Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wild Places for Children and Young People

Today, support for initiatives to encourage children and young people to get outside, explore and play was agreed by all councillors at Glasgow City Council. I put forward the motion after getting inspiration from attending the Friends of the River Kelvin's Gala.

This is necessary as a result of research from the National Trust. There is now a critical weight of evidence indicating a worrying trend towards a sedentary, indoor childhood and this risks storing up social, medical and environmental problems.

There are already consequences for children and young people’s health that we are aware of with the ‘modern epidemic’ of obesity, increased vitamin D deficiency, a reduction in children’s fitness, increased mental ill health, and increased prescribing of anti-depressants. Another concern is the declining emotional resilience and the declining ability to assess risk.

We can ensure that city’s children and young people can discover the natural world for themselves, and reap the health benefits. As well as being healthier, children and young people who learn outdoors know more, understand more, feel better, behave better, and work more cooperatively.

The National Trust has 50 Things to do before you’re 11¾ campaign for free which provides a checklist for under-12s including everything from flying a kite and making a mud pie. There are activities that make the most of our back gardens, public parks, and wildlife areas.

This builds on initiatives already underway including “Wild About Glasgow” which supports the Scottish Natural Heritage's Simple Pleasures. There are many Glasgow outdoor routes to inspire. These include the Forth and Clyde Canal, White Cart Water, Glasgow Green to Richmond Park and Robroyston Local Nature Reserve. 

 View of the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The Countryside Ranger Team and other staff with Land and Environmental Services are helping to lead the way in promoting the outdoors to children and young people, and their work will be supported further with the backing of this motion today.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Refugees are welcome here

On Saturday 16th June 2012,  I took part in the March and Rally in Glasgow's city centre in support of call to stop the destitution and eviction of asylum seekers.
Demonstrators gather in George Square after successful march.

The impact of destitution on the asylum seekers themselves is being forced to sleep rough and beg for the basics. They experience a deterioration in mental health, a loss of hope leading to frequent suicide attempts, and the loss of a daily pattern to their lives. 

Findings of various studies and research in to destitution provide evidence that solutions exist which are humane, cheaper and effective.

The policy of enforced destitution must cease. The system of asylum seeker support is a confusing mess. We have seen no justification for providing varying standards of support and recommend the introduction of a coherent, unified, simplified and accessible system of support for asylum seekers, from arrival until voluntary departure or compulsory removal from the UK.” (The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2006-07)

The recommendations from the report in to the treatment of asylum seekers published by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights should be implemented as a priority to prevent the ongoing distress and hardship of asylum seekers.   

Useful link:

The Joint Committee on Human Rights, The Treatment of Asylum Seekers, 2006-7 -

Refugee Survival Trust -

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Get Your Bike Passport

In the last week, I have been upset to find bike frames without wheels abandoned within the Hillhead area. Theft of bikes and their parts is a serious concern. 

Bikes parked on Eldon Street.

There are over 500,000 bikes stolen in the UK annually according to Strathclyde Police. This can be due to them being poorly secured or not secured at all. Action has to be taken to protect bikes and lock them up effectively to prevent theft. 

Keeping bike details including their serial number stored at your home for reference is recommended as this makes it easier for the Police to recover the bike if it is stolen.

Useful link:

Bike Week's Healthy n Happy Shake Machine

On Wednesday, I go on the Healthy and Happy Shake Machine (a smoothie bike) in George Square. I choose some fruit, and pedalled a specially designed bike with a smoothie maker attached, and a delicious smoothie was made!

Healthy and Happy Shake Machine and the Fruit Smoothie

This is an innovative and fun resource to encourage people to take up cycling and fruit options. I was really inspired by this initative. Hopefully, it will be adopted by various events.

Useful link:

Healthy n Happy Shake Machine -

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Crisis in Sahel

In recent weeks, through my membership of Oxfam, I have become aware of the food crisis in Sahel, West Africa. It threatens the lives and livelihoods of 18.4 million people. There is a campaign seeking additional resources from the UK Government to alleviate the crisis.

 Signatures to a letter to the UK Government in support of people in Sahel.

I am supporting the call for increasing funding from the UK Government for the region in line with its 'fair share' of the money needed.

Useful link:

UK Government must pay 'Fair Share' for Sahel -

Penny's Meadow

Today, I attended the opening ceremony for Penny's Meadow, on the former BBC site located near Queen Margaret Drive and the River Kelvin. Residents and supporters of this project gathered to help create a temporary wildlife meadow. The Coachhouse Trust have held seed ball workshops and these seed balls were dispersed across the open ground.

View of Penny's Meadow.

This project has been possible thanks to cooperation between the local residents association, the landowners, the Coachhouse Trust and Glasgow City Council. It is supported by the Council's Stalled Spaces Policy.

Useful link:

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

30th Anniversary of Resistance at Faslane

Today, I attended the weekly vigil at the North Gate of Faslane Naval Base, near Helensburgh. This is organised by Trident Ploughshares, Scottish CND and Helensburgh CND. It is easy to get there by public transport.

View of a mural at the Faslane Peace Camp.

In the next few weeks, there are a series of events to commemorate the activities of the Peace Camp as it celebrates 30th year of resistance and to continue the protest against nuclear weapons.

Useful link:

Faslane Peace Camp -

Scottish CND -

Decision on future of Otago Lane

On Tuesday, the planning committee at the Council met to consider the planning application for a new residential development in Otago Lane.

Save Otago Lane campaigners meet outside the City Chambers on 12th June.

Further to representations from local councillors and protesters against the proposal, it was agreed to make a site visit and hear directly from local residents before making a decision.This is expected in August.

Useful link:

Help Save Otago Lane -

Improvements needed to Maryhill Road?

 View of Post Office on Maryhill Road.

On Monday, I discussed support for businesses in Maryhill Road with residents. There is a need to ensure that there is a diverse range of shops retained in this street to maintain the local economy. Suggestions to enhance the area include provision of a bakers, fishmonger, and butcher. 

I have received ongoing concerns about littering of pavements and dog fouling on Maryhill Road. Further improvements to the pavements and clearing up of refuse are a priority. 

Ideas to help support businesses in Maryhill Road will be developed through consultation with local shopkeepers and regular shoppers.

Useful Link:

Maryhill -

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Safeguarding North Kelvin Meadow

Today, I met up with members of the campaign to safeguard North Kelvin Meadow on Clouston Street as a greenspace for community benefit.

Stall for the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign

Currently, there are storytelling events taking place within the Children's Wood at the meadow to encourage learning about nature.

Useful link:-

North Kelvin Meadow Campaign -

Kew Terrace Secret Gardens

As part of Scotland's Gardens scheme, the gardens at the rear of Kew Terrace were open today. The local proprietors association has been involved in gardening work to improve the front garden border on Great Western Road.

View of the border where you can enjoy a healthy walk.

I meandered along the cobbled Kew Lane to visit 10 gardens and appreciate the talent of local gardeners. There were different approaches to garden design including retention of traditional flower borders and the use of planters.

Geranium plants shaded by a plum tree.

Useful link:-

Scotland's Gardens Scheme -

Friday, 8 June 2012

Repair and maintenance of Mackintosh's architecture

The launch of Roger Billcliffe's pocket guide book, "Visiting Charles Rennie Mackintoch" yesterday at Queen's Cross Church was very enlightening. I spoke with a variety of people involved in heritage projects across the city.  Of particular concern is the repairs and maintenance of several buildings designed by Mackintosh and these require to be prioritised.

Looking round the church, completed in 1899, I heard about the various activities of the Charles Rennie Mackintoch Society. The church is open to public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays .It is open for free of charge on Wednesday afternoons. There is a leaflet which details the history of the church and features information about key features such as the great "Blue Heart" window.

View of Queen's Cross Church

I hope that the Queen's Cross Church and the work of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society received increased publicity as part of the refurbishment of the subway. Improved signage to the church to/ from St George's Road would be a great benefit and imagery of the church within the subway's panels at St. George's Cross would be really positive.

Useful link:-

Traffic management concerns at Kelvinbridge

There is a proposal to demolish a tenement and build an extension to the Glasgow Academy within Colebrooke Place and Colebrooke Street.

Local residents have highlighted concerns about additional traffic generated by the plans and road safety fears have been highlighted.

View of Colebrooke Street

Junction of Great Western Road and Otago Street

I have submitted an objection on the basis of the need to address traffic management concerns including safety for pedestraians and cyclists at crossing points and drop off facilities for Glasgow Academy's pupils.

Update on monstrous plans for Otago Lane

I am continuing to support the campaign to save Otago Lane from a monstrous 8-storey flatted development which would destroy the historic lane and wildlife habitats along the River Kelvin.

Glasgow City Council planning committee is meeting on 12th June to to consider the development proposal. As a local councillor, I have requested both, a site visit to Otago Lane and a hearing, to enable members of the planning committee to appreciate fully the site's unique architecture and heritage importance before making a decision. This is a very contentious proposal within the Hillhead area and contravenes policies to protect back lanes and greenspaces.
 View of Otago Lane which has independent businesses employing 30 people.

As part of the decision-making process for the proposal, I believe it is vital that the councillors on the planning committee hear evidence from local residents concerned about the impact of the plans for Otago Lane on local businesses and the wider community. I have requested that representatives of the local community-based group, 'Otago Lane Community Association' are given an opportunity to put forward their views on this application. This Community Association has been established by residents and local businesses who value and wish to protect the lane's cultural significance and its unique character.

Given the strength of local feeling, residents should be able to express directly to the members of the planning committee how they believe the proposal will affect their lives. The campaign to Save Otago Lane has been ongoing since 2009 and has attracted over 4,000 letters of objection sent to Glasgow City Council, as well as a petition with over 3,750 signatures opposing the development.

Useful link:

Help Save Otago Lane -

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Race for Life 2012

For the first time, I took part in the 5K Race for Life organised by Cancer Research UK, today. There were about 12,000 women running or walking through Glasgow's streets to raise funds. The musical entertainment was provided by the Scottish Power Pipe Band. There was a great atmosphere and the sunny weather helped!

Runners in Buchanan Street.

Donation points were set up in Glasgow Green for "unwanted treasures" to be handed in and sold in charity shops.  Stalls also provided really useful health advice and information on cancer support services. It's a really worthwhile event.

Useful link:-

Cancer Research  UK -