Saturday, 19 December 2015

Plans for improved pitch at Braid Square

Further to discussions with local schools and Education Services, plans are being developed to raise funds to improve one of the red blaes pitch next to Oakgrove Primary.

View of red blaes pitch

The plan involves a new fence, enhancement of the red blaes and creation of an access route via Oakgrove Primary. Over the next 6 months, it is hoped that the pitch can be brought back in to use for local schools and the wider community.

Tree planting celebrations

This month, about 100 new trees have been planted within the Woodside area. This is possible due to the efforts of Woodside Community Council, with donations from the Woodland Trust and funding from Hillhead Area Partnership.

View of trees next to M8 motorway.

There are more trees available for community groups from the Woodland Trust at:

Taking steps to cut our waste

On 10th December, I put forward a motion on cutting waste at a meeting of Glasgow City Council. This motion was agreed and gives further support to the Council to segregate food waste for separate collection within council buildings and enable all users of the Council and its Arms Length Companies premises to have access to on-site recycling facilities. Use of these facilities will be supported by a local awareness campaign to encourage participation in waste prevention, reuse and recycling.

Through my work as Chair of the Council's Energy and Carbon Working Group, I have been concerned about how the Council is taking steps to cut waste and therefore, cut our carbon emissions.

I am aware that Glasgow Life has been supporting employees to ensure that waste is separated and placed in recycling facilities across their premises. Also, Cordia has assisted with recycling projects including a catering service by Encore within Caledonian University which has been highlighted as best practice. I have been impressed by efforts of staff to develop recycling across the City Centre Council Buildings in the last year.

Following on from this work, there is a need to ensure that recycling facilities are available to all staff and users of council services. With the support of Social Work, a pilot project has been developed and it is providing recycling facilities across three sites - a residential care home, a children's home and supported accommodation for homeless people - and information gathered at these locations will inform the business case for the roll out of recycling facilities across other premises.

There is also a proposal to develop a food waste pilot project within Education Services as part of the work with Co-operative Education Trust Scotland. Food waste within schools was highlighted in the report to the Children and Families Policy Development Committee on 26th November 2015. At section 4 on Enterprise and Citizenship, it states;

"The recent 2015 Milan Food Expo included the development of a European Union Charter for reducing food waste; DON'T WASTE OUR FUTURE. Young people from Shawlands Academy, Knightswood Secondary, St. Paul's High School and Hyndland Secondary School attended as representatives of the UK. A future paper will be presented to committee in relation to this."

I am keen to ensure that a future committee report can highlight that all schools recycle food waste.  

From referring to the Food Policy for Schools, I understand that all primary and secondary schools have a School Nutrition and Action Group consisting of parents, students, staff, Cordia and community/business representatives. It can be anticipated that this group can work within each school community to help deliver the food waste initiatives that are required.

The Council announced on 30th November 2015 that food waste collections for households will be rolled out to all households in Glasgow from January 2016, while further investment in the existing blue bin services for tenements and other flatted properties is carried out.

Residents will receive information and advice to encourage them to use both their existing and new recycling services as much as possible. The investment in new services will make it easier for households to recycle more of their waste.  At the same time as supporting households to recycle more, it makes sense to ensure that our Council and Arms Length Companies establish food waste collections and extend provision of recycling facilities.This sends a clear message to staff and the wider public that Glasgow is committed to taking action to reduce our waste and make it easier for everyone to recycle more.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Storm Desmond and River Kelvin

Storm Desmond brought severe gales across the UK from 5th to 6th December 2015. Today, I went for a walk along the Kelvin Walkway to monitor the water levels and check for any flooding along the River Kelvin.

View of the greenspace and riverbank next to Otago Lane

High water flooding of pathway at site near the Old Mill.

Ongoing work to protect the riverbank from further development and to maintain the bridges to prepare for heavy rainfall is needed. I will work closely with the Friends of the River Kelvin and council officials to address any concerns about flooding and damage to the riverbank, pathways and bridges along the Kelvin Walkway.  

Useful link: 

MET Office at:

Support for Small Business Saturday

On Saturday 5th December, Small Business Saturday was celebrated on Byres Road and its Lanes with the offer of special discounts from local businesses. 

A book of discounts was promoted which included 36 businesses selling clothing, home furnishings, professional services, and artworks. Various cafes and restaurants provided special offers on meals. This was developed by the Byres Road Business Improvement District. 
Visit West End - The Little Book of Big Discounts

As you may be aware, I have been involved in supporting the development of a trader association and business improvement district for Byres Road and its Lanes for several years. In 2015, further investment to support Byres Road and its Lanes has been provided including marketing activities and additional tree lights within Ashton Road car park to encourage more visitors.

LED tree lights funded by the Byres Road Business Improvement District. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Reflections on World Aids Day 2015

This evening, I attended the community gathering in the City Chambers to mark World Aids Day. This was organised by the Terence Higgins Trust and received the support of a civic reception from Glasgow City Council.

Music provided time for reflection

Terence Higgins Trust offers a free confidential HIV test.

There were a number of speakers who highlighted that HIV affects anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, faith, or sexual identity. 

Useful link:

Celebrate Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens

Yesterday, I attended the launch of an artist book by Blair Cunningham representing Glasgow's spaces linking food and community. This event took place at the CCA as part of The Only Way is Ethics Festival. This book is developed from research into community gardens by the University of Glasgow.

Artist book, Urban Agriculture Growing Care, by Blair Cunningham

The number of community gardens has increased over the last 10 years in Glasgow. There are approximately 60 sites identified in this artist book. Key aspects about these spaces are that they are not for profit, promote general health and wellbeing, support collective activity, are diverse and celebrate solidarity. Copies of the artist book are available from Aye Aye Books.

Useful link:

Glasgow’s Community Gardens: Sustainable Communities of Care - 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Scottish First Aid Awards

On 27th November, I attended an awards ceremony hosted by St. Andrews First Aid. This celebrated the contributions of people who have been involved in life saving activities. I was impressed by some remarkable stories of how training in first aid makes a difference to communities across Scotland.

One of the categories was organisation of the year for first aid excellence. The benefits from businesses providing access to a Defibrillator for staff and customers were highlighted. 

Since this event, I have been on the look out for Defibrillators on premises. I was glad to find a sign for a Defibrillator at the local subway station. I am hoping that more information about provision of Defibrillator across Glasgow is going to be available from the NHS and other public agencies. Access to a Defibrillator is vital to saving people's lives.

Defibrillator at St. Georges Cross Subway.

To find out more about the awards by St. Andrew's First Aid, please go to:

Reclaim The Night Glasgow

On 25th November, I took part in the Reclaim The Night March in Glasgow, organised by Glasgow Rape Crisis. It marks the start of 16 days of activism to highlight issues relating to violence against women. If you would like more information or want to donate to the work of Glasgow Rape Crisis, please log on to:

Useful link:
16 Days -

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Support Anti-Racism March on 26th November

Support the STUC St. Andrew's Day Anti-Racism March and Rally which takes place on Saturday 28th November 2015. 

Thousands of people are expected to come along to Glasgow Green from 10.30am and be ready to march off at 11am. The theme is focused on the current refugee crisis and banners will highlight "No Racism: Refugees Welcome Here". This will provide solidarity with millions of people who have been fleeing from their home as a consequence of conflict within Africa and the Middle East. 

The march ends with a rally in the Gft, on Rose Street at 12 noon. The speakers will include refugees who have made Scotland their home.

For further information, please go to:

Nature of Scotland Awards 2015

At the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards 2015, on Thursday 19th November, I was joint winner of Politician of the Year Award.
The award was presented in association with The Centre for Scottish Public Policy, who highlight the following: "We are all aware that our countryside and those part of our urban environment that sustain flora and fauna of all forms and scale need to be defended, protected and enhanced. We look to citizens, campaigners, and campaigning organisations such as the RSPB to do this. However, we also need politicians in all spheres of government to channel and legislate in support of our environment. That is why the Centre of Scottish Public Policy is delighted to support this award.."

The photo of me receiving the award is courtesy of Simon Williams

I am honoured and absolutely delighted to have received the award in recognition of my work as a councillor. I hope it will inspire people across Hillhead and beyond to get more involved in activities which support nature conservation and safeguard our environment.

For further information about the Nature of Scotland Awards, please log on to:

Monday, 16 November 2015

Make Gt Western Rd Great Again!

Feedback was gathered on local issues around Great Western Road within Hillhead area at Hillhead High School on Tuesday, 27th October 2015. 

This community event provided an opportunity for a café style discussion about issues within the local streets including Otago Street, Bank Street, Oakfield Avenue, Southpark Avenue, Hillhead Street, Cecil Street, Great George Street, Bower Street, Glasgow Street, Kersland Street, Cranworth Street, and Vinicombe Street.

1) Cleansing and recycling issues
Topics raised were the need for additional recycling bins, and a can crusher on the street. Residents asked for a review of positions for public bins as they sometimes block pavements Locked gates on lanes were suggested. There are concerns about problem of anti-social behaviour in lanes and the need to ensure gates are locked. 
Alexander Greek Thomson Building on Oakfield Avenue

Fly-tipping is a big problem. There is rubbish and slippy leaves on pavements. Action needed by cleansing staff to empty bins in Oakfield Avenue and report to Hillhead High.

2) Housing
Special projects were discussed and it was agreed to develop community activity linked to three sites within the area:

Greek Thomson Building at corner of Oakfield Avenue. Due to ongoing lack of maintenance, mattresses left in open spaces and grass overgrown.  List of owners to be contacted and meeting held in Hillhead High, to develop a special initiative. 

Belgrave Terrace, a B Listed terrace where there are concerns about poor condition of grounds, wall and pavement. Temporary wall put up at Great Western Road, due to subsidence and water leaks. Pavement in front of it needs to be cleaned up and repaired. 

Pavement at Belgrave Terrace on Great Western Road

Great Kelvin Lane Properties as there are concerns about lack of maintenance of multiple occupancy properties having a negative impact on Great Kelvin Lane.

Further updates on the various projects.will be provided to Hillhead Community Council.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Looking for a party frock

Today, I went shopping to purchase a vintage dress and spend a few hours looking around local second hand clothing shops. In the West End, there is a choice of shops to find good quality second hand party frocks, priced from between £10 to £30. 

If you are clearing out clothes to prepare your wardrobe for the festive season or need a new outfit for a special night out, it is worth checking the opportunities to buy and sell at vintage shops across the Hillhead area.

The Glasgow Vintage Company at 453 Great Western Rd

Retro at 8 Otago Street

Vintage Guru at 195 Byres Road

In a report published by Zero Waste Scotland, it states that "Two-thirds of UK consumers buy or receive pre-owned (or second-hand) clothes, and there is a willingness to wear more, especially if a better range were available." 

Local high streets such Byres Road and Great Western Road have a really important role in the marketing and development of opportunities for second hand clothing. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Abortion rights need to be defended.

Yesterday, I was glad to find some campaigners for Abortion Rights in George Square. It is necessary to defend our right to abortion. Women should have the right to choose and the current time limits for decision-making should be retained. 

Activists in George Square.

Abortion Law will be devolved to Scotland in the coming months. We will have to defend women’s access to safe and legal abortion in Scotland.

Further information is available from the Abortion Rights Campaign at:

NHS information at:

Halt plans to cut tax credits

The Tory Government must call a halt to the proposals which cut tax credits. The plans to change tax credits are another example of Tory economic illiteracy. It is not acceptable in the 21st century, for Glasgow's 45,000 low income families with 78,000 children to suffer increased poverty at the hands of the Chancellor, George Osborne and the UK Treasury. Existing Tax credits should be protected as they help motivate parents to get in to work and help to them to remain in work.

The Chancellor must step back from cutting tax credits as he knows it will only bring additional pressures on vulnerable families and organisations supporting them. Estimates by the Institute of Fiscal studies showed that the poorest families could lose £845 per child a year.

Thousands of families will experience food poverty due to any cuts in income and turn to emergency food aid provision to feed themselves. More demands will be placed on the existing food banks and additional services are likely to be needed. Families will have more problems with debt, and have to turn to a mix of coping strategies such as payday lenders, as well as borrowing money from family and friends. There will be increased stress and anxiety, with rising levels of poor mental health and suicide.  

There is significant work taking place across the city to mitigate the impacts of welfare reform on families. More action is needed to bring people affected together to offer support and ensure they have access to credit unions and adequate information and advice services. The UK Government has to improve support for working families so that parents do not have to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes.

Hard up families want and need to be given a fair chance. The Chancellor has to protect low income family budgets, tackle high housing costs and bring down soaring childcare prices. The Tory Government has to stop making life harder for low-income parents trying to do the right thing for their children.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Call to Divest Pensions

This evening, I spoke at a meeting of the Divest Tour in Glasgow.  Friends of the Earth Scotland organised this Tour to shed light on one of the UK-based mining company, BHP Billiton.

It provided an opportunity to hear from Samuel Arregoces, who is from the village of Tabaco, a community of small-scale farmers of African descent which was brutally evicted in 2001 to make way for expansion of the massive Cerrejon opencast coal mine, now jointly owned by BHP Billiton. In addition, Danilo Urrea, CENSAT (Friends of the Earth Colombia), provided a description of his experience of campaigns to reform the Colombian Government’s mining policies.  Danilo and Samuel spoke out about the destructive impact of investments in fossil fuels, with reference to the coal mining in Colombia over the last 30 years.

Supporters of the Divest Tour

As you are aware, fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - are the main driver of climate change. To support a healthy, safe climate, we have to keep these remaining fossil fuels in the ground. 
The fossil fuel companies like BHP Billiton are mining and seeking to expand their exploration, polluting sensitive environments and destroying the livelihoods of local people.

In my role as a Councillor, I have pushed for a study by Strathclyde Pension Funds in to fossil fuel divestment.  Green Councillors put forward a motion at Glasgow City Council meeting on 2nd April 2015 which was agreed unanimously, as follows:-

"Notes the decisions by the City of Oslo, Edinburgh City Council, Oxford City Council, Dunedin City Council in New Zealand and the University of Glasgow, to agree to partially or completely divest their pension funds from companies whose main purpose is extracting fossil fuels.
Notes the Council's fiduciary duty must be paramount in all decision making around pension funds.
Notes that recent studies, including the Impex Asset Management, have found that fossil fuel-based funds which exclude fossil fuels, and further notes reports including from business leadership think-tank Ceres which identify unreported risks in fossil fuel funds, which suggest the fiduciary duty may be best served by divestment from fossil fuels.
Notes recent clarification from Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney MSP that local authorities may decide that fulfilment of their Public Bodies Duties under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires them to reduce the carbon emissions associated with their funds and investments."

As a result of the motion, a report entitled "Feasibility Study of Fossil Fuel Divestment" was considered by Strathclyde Pension Fund on 31st August 2015. It made a recommendation which did not secure divestment from fossil fuels. 

Further enquiries about this Fund's investment in UK-based mining company, BHP Billiton will be made in the coming weeks.

Useful link:

Divest Scotland -

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Walking through Kelvingrove Park

Today, I made a walk through Kelvingrove Park to enjoy the autumn colours of the trees.In the noticeboard, I found a poster advising that the Green Flag has been awarded to Kelvingrove Park for the next year.

View of trees near the Stewart Memorial Fountain.

Green Flag Award.

It was peaceful walk through the parkland and along the River Kelvin. However, I heard this week, there have been disturbances from people throwing fireworks in Kelvingrove Park. 

The dangerous of throwing fireworks are highlighted by a safety initiative of the Scottish Fire Service at:

There is an organised free fireworks display held at Glasgow Green on 4th November, from 6-7.30pm that residents are encouraged to attend.

Visit to Toryglen's new residential care & day centre

Yesterday, I received a tour of the new residential care home and day centre at Orchard Grove in Toryglen, prior to the service users moving in. 

This new home provides 120 en-suite bedrooms across 8 units with 15 residents accommodated in each of the units. There is a garden with an activity area and benches to enable residents to enjoy the outdoors.

Renewable energy is supplied from solar panels installed on a roof area.

There are 11 plumbed in drinking water facilities in the activity rooms/social spaces.

 Welcoming entrance with telephone box and post box for residents.

There is a large car park which encourages travel by car.

The building has been designed with features to help reduce carbon emissions such as solar panels to produce renewable energy and plumbed in drinking water facilities to minimise the need for bottled water. 

Access to the new home by public transport and cycling needs to be developed. I took the No7 bus there and back. I had to walk along littered paths to/from the bus stop. Bus services that pass by the entrance to the new home are required.

Over the next month, residents are moving in and the day centre is expected to open thereafter. The day centre will offer a "Changing Places" toilet for community use.

Useful link: GCC Residental Care and Day Care Facilities

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Key challenge to the peace movement

The role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and its influence on defence spending by the UK Government is explored in a new report published by the Scottish CND. This informative assessment of the activities of NATO over the last year is written by Alan Mackinnon. 

"NATO - Is the biggest threat to peace."

It seems appropriate to encourage people to read this report in memory of Alan Mackinnon, a formidable campaigner for nuclear disarmament, who recently passed away. We have to continue to build up public awareness of the impact of NATO on our lives.

Cindy & Sandy, Scotland's Peace Giants Postcard.

Cindy and Sandy, giant peace puppets, are promoting peace across Scotland. If you are interested in developing your knowledge about nuclear disarmament and the peace movement, there are resources available on the Scottish CND's website at:

Tchai Ovna supports friendship festival

On Sunday, 11th October, I attended an evening of music and poetry at Tchai Ovna on Otago Lane, as part of the Festival of Friendship. In recent months, Glasgow's citizens have demonstrated compassion towards the unprecedented number of people fleeing war and persecution. The Festival of Friendship provided a fantastic opportunity for people concerned about the refugee crisis to meet up and give their support to charities providing aid. Donations were gathered for Scottish Action for Refugees.

Scottish Green Party's Conference on 10th October agreed this emergency motion;
"We strongly condemn Theresa May's proposals to tamper with the Refugee Convention. We urge the EU and the UK Government to:
• Resettle a greater number of refugees;
• Abandon policies that prevent safe and legal access to protection; 
• Create more safe and legal routes to protection;
• Abandon the 'Dublin system' and participate in more humane and effective responsibility-sharing mechanisms that respect the dignity, autonomy, and human rights of asylum-seekers; and
• Resolve the situation in Calais allowing a proportionate share of those who are trapped in Calais to access the UK."

There is an urgent need for the EU to open safe and legal channels for people who seek refuge in the EU by committing to robust resettlement schemes, issuing humanitarian visas, and providing swift family reunification.

Useful link:

Scottish Action for Refugees -

Traffic restrictions needed during the peak school travel times

Since the opening of the new Hillhead Primary, parents and local residents living within the Otago Street / Westbank Quadrant areas have highlighted the problem of some parents dropping off pupils at the visitor entrance. Parents have received reminders to drop-off in Kelvin Way but this information is being ignored. The school gates at Otago Street are obstructed by parked cars and the street is packed with cars involved in dangerous manoeuvres, including u-turns.

Cars in Otago Street between 8.45am - 9am, on 9th October 2015

We have identified an initiative in Haddington, East Lothian which has restricted vehicle access at school gates at peak times. This  project has introduced a traffic regulation order on an 18-month pilot basis and after a successful evaluation, this arrangement was established on a permanent basis in June 2015.

The Haddington based project has prohibited “moving” vehicles near to the school gates, during the peak school travel times. The benefits are improvement in road safety by reducing traffic speed, reduced congestion and pollution around the school gates; more pupils and parents/carers encouraged to walk or cycle to school; improvements in the health and well being of pupils and parents/carers; creating and maintaining a sustainable environment and vibrant community. This initiative was developed in respond to requests from the Schools, parents and local residents.

I have requested that council officials introduce a similar pilot project for Westbank Quadrant and Otago Street next to Hillhead Primary. This is urgently needed to prevent injuries and accidents involving school pupils.

Useful link:

Proposed TRO - Prohibition of Vehicular Traffic (During School Travel Times) Neilson Park Road and Victoria Road, Haddington

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Championing allotments

On Saturday, 3rd October 2015, I attended the annual gathering of the Glasgow Allotments Forum which celebrated the growing achievements of plotholders across the city.

Programme for the day.

Raffle prizes of fruit and veg.

The range of vegetables that can be grown on allotments.

We are awaiting the consultation on the new allotment strategy by Glasgow City Council. It is essential that there is strong commitment to supporting existing allotment associations and plans for new allotment sites are identified.

Useful link:

Glasgow Allotments Forum -

Glasgow's Allotment Strategy 2009-2013 -

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Refugee Crisis - Stand Up for Humanity

It is time for European Union's Governments to find a fair and humane solution to the refugee crisis. The European Union's Leaders need to clear the way for a root and branch reform of the dysfunctional Dublin asylum system. This system has failed and is causing confusion, chaos and uncertainty, harming those who are seeking asylum and refuge.   Neither the closing of borders nor the criminalisation of refugees and migrants can solve this crisis.

We also have to acknowledge the fact that the sudden influx of refugees will be the new norm, if we do nothing to tackle the root causes of the crisis, especially Climate Change. The irresponsible foreign policy of certain European governments and the US, which chose war before and instead of diplomacy, demonstrates just who should share the burden of responsibility in the current situation. 

We can welcome agreement between EU Leaders on 22nd September for an emergency relocation system and emergency response funding. It is now critical that EU Governments improve cooperation and take steps to agree a more comprehensive long term solution in October. There has to be a permanent binding scheme for distributing asylum seekers across the EU, a legal entry system for refugees across Europe and meaningful funding for the UN Refugee response.

We have to demand that Britain steps up to its obligations and implements a UK wide relocation plan to tackle the growing refugee crisis. As we head into winter, it’s important that everyone seeking asylum has access to adequate shelter, food, clothing, shoes and hygiene products.

Useful link:

Gramnet -

Scottish Green Party - Refugees Welcome

European Green Party -

Monday, 28 September 2015

Harvest Celebrations

Woodlands Community Development Trust and Woodlands Community Garden have a variety of activities taking place including weekly volunteer gardening sessions and Pop-up Cafe.

There are celebrations taking place for the move to new premises at the Fred Paton Centre as well as the arrival of autumn. Workshops and a ceilidh are being held on Saturday 17th October.

View of Posters / Raised Beds at Woodlands Community Garden.

Useful link:

Woodlands Community Garden -


Litter lying in our local streets

Today, I supported a clean up organised by Glasgow University Union Students and Bank Street Residents Association. This was organised in response to the concerns raised about the huge amount of litter lying around our local streets. 

A team took part using litter pickers, gloves, bags and high viz jackets. Volunteers helped with removal of litter across Hillhead including Oakfield Avenue, Otago Street and Bank Street. 

Team gathered outside the Glasgow University Union.

Some bags of rubbish gathered at the clean up.

There is an ongoing effort needed to tackle the litter problem in the area. There are plans for monthly clean ups involving local residents groups and student groups. 

Useful link:

Glasgow University Union -

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Floral displays within Hillhead

Further to a request from Friends of Kersland Lane and assistance from representatives of the Council's Parks Department, new floral displays have been arranged for Hillhead.These complement the existing planters which are full of flowers, within the gap site at Kersland Lane.

Three floral displays at junction of Kersland Street/Great Western Road

Floral display on pavement at entrance to the gap site.

Floral display at junction of Cecil Street/Great Western Road

The addition of more flowers has enhanced the appearance of the area and helped to encourage more interested in the local environment amongst residents.

Songs at Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre

Today, I went along to watch the premiere of a new film documentary about the Summer Season 2015 at the bandstand, in the nearby Andrew Stewart Cinema in the Gilmorehill Centre, Glasgow University.

Poster for Doors Open Day

View of the bandstand at Doors Open Day on 20th September

The documentary was part of a community project supported by Heritage Lottery and it features new songs focusing on the bandstand by a specially created choir. The choir performed at the Doors Open Day. The piano music accompanying the singing was provided by Glasgow Piano City.

The piano supplied by Glasgow Piano City.