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 -

Church Action Against Poverty -

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 - 

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 -

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.

Follow up visit to Kilgarth Landfill Site

A further visit to the Kilgarth Landfill site, near Coatbridge, on 26th August, provided an opportunity to review the outcome of the works to cap the area and activity taking place there. It is a former landfill owned by Glasgow City Council.

A greenspace area with a lake next to the landfill site provides a wildlife habitat.

Grassland area covered the landfill site.

There is ongoing monitoring of the site including management of methane taking place and the recreational use by the public. Further updates will be required on the methane generated from the site, the findings of any wildlife surveys, and the maintenance plan for the site.

Signage problems in Napiershall St. Parking Scheme

On a walkabout of the Napiershall Street Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) on 26th August 2013, various issues were raised with council officials. The restricted parking zone for Woodside was amended from 1st August 2007 to include the Napiershall Street, North Woodside Road, and South Woodside Road. This led to the introduction of designated shared-use parking places, disabled vehicles parking places, motorcycle parking places, loading places and waiting restrictions. During the walkabout, it was identified that some of the signage is no longer appropriate and it should have been removed in 2007. 

Yellow sign "At any time" to be removed from South Woodside Road and Napiershall Street.

Sign hidden behind a hedge in Lansdowne Crescent is no longer 
required and is to be removed.

It was also noted that some of the signage notifying motorists of the rules that apply to cars parking in the restricted parking zone need to be repaired or replaced.

Sign indicating the entry point of the RPZ was missing.

A sign is not located in the correct position.

One of the main concerns of residents is that there is a requirement to park in designated bays only but this information does seem to be clear from the signage displayed in the area. Some of the signs refer to parking in bays from Monday to Friday, 8am - 6pm. It was clarified by council officials that all cars must park in designated bays at all times of the day or night to avoid parking fines. 

Useful link:

Parking Controls in West of City Centre -