Thursday, 28 March 2013

Development of Byres Road Traders Association

As part of efforts to bring together businesses in the area for mutual support and assistance in dealing with various economic pressures, I am supporting the development of the Byres Road Traders Association. This is an open group that any business can access and contribute to. 

View of Byres Road from Cresswell Street.

The next meeting is held on Tuesday 16th April 2013 at 5 - 7pm, in the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel, 1 - 9 Grosvenor Terrace, Glasgow, G12 OTA. 

The meeting will elect officer bearers and discuss plans for the Byres Road Business Improvement District. Businesses can join up to a Byres Road Traders Association at

View of entrance area to Hillhead Subway.

Useful links:


Monday, 25 March 2013

Spring into Life: 3rd Birthday Celebrations

Woodlands Community Garden celebrated its 3rd birthday on Sunday 24th March. There was a giant game of pass the parcel, as well as hands on art-workshop at our new gap site.

The gabian wall of the gap corner site, Ashley Street.

Hands on artwork in the gap corner site, Ashley Street.
An amazing transformation of derelict sites in the Woodlands area over the last three years was celebrated. There is a lot to be proud of, including the improvement of the gap site on the corner of Ashley Street and West Princes Street.

"Excellent" Celebration Event

On Friday 22nd March 2013, I attended a special Daffodil event with staff, children and parents at Woodside Nursery School to celebrate their Inspection Report of 23rd February 2013. 

The nursery school has received "5 Excellent" gradings across all five Quality Indicators. The  excellent report is a great boost for everyone involved in the Nursery School and the wider community should be very proud of this achievement.

View of Woodside Nursery on St. Georges Road.

The entertainment at the event was provided with beautiful singing from the children and this was possible with the support of students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  At the same time, funds were raised with donations for refreshments going to Marie Curie Cancer Care. 

Useful link:

Education Scotland: Woodside Nursery Inspection Report, February 2013 -

Friday, 15 March 2013

Pioneering new cancer support service in Glasgow

On Tuesday, 12th March, I attended the launch of the Macmillan Cancer Support's new information and support service in Hillhead Library. This service on a drop-in basis will ensure local people can access cancer support in their local community. 

Advert for new information and support service at Hillhead Library

It comes six months after the pioneering partnership between Macmillan and Glasgow Life was established, with services in other libraries including the Mitchell, Pollok, Dennistoun, Easterhouse and Langside. 

Macmillan advert at Hillhead Library

As well as specialist cancer information and emotional support, the services can refer people onto other Glasgow-based Macmillan services, including benefits advice, a vocational rehabilitation service and a financial guidance project.

Natasha Johnston and Gillian O'Donnell, Information Support Officers at Macmillan.

Through a partnership with Cancer Support Scotland, those attending some of the services can also access counselling and complementary therapies. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Show commitment to gender equality

On Friday, 8th March, it was International Woman's Day, and I joined a rally outside the library at the University of Glasgow to highlight the problems with a culture of sexism and support pressure for change. 

 Poster for the Stop Sexism Rally.

There were impressive speeches from students including the SRC VP Student Support & President Elect, and reps from the Feminist Society, and the Politics Society calling for the University Management and GUU to ensure the University Campus is a safe and equal place.

 Rally gathers outside the GUU.

I have given my support to the call on the Senate, the Court and Senior Mangement Group of the University of Glasgow to make a public statement to reiterate the University's commitment to 'erradicate gender discrimination in its work, learning, teaching and research environment'.

Useful link:

For further information, refer to the updates at:

Friday, 8 March 2013

Tackling Air Pollution - Local Concerns

At a public meeting in Hillhead Library on 28th February, air pollution was discussed and various issues raised including:-

1) Number of taxi enforcement patrols in Byres Road was noted as 20 in 2012 with 2 fixed penalty notices issued. More details of when each patrol took place to be provided ie date and time was requested.

2) Concerned were raised about likely breach in air quality standards shown by diffusion tube at Napiershall Street. There is interest in more information being provided about this finding when it is officially published in the Summer.

3) Cleaner taxis are a priority. Private hire cars can be licensed for up to 7 years however no limit is set for black hacks. It was requested that a policy of 15 years for black hacks as adopted in London be progressed in Glasgow.

4) The potential for Low Emission Zone for Byres Road to ensure cleanest vehicles use this street was highlighted. Further information on how this can be progressed as part of 2014 Games Legacy and Future Cities Initiative was requested. Also, it is hoped that Byres Road can be considered as a quality bus corridor as part of Greener Legacy for the 2014 Games.

5) Education programme for taxi drivers is needed to prevent idling. It was suggested that  discussion take place with TOA about customer care training including air pollution and switching of engines when stopped. It would be useful to know if this proposal be taken forward as part of revised customer care for taxi driver as part of  greener legacy for the 2014 Games.

6) Taxi design and licensing was asked to take account of new vehicle technologies including electric and hybrid taxis through specific policies and investment.

7) Pedestrianisation of specific streets in Air Quality Management Areas across Glasgow was mentioned. Further information needed on any details of proposals that have been investigated.

8) GCC vehicles idling is a serious problem. There is an ongoing problem with council drivers not switching off their engines when static. The council has to ensure staff are fully informed about air quality actions and the need to stop idling. A special initiative with phone number for reporting vehicle idling by council fleet should be developed.

9) Neighbourhood Improvement Volunteers supported by Glasgow Community Safety Services could be involved in stopping idling vehicles.

10) The next local development plan, City Plan 3, could  consider additional information and planning guidance on air quality issues before it is finalised.

Further updates will be provided to residents, community groups and businesses as the responses to the various issues are forthcoming. Discussions are taking place to potentially limit the age of black cabs in Glasgow. It is understood that a report requesting a review of taxi and private hire car licensing including a proposal to consult on the adoption of an age policy of taxis is expected.

Calls for Restoration of Botanic Gardens Garage

This week, residents have highlighted the survey work taking place at the 'A' listed Botanic Gardens Garage on Vinicombe Street, Hillhead. Planning officers have advised that at a recent meeting with the owners, this work was agreed along with the removal of a tile from the facade to allow various tests to be carried out. It is hoped that these tests will assist in the restoration of the building.

Temporary tile put in place on this pillar.

It is essential that local community groups and neighbours are fully aware and informed about what work is going on. This has to be done with the knowledge and support of council officials. Local residents are very proud of this unique building and updates on applications to restore and re-use the building are much anticipated. 

View of the Botanic Gardens Garage.

Also, there is concern that this special part of the city's heritage is repaired and maintained to a high standard whilst plans are being developed. There has to be reassurance given that this building is being protected and every effort is being made to keep it wind and water tight.

Gilmorehill Campus Vision - Stage 1 Consultation

This is a significant moment in the development of the University of Glasgow. I am very glad that there is an opportunity to contribute to the campus vision through an initial consultation which concluded today. The University of Glasgow's efforts to gather views by engaging a wide range of stakeholders and reaching out to consult the diverse communities across the West End is very much welcomed. My responses to the questions are detailed as follows:-

1) What do you think are the essential campus facilities that it should provide to achieve these goals?

The campus has to provide world class research labs and access to technologies which are the most advanced available. This is a requirement to secure the most talented staff and students as well as support from funding bodies or private donor.
In the past weeks, the levels of child poverty, fuel poverty, cancer, heart disease, stroke and obesity have been at the forefront of my day to day discussions. It would be necessary for the facilities to continue to explore the causes of poor health and find long term solutions through world renouned research work. 

I hear from the Stroke Association that the research into Stroke is much less than other major diseases and there is a urgent need to address this gap. Help is required to take forward research in to life after stroke, gaining insight in to solutions to support recovery and self management. 

There are ongoing concerns about air pollution and links between air quality and  chronic ill health or  lung diseases. Research into this particular health issue could be developed at the campus. The facilities are located within an air pollution hotspot and designated Air Quality Management Area. There is an opportunity for the design to contribute to reducing traffic in the area and supporting air quality actions e.g. cycling, electric vehicle or hybrid fleet, car club,  tree planting, public transport usage.  

It should promote environmental sustainability including energy efficiency, zero waste, cuts to carbon footprint and renewable energy technology within its design and research capacity.
The overall facilities have to respect the historic context and architectural features of the site and its curtilage. The boundary walls and outward aspect as well as materials, colours and general appearance should be recognised as of utmost importance in the site's identity and sense of place. They create the basis for framing the site facilities and taking forward a proposal that fit within the wider setting of Glasgow West Conservation Area.

2) What do you think the University should do to be more welcoming and provide a feeling of openness?

The design of the campus has to provide physical connectedness and good sightlines, especially from Byres Road, University Avenue, and Dumbarton Road. This could be established by walking routes, avenues of trees, public grassland and seating with cafe facilities available. Public art installations and good quality signage can enhance public perception. 

Community use of the facilities is key to promoting a welcoming space. Full genuine public engagement through the design process can support this sense of openness.

View of the University from the River Kelvin.

3) Is the open space in and around the campus important to your experience? What are the qualities and character that enhance your experience of the campus?

The open space and a green landscape must be an integral part  of the design. There is recent research which indicates that walking among trees, flowers and engaging with the earth is very important for well being. Gardens engender a feeling of care and awareness that hard landscaping does not. An understanding of how the natural world functions is becoming a important research topic in the arts, sciences and medical field. A rich, diverse landscape on campus would contribute to health and creativity, providing areas for people to meet informally or just relax.As well as formal spaces and quiet sitting areas, there should be small garden corners for wildlife, wildflowers and biodiversity which the students can work with the staff to learn about the natural world. 

An allotment with minimum of 25 community plots would bring together people from different backgrounds in a common purpose and help to strengthen the ties and understanding between the local people and the University. There is currently a lack of allotments in Hillhead and this use of the space would meet a key community demand.

4) How should the University be connected with other parts of Glasgow and other University campus?

The environment sustainability agenda and climate change targets require a dramatic reduction on CO2 in the next 10 years. The campus has to promote integrated travel using walking, cycling, and public transport to get around. Car use has to be discouraged to tackle air pollution and reduce the carbon footprint. The campus can promote use of subway stations and main rail connection at Partick as the preferred options. Other parts of Glasgow are most quickly reached by subway and train. University Avenue could prioritise pedestrians with single roadway for taxi and bus access only through this route. This can ensure a modal shift away from the car. It will ensure increased personal safety, lessen risk of accidents, reduce noise levels and promote accessibility using modes which are healthier and more energy efficient.

5) What in your view is the one thing we should do to make sure that we leave as great a legacy as the previous strategic move in 1870?

The campus has to promote a holistic view of health and wellbeing, celebrate the talents of women and more disadvantaged groups, ensure peace and harmony in the world, and encourage resourcefulness. It has to support engagement of families as well as older learners. Women and children's safety issues have to be paramount and focus has to be on a legacy that prioritises their interests. The campus has to have a legacy which ensures a more equal and just society, moving on from a  world of ivory towers which dominated in the 1870s.

6) What campus or estate issues are important to you?
  • Safe cycling and walking routes with cycle racks, showers and lockers.
  • Energy efficient heating from renewable sources and well maintained street lighting.
  • Composting, recycling and litter bins. Good quality greenspace including wildlife garden,  orchards of fruit trees, allotments, raised planters and avenues of trees.
  • Good quality toilets and cafe facilities. A good stationery shop and exhibition space.
  • Heritage features are retained and cared for.
  • Mackintosh house and furniture plus artworks are publicly available and well maintained.
  • Accessible pharmacy, GP and advice clinic.
  • Support provided for music, fairs and charity events within the campus. Student meeting spaces for campaigning, debating and sharing interests including sports, political protest and demonstrations.
  • Staff meeting spaces with access to advice services.
I look forward to contributing to further discussions as the vision and plans for the site take shape in the year ahead.