Sunday, 24 February 2013

Questions about Horse Meat

At the latest full council meeting of Glasgow City Council on 21st February, I asked a question about the horse meat scandal. I opened questions by asking:-

"The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is urgently investigating, in conjunction with other Government departments and the Scottish Government, local authorities and the food industry, how a number of beef products on sale in the UK came to contain horse meat.  It has also been revealed by the FSA that eight horses slaughtered in the UK for food have tested positive for a veterinary painkiller. Please advise what action is being taken by Glasgow City Council to ensure that supplies of beef and beef products are safe and correctly labelled?

In response, Councillor James Coleman of the Labour Administration responded: “I can confirm that 33 inspections are ongoing in city. There's no evidence that legislation has been breached.”

On Friday 22nd February 2013, the Food Standards Agency's latest test results led to Scotland Excel advising local authorities to put a hold on using all frozen beef burger products. Horsemeat DNA was found in a beefburger supplied to North Lanarkshire Council. This is viewed as a precaution while the situation is being fully investigated. To date, no horsemeat DNA has been found in any meat products supplied to Glasgow City Council.

It is clear that reassurance is needed for the public, in particular parents whose children eat school meals.

Useful link:

FSA Update -

Greens demand action on school supply chain -

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Delays to ovarian cancer diagnoses cost lives

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of female cancer death in the UK. The lives of women with ovarian cancer in Glasgow are still being cut short because of delays to their diagnoses. Cancer Research UK state that the 5 year survival rate in the UK is just 36%, amongst the worst in Europe. 

Early diagnosis is key to survival, but women face delays at every turn, according to new data in the Target Ovarian Cancer’s Pathfinder Study published in January. New study data shows that women are still facing delays that are costing lives. Women still faced problems getting a correct diagnosis.

For almost a third of women diagnosis was more than 6 months after they first went to see their doctor. Misdiagnosis is common, with 30% of women misdiagnosed as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome; 15% ovarian cysts and 13% a urinary infection. The Pathfinder Study also surveyed health professionals, with by far the biggest proportion (55%) of clinicians believing that tackling earlier diagnosis is the most urgent issue to ensure women in the UK have as good a chance of surviving ovarian cancer as women in other countries.

It is vital to improve symptom awareness with women, improve GP knowledge and ensure they have prompt access to diagnostic tests.  During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in March, we can raise women of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and take action to stop women needlessly dying.

Useful link:

Target Ovarian Cancer -

Cuts to housing benefit

This week, the campaign in support of section 16 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 being amended so that bedroom tax arrears are treated as an ordinary debt in law, and not as rent arrears which would constitute grounds or evidence for eviction, has gained momentum. 

It is apparent that the bedroom tax is not workable and will increase the public deficit not decrease it. I took part in a community meeting organising against the Bedroom Tax and shared outrage with what is proposed in a debate with other councillors at Glasgow City Council.

The change in the housing legislation is vital to help tenants affected by the UK Coalition Government's controversial cuts to housing benefit stay in their homes in Scotland.

We have ensure that the so-called 'Bedroom Tax' can't be used as grounds for eviction by social landlords like local councils or housing associations. UK Government changes to housing benefit mean that, from April 2013, tenants who are judged to have a 'spare room' will face a massive 14% cut in the support they get to keep a roof over their heads. Those with two 'spare rooms' will face a 25% cut.
On average, you will lose £14-£25 a week.

As well as the bedroom tax, there is also another change to benefits which will affect everyone in social housing who claims benefits and is of working age.

From October 2013, anyone making new claims for benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, will receive one four weekly payment to cover all of these benefits, rather than getting them separately. This means that tenants will have to take responsibility for paying your rent directly to their landlord from this single payment.
This will be a major change for people who are used to having rent paid direct to the landlord via the Department of Work and Pensions. It is acknowledged that some tenants may struggle to prioritise essential payments such as rent and may be worried about rent arrears.

The introduction of the bedroom tax brings about the the prospect of tens of thousands of low income households in Scotland being threatened with homelessness unless they can find extra money for rent, and many families being pushed further into poverty.

The Scottish Parliament has devolved powers which could be used to significantly mitigate the adverse impact of these changes to housing benefit, and support for section 16 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001. 

We can help to ensure that tenants do not have to face the pain, suffering and indignity of being evicted from their home because of the bedroom tax. 

Useful Link:

Bedroom Tax Petition - 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dance music video at the River Clyde

On Wednesday 13th February, I went along to watch a feature length dance music video incorporating the album "All Day" by musician Girl Talk, near the Red Pedestrian bridge on Clyde Street. 

The video called "Girl Walk//All Day" follows three dancers across New York City. It is focused on the power of community and public space.

The audience gather next to the Tiger Mural.

This is a unique event as part of the Glasgow Youth Film Festival supported by the Council's Stalled Spaces Initiative. It transformed the riverbank, promoting access to the arts and created new ideas for use of this site. It had previously been enhanced with the Tiger mural. 

One of the two screens showing the video.

Useful link:

Glasgow Youth Film Festival -

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Pool tank needed for North Woodside Leisure Centre

There is a further update available in relation to the ongoing works at the North Woodside Leisure Centre. A planned programme of works commenced in mid-2012. The refurbishment of the health suite, replacement of the pool plant and filtration systems, decoration and remedial works to the roof trusses had been planned by Glasgow Life.  

Roof trusses at the pool

The pool and health suite did not opened as hoped in the Autumn of 2012. The outstanding issue to be resolved is a defective pool tank. 

The proposed solution will provide a pool with the same footprint as the existing one with a structurally sound and watertight base slab (subject to geotechnical confirming that the ground conditions below the existing tank are sound).  Timescales for procurement and completion of repairs are likely to be in the order of six months following the placement of an order.  Funds for these works are yet to be identified.
Glasgow Life have investigated re-opening the newly refurbished health suite, however, any decision has been delayed until they have a detailed works programme for the pool.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Support for One Billion Rising


On 14th February 2013, it will be V-Day’s Largest Day of Action Ever. I will join with activists around the world for ONE BILLION RISING, the largest day of action in the history of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.

ONE BILLION RISING began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. 

This is V-Day’s 15th anniversary, and I will join activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, and women and men across the world as we express their outrage, demand change, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women.

About One Billion Rising
One in three women on the planet is raped or beaten in her lifetime. That is ONE BILLION WOMEN violated. One billion daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, lovers and friends. On 14th February 2013, ONE BILLION women and those who love them are invited to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men to dance across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers and our solidarity across borders. Join V-Day and ONE BILLION RISING today and SAY NO to violence against women and girls. 

About V-Day
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. 

Useful Link:

To sign up and learn more, visit

To learn more about V Day and its campaigns visit

There are dance events at the Subclub and Stereo in the city centre.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

How do we improve the Bulk Uplift Service?

Today, I made a walkabout in the Woodside area (including Napiershall Street and North Woodside Road) to observe the bulk items on the street. Residents have requested a return to a weekly uplift, at designated locations. I am supporting this request as it is best option for this community. 

At the moment, some residents phone to make an appointment to request bulk items to be uplifted. Others leave bulk items at specific sites on the basis that they will be uplifted without a phone call.

Bulk items on Napiershall Street awaiting uplift

There is an need to improve the bulk uplift service and promote recycling of many of these items, perhaps giving them to charities or putting them in recycling bins, rather than dumping them on the street.

Recycling point on Maryhill Road/North Woodside Road

More cardboard can be put in blue recycling bins. Don't miss out on reducing Glasgow's waste going to the landfill site at Cathkin Braes and help cut our landfill tax.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Budget Day 2013 at Glasgow City Chambers

The development of a Green Budget Amendment to the Labour Administration's Budget has involved extensive research from other local authority areas and gathering of information from a range of city council officials. 

The UK Coalition's austerity cuts are creating distress, pain and hardship for Glasgow's citizens. We prioritised the protection of current funding for local community groups who exist to help people in crisis and provide much needed practical day to day support for vulnerable people.

By putting together various budget options for 2013-15, we were able to reverse some decisions including £4m cuts to voluntary organisations and retained £2.4m for Additional Supported Learning provision. This funding supports services that are not add-ons but vital resources within local communities.

Green Councillors have identified budgetary savings and income opportunities through additional investment in energy efficiency initiatives and income generating renewable energy projects. Green plans would commit the Council to further cuts in its energy costs as well as ensuring it plays its part in meeting the challenges of climate change by taking action to reduce its carbon footprint.  We are pushing for sensible local investment to generate income and energy from wind and solar power, both to cushion the Council from further energy price rises and to benefit from government funding. We are also backing new initiatives to reduce the total energy by investing in LED lighting technologies.

LED lighting could be installed in all council buildings at cost of £7m. We also propose the installation of lower wattage and LED fittings in 6,000 street lighting columns within our city's residential streets over two years at a cost of £2.450m. LED technology offers many additional advantages over incandescent and compact fluorescent lighting devices. These include exceptionally longer life span and lower energy usage. There are reduced maintenance costs and higher safety. This provides a high return on investment.

Greens want the Council to produce more of our own electricity. We would build a second wind turbine on council land, located in Robroyston or Easterhouse costing £5m. This can provide a much needed new revenue stream, and takes us beyond provision of a windfarm located on Cathkin Braes to the next phase of wind power investment. This fosters a sense of hope for the future.

Photovoltaic panels could be installed on all secondary schools for £2.9m. This enables the Council generate revenue streams and to maximise access to the UK government's Feed in Tariffs.

Voltage optimisation is a well-established and proven technology that matches electricity supply to the needs of the council's electrical equipment. We propose a roll out of voltage optimisation in all secondary schools for £600k.

We put forward the need for a Hydrogen Fuel feasibility study. Hydrogen and fuel cells are still regarded as emerging technologies and the Council can work with Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise to consider the options, learning from major hydrogen bus project in Aberdeen and other initiatives across Europe.

In the next two years, we want to develop support for investment in Energy Efficiency of Council Estate. The business case assessing and implementing the best options for significant improvements in the energy efficiency of council buildings would be completed. This will inform the accessing of national sustainability funding opportunities, partnerships with the energy sector, retrofitting schemes, and innovative financing models such as Energy Saving Contracts.

Our plans would not just cut the bills the Council faces, they would generate new training and job opportunities and cut our carbon emissions from the council assets.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Enhanced security needed for tenements

In the last few weeks, I have visited a number of backcourts which are poorly maintained and have problems with security. Some of the backcourts are accessible from the back lanes. This is mainly due to a lack of a securely locked gate.

The above doorways highlight the significant difference to security made by a gate. As a consequence of poor security, backcourts are used for flytipping and as places for people to sleep if they are homeless. The flats without the gates are more likely to experience break-ins or thefts.

Improvements to Millennium Park, Woodlands

Consultation has taken place with residents and local organisations to find out what improvements are needed to Millennium Park in Woodlands.

There has been a lot of support from families for additional play equipment. Concerns have been raised about the need for enhanced lighting, less litter, and improved fencing. 

 Members of the Millennium Park Working Group meet at the Albany Centre.

To take plans forward and secure the funds required for the park's improvement, a working group has been formed with representatives from several local organisations involved. This group will help to oversee plans for the park and will meet up to review progress on a regular basis. The provision of play facilities for children are a priority at the moment.

200 nuclear bombs on our door step

This weekend, I supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at their stall on Byres Road. Various information leaflets and badges were handing out to passersby.

Efforts were focused on highlighting the close proximity that we live to 200 nuclear weapons. They are located at Faslane and Coulport Naval Bases, only 30 miles away from Glasgow.

Useful Link:

Lords question Trident Replacement -