Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Save wildlife habitat at Otago Lane

I am calling for plans which destroy the wildlife habitat at Otago Lane to be refused. Along with other objectors, I continue to support the campaign to save Otago Lane from a monstrous 8-storey flatted development which would destroy the historic lane and a significant natural landscape along the River Kelvin.

Glasgow City Council planning committee is meeting on 29th August for a site visit and hearing to consider the development proposal. I will speak at the hearing as one of the objectors.
View of the natural landscape and community garden.

This site on the riverbank of the River Kelvin is protected by Development Policy Principle DEV 11 Green Space. The site has 34 newly established native trees as well as perennial shrubs which provide a vital green wildlife corridor. Whilst the wildlife survey did not find signs of otters, it is known for otters to go to riverbanks covered in trees and shrubs which are undisturbed and sheltered. The survey did not check some of the best areas of the site where otters could choose to lie up. Scottish Natural Heritage indicate that otter activity has been recorded for several years nearby, at the Big Blue next to Kelvinbridge.

 View of the wildlife corridor from Gibson Street Bridge.
It is stated in the proposal's tree survey that the current natural vegetation on the riverbank immediately adjacent to the existing mews on Otago Lane has high landscape value. The existing trees are developing as a beneficial natural screen, so making a positive impact on the character and amenity of the local neighbourhood. The planning committee should refuse this application as the buildings proposed will structurally alter the greenspace along the riverbank and destroy the current treelined panorama views of the River Kelvin and the Kelvinbridge area within the West End's conservation area.

Update on 29th August 2012:
The councillors on the planning committee voted in favour of the proposal: 9 For, 6 Against and 1 Abstention. This is a devastating decision for the people who live and work from premises on Otago Lane. This lane is a very special place in the heart of Glasgow's West End which should have been protected from this monstrous plan by planning policies supporting cobbled lanes and greenspaces within the City Plan. I will continue to work with people directly affected and assist their efforts to Save The Otago Lane. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Wild Harvest along the Forth and Clyde Canal

There is a lot of wild fruit growing along the Forth and Clyde Canal. I had the good fortune to find some brambles to eat during my walk along the canal today.

Brambles next the canal, near Kelvindale.

There are a lot of rose hips, the largest that I have ever seen, on the canal path. Rose hips are used for herbal tea, jam, jelly, soup, wine and marmalade.

Rose hips along the canal path near Maryhill Locks.

Useful link:

Scottish Wild Harvest Association - http://www.scottishwildharvests.org.uk/

Great Scottish Run 2012

This morning, I went for a long walk and jog around the Kelvin Walkway in preparation for the Great Scottish Run on 2nd September.

My t-shirt and number for the Great Scottish Run 2012.

The run starts at 9.30am from George Square, and goes over the Kingston Bridge, through the southside streets to Glasgow Green. I will be donating funds to the Refugee Survival Trust.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Wildflowers in our cemeteries

During a trip to Brighton in July, I did a walkabout of the city and spotted wildflower meadows in cemeteries. It is acknowledged that a planted wildflower meadow can enhance biodiversity and deliver low-maintenance advantages in time.

Wildflowers between the gravestones in a cemetery in Hove.

I have made enquiries with staff at Land and Environmental Services about the possibility of wildflower meadows within Glasgow's cemeteries and I have been advised that this is being considered.

Useful Link:

Protecting our bandstand's heritage and design

Proposals for the restoration of the bandstand and amphitheatre in Kelvingrove have been developed over recent months and this process is led by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, in partnership with Glasgow Life and the Council's Land and Environmental Services. I have attended several consultation events to receive updates and put forward comments on the plans. 

 The view of the bandstand next to pathway and trees on the banks at the River Kelvin.

This bandstand and amphitheatre is a unique venue to Glasgow and one of the few of its type in Scotland. It has an extra special setting along the banks of the River Kelvin, surrounded by mature trees.  The surrounding trees have importance as part of the area's wildlife corridor which follows the River Kelvin and they support Kelvingrove Park in providing a rich habitat for birds and other wildlife. In addition, the trees are supporting the riverbank's stability and flood attenuation.

 View of the existing terraces and benches of the amphitheatre.

There are benches on the lower terraces which I hope can be restored or replicated. The current terracing and hedging has worked well for events and provides a safe, user friendly environment. It is hoped that the existing terracing can restored and retained without changes to the step arrangement.  The consistency of the steps throughout the amphitheatre is required to protect public safety as people move around and use the various access routes at the amphitheatre.

Useful link:

Benefits of large trees in the built environmentplease see http://ciria.informz.net/ciria/archives/archive_2468407.html Page 7-10.


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Forced into homelessness by government policy

From Friday 17th August, about 50 Glasgow asylum seekers face eviction from their homes. In response to their plight, I joined a an emergency rally organised at the Red Road Flats to show solidarity.

View of the banners at the Red Road Flats

Vulnerable asylum seekers who become destitute are given no options – they cannot work to support themselves, as they are legally prevented.

It is recognised by agencies  such as UK Border Agency (UKBA) that they are not able to return to their home countries; which include Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Somalia, as it is not safe or possible to do so.

Yet asylum seekers are denied support and in effect forced on to the streets. Without support or accommodation from statutory services, they are facing a daily struggle to survive. This is a desperate situation which cannot continue in a civilised, democractic society.

It should be accepted by all levels of government that people seeking asylum are entitled to have their basic human rights met by public agencies including food, shelter and the health care that they need.

Useful link:

Research by the Refugee Survival Trust - http://www.rst.org.uk/pdfs/21ML%202011%20%28final%29.pdf

Support to prevent burns and scald injuries

Today, I went to the Open Day at Maryhill Fire Station and met up with volunteers from the Scottish Burned Children's Club. They are dedicated to supporting burn survivors and their families.  

One of their key achievements has been to help reduce injuries by raising awareness of the problem and promoting safe practices to prevent burns and scalds.  Their Domestic Hot Water Scalds Campaign led to the successful passage of legislation at the Scottish Parliament. 

In 2010, the dangers of hair straighteners was highlighted with the launch of an awareness campaign sponsored by the Electrical Safety Council.

Useful link:

Hairstraighteners can burn and scar for life - http://www.keepoutofreach.co.uk/

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Disused play area at Kelvinbridge

The play equipment at a play area next to the River Kelvin, at Kelvinbridge was destroyed by fire raising. It is currently used by dog walkers.

Play area surrounded by fencing.

An option for this site is provision of outdoor gym equipment as there are a large number of joggers and fitness groups who make use of this greenspace next to the Kelvin Walkway. 

Further discussions about the future of the site will take place with local community groups and council officials in the next few months.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Support for national whitewater training facility

Scotland is the only part of the UK without an artificial whitewater facility and our athletes have to spend valuable time and money travelling to Nottingham, Cardiff and Teeside to train.

There are plans for a national paddlesports facility in Glasgow. This would provide a high quality whitewater training facility and competition venue for outdoor watersports that we need.

This project, known as Pinkston Paddlesports Centre, is to be based on the Forth and Clyde Canal Canal at Port Dundas. It is going to transform a currently derelict site in to an accessible, urban hub of sporting activity. I visited this site today and found out more about paddlesports.

View of the currently derelict site at Port Dundas.

This area will be able to provide facilities for all types of canoeing, including 4 canoe polo pitches, a flat water section of the canal for training, coaching and general paddling, a white water course, canoe and boat storage facilities, an events area, and a boathouse.

This is an amazing opportunity to promote wider participation in sports, for people across a wide range of backgrounds and abilities, from newcomers to canoe athletes. We can build on the success of our London 2012 Olympians in the Canoe Slalom Doubles, David Florence and Tim Baillie.

Useful link:

Glasgow's Paddlesports Centre - http://www.glasgowcanal.co.uk/regeneration-projects/paddlesports-centre

Criticism of proposals to reduce opening hours

This week, Glasgow University has put forward plans to dramatically reduce the opening hours of the Wolfson Medical School Library. 

These plans for this library would result in a 64% reduction in student access from 168 hours a week, down to 60. There would be restriction in use from 8am-8pm, on weekdays. Currently, there is 24 hour access offered to medical students; which I understand is necessary due to their shift work in hospitals.

Glasgow University Student's Representative Council has criticises plans to reduce Wolfson Medical Building opening hours. I am backing students in their opposition to this proposed reduction in academic provision. It is recognised that students in the medical school have demanding workloads and with the large increase in fees for students from the rest of the UK imminent, severe cuts in access of study space is not acceptable.  I am calling on the University to amend its plans and prevent the reduction in opening hours.

Useful link:
Glasgow University Student's Representative Council Petition for students to sign to express their opposition to the proposed reduction of this academic provision - http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stop-the-64-cut-in-wolfson-medical-library/

Update on 16th August 2012:
It is my understanding that student representatives have met with staff from the University's College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences this week to discuss the decision to cut the library opening hours.  The outcome is very positive with the decision to retain the Medical Library's current 24/7 opening hours.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Remembering Hiroshima

This evening, I joined a group who remembered the people of Hiroshima by releasing lantern boats on the River Clyde. The river was calm and still as the lanterns floated away in to the sunset (shown in the following video).

During World War in 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.

The memorial events take place across the world to promote peace and raise awareness about the campaign for nuclear disarmament.

Useful link:

Scottish CND -  http://www.banthebomb.org/

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Potential music programme for Bandstand

Today, I visited Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh and spotted musical talent on the Ross Bandstand. During August, there is a programme of live music.

There could be similar musical performances at Kelvingrove Park's Bandstand and Amphitheatre when it is refurbished.
Useful link:- 
A Live Music Programme - http://www.ascottishfantasia.com/

Friday, 3 August 2012

Damaged signage on Woodlands Road

It has been highlighted that regular accidents have taken place at the traffic island at the junction of Willowbank Street and Woodlands Road in the past year.

In the last three weeks, the signage on the traffic island has been damaged once again by a vehicle hitting it.

 Damaged traffic island on Woodlands Road, July 2012

The traffic island and its signage are essential to slow down traffic and helps to ensure people get across a busy road safely.

This week, I am able to advise that staff at Land and Environmental Services plan to install additional signage to make the traffic island more visible.

Update on 8th August 2012: New signage on the traffic island.

Concerns raised about Energy from Waste Plant

This week, there has been debate about the proposals by PEEL to locate an energy from waste facility, to be known as the North Clyde Recycling Centre, on a site in close proximity to the Southern General Hospital. 

Local communities have shared their concerns about the impact of this development. It is clear that there are major traffic issues arising from plans which involve the movement of 250,000 tonnes of waste into the site by HGV lorries. The provision of such facilities requiring a supply of waste for the next 30 years is recognised as a disincentive to further increasing waste minimisation, reuse, recycling and composting and achieving Scotland’s aspirations for a Zero Waste future.

I have submitted an objection to the particular proposal due to the negative impact on the environment, neighbouring communities and the wider public.

Useful Link at:

Dumbarton Road Corridor Environmental Trust - http://dumbartonroad.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/north-clyde-recycling-centre-update/

Resurfacing of cul-de-sac at Lauderdale Gardens

At the beginning of this year, the roadway next to the Nursery on Lauderdale Gardens, Hyndland was full of potholes and had an uneven surface.

Cul-de-sac in February 2012.

In recent weeks, the resurfacing has been completed by the Council's Land and Environmental Services. On a walkabout in Hyndland during July, I was delighted to find the resurfacing had been done. 

Cul-de-sac in July 2012.
The investment in repairs and maintenance of roads has made a visible difference to the Hyndland area. This example highlights the Council taking effective action in response to  requests from residents.

Useful link:-

Roads and Lighting Faults - http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/en/residents/gettingaround/ralf/