Monday, 29 October 2012

Inspiring clean up of Willowbank Crescent

Yesterday, I went along to the social event organised by volunteers at the Willowbank Crescent Community Garden. This was a chance to appreciate the work done to improve this corner of Woodlands and discuss ideas for the future.

Various flowers and bulbs were planted by people who gathered together.This work added to the raised planters already in place.

Notice board highlighting what plants have been sown.

There are gardening sessions planned on Sundays from 3 to 5pm. Volunteers are keen to keep the area free of litter and maintain it as an attractive place to meet up with neighbours.

Take care during firework season

In past years, I have observed unofficial bonfires in greenspaces and firework displays which have put residents at risk of burns and serious injury. The damage to local parks from bonfires has also created an eyesore for months afterwards.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) highlights that there are numerous incidents over the years where animals have come to serious harm and even death as a result of fireworks being set off near them. It is the case that animals will panic and flee at the sound of the bang. Reports have been received of wild swans flying into electricity pylons and horses being badly injured after running through barbed wire fences.

View of People's Palace and Winter Gardens, Glasgow Green.

This year, I hope that the official fireworks displays will be the chosen destination of residents. There are two public firework displays on Monday 5th November - the event at Glasgow Green starts at 4 - 9pm, and another in Drumchapel Park, from 4.30-8.30pm.

Useful links:-

Help keep animals safe this firework season

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Quality design from Scotland

Yesterday, I visited an exhibition "Scotland Can Make It!" at the People's Palace in Glasgow Green. It is located on the top floor of the building, next to the new portrait of Jimmy Reid.

View of Glasgow Green from David Dale's Gate designed by Adrian Wiszniewski.

The exhibition is a showcase for six designs for souvenirs inspired by the London Olympics 2012 and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Logos for the exhibition

The keepsakes include a travel blanket, a ceramic jelly mould, "medal" teacakes, sports scarves, an iPhone app, and miniature gold effect tenements.

Useful link:

Scotland Can Make It -

A future that works

Gathering in George Square, thousands of campaigners marched for investment in jobs not austerity cuts, yesterday. There was a mobilisation of trade unions, community groups and individuals, all concerned about the serious threat from government spending cuts.

Marchers in George Square.

Scotland is facing long-term economic problems. Unless investment is provided in jobs and protecting services, our economy will not grow, and incomes will reduce in real terms. The focus has to be on closing the deficit by building a healthy growing economy that generates tax income. Current, austerity measures will only lead to a vicious circle of decline.


A new approach would encourage companies to raise average pay, penalise big bonuses and invest in training and the new green manufacturing industries. It can crack down on tax evasion by big companies and the super-rich. Growing inequality between the super-rich and everyone else has to be tackled.

Rather than deep, rapid spending cuts, we need to reverse our decline and build an economy that supports families and meets the Climate Change concerns that we face.

Useful links:

Monday, 15 October 2012

Towards a nuclear free Middle East

Over the weekend, I attended the CND International Conference in support of a Nuclear Free Middle East.  

It is forty years since a WMD-free zone across the Middle East was initially put forward by Iran at the United Nations.  It will be discussed at a conference in Helsinki hosted by the Finnish Government in December 2012. This is seen as an important crossroads for the development of nuclear policies and support has to be provided for WMD disarmament from the International Community.
Speakers on the main platform at the conference.

The CND conference provided a platform for the a range of guest speakers including representatives from the Arab Human Security Network and Israel Disarmament Campaign. Natalie Bennett of the Green Party give a much appreciated input on the need to listen to campaigners on the ground. 

It was highlighted that civic society and Governments in the EU can take action to support the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  There can be a focus on campaigns to decommission existing nuclear weapons and against their replacement in the UK.

Useful Link:

Visit to The People's Supermarket

During a visit to London at the weekend, I found my way to the People's Supermarket on Lamb's Conduit which is near Russell Square. It is a thriving supermarket where members get 20% off their shopping for working 4 hours per month in the shop.

View of the shopfront for the People's Supermarket

After watching news reports about the development of the People's Supermarket, it was great to be able to finally shop there and buy their new cookbook.

 Herbs on sale at the main entrance.

This shop can give inspiration for social enterprises involved in sale of local produce including fresh fruit and veg. The need for locally controlled food supplies is more urgent than ever due to the emerging global food crisis.

Useful Link:-

The People's Supermarket -

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Creative Mackintosh

This evening, I went along to The Lighthouse to attended the launch of the Creative Mackintosh Festival. It takes place from 15th - 28th October 2012 across venues designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, including The Mackintosh Church at Queen's Cross, Scotland Street School, the Willow Tearooms, and House for An Art Lover.

 View of internal stairway of The Lighthouse

Signpost for the The Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane.

If you haven't visited The Mackintosh Church or The Lighthouse recently, now is your chance. There are a variety of free inspiring exhibitions to enjoy.

Useful link:

Creative Mackintosh Festival -

Monday, 8 October 2012

Mural at Hillhead Subway completed

This evening I got in to conversation about the mural by Alasdair Gray at the refurbished Hillhead Subway. Reference was made to the Financial Wizard amongst All Kinds of Folk.

View of the mural.

I hope that users of the subway will find time to have a good look and get up close to the characters amongst the streets shown on the mural. Day to day street life is reflected with images of foxes, street sweepers, Big Issue sellers, and pigeons.

The mural gives an overview of the people and animals you might meet in Hillhead.

Useful link:

Commonwealth Games Village Energy Centre

In my role as Chair of the Energy and Carbon Working Group, I was able to make a visit to the Energy Centre which is part of the Legacy of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

I was provided with a tour of the building and given information about the CHP engine, 3 boilers and a thermal store at the Energy Centre from a representative of Vital Energi.

Vital Energi carry out the design, installation, commissioning, testing and operation of the scheme until its eventual post Games completion in 2016.  There is capacity for a future CHP engine, boiler and thermal store.

View of the exterior of the energy centre

The CHP Engine inside the Energy Centre

All the heating and hot water for the development goes through special pre-insulated pipework. Initially, it will connect the Emirates National Indoor Sports Arena, Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, a Care Home and 704 domestic properties which are to be used as athletes' accommodation before and during the Games. 

Useful link:-

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Greens and Environmentalists for Independence

At the Scottish Green Party's Conference on 6th October, it was agreed to seek full participation in the Yes Scotland Campaign.

I have signed the Yes declaration and offered to assist as a Green Ambassador.

Useful link:

Renewal of George Square

In the last week, the redevelopment of George Square has been a topic of conversation at various meetings. Local residents expressed a general interest in plans being proposed by Glasgow City Council, want to contribute their ideas, and be kept informed about what is happening.

Information about the design brief and international design competition was provided as a report to a meeting of councillors on the Executive Committee on 13th September 2012. This report was provided at very short notice i.e. teatime on the Wednesday 12th September when it is expected that reports are provided at least three days before meetings. As a result of this situation arising, Green Councillors initiated a call-in of the report to allow for further consideration of the proposals and this took place on Friday 5th October.  The following issues were raised by myself when asked for reasons for the call-in.

Design Brief Issues  

The George Square Design Brief was provided as Annex 1 to the Item 4 paper considered by the Executive Committee on 13th September 2012. It is entitled "Dear Green Place – George Square, a public space for the 21st Century" and a list of contributors are listed at point 12.
The process of developing of the design brief by the various representatives from Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Parking, Glasgow School of Art and Historic Scotland is not detailed in the report.   

Further information was requested about how and when were representatives who contributed to the design brief identified.  Elected members involvement in meetings with any of the contributors or commenting on draft versions of the design brief was raised. Clarification on the input from external groups, members of the public, community councils or individuals commented on the design brief prior to it being finalised was highlighted. 

Considering reference is made to the "Dear Green Place" in the title, concerns were raised that the vision does not refer to the provision of access to good quality recreational open space including planting, greenspace and trees.

In the case of Glasgow Green's Renewal, the brief referred to the restoration, enhancement and the interpretation of the key features relating to Glasgow's history and heritage. It provided for the restoration of the historically important monuments and new interpretation materials outlining the fantastic history. Information was requested on who decided that a similar approach involving restoration and new interpration of George Square's monuments in situ was not to be adopted. 

Information was requested on whether there was an option appraisal which considered the importance of the preserving the existing heritage of George Square instead of removing the statues and monuments. It would be helpful if it can be justified that the option to remove the historic fabric of George Square is best value and is the most sustainable option in terms of delivering the project's vision.

The monuments are referred to in section 10 and it stated there was no master plan. It is strange to suggest that the monuments would have been put in place through anything other than an organic process as part of our city's rich history
The design brief allows for flexibility for the successful team to consider whether any of the monuments or statues will be repositioned or relocated to within the square.

With regards to public space agenda, the focus of the design brief is on development of a new George Square as an events space. It suggests that it is important that the activities of trade and communciation are dominant. 
The Square's important contribution to public health and wellbeing, civic pride, social cohesion and happiness was highlighted. Public spaces such as George Square need to be recognized for their contributions to events providing fresh and affordable food, offering encouragement to walking or cycling, and supporting the relief of stress and reduction in the amount of crime through the amount of people out on the street. A request was made to amend the brief to refer to the public health benefits of George Square.

At section 6, Landscape and Environment, it is suggested that "Consideration should be given to materials being used that present innovative design solutions to the environmental needs of the Square."  It is worrying that trees, planting and grass are not explicitly mentioned.

Launch of an International Design Competition during September 2012

Further information was provided about the design competition and second phase of consultation including the gathering of the public / stakeholders view and opinions on the potential designs which have been shortlisted. An exhibition in the city centre seeking comments on shortlisted designs, a report to elected members on the final choice be provided and details of who will be on a judging panel for the design competition was requested.

£5m from the overall investment programme to enable early delivery of Phase 1 of the George Square redevelopment

The financial risks associated with this project were requested. Information on the funding for public consultation and engagement in the design process and benefits analysis was sought.

Visitor Surveys were highlighted as necessary before and after the redevelopment to ensure that data relating to the vision of the square as a major visitor attraction is gathered.

A response was provided to these issues at the meeting and I am awaiting written details from council officials. 

It can be expected that an exhibition of six shortlisted designs will be available for the public to view at The Lighthouse in January 2013.