Thursday, 30 October 2014

Support for community planters

Within the Woodlands area, on West Princes Street and Montague Street, a series of community planters have been established. These planters were paid for by public subscription. 

In the last three months, concerns have been raised about the graffiti on the planters and general maintenance of the plants has been requested. Watering of the plants has been essential due to the lack of rainfall.

Two planters in West Princes Street after clean up and weeding.

Thanks to the efforts of local residents with support from Land & Environmental Services, Community Safety Glasgow and local businesses, the planters have been cleaned and weeded this month. I will continue to provide ongoing support to the maintenance of the planters.

A Just Scotland March and Rally

On 18th October, I met up with other members of the Scottish Green Party and took part in the Just Scotland March and Rally in Glasgow. This provided an opportunity to support campaigns by trade union members and community activists from across Scotland for decent work and provide dignity for those who cannot work. It was part of Challenge Poverty Week.

Scottish Green Party members at Glasgow Green.

We want to continue to help shape Scotland’s constitutional future and ensure that changes result in a more equal and socially just Scotland

Useful link:

A Just Scotland -

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Fire-raising in derelict buildings

On a monthly basis, I receive updates on fire incidents across the Hillhead ward. This month, my attention has been drawn to the empty building on Baird's Brae, near the Forth and Clyde Canal. 

Damaged office building on Baird's Brae.

This building has not been secure in recent weeks. It would appear from reported incidents, this empty property has been a target of fire-raising during 2014. 

A plan is needed to ensure the site is made safe and efforts are focused on the prevention of any further fire-raising. In the long-term, I would hope the site can be regenerated as part of the Canal Quarter.

Useful link;

Fire & Rescue Service Campaigns -

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Struggle for Equality

I have returned home after a weekend attending an historic conference for the Scottish Green Party in Edinburgh. It brought together over 400 members to share ideas, debate policies and plan for the future.

The highlight of the conference was meeting Beatrix Campbell and hearing her speak about her new writing, "End of Equality-The Only Way is Women's Liberation".  I am looking forward to reading her latest insights into gender issues and what is termed 'a new sexual settlement'. Of real importance to me,  post independence referendum, is that men recognise that more women are joining political parties and want to engage in Scottish Politics. I just hope that in this new era of increased participatory democracy, men commit to a power shift that enables women to have more influence in our public life and access better pay.

In the past, Beatrix has been inspiring through her research, most notably for "Goliath - Britain's Dangerous Places" written in the 1990s. She explored offending, policing and life in cities during the Thatcher era. This book investigates the issues facing local neighbourhoods in economic crisis and refers to the impact of disengagement from political parties.

My signed copy of the "End of Equality".

Another must-read, promoted by Sally Foster-Fulton of the Church of Scotland, at the conference, is the report, "The Lies We Tell Ourselves - Ending comfortable myths about poverty". In an age of austerity, we have to challenge the misrepresentation of people living in poverty in our everyday conversations. This report helps us to understand the reality of people experiencing poverty.

Useful Link:

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Glasgow University Fossil Free!

Today, a special event organised by Glasgow University Climate Action Group called for Glasgow University to DIVEST its endowment fund in the fossil fuel industry and re-invest in more sustainable practices. I took part in the gathering of activists at the Library Hill.

Students involved in the Glasgow University Climate Action Group
List of actions to promote GU Fossil Free.

The University Court are making the decision on the 8th of October about whether it will divest or not. Glasgow University can be the first University in the UK to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

The University can join a growing global initiative of 180 institutions which began on university campuses several years ago.This initiative is supported by the Rockefeller Family who decided to cut their links with oil and this gives the divestment campaign huge symbolic importance because of their family history. Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, indicated that "everyone noted the irony that a foundation built on oil wealth would now be leading the charge out of fossil fuel."

Also, the World Council of Churches which represents some 590 million people in 150 countries also pulled its investments from fossil fuels. About 30 cities have also chosen to divest, including Santa Monica and Seattle.

There is a clear economic argument for divestment. While fossil fuel companies do generate a return on our investment, cities will suffer greater economic and financial losses from the impact of unchecked climate change. Our infrastructure, our businesses, and our communities would face greater risk of damages and losses due to turbulent weather events such as flooding or heat waves that climate change causes.
For Glasgow, although increased rainfall is likely to be our biggest challenge, the climate projections also indicate that by the middle of this century an average summer is likely to be drier as new weather patterns are established. If not carefully managed, this could have implications for our water supply and the needs of residents, key services and businesses. The River Clyde is the heart of this region and it is Glasgow’s connection to the sea. It has potential to cause flooding and increase pressure on drainage systems. These risks will be exacerbated by sea level rise which has been accelerating in recent decades.
We have the support of Desmond Tutu. He has said;Climate change is the human rights challenge of our time. We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, for there will be no tomorrow.”

Reinvestment would involve financing of solutions to climate change. More specifically, investment in the technologies and infrastructure that will allow us to meet our energy needs in a way that improves community health, supports local democracy, and mitigates the impacts of climate change globally.

Clean renewable energy technology, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies are a growing market.

Update on 8th October: The University Court decided to divest Glasgow University from the fossil fuel industry over the next 10 years. This is really wonderful news.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Feedback on the Forth & Clyde Canal Action Plan

In the last week, I have provided comments on the proposed action plan for the Forth & Clyde Canal.

In reviewing the vision, I believe that the importance of the canal corridor as a heritage asset should be incorporated as part of the statement. The themes include “quality” and there is consideration given to place and design. There is a need to recognise the distinct identity of the Forth and Clyde Canal as a scheduled monument which has been given legal protection under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. Reference can be made to the vision of the heritage strategy of Scottish Canals 2013-38.

The impact of climate change on the canal should be considered as part of the future vision. It is essential that within the section on “focus”, there is a reference to key issues including:
  • protecting structures from more severe weather events and sea level rise.
  • ensuring sustainability of water supplies in the long-term.
  • positive opportunities for the canal to contribute to protecting biodiversity from changes in climate by providing a network of green corridors across Glasgow.
  • through reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency of operations and supply-chain.
  • by offering and promoting 'low-carbon' leisure and recreation opportunities.
In the section, "Connectivity & Movement", there is reference to “Roads” and an indication of a key issue being “the ability of these radial routes to accommodate further traffic from future housing development”. The environmental impact of road building should be acknowledged as a key issue for the canal’s regeneration. The roads have implications for noise, water pollution, habitat destruction/disturbance and local air quality; and the wider effects linked to climate change from vehicle emissions. The action plan has to provide a informed view of how roads impact on residents including community cohesion, public health, and accessibility. The emphasis should be on investment in improving routes for cycling, and walking. 

With reference to Speirs Locks, there are a list of proposed actions to be welcomed. Improving security along the towpath across Speirs Locks is required in response to concerns of residents. As you may be aware, there has been a request for additional security measures from a resident who has lost two friends, as they drowned in the canal. It is essential that the further loss of life is minimised. Measures needed as part of the action plan include installation of new fencing, warning signs and lighting around the Forth and Clyde canal. Along the canal at Speirs Locks, there are sections with no barriers in place between the canal and the pathway.

Barriers are discontinued opposite Speirs Wharf.

Further updates on the development of proposals for the Forth and Clyde Canal will be provided at their website:

Peace and security needed in Iraq and Syria

In considering how best to help close down the cycles of violence in the Middle East, which are taking so many lives, there are no easy answers. However, there is the certainty that killing people rarely kills their ideas. I joined an anti-war rally organised by Stop The War Coalition, yesterday, in support of calls to stop the bombing of Iraq and Syria. 

We must continue to condemn the atrocities threatened or committed by ISIS against various groups not sharing their convictions. These include all religious and ethnic minorities such as Christians, Yezidi, Shabak and Turkmen, but also Shiites and Sunnis.

The odious assassination by ISIS of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning are denounced. Our thoughts are with their families and for the release of all innocent people being held hostage in the Middle East and around the globe.

In the UK Government's recent debate, the Green MP Caroline Lucas did not support the decision to carry out air strikes in Iraq against the so called Islamic State (ISIL). The focus is best place not on whether to bomb but how we can intensify work politically and diplomatically to address the fundamental hostility between Sunnis and Shias – with regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia centre stage along with support for a fledgling new Iraqi government.

Ongoing support is needed for the Iraqi Government and its Parliament to ensure that an urgent review of legislation and legal practice, as well as reform its judicial system and security apparatus is undertaken. In Iraq, there is a need to implement inclusive policies towards all Iraqis to end the policy of discrimination against, notably, the Sunni population.

The activities of those countries and/or their citizens who have given ideological or material support to IS or other extremist Islamist groups, notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait, as well as Turkey and Syria should be condemned. All those states have to take concrete measures to stop all support, whether state-sponsored or sponsored by private individuals, for IS- and Al Qaeda affiliated groups.

Our best hope of reducing the numbers radicalised would be to champion a new foreign policy doctrine based on clear, consistently applied principles.  This should include not selling arms to brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In view of the thousands of Europeans reportedly being recruited as fighters by ISIS, support can be given for a policy change in European Union Member States that stresses the need to develop policies to actively combat social exclusion and lack of prospects, particularly in the case of the second- and third-generation immigrant population;

A campaign to enhance the notion of Islam as an integral part of European culture can be supported and also, the condemning of the intention of several European Union governments to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens who might return from the Middle East battlegrounds has to be maintained.

The European Union and other international leaders can identify and focus on the profound socio-economic, cultural and political roots of the ISIS phenomenon. ISIS has emerged from a bedrock of protracted human rights violations, marginalisation and discrimination of entire groups, notably Sunnis, as well as a long history of external manipulation and intervention by regional and Western governments.

Continued support has to be expressed for the peace, security and development which has been achieved in the Kurdish autonomous region, which should absolutely be preserved, and appeal to the Kurds to pursue their right of self-determination in a negotiated manner;

An increase in the number of refugees from Iraq and Syria granted stay in Europe, including the Yezidi, who constitute a particularly fragile and often persecuted minority should be a priority. The coordination of the reception of refugees should be organised with all urgency and that the European Union needs to set up an emergency programme to this end.

Useful Link:

Situation in Iraq and Syria and the ISIS offensive - Greens/EFA motion for resolution

Sapphire Gymnastics 4th Birthday Festival

Sapphire Gymnastics Club held their 4th Birthday Festival, involving teams from Donegal, Yorkshire, Hartlepool, Shetland, Irine, Deeside, and Glasgow, in Scotstoun Leisure Centre on the 4th and 5th of October. 

Recognition as a Clubmark Club

I attended when the Sapphires performed in the main competition on 4th October. Over the weekend, there are 18 teams, 71 displays and 583 gymnasts attending.

View of Scotstoun Leisure Centre as the gymnasts line up.

Further information about the development of Sapphires Gymnastics is on their website