glasgow's bus users. This will inform a plan by Patrick to help make bus travel the first choice for travellers.

If you are interested in improving bus services, it is worth taking part in the online survey and signing up for news updates.

Useful link:

Better Buses -

Children and young people with complex communication needs

Yesterday, I attended a lively question time with parents of children who are deafblind and have disabilities. During my introduction, I highlighted my response to the four requests being made of council candidates.

1. Assistance to ensure that all new parents with accurate up to date information about accessing support. Commitment to ask for an update of the online version of "Paving The Way" Guide published by Glasgow City Council.

2. Support the need for specialist childcare support by asking for a review of service provision as part of the Personalisation agenda.

3. Support to disabled people and their families based on need, rather than age. There is recognition of the need to support school leavers by providing a guarantee of training, apprenticeships, supported employment or personal development programme. Development of services for adults who are aged 16 and over is a priority. I agreed to gain further information from social work services, developing ideas and take forward proposals to meet the gaps in service provision in partnership with concerned parents.

4. There is a need to develop elected members as champions for disabled people. Councillors from across all political parties are needed to be spokespeople on equalities issues including disability rights. There is also a stakeholder group to review personalisation which will have a wider membership to encompass carers, service users, and cross party elected representation. It can be hoped that this will help to champion the issues facing disabled people. 

Useful link:

Four requests for the Scottish Local Elections 2012 -

Preservation of a concrete crocodile sculpture

It has not been possible to preserve a concrete crocodile sculpture in Braid Square, in Woodside as its head was stolen and not returned. 

In response to requests from residents who wanted the crocodile as part of the refurbishment of play spaces in the area, the council has found a replacement. This was installed on 27th April 2012.

New crocodile located next to play area in Braid Square.

Hopefully, this new crocodile will be valued as part of the community's identity and survive the threat of vandals.

Update on 30th April 2012: The council will have to consider another sculpture design as the crocodile has been vandalised.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Projection and Light Installation

On the evening of 17th April, I attended the projection and light installation at Kelvingrove Park bandstand and amphitheatre. My video footage shows the light effects. 

 Special lighting project at the bandstand and amphitheatre.

Thanks to the everyone who was involved on the organisation and who supported this event.

Monday, 23 April 2012

It's Coffee Week

This afternoon, I went for a coffee to Tinderbox on Byres Road and found details for Coffee Week.This takes place from 23-29th April and aims to raise funds for Project Waterfall. 

My Mocha from Tinderbox.

I am a regular coffee drinker and welcome this initiative to improve access to clean water to African coffee growing countries.

Useful Link:-

Water Aid -

Project Waterfall -

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Scotland's Children - Key issues and actions

Save The Children have contacted Council Candidates to ask for support for key issues and actions.

I have agreed to support the five key priorities as a candidate and if successfully elected:-

1. Support and protect integrated Early Childhood Education and Care
2. Ensure that local authority plans, agreements and targets are ambitious for children
3. Know which services are producing positive outcomes for children and
their families
4. Commit to ensuring that services provided by organisations achieve
the best results and provide good value
5. Value the staff who are vital to the delivery of effective services

Useful Link:

Children in Scotland -

Domestic Abuse - Together we can stop it

A briefing about the blight of Domestic Abuse on Scottish society has been issued to Council candidates by Scottish Women’s Aid is the lead organisation in Scotland working towards the prevention of domestic abuse. 

There are 38 member groups who provide support to women, children and young people fleeing domestic abuse. They work at times of crisis and beyond to help women and children to recover and move on with their lives.

As a local authority candidate, I am supporting the Together We Can Stop It campaign and the vital work carried out by local groups every day.

Useful link:

Together we can stop it campaign -

How will the Commonwealth Games affect Woodlands?

This afternoon, I went along to the Woodlands Community Garden to help out with its maintenance and hear how gardeners are getting on. 

A group of students from Glasgow School of Art were gathering views on how the Commonwealth Games 2014 will affect the Woodlands area. They asked for details people's favourite part and least favourite part, as well as underused space of Woodlands. A track can be kept of the project via the students' webpage.

Useful link:

Social Design Project by GSA Students -

Plans for eviction and enforced homelessness of asylum seekers

On Saturday 21st April, I joined the rally and protest at the UKBA offices on Brand Street, near Cessnock Subway Station in support of the efforts to stop proposed evictions and bring an end to destitution of asylum seekers.

There are up to 140 Glasgow asylum seekers to be evicted by their landlord, Ypeople, in the next few weeks, and left without home, and without access to work or any benefits or state support whatsoever. These people have had their claim for asylum refused even though most are unable to return to their countries because they are too dangerous. They include Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Zimbabwe and others.

Ypeople is a charity funded to provide accommodation to vulnerable people and it is claiming they have to do this before handing over the housing of asylum seekers to Serco, a multinational making money for its shareholders out of running prisons and detention centres. The hand over period runs to November yet Ypeople have decided to evict everyone right now. Community groups say they will not be able to cope.

 At Brand Street with activists from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees

I support the call on Ypeople to act with humanity towards these extremely vulnerable people and on Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to step in and stop the distress and suffering that would be caused by the proposed evictions.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Support for Napiers, The Herbalist in the West End of Glasgow

Today, I dropped in to offer my support to Napiers as it faces some challenging economic times on the High Street. There are a wide array of health products on sale. I stocked up on Echinacea Plus tea to help build up my immune system.

 Views of the shop window and doorway to Napiers, in Cresswell Street.

The Manager povided a statement to anyone concerned about the future of the business:- "Napiers the Herbalist in the West End of Glasgow and Bristo Place, Edinburgh is still open for business and all patients and customers will still be able to buy their favourite Herbal Remedies  and see their Practitioners. We hope everyone will get behind us and support this traditional Scottish business for the next 150 years".

Useful link:

Napiers, The Herbalist -

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Launch of Local Manifesto for Glasgow

The Scottish Greens in Glasgow launched their manifesto for the Local Council election on 10th April. The manifesto is based on five key themes:

> A Happier, Healthier Glasgow
> A Neighbourhood-focused Glasgow
> A Lifelong Educated Glasgow
> A Mobile, Resourceful and Renewable Glasgow
> An Empowered, Democratic Glasgow

The Greens are again standing candidates in each of Glasgow City Council’s 21 Wards, and aim to increase on their current representation of five City Councillors. I am seeking re-election as a Green Councillor and one of four councillors for the Hillhead Ward. 

Greens have pushed for eco-friendly industries such as renewable energy, and cleaner, more efficient transport. A strong Green presence on the Council will build on this by opening up new opportunities for community owned and cooperative ventures, and support a Local Energy Company for the city.
Our agenda for local government is one of empowerment - letting councils truly act as local governments. With taxation powers including land valuation tax, councils would enjoy more independence and secure local finance.

Useful link:-

Green Manifesto for Glasgow -

Former car wash on Novar Drive, Hyndland.

The industrial building used as a car wash for a short time in 2011 has been creating an eyesore in Novar Drive. 

I have been involved in seeking to get it made secure and have contributed to efforts to get it re-painted back to its original shade. Thankfully, this re-painting is required by an enforcement notice issued to the owner by the Council. In the past two weeks, further discussions have taken place to finalise the choice of paint colour and it is hoped that the works can now proceed.

View of the former carwash entrance with broken windows, and current yellow/white paintwork.

Update on 1st May 2012: 
The building has been painted in a shade that is close to the original colour.

Time for a breath of fresh air

Working with residents in the Hillhead area, I have been involved in efforts to prevent vehicles idling on Byres Road. Idling contributes to the serious air pollution concerns in the area and is just not acceptable.

The actions taken in recent months that I have initiated include securing additional "no idling" signs on local streets and ensuring discussion takes place between residents and taxi operators. Numerous requests for enforcement officers from the council to visit to issue fixed penalty tickets for idling have been made. 

View of Idling Sign, Great George Street

An awareness raising leaflet entitled "It's time for a breather" published by the Council has been distributed in the Hillhead Library.  Local residents (or "vigilants") have taken copies of the publicity to hand out directly to drivers. This week, their efforts in tackling idling vehicles were highlighted in the national press. Let's hope drivers take notice!

Useful link:-

Vehicle Idling Campaign -

Sunday, 1 April 2012

In full bloom

A visit to your local public park has been a must during the sunny weather. I have had the pleasure of a walkabout in one of the west end's pocket parks, Old Station Park in Hyndland, in the last few weeks. The park is in full bloom with a daffodil slope and new rockery.

The Daffodil Slope

The flower beds

Thanks to the efforts of volunteer gardeners with assistance from council staff, the park has been transformed in to a beautiful place to visit and enjoy.

Recycling by local businesses

On Friday 30th March, I met up with the manager of the Smug Coffee Shop on Great George Street to discuss what improvements are needed to support small business in the area.

Meeting with Debbie, Manager to discuss ideas to improve Byres Road Town Centre.

In the last year, I have supported efforts to retain the mixed of retail provision in the Byres Road Town Centre. 

The priorities raised during our conversation included access to recycling services for small businesses. There are New Zero Waste Regulations which require all Scottish businesses to sort and present key recyclable materials for separate collection by 2013. This includes separate collections for paper and card, plastics, metals, and glass. For businesses in food retail, production or preparation, a separate food waste collection will also be required by 2013 for businesses with over 50 employees. By 2015, businesses with fewer employees will be asked to follow suit.

It became clear that a project to support recycling amongst businesses could be developed as part of the investment plans for Byres Road. 

The siting of commercial bins around the side streets and back lanes of the area can be seen as an eyesore and specific, secure storage bins for businesses in the area could enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

Useful links:

New Zero Waste Regulations -

Easter Witness for Peace

On Saturday 31 March, the Easter Witness for Peace will take place at the North Gate of Faslane. Speakers were Very Rev Alan Macdonald (on behalf of the Church of Scotland Moderator), Bishop Joseph Toal (Bishop of Argyll and the Isles), Bruce Kent (Vice President of CND), and Kathy Galloway (Head of Christian Aid Scotland) and David Mumford (Dean of Brechin Cathedral). 

 Standing outside the North Gate.

There was a short service, followed by a picnic which I attended. This was an opportunity to underline the belief that nuclear weapons are immoral and they should not be maintained or renewed.