Friday, 27 December 2013

Maintenance of Cobbled Lanes

Maintenance works funded by Glasgow City Council will be carried out in Ashton Lane and Cresswell Lane in the first two months of 2014.

The work will cover the following:

- Complete re-grout of both Ashton and Cresswell Lanes;

- Lift and relay areas of subsided and rocking setts;

- Extension of setted area to meet the tie in with Byres Road;

- Re-construction (to asphalt) of the damaged granolithic concrete footways at north east end of Ashton Lane (behind Iceland/U Station).

- Lift and relay whin stone kerbs on above footways. Replace length of existing PC Kerbs with reclaimed whin stone kerbs.

- Reconstruction of footway crossing point at entrance to Ashton Lane from Byres Road.

Updated information about the contract works will be available to businesses operating in the lanes.

This investment in the historic back lanes of the Hillhead area is very much welcomed. It will improve the general access for pedestrians and restore the appearance of these distinctive areas for visitors and residents alike.

Call for E-Petitions System

In December, I received enquiries from various people who are concerned about their lack of ability to submit e-petitions to Glasgow City Council. I have been made aware that the City of Edinburgh has implemented an e-petitions system and this is seen as very successful.

Currently, there is a system in Glasgow which requires a paper copy being circulated to collect signatures and this is viewed as a barrier to participation by many. A paper based petitions system is time consuming for residents to organise and viewed as out of date.

I hope that Glasgow City Council can take forward plans for e-petitions, by learning from the experience of Edinburgh, and other E-petitions systems operated by the Scottish Parliament and Westminster Government.

There will be a review of the petitions process by Glasgow City Council in 2014 and I understand that officials will report back to councillors on the how the system in Edinburgh operates and the cost implications.

Congratulations to Sapphire Gymnastics

Congratulations to Catriona Lessani who has won the award of Volunteer of the Year from Sports Scotland. Catriona has been involved in volunteering for over 30 years and commits over 30 hours a week to the Sapphire Gymnastics Club.

In the last week, I have given my support to plans by Sapphire Gymnastics to establish a new base required to accommodate their activities in Maryhill. It is necessary for this club to access new facilities to meet the needs of the local community who want to participate in sports development. These premises will increase the skills and self-confidence as well as generally improve fitness, health and wellbeing of people involved.

New facilities will provide the accommodation required to meet the training needs of gymnasts including access to a 12msq sprung floor, a 25m by 2m tumble track, bars, beam, vault, and changing rooms. This will enable existing gymnasts to develop their talents and also, provide more support for new people to participate in gymnastics.

Useful link:
Sapphire Gymnastics Academy - http://sapphire-gymnasticsclub.webs.com/

Sports Scotland Coaching Officiating and Volunteering Awards 2013 - http://www.sportscotland.org.uk/coaching/awards/coaching_officiating_and_volunteering_awards_2013/

Friday, 20 December 2013

Celebrating the life of Sir William Arrol (1839–1913)

This month, a plaque celebrating the life of Sir William Arrol has been placed on the Great Western Bridge by Institution of Civil Engineers.


In the centenary year of his death, it is fitting to acknowledge his significant contribution to the West End. The Great Western Bridge is a dominant feature of every day life for people making their way through Glasgow. It was built in 1890 by Sir William Arrol & Co. and is category A listed.

Sir William Arrol was responsible for numerous bridges including the Forth Rail Bridge, Tay Bridge and London's Tower Bridge.

Support needed for High Street Shopping

This year, there have been ongoing efforts to support the businesses on the main shopping streets in the West End through a campaign to encourage local shopping. The West End values the rich mix of local shops and we want to enhance the area's diversity of local retailers. This relies on people making the decision to go out and shop on the high street not online, and for the encouragement of partnerships between communities, businesses and local authorities to bring about local investment. Key aspects of promoting the High Street are supportive planning and digital initiatives by Glasgow City Council.

In the last six months, there has been a local campaign, "Say No To Tesco",which aims to strengthen policies to halt the expansion of supermarkets in the main shopping streets. This has gathered supporters from communities across Scotland who want to protect the unique local character of their high streets. There has been wide agreement on the need for action and optimism that changes to halt the expansion of supermarkets can foster a renewed sense of community and enterprise.

On 10th December, I joined campaigners for restrictions on the growth of supermarkets outside the new supermarket at 349 Great Western Road. There will be monitoring of the impact of this new store, for example on local retailers or traffic. A new supermarket is likely to encourage the consumption of unhealthy foods, such as heavily processed ready meals high in salt and sugar content.

In the year ahead, I hope that the campaigning to restrict the growth of supermarkets develops momentum and more people try to avoid using supermarkets for their weekly shopping. In the West End, it is still possible to choose from a range of independent grocers and go along to the farmers market in Partick.

Useful link:

Tescopoly Unhealthy Food - http://www.tescopoly.org/unhealthy-food

Monday, 9 December 2013

Woodside Pool Refurbishment Update

Today, I was given a tour of the refurbishment at Woodside Pool in Braid Square by staff from Glasgow Life and City Building. Details of the repairs needed to the pool tank and the specialist assistance being provided for the work were described. 


 Views of the pool tank

Members of the Woodside Community Council were also in attendance to hear about the progress of the refurbishment. We observed the staff from City Building undertaking work on the concrete base of the pool tank. It is anticipated that the repairs will be completed in March 2014.

Further information is available from the reception of the Woodside Pool or Glasgow Life's website.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Top neighbourhood award for West End

This evening, I attended an event organised by Friends of Glasgow West in Hillhead Library to celebrate the West End of Glasgow winning the Great Neighbourhood Award at the 2014 Academy of Urbanism Awards. 

This award is a major boost to businesses and residents who are involved in initiatives to enhance and promote the area's culture, facilities and heritage. At the start of the year, there were concerns expressed about the number of vacant shop units on Byres Road and it is heartening to see new shops opening up on the street in time for the festive season. I am continuing my commitment to support the local high street retailers and businesses, giving my backing to the development a business improvement district for Byres Road. 

The cultural events including gigs and art shows taking place in the West End continue to attract a wide range of visitors and maintain the area as a great place to live. Poetry and literature are promoted through the Hillhead library which is a much valued community resource. As part of the award, a poem has been presented to the area by the Academy of Urbanism.

WEST END, GLASGOW 
by Ian McMillan, Academy of Urbanism Poet in Residence 2013

When you get to Glasgow, head straight out to the West,
In the Botanic Gardens, the light streams through the glass.
And you may have seen some West Ends - but this one is the best
Down Byres Road and Ashton Lane, the West End people pass.

And the music of the West End plays its rhythm in your ear,
A rhythm built on l
earning, built on thinking, built through time.
If you want food or drink or conversation find it here;
The West End's a location where past and future rhyme.

The West End is a novel with a quickly moving plot,
The West End is a film where each location lifts your heart;
It sometimes feels there's nothing that the West End hasn't got:
It's got sleeping places, strolling places, spaces full of art.

So grasp the West End tightly, please don't sit on the shelf:
Help the West End make an exhibition of itself.


I hope local residents will put pen to paper and come up with their own poems to celebrate the success of the West End.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Appeal for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

This week, the White Paper for Scotland's Future has been published by the Scottish Government. There are proposals for an independent Scottish Asylum Agency, which ensures that immigration and asylum claims are considered separately. This is an approach which has been put forward by the Scottish Refugee Council and would provide more humane decision-making.

Currently, the main concern of charities and campaign groups is provision of ongoing assistance for asylum seekers and refugees who experience hardship. To ensure that there is access to social activities for the festive season and their children are able to enjoy themselves, an appeal for toys has been launched.


Further information is available by contacting the Scottish Refugee Council, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, or Positive Action on Housing.

Useful links: 

News from the Scottish Refugee Council - http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/news_and_events/latest_news/2217_scottish_refugee_council_welcomes_white_paper_proposals_on_asylum

Donate to the Scottish Refugee Council - http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/what_you_can_do/donate

Positive Action in Housing - http://www.paih.org/Home.html

Bridge of Peace

The tragic incident that resulted in the loss of life and serious injuries for many people on Friday evening, at the Clutha Vaults have been in my thoughts this weekend. Yesterday, I attended a gathering to promote women's role in peacemaking organised by the Glasgow Peace Federation. At the beginning of event, there was a minute's silence for the victims, their families and the staff from the emergency services involved in the rescue effort. 

Woman's statue on the cycle route 
next to the flats on the River Clyde, Partick.

Thereafter, I made a contribution by sharing experiences of initiatives which support and enable women to become more involved in peacemaking in the world. There are many barriers to women participating in peacemaking but access to women's groups to build confidence and leadership skills can help overcome obstacles. 

As a student, I gained training and advice from Student Community Action to support my participation in activities to tackle injustice. Later on, it was the trade union movement and training offered at my workplace that made a difference. I encouraged women to seek out support and training through Universities, their workplaces, and trade unions.

Reflecting on world events, I think the Iraq War has had a significant impact on my life and those of many women who struggle for peace. The suffering brought about by the bombing of Iraqi people was shocking and this led to my decision to channel my energies into activism with the Scottish Green Party. Now, I am also involved in efforts to eradicate violence and support peace as part of several campaign groups including Scottish CND. 

The event held by the Glasgow Peace Federation renewed my focus on supporting peace. As part of the programme, I made a pledge to help build a bridge of peace and reconciliation within my family, the community, society and between nations.

At the end of the event, I was presented with a bunch of flowers as a thank you gift. My thoughts went to the people at the site of the Clutha Vaults Tragedy. I made my way there to place my flowers alongside many other floral bouquets, offering my condolences to the people affected.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Stop Rape - No Means No

This evening, I took part in the 7th Reclaim The Night March from Botanic Gardens to the STUC on Woodlands Road. It is organised by Rape Crisis.

This march gives women a voice and a chance to reclaim the streets at night on a safe and empowering event. By being involved, we put the issue of women's safety on the agenda and demand the right to live without the fear or reality of rape and male violence.

She Boom Drummers

Students from Amnesty International

A theme highlighted by the event was to speak out against rape and sexual violence. This year, Rape Crisis have noted a significant increase in all forms of contact in 2012-13. For Support & Information this has been an increase from 2712 support & information contacts (helpline & email) last year to 3957 this year – an increase of over 42%. It is reported that Rape Crisis hotlines have seen a significant increase in calls to their helplines in the wake of the allegations of abuse by Jimmy Saville.


Useful link:

Rape Crisis - http://www.rapecrisiscentre-glasgow.co.uk/index.php?id=147

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A constitutional ban on nuclear weapons

On Saturday 16th November, I attended the annual general meeting of Scottish CND and there was an informative presentation from John MacDonald, a Director of the Scottish Global Forum on the Prospective Constitutional Ban of Nuclear Weapons in an Independent Scotland. 

Reference was made to other states who have achieved a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons including New Zealand, Japan, Ukraine and Mongolia. In the case of Mongolia, at the end of the Cold War, although in close proximity to China and Russia, it adopted vigorous diplomacy to become a nuclear free state. It enshrined being nuclear free in a new constitution and this was recognised by the UN. 

In the aftermath of a Yes vote, it would be inconceivable for the UK Government to push for retaining nuclear weapons when the Scottish Government has a democratic mandate to remove them. Alternatively, if there is a No vote, in the midst of public sector spending cuts, it would economic insanity by the UK Government to invest in Trident replacement. 

In the year ahead, it is crucial to maintain the campaign against nuclear weapons in the forefront of people's minds. We need to raise questions and put it at the top of the political agenda. 


Details of the Peace Walk from 1st - 7th April 2014.

In April 2014, there will be an opportunity to engage communities across Scotland in a debate about the nuclear weapons during a Peace Walk. 

Useful link:

"Securing the Nation" report by the Scottish Global Forum -http://www.scottishglobalforum.net/about.html


Monday, 18 November 2013

Launch of Green Yes

On 15th November, the Scottish Green Party launched its own distinct campaign for a Yes vote in the 2014 Referendum with the message that a better Scotland is possible. I attended the launch event  in Edinburgh along with Green MSPs and other councillors.



The key points to highlight about Green Yes are;

- As the UK’s politics moves ever harder to the right, it seems increasingly hard to imagine any Westminster government being formed which embodies the values Scotland needs, and deserves.

- Scotland’s political culture is ready for the challenges ahead, given its track record in keeping the NHS whole and in public hands and maintaining the principle of free education.


- The SNP Government’s white paper is the starting point for the transition to new powers.


- But the SNP Government must recognise that as yet they have no mandate for their policies in reserved areas. From NATO membership to the level of Corporation Tax, they should not lock Scotland in to their preferred policies, unless the Scottish people give them a mandate to do so in 2016.


- In the event of a Yes vote the development of a written constitution should be led by a new constitutional convention, to be established before the end of 2014, with political parties involved but not in sole charge. 


- In the event of a Yes vote we should explore the possibility of expanding the role of local government.


- We remain clearly of the view that Scotland will only be able to exercise full economic independence if we stand ready to develop our own currency. 


Download the Green Yes document here:
http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/uncategorized/green-yes-launches-a-better-scotland-is-possible/

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Promotion of city centre bike parking facilities

This week, I was informed by staff at City Parking about a bike pod located in Cadogan Square Car Park which is open between 7am to 9pm, from Monday to Saturday.


This is a new bike storage facility which can be promoted to the cyclists who commute in and out the city centre. It is conveniently located for workers in the financial district and is near to the cycle route using the Connect 2 Bridge across the M8. 

Useful link:

City Parking at Cadogan Square Car Park - http://www.cityparkingglasgow.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2178

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Taking photos of rubbish

Today, I met up with quite a few residents in and around Woodlands Road. When one of them asked where I was going, I had to reply, "To take photos of rubbish". 

There is one thing guaranteed when I make my way around the backcourts of the Hillhead ward, I will encounter overflowing bins, scattered refuse and plenty of cleansing problems. Today was no exception but I am hoping days like this are numbered. Anyway, this is what I found.



This is not one of the most disadvantaged areas of the city, but investment is still needed to improve the bin areas and backcourts. The recycling rates are very poor. Vermin problems have been highlighted. Public health is an ongoing concern. It is difficult for residents to be able to sit in their backcourt and it could be argued that it is not a safe environment for children to play. 

Progress is being made to clean up this backcourt, near Willowbank Crescent, with support from Clean Glasgow and plans to enhance the design of this space are in the pipeline. If any residents of Woodlands are interested in this project, please get in touch as any help would be very much appreciated.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Update on Woodlands Lanes Project

Following requests from residents and evidence of ongoing cleansing problems, I put forward the need for resources from Clean Glasgow to remove the mud and debris from the lanes across Woodlands. Groups of residents, supported by Woodlands Community Development Trust, are encouraged to get involved in clearing up and taking part in maintenance of their lane.
In the last few weeks, the lane between Barrington Drive and Woodlands Drive benefited from access to a digger and a container. Residents were responsible for moving the mud in to the centre of the lane ready for uplifting.



Work in progress to clear mud from the lane between Barrington Drive and Woodlands Drive.

Education and promotion of recycling as well as the bulk uplift service is being developed as part of this project. Maintenance plans for each lane is underway with input from residents in partnership with the Trust and Cleansing staff.


40th Anniversary of Glasgow Women's Aid


In the last week, I attended events to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of Glasgow Women's Aid. On 7th November, a Rowan tree was planted in memory of the women and children victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

Elspeth King planted the Rowan Tree in Glasgow Green.
.
Glasgow Women's Aid (GWA) was set up by women in 1973 to open a refuge. The introduction of the Housing (Homeless Prevention) Act 1977 made re-housing much easier as it brought in a duty on Local Authorities to house battered women, from that area who were not intentionally homeless and who had children. GWA was able to open its first office in Hope Street in Glasgow in 1979. Today, there is an office in Bell Street and provision of refuges (37 spaces and 7 refuges). It is registered charity managed by a board of directors with paid staff and volunteers. 

Recognition has been given to the women's achievements and their struggle against male violence during the 40th anniversary celebrations. The demand for the services of GWA has been steadily growing. There is a continuing need for refuge provision, support and information. Efforts have to be maintained to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse. 

Useful information:

Glasgow Women's Aid - http://www.glasgowwomensaid.org.uk/how-can-you-help.html

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Increasing risk of poverty for women

During the Challenge Poverty Week, I heard about women’s experiences of trauma and suffering due to the Welfare Reforms and there is a need for the Council to take action to address the ongoing hardship facing women due to the changes to the Welfare State. It is vital that we acknowledge the gender impact of welfare reform and enable women to engage in discussions about the services they need to address the circumstances that they find themselves in. A recent report by Scottish Government on the impact of welfare reform confirms that women have been disproportionately affected by the measures brought in by the Coalition Government since 2010. On Thursday 31st October, I proposed this motion at a Full Council Meeting and it was agreed unanimously:-

Glasgow City Council welcomes the first Challenge Poverty Week from 13th - 17th October which brought together a wide range of groups and individuals to highlight what is being done to tackle poverty and build momentum for increased action.

Council acknowledges that women may be at increased risk of poverty compared to men, and can experience recurring, long term poverty. In Glasgow , there is a disproportionate number of lone mothers in the most deprived neighbourhoods, as well as some black and minority ethnic women who may face a particularly high poverty risk.

Council notes that many of the welfare reforms have a larger impact on women, due to women’s roles as carers. As a consequence, poverty and social exclusion, especially amongst female single parents is expected to increase in Glasgow .

As part of Glasgow’s Action Plan for Change, the Council will do more to engage with women's organisations and individual women directly experiencing poverty, to identify:-

1. the impact of key policies implemented under the banner of Welfare Reform

2. areas in which it can mitigate the impact of the UK ’s welfare reform programme

3. gaps in support services for women affected by the welfare and tax reform policies.

Council agrees to support the development of dialogue with women's organisations to address the continuing challenges that women face in tackling poverty. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Fair pay for workers in higher education

Today, I met up with workers involved in joint strike action by UCU, UNISON and Unite in protest at a pay offer of just 1%. This situation has arisen as staff have faced a real-terms pay cut of 13% since 2008. Unions have expressed disappointed that employers refused talks to try and avert the walkout taking place tomorrow.


There has been a squeeze on staff pay at the same time as the pay and benefits for university leaders has increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000.

Staff will be at picket lines in towns and cities across the UK from early on 31st October, with many engaged in local rallies.

Follow the hashtag #fairpayinHE on Twitter for updates.

Useful link:

Pay gap at universities is biggest in public sector and getting bigger, says report by Young Greens - http://www.ucu.org.uk/6796

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Supporting the Right to Choose

This week, I met up with activists supporting abolition rights in George Square. During our conversations, I heard that this is the 45th anniversary year of the Abolition Act. 


Placard at George Square on 24th October 2013

There was discussion about the importance of ensuring that women's right to choose is retained.  The policies of the Scottish Green Party do not support any changes to current legislation on abortion. Changes to legislation, which would aim to make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions, would not address the underlying factors which lead women to seek abortions. 

Placard at George Square on 24th October 2013 

Instead, it is likely to drive women elsewhere for the operations, either overseas or to illegal practitioners, which would increase both the distress and the health risks for those involved.

Useful link:

NHS Sexual Health Services in Glasgow - http://www.sandyford.org/

Monday, 21 October 2013

Comments provided for Woodlands Conservation Plan

By 31st October, comments are required on the Draft Woodlands Conservation Area Appraisal Plan and I am preparing a response to highlight details of the streetscape for inclusion and key issues to consider for the preservation of the area.

Of significance to the area is the Great Western Bridge.Within the section on "Views and Landmarks", reference to this A-listed Great Western Bridge observed from South Woodside Road and Great Western Road could be made.

This bridge was officially opened on 29th September 1891. It was design by Sir William Arroll who died 100 years ago and a plaque will be placed on the bridge near the entrance to Kelvinbridge Subway station by the end of 2013. Macfarlane's decorative ironwork contributed significantly to making this one of the most impressive of Glasgow's Victorian bridges (as shown in the photo below).


Great Western Bridge requires to be maintained.

Also, there is a need to protect the iron railings and stonework on the local streets from further decay. There are many examples of the railings in need of repair.

Railings missing in West Princes Street

There are ongoing improvements taking place to the cobbled lanes and artworks have been some of the enhancements. Recognition of the importance of maintaining the lanes has to be part of the long term efforts to sustain the area's heritage.


Road markings near school require repainting

In the past week, the need for the repainting of road markings has been a major concern amongst parents and residents. The faded yellow lines on Otago Street have been highlighted for urgent attention by roads officials to improve road safety for pupils at Hillhead Primary. 

Faded yellow lines requiring repainting.

In addition, a nearby junction and crossing point at Gibson Street are missing white lines. There are concerns about the increased risk of accidents or driver error if the white lines are not clearly visible.

Pedestrian crossing on Gibson Street without white lines

There is recognition that further action is needed to improve road safety in this street. It is a very busy area with constant traffic and parking issues for both visitors and residents. Various ideas are being considered to create safer, healthy streets and a public meeting to share views on road safety will be held in the coming months.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Support for Seed Freedom

I joined the Rally Against Monsanto in Glasgow's city-centre on Saturday 12th October. This was part of a global day of action to protest against GM and its impact on our lives.




I spoke in support of the joint petition on seed legislation launched by the European Greens and Vandana Shiva on 2nd October.  The Greens in the European Parliament are working with Navdanya , the organisation of Indian activist and scientist Vandana Shiva to raise awareness about the new legislative proposal of the European Commission on the production and commercialisation of seeds.

Shiva said: We are reminded that in the spirit of Gandhi, civil disobedience is necessary, when laws undermine our rights, depriving us of our common goods.  Seeds are such a common good. They are a gift of nature and the result of centuries of hard work of farmers around the planet, who have selected, conserved and bred seeds. They are the source of life and the first link in our food chain. “

More details are available on the website www.seedfreedom.eu highlight the call by Greens and Navdanya for citizens to ask for a radical change of this proposed legislation. 

The key concern is that this new European legislation on the 'Marketing of seeds' is recognised as a threat to Food Security and Democracy.

There is a serious problem with a handful of global seed companies having a monopoly over the market. There is evidence of three quarters of the seeds marketed and used by farmers as being controlled by only a few multinational companies.

In recent years, there has been European legislation to increasingly restricted access to seeds. Seed varieties must pass complicated and costly tests and registration procedures and their cultivation depends on chemicals. 

This legislation has to be opposed as it will dramatically reduced the diversity of seed varieties on the market and this will become a threat to our food security. Support the petition and join the campaign to reject the current European Commission's proposal.

Glasgow's Allotments celebrate their growing success

Yesterday, I attended the celebration of the achievements of Glasgow's allotments in the City Chambers. There was an impressive variety of fruit and vegetables growing on allotments on display. 


Information  about Glasgow Allotments Forum

Awards were given to plotholders and allotment associations across the city in recognition of their hard work as well as good practices in gardening and sustainability.



Award winners for the best plots.

There were arts and crafts activities for children and young people to get involved in. The fun-filled display about plasticine horticulture encouraged creative endeavours.

Examples of plasticine vegetables.

As part of my work to support allotments, I have been backing proposals for new rules to enable bee-keeping and poultry on allotments. 

Useful link:



Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Inspiring work of Victim Support Scotland

On Saturday 4th October, at the annual conference of the Scottish Green Party in Inverness, I took part in discussion about the work of Victim Support Scotland at a fringe event.

At the European level, there is a new directive on the rights of victims of crime and a new Scottish Parliament Bill reflects this directive, giving increased recognition to the rights of victims and witnesses of crime. 

It was inspiring to discover that David McKenna from Victim Support Scotland is the President of Victim Support Europe for a second 3-year term. At the European level, Victim Support has strengthened the rights and obligations of the European Union towards victims and witnesses including access to information, access to interpretation and translation services, and training for practitioners.

Currently, the Scottish Bill in support of victims and witnesses is making is way through the legislative process and it is expected to become law in the Spring of 2014. It can give support and provide safeguards to vulnerable witnesses. There is an opportunity for this legislation to give greater weight to the wishes of witnesses. The introduction of a Victims Fund to contribute to supporting the needs of victims of crime generally is welcomed.

I am very concerned that the needs of victims and witnesses are addressed alongside the efforts to prevent re-offending within local communities.

It makes sense to ensure that the work to improve the rights of victims and witnesses is joined up with the decision making locally by Community Justice Authorities. 

Useful link:

Victim Support Scotland - http://www.victimsupportsco.org.uk/page/index.cfm

Awareness needed about Human Trafficking

In recent weeks, I have received information about initiatives to raise awareness of human trafficking in Glasgow and across Scotland. 

It is possible for anyone to discover a situation involving human trafficking. There is recognition that human trafficking is under reported due to the lack of knowledge and understanding. The victims are known to be trafficked for sex, for forced labour in construction, agriculture and health,  for fraud, and for organ removal.


This Summer, information materials have been produced to increase awareness about human trafficking and promote education of individuals and communities about and how to identify this crime and take action to stop modern day slavery.

Useful links:-

Human Trafficking: Reading the Signs - http://www.scotland.police.uk/whats-happening/news/2013/july/180144/

Together against Trafficking in Human Beings - http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Restoring George Square

Today, I was glad to be able to enjoy a walk around, across and through our restored civic space. It was relief to see both the grass areas returned and the cleaner, bolder statues retained.


George Square after restoration works

During my look around the Square, I noted that various passersby were absorbed in taking photographs of the statues and recording changes due to the revamp. 

So far, it would appear that this historic listed landscape at the heart of our city centre has been preserved by the works undertaken. 

I look forward to getting a chance to meeting up in the Square with various groups and individuals, as well as hear what people have to say about this restoration.

Monday, 30 September 2013

A future for food banks?

This year, I have participated in various events and workshops where discussions have taken place about the cost of food, the importance of local food growing and the development of food banks.  

With increasing number of people seeking help to feed themselves and their families, the response of local community groups and civic society has been to help set up and give donations to food banks. Alongside other councillors from Glasgow City Council on 27th June 2013, I gave support to a cross party motion on food poverty which stated:-

“Council notes the growing number of - and demand for – food banks in Glasgow
and, while noting with concern the political and economic conditions which have
led to their growth, Council commends all those individuals and organisations
who have come together to provide food and support for those in crisis.
Council resolves to establish a food bank forum, to include local faith groups,
third sector bodies, volunteer groups and the local community, to examine what
support and practical assistance can be provided by the Council to the growing
network of food banks across the city, to support food banks in the short term 
and to develop capacity in the sector.

Council further notes figures from the Trussell Trust and Citizens Advice
showing half a million people now rely on emergency food aid and that the single
most common reason for people seeking food aid is the delay, reduction or
withdrawal of benefit payments. Council notes clear evidence that benefits
sanctions have gone too far and are leading to hardship, hunger and 
destitution on a large scale.

Council asks that the Leader of the Council writes to Dame Anne Begg MP to
urge the House of Commons and Pensions Select Committee to seek an urgent
inquiry into the relationship between benefits delay, error or sanctions, welfare
reform changes and the growth of food poverty. Council also asks that the Chief
Executive writes to the Department of Work and Pensions to request the regular
publication of data on the number and type of household who are deprived of
their benefits by reason of benefits delay, error or sanctions; and the number of
referrals from Jobcentre staff to local food banks in Glasgow.”

Further action is needed as a follow up to this motion. For instance, we can ensure there is a link up with other local authorities to address food poverty issues. On my visit to the Isle of Skye for the September weekend, I found that there is a food bank with a base in Portree. There is an opportunity to work in solidarity with local food banks across Scotland.


Skye Food Bank Postcard

As the financial situation continues to reach crisis point for more people due to the rising cost of living and welfare reforms by the UK Coalition Government take effect, there is a need to continue to provide emergency support.  

However, we must also encourage local food networks to develop and thrive. More residents should be able to learn gardening know-how, as well as access raised beds or plots for growing food. In addition, we need to ensure there is skill sharing and capacity building so that people involved can cook using the ingredients that they have produced. 

Useful links:

Oxfam - http://www.oxfam.org.uk/uk-poverty-blog/blog/2013/07/foodbank-referrals-from-the-dwp

Church Action Against Poverty - https://www.buzzbnk.org/ProjectDetails.aspx?projectId=127


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Pavement repairs at Great George Street

Today, I completed a check of the pavement repairs on Great George Street.  The patching repairs have made an significant improvement to the majority of the surface and reduced the uneven areas. 


Some residents have suggested that the whole length of the pavement should have been resurfaced but the budget was not been available for this level of contract work. 

The poor state of repair of signs and utility boxes on this street was highlighted during my walkabout. Further investment is needed to improve the public notices.




The need to remove rusted poles and clean up or replace road signs is being passed to council officials. It may not be possible to secure the resources for this work until 2014.


Vandalism of telephone boxes

In the last month, the graffiti and vandalism to telephone boxes has been drawn to my attention. Telephone boxes requiring a clean up can be reported to BT Openreach. 

Phone box near Byres Road

Unfortunately, telephone boxes can become an eyesore on the high street if they are not regularly repaired and maintained. 

Whilst the usage has declined with the increasing access to mobile phones, telephone boxes are needed for emergencies and are helpful for tourists to place local calls, as well as for those who do not like or cannot afford mobile phones

Useful link:

BT Openreach - www.payphones.bt.com 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bike Theft Concerns

The number of bikes stolen in the Hillhead area is now recognised as a serious and costly issue for residents and visitors. Thefts have been highlighted during my conversations with a range of groups in the area. Students rely on their bikes to get to and from the University of Glasgow. Many residents are keen cyclists who require a bike for travel for work. 

Thankfully, resources have been provided from the local Area Partnerships for the Community Police Officers to provide bike marker kits at local events in the Hillhead, Anderston City and Patrick West Area. The marking of the bikes aims to make it possible to identify the owner of a stolen bike more easily.


Police vehicle in Kelvingrove Park on 21st September

There was a drop-in event held for cyclists at Kelvingrove Park on Saturday 21st September which I attended. There are other similar events being organised by Police Scotland. 

Please look out for posters within your local library or log on to the twitter of the Glasgow West End Police Office for updates.

Celebration of local talents at Harvest Fayre

On Saturday, I enjoyed a visit to the Coachhouse Trust on Belmont Lane, Kelvinbridge. There was a harvest event providing an opportunity to purchase a range of local produce, plants and arts and crafts. There is a market garden with local produce including potatoes, garlic, carrots, and tomatoes. 

Anyone who has not made a visit before, or in recent times, is encouraged to find their way to the main building and growing spaces. They can be accessed to the rear of Viper on Great Western Road.

 
 Views of Belmont Lane.

This organisation is making best use of the back lane providing a much valued community resource. In the month ahead, the Trust is putting on an exhibition as part of the Scottish Mental Health  Arts and Film Festival. 

Useful links -

Coachhouse Trust Arts and Media Project - http://www.thecht.co.uk/arts.html

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Stop Supermarket Expansion on our High Streets

In the last week, I welcomed a petition presented to the Petitions Committee at Glasgow City Council which asked for a rethink of the proposals which enable supermarkets to expand across Glasgow.

The plans for new smaller units by Tesco were highlighted as damaging to the fortunes of local neighbourhoods in Yorkhill and Kelvinbridge. There are strong objections from residents in these areas to the development of new smaller supermarkets by Tesco as they are expected to take customers away from existing food retailers and therefore, threaten the livelihoods and vitality of independent businesses. An example cited is the closure of Andersons Fruit and Vegetable Retailer on Byres Road after a new Tesco supermarket opened in Byres Road.

It was suggested by the petitioners that prior to the approval of any plans or licences for supermarkets, the Council should ensure that comprehensive health checks of the economic vitality and viability of designated town centres is undertaken. Reference was made to relevant planning guidance issued by Scottish Government including Scottish Planning Policy 8 and Planning Advice Note 59.

The petitioners asked for the new Glasgow Local Development Plan, replacing City Plan 2, to consider evidence that there are negative consequences of the further supermarket development for Glasgow's town centres. 

In response, it was agreed by the Petitions Committee that a report to the Regeneration and the Economy Policy Development Committee should be provided in response to the concerns raised by the petitioner. This report should give an examination of the National Planning Framework and the relevant strategies which could address the issues highlighted by the petitioners regarding the balance of retailers in local communities.

There is a need for stricter planning regulations for supermarket development to ensure we can retain a thriving, diverse mix of food retailers within our city's local neighbourhoods.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Public meeting to discuss New City Road Project

In the last 6 months, various concerns have been raised about the environment next to the motorway, located between St. Georges Road and Garscube Road. There are ongoing problems with litter, flytipping, graffiti, and anti-social behaviour.

Cycling and walking route under the motorway

Potential site for new lighting, an artwork or mural?

There is a public meeting to provide an opportunity to share concerns about this area and discuss ideas to improve it. An action plan will be developed to bring about a better appearance and enhanced cleanliness to this important access route for people getting to and from the city centre.

This meeting takes place on Thursday 19th September, from 7 -  8.30pm, in Oakgrove Primary. All are welcome to attend.