Sunday, 30 September 2012

Self-determination takes a step forward

Today, I attended the launch of Women for Independence in Stirling. This involved Women sharing their hopes for Scotland as an independent nation. It brought together women who support independence for Scotland and will work with others for a yes vote in the referendum.

Drumming at the Launch.

The banner held by Kate Joester and myself at the launch.

Women for Independence is an open and diverse network which seeks to ensure that there is space for women's voices and interests in the campaign activities between now and Autumn 2014.

Useful link:

Women for Independence: Independence for Women -

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Apples and Kitchen Gardening in Schools

In July, I received a message via Twitter asking "Kitchen Gardening in Australia. Can it be done in Glasgow?".

I enquired with staff at Glasgow City Council about kitchen garden projects in schools and it is really wonderful to discover a wide range of initiatives encouraging pupils to grow fruit and vegetables, then cook them.

Today, I had the opportunity to hear about the food growing and cookery activity at Oakgrove Primary, in Woodside. Apple trees have been planted in the school grounds and this year, they produced 193 apples. 

The school's outdoor garden with apple trees.

As part of the curriculum of excellence, pupils have been involved in the process of harvesting the apples and turning them in to apply jelly. 

One of the School's jars of Apple Jelly 

Useful link:

Kitchen gardening in Australia -

Sunday, 23 September 2012

21 Revolutions

Glasgow Women's Library has an exhibition entitled "21 Revolutions: Two Decades of Changing Minds", from 22nd September - 13 October 2012 in the Centre for Contemporary Arts, on Sauchiehall Street. 

I attended the preview on Friday 21st September. It is the culmination of a year's work by 21 women visual artists inspired by the Glasgow Women's Library's archive and museum collections. 

Useful link:

Glasgow Women's Library -

No to NATO

Yesterday, I spoke at a meeting focused on peace education and active promotion of peace. As part of the debate, I highlighted the Scottish Green Party's commitment to the ending of Scotland's participation in the outdated nuclear alliance of NATO. Remaining part of NATO would continue military oppression when Scotland could be a world leader in humanitarian endeavours.

NATO has a two billion euro rocket defence system which threatens to trigger a new arms race and the militarisation of Space. Funds required for the continuing peaceful Space exploration have been used for the design, implementation and deployment of Space hardware including the Strategic Defense Initiative. Greens support only the peaceful and sustainable exploration of Space and the signing of the International Treaty for the Demilitarisation of Space.

can ONLY be 
never by 
force of arms. 
William Penn

As a way forward, it is suggested that Scotland considers membership of non-military security structure such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). OSCE grew out of the Helsinki process which brought together the rival blocks of the Cold War. With 56 member nations, OSCE has worked to promote peace and human rights. Most of its 2,831 staff are deployed in the field in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia.

Useful link:

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) -

Northern Friends Peace Board -

Public Processions in George Square

The consultation on the code of conduct for public processions closed on 17th September. Green Councillors submitted a response which included comments on the proposal regarding use of George Square as appropriate assembly or dispersal point for large or high risk procession.

There is a need to strike a suitable balance between the natural desire of groups to be in a highly visible part of the city and the natural wishes of the surrounding residents to have reasonable access to facilities such as public transport without having to wait for the passage of parades.

George Square should continue to be used as an assembly and dispersal point. There is a requirement to protect human rights and to promote democratic principles which encourage citizens to engage in a range of peaceful activism to express their opinions.There is a need to maintain the public's right to hold rallies and marches which focus on the main civic square in the city and at the seat of Local Government.

There is a consultation ongoing at the moment about the possible change to the layout and design of the George Square. It is anticipated the pedestrianisation of the square will resolve traffic management issues and it is hoped can reduce the number of vehicles in the area.

The city is an air pollution hotspot and use of George Square can discourage travel by car as public transport options, particularly the subway and rail network are close at hand. George Square should be a safer gathering place for people to gather as a result of designs being brought forward.

Further data collection is needed on the use of George Square for assembly and dispersal, and the impact this has on the city, compared to other locations. This can inform the requirements for stewarding and event management arrangements for each procession using George Square.

The Council should be concerned with promoting the engagement of Glasgow’s citizens in the cultural and political life of the city. This is particularly important as part of reaching out to young people who may feel that they are excluded on the basis that they cannot vote, lack paid work or support minority causes. George Square is the historic meeting place for activities to protest against injustice, cuts to services, change to government policies, or international events e.g. bombing of Iraq.

George Square was originally a private garden which had its railings taken down by the public and it has a proud tradition as a meeting place for working class struggle against oppression. In a time of economic uncertainty and global environmental crisis, this main civic arena should  be protected as a safe place for disenfranchised and issue-based groups to gather and make their voice heard.

National Candlelight Vigil for Peace

As part of International Peace Day on 21st September, Scottish Women's Aid co-ordinated 5 candlelight gatherings across Scotland to bring people together to call for the end of domestic abuse. 

I joined the Glasgow University's Student Representative Council and others at Garnethill Park in support of women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse. 

 Poetry reading from Glasgow Women's Aid

There were speeches and readings from Scottish Women's Aid, Glasgow Women's Aid and LGBT Youth, plus a music performance.

For more information:

Useful link:

Peace One Day -

Plans agreed for School Extension

On Tuesday 18th September, I attend the planning committee meeting which considered plans to demolish the tenement and erect an extension to Glasgow Academy on the site at Colebrooke Place and Colebrooke Street, Kelvinbridge.

 Colebrooke Lane -  Entrance gate from Colebrooke Place

Colebrooke Lane - Exit gate to Colebrooke Street.

I highlighted the need for access to be maintained in and out of Colebrooke Lane during the building works. This lane is the main access route for car parking to the properties in Belmont Street and Colebrooke Street. Traffic management during the works will have to address concerns about congestion at peak times in Belmont Street, Belmont Crescent and Wilton Street.

The proposal to expand facilities for pupils at Glasgow Academy was approved by the Planning Committee. During the building works, I will be working with all those involved to ensure that any concerns raised by residents including access issues, noise, dust, and general disturbance are addressed.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Reflections on the River Kelvin

Last Sunday, after a visit to the Mask and Puppet Theatre, I enjoyed a walk along the banks of the River Kelvin and spotted new colourful artworks at the home of the Friends of the River Kelvin (FORK), near the Ha'penny Bridge.

New murals for F.O.R.K.

Fishy murals for F.O.R.K.

It was a beautiful clear day and so, I got to view good reflections in the river as I passed along the walkway.

Belmont Street Bridge from the Kelvin Walkway.

Useful link:

Friends of the River Kelvin -

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Celebrations for Sapphire-Gymnastics Club

The 2nd Birthday of the Sapphire Gymnastics Club is celebrated with a competition held at Kelvin Hall, over this weekend.  

This club is based at  Firhill Sports Complex at Hopehill Road and they are seeking to develop their gymnastics classes. 

Sapphire Seniors at the Kelvin Hall.

I have provided support and encouragement for their plans for the future.  It was really enjoyable to attend today's competition and present several trophies to talented young gymnasts.

Useful link:

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Actions to comply with EU air quality law

Today, I raised a motion at the Full Council Meeting in Glasgow's City Chambers to push for action on air pollution. There are ongoing concerns from residents living in and around the Byres Road/Dumbarton Road Air Quality Management Zone. The following motion was agreed by all councillors:-

Council notes that the European Union (EU) has set legally binding limits for levels of major air pollutants under an ambient Air Quality Directive and this directive will be under review in 2013, the European ‘Year of Air’. Since 1999, EU legislation has required the UK, as a Member State, to achieve annual mean and daily limit values for PM10 (by 1 January 2005) and annual mean and hourly limit values for NO2 (by 1 January 2010).

Council acknowledges that the UK now faces the possibility of huge fines for not meeting legally-binding European standards on air pollution. Glasgow is recognised as one of 40 air quality assessment zones in the UK which have exceeded their permitted NO2 limits in 2010.

Council must protect the health of its citizens and ensure full compliance with UK and European air quality laws throughout Glasgow. Therefore, Council agrees to call on the Scottish Government and UK Government to work together and take the following five actions to ensure the UK fully complies with EU air quality law by 2015:-
  1. Fund a national campaign raising public awareness of the impacts of air pollution on health, the causes and solutions.
  2. Launch a cross-department strategy to tackle air pollution that is led by the UK Cabinet Office, ensuring action on air pollution is included in all relevant departmental business plans by 2013 and includes independently monitored performance measures with incentives and penalties for departments involved.
  3. Introduce a national framework for Low Emission Zones (LEZs), providing local authorities with the support, both funding and through policy guidance, to establish LEZs in urban areas by 2014.
  4. Fund further research into the health impacts of air pollution through an appropriate independent body such as COMEAP (Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution)
  5. Immediately cease all activities seeking to postpone or delay action on meeting legally binding EU air quality standards, or attempting to weaken those standards in the run up to and during the 2013 European Year of Air. 

    Useful Link:
    Healthy Air Campaign UK -

Getting real about alcohol and drugs

On Tuesday,11th September, I attended an  Information and Awareness Raising Event organised by Maryhill Integration Network (mIN).

 Display of artworks

This event brought together people from different backgrounds to find out more about the affects of drugs and alcohol, not just for themselves but also members of their families and close friends.
This event marks this year's GRAND Week (8th-15th September) helped to raise awareness and increase knowledge of alcohol and drugs issues and services. It encourages the building of partnerships and networks between communities, services and organisations working to tackling alcohol and drugs concerns.

A photographic record of mIN activity is produced by Karen Gordon.

Useful link:

GRAND Week (8th-15th September) -'12.aspx

mIN -

Karen Gordon Photography -

Monday, 10 September 2012

Woodland's Harvest Festival

On Saturday, I joined in the harvest celebrations at Woodlands Community Garden, on West Princes Street. 

There was an fantastic mix of activities taking place throughout the afternoon, including singing, poetry, and piano playing. For children and young people, they could get involved in face painting, making vegetable animals and sewing using recycled materials.

Creative vegetables.

View of the garden from the information stall.

I really enjoyed chatting with people who came along and took part in the various activities or just sat relaxing in the garden. 

Everyone involved in supporting the community garden, especially the people responsible for the raised beds, are making a huge difference to the Woodlands area. It has brightened up the environment on West Princes Street and helped bring people together, promoting friendships and a stronger community spirit.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Cleaning up our backcourts

This week, I have met with a number of residents who are very upset with the poor state of the backcourts and bin areas in their neighbourhood. 

Yesterday, I made a visit to Napiershall Lane to see the problems for myself. It was shocking to find that some tenement closes do not have any bins and there are backcourts packed with bulk items which should have been taken away for recycling or disposal.

Backcourt without any bins for refuse so rubbish bags are left on the ground.

Collection of dumped bulk items in a backcourt area under a pub on Great Western Road.

In the next week, I will be making further visits to backcourts in this area to ensure that any problems are identified. I will be seeking assistance from Environmental Health and Cleansing Staff to get these backcourts cleared of refuse and provided with bins.

This situation highlights that the bulk uplift service is not working effectively. This may be due to tenants or residents are not getting in touch with council services to ensure they have bins or arrange furnishings no longer in use to be uplifted. Landlords and factors could be doing more to maintain these backcourts.

I am very concerned as serious fire hazards exist from refuse bags and bulk items being left in backcourts.

Useful links:

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Improving ex-offenders chances of employment

The recommendations of Glasgow City Employers Advisory Group on Ex-offenders were launched yesterday morning. I attended this event as a member of the Glasgow Community Justice Authority.

There was a discussion about the ways to support improvements to offender/ex-offender employability in Glasgow. The launch was supported by businesses and developed by a partnership between Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Community Justice Authority.

The report aims to support efforts to prevent re-offending. Proposals have been identified to enable people with criminal convictions access training, gain work experience, and link to employment advice leading to a job. 

A more streamlined and coordinated approach to supporting employers has been recognised as vital to assist ex-offenders gain employment.

Useful link:

Understanding Glasgow: Community Safety

Pot of Soup Garden's Open Day

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the grand opening of the CHYP and Fire Station's Pot of Soup Garden. This Pot of Soup project is a gardening initiative set up by young people and support staff, with assistance from the Coachhouse Trust. 

This is a vegetable garden created by the young people's building of raised beds and designing a growing space in a backcourt area. The produce grown in the garden has been used as cooking ingredients by young people. Four recipes were shared as part of the open day.

The open day gave visitors the opportunity to see the garden, and I got a chance to speak with young people and support staff. There was plenty of enthusiasm and interest in developing the garden.

Useful link:

Fire Station Homeless Project -