Sunday, 29 March 2015

Railings revamp at Hillhead Steps

This week, members of Community Payback completed the painting of the historic railings at Hillhead Steps. This enhances the appearance of the street for visitors, residents and businesses. 

View of Hillhead Steps.

I have been supporting efforts to improve the maintenance of Hillhead Street. Litter, graffiti, weeds and poorly maintenance railings were running the place down. The efforts of Community payback and council services involved in this project have transformed the railings and they have been returned to their former glory. 

There have been regular meetings of residents to discuss local issues and identify ways to tackle the problems they face. I have appreciated the opportunity to meet with residents and seek ways to address their concerns. 

I hope that through ongoing efforts of Hillhead Neighbourhood Watch and council services in the area, the improvements to Hillhead Steps will be sustained.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Clean up at greenspace on Windsor Terrace.

This morning, I supported a clean up of greenspace at Windsor Terrace. It is covered in litter and dog dirt. Dog walkers and young people make use of the area. Additional bins are needed and will be requested to help prevent littering.

Bin bags and other items from the clean up

Bottles gathered for recycling.

Residents are invited to put forward ideas to improve the site. Staff from Queens Cross Housing Association and Woodlands Community Development Trust are interested in hearing views about how the space could be improved.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Review of Stop and Search

Councillors within the Greater Glasgow Division of Police Scotland were asked to provide comments on Stop and Search by 17th March 2015.

It may be that Stop and Search contributes to detecting crime. However, I asked that reference is made to the summary of the research report by K Murray, which states, 
The effectiveness of stop and search remains unclear. Detection rates are unstable, and can range from around 2% for offensive weapons to over 30% for stolen property. The deterrent effect of stop and search is particularly difficult to untangle, and further research is required in order to establish whether there is a robust association between search activity and offending. “

Whilst there is a lack of clarity on the effectiveness of stop and search, there is a requirement to restrict police use of non-statutory stop and search powers. The excess use of stop and searches is alienating many of the young people who are victims of crime. I refer to comments of Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner published on 11th November 2014;
A particularly concerning finding of the report was that its figures showed a disproportionate use of stop and search on children and young people. The tactic was used on hundreds of children under 10. Most children and young people who were stopped and searched, however, were 15 or above. This remains the case in more recent figures published by the Scottish Police Authority. This teenage age group is also the most likely to be subject to non-statutory stop and searches— where the police act without suspicion of any wrongdoing. Crime detection rates for the age group, however, are low.
Research – such as the Edinburgh Study on Youth Transitions and Crime – suggests that ‘adversarial police contact’ may actually increase the level of crime that young people commit. “

Far too many innocent people have been subjected to stop and search, which does nothing to help foster good police relations within the community. The police need focus on gaining support, co-operation and information from young people in particular, to defeat gun and knife crime and the class A drug trade.

Stop and search should be based on intelligence, not trawling through age and ethnic profiles as seems to be the case at the moment. Unintelligent use of stop and search leads to distrust, resentment, alienation and a low arrest rate. We need to recognise the motive for most gun and knife crime is the drug trade. The new approach would involve better targeting, focussing on those previously caught carrying a weapon.

I ask that you consider the recommendations of the research report by K Murray, as follows:-

"1. The primary aim of stop and search should be clarified. Currently it is unclear as to whether the aim is to detect or deter. The appropriate legal and regulatory framework should put in place to support the primary aim.

2. The use of non-statutory stop and search raises concerns in relation to procedural protection, consent, proportionality and human rights. It is recommended that this practice is phased out. The use of stop and search should be underpinned by legislation.

3. The use of stop and search on children should be reviewed with a view to establishing a set of clear guidelines for police practice.

4. Open access data are required in order to make policing transparent, accountable, and to secure a public mandate on the use of stop and search. The use of non-statutory stop and search and all other types of search powers should be clearly distinguished within these data. Recording procedures should also be put in place to measure the prevalence of stop and search, that is, the extent to which the same individuals are subject to repeat stop searches. Stop and search data should be accredited with the UK Statistics Authority.

5. Stop and search data should be routinely analysed to assess whether police practice is proportionate to local patterns of offending, for example, in terms of the types of crime that are most likely to be carried out, and the demographic profile of offending.

6. Research should be undertaken to explore the deterrent effect of stop and search. Given that large scale stop and search has been justified in terms of falling levels of recorded crime and offending, it is important to establish whether a robust relationship exists between the two factors.

7. It is also recommended that in-depth qualitative research is undertaken to assess the impact of stop and search on police-community relationships in Scotland.

8. It is recommended that research is undertaken to assess the effect of performance management on officer decision-making, and to ascertain whether the use of Key Performance Indicators and numerical targets is likely to influence the patterning of stop and search."
In addition to seeking the views of elected councillors, there should be a wider public consultation on the use of stop and search across Scotland. This could be conducted through working with community councils, housing associations, third sector organisations including children’s organisations, youth projects, and equalities groups.

A key concern is the consent of the public for Police Scotland to adopt stop and search as an operational tactic. The legal framework and guidelines are expected to be developed through a process of public engagement and feedback provided by members of the public. In the development of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework for stop and search, account is required of the capacity of a person to consent to stop and search.

The use of stop and search has implications for the Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights. Reference can be made to the concerns raised by Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission the Scottish Human Rights.

Please note that Glasgow City Council is working with UNICEF to support the Child Rights Partners Project.   There should be an opportunity to share information and consult upon the appropriate legal and regulatory framework for stop and search with stakeholders involved in this project.

Useful links:

Murray, K. (2014), 'Stop and search in Scotland: An evaluation of police practice.' SCCJR Report 01/2014. -

Questions raised on proposed catchment area

I supported this call-in at Operational Delivery Scrutiny Committee , on Friday 20th March, as a number of parents have raised concerns about the consultation on the proposals to amend the catchment areas for Merrylee, Croftfoot, Battlefield and Mount Florida Primary Schools.

The Executive Committee decision on 19th February 2015 has to be reviewed due to the significant confusion, concerns and uncertainty that it has created for families in the affected area.

I asked that committee members to refer to the Executive Committee report of 19th February 2015. Please note at 2.1 there are 74 respondents and I understand that 27 responses were received outwith the consultation period i.e. on 2nd and 3rd December 2014. The end of the consultation period was 1st December 2014.

Also, at 1.2, it states the consultation period ran from 25th October when in fact it was from 20th October 2014.

At 3.1 in the first bullet point, it mentions that respondents from old Cathcart highlighted a strong sense of identity with the Merrylee catchment area. This is not substantive evidence as other parents have a sense of identity and community connections from association with Merrylee catchment.

At 3.1 in the third bullet point, there is reference to pupil rolls at Hillpark Secondary and Shawlands Academy, but there were not any roll tables for secondaries provided in the consultation documents. The information relating to secondary schools was inadequate.

At 6.1, within (ii), there is a stated, “the part of the existing Merrylee Primary school catchment area to the East of the White Cart Water will become part of the Croftfoot Primary School catchment area”. Please note that Old Cathcart should be stated here but is missed. The old Cathcart part of the Merrylee catchment to the east of the White Cart water was in fact to be returned to Merrylee while another part was to go to Croftfoot.

A legal opinion has been received by parents that indicated that there is clearly a stateable case for Judicial Review. It is my understanding that a legal challenge will be pursued by parents should the situation not be satisfactorily resolved.

There is evidence that there was questionable and misleading data provided by council officers during the consultation process. The inadequacy of the process has had a material effect on the proposal agreed by the Executive Committee on 19th February 2015.

The parents have presented an Alternative Proposal. The proposal that was put forward would see the current shared Merrylee/Battlefield area reassigned to Merrylee only and the shared Merrylee/Mount Florida catchment area reassigned to Mount Florida only.  Both council officers and parents have concluded that this is a workable solution that provides a logical reassignment which addresses the shared catchment issue and is most closely aligned with the proposal that has already been consulted upon.

The members of the committee voted 8 councillors to 5 councillors in favour of decision of the Executive Committee on 19th February. I had hoped that they would support further consultation on the proposals based on the concerns raised and specifically, the evidence provided by parents from the Kintore area.

UN Anti-racism Day on 21st March

On UN Anti-Racism Day, there was a march and rally in Glasgow which gave an opportunity to come together and find a collective voice. A voice that says clearly and loudly: No racism. no Islamophobia, no anti semitism, no to scapegoating immigrants and yes to diversity.

At similar even across Europe, Greens celebrated diversity and encouraged understanding and tolerance and adoption of a welcoming attitude to immigrants. We know that there are not just the economic benefits but the cultural enrichment that flows from embracing immigration.

Rather than proposing an agenda that is set on creating resentment and division, we can learn and develop from our fellow citizens who come from other countries and who bring with them their own heritage and traditions.

We are well aware of the impact of immigration from Scotland's own experience. Generations of Scots have emigrated and been dispersed around the globe. They have found and created work and shared their culture and made their home elsewhere. We should be among the first to recognise that the flow of immigration adds momentum to the progressive influences within our history, and supports the development of the potential in all of us, regardless of where we were born.

The economic facts show that, rather than representing a drain our UK’s finances, European migrants made a net contribution of £20 billion to the UK Exchequer between 2000 and 2011. Our communities have gained from immigration including the NHS, and public services who help us in our time of need, and without whom we would be much worse off.

We can pledge our support to challenge the worryingly signs of scape goating migrant workers are ever more present in our political discourse. The fight against racism is not an easy fight, but it can be won.

Glasgow is a diverse, multi-cultural city. It is a friendly, welcoming place. Opposition to the racists needs to be heard in every part of every community, and the forces of hatred must never have the chance to gain ground. By working with churches, mosques and other faith and civil society groups in Glasgow we can built unity and solidarity to tackle the threat of the rise of racism, and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Green party members at the march and rally in George Square.

Let's cherish our reputation as a friendly and welcoming place, and leave no room for racism and fascism in our city.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Go Bike call for 20mph Speed Limits

Yesterday, I attended a public meeting to hear about the work of Go Bike. It was very informative with presentations to support sharing of ideas with Edinburgh and Clackmannanshire.

Go Bike has a petition calling on Glasgow City Council to support 20mph speed limits for safer streets. Signatures are being gathered until 17th March 2015.

Further information from Go Bike at:

Celebrating International Women's Day

On Monday, I attended an event to support the ending of violence against women at Glasgow's City Chambers. It provided a platform for various organisations to highlight their work to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). 

Leaflet available at

UNICEF are campaigning to stop violence against children.

A video about FMG called Sara's story was shown to promote understanding.  This has been developed by the Women's Support Project. 

I give my support to efforts to challenge FGM and child marriage. Both are against the law in Scotland and we need to ensure that services are accessible to assist the communities affected. 

Useful links:

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The possibilities arising from the Green Surge

There is a groundswell of support for Scottish Green Party. I am inspired by the possibilities for increased Green votes at the elections to the Westminster Parliament and Scottish Parliament. We have a chance to change Scotland for the better, not stick with business as usual.

Scottish Greens offer the opportunity to create a new political landscape and to initiate genuine institutional renewal in Scotland. I believe we can ensure local communities have more say and that decisions are made closest to the people they affect. That way, local needs can be taken into account better.

We can be strong campaigners to promote full and effective voluntary participation at all levels, giving equal opportunities to, and advocating further for the rights of all, particularly young and old, women and men, low paid workers, and local communities.

Engaging with people who are undecided about voting Green, and recognising their hopes as well as their anxieties about their choice, is vital if we are to see a fully informed and considered result for the Elections.

More than anything else we have to campaign to get rid of Nuclear Weapons, and continue to push for Scotland to be nuclear free and a peace loving nation. Voting Green ensures that there are politicians who will seek the removal of the Trident nuclear deterrent from Faslane and Coulport, and bring an end to submarines with nuclear weapons in Scottish and UK waters.

Greens oppose NATO, a nuclear alliance. I think we should withdraw from its membership. We can decide what our foreign policy priorities are and avoid being dragged into illegal wars.

The Greens are the first political movement born in the age of European political and economic union, and we've always seen EU membership as a positive opportunity to make progress on a host of social and environmental objectives. Europe has improved working conditions for millions of people, helped to control the use of toxic chemicals in industry, and put pressure on all member states to live up to basic standards of human rights and equality. By developing a green, fair and inclusive economy as part of the EU, Scotland can provide a better quality of life for all within the ecological limits of the planet.

Scottish Greens are urging a new approach to energy generation in a bid to leave a clean source of public income for future generations. Scotland claims around a quarter of Europe's offshore wind and tidal energy potential. I am dedicated to reducing carbon emissions and have a commitment to more public or community ownership of renewables, and for local authorities to be given the power to create local energy companies. These publicly owned companies have the potential to deliver much needed income to cash strapped local communities.

Scottish Greens question the wisdom of the approach to Scotland's existing oil reserves, claiming that if the world is to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2°C up until 2050, then no more than 1/3rd of the world's proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed.  I advocate for a country where there is a managed transition from reliance on fossil fuels. The switch from oil and gas to renewables can't be done overnight, and the remaining revenues from oil and gas should be used to create a publicly owned renewables company as many other countries have done.

Scotland should have a stronger Scottish cultural sector which isn't so focused on London. We could support more opportunities for new artists giving them a better chance of success. They are making their mark through grassroots events and rapidly expanding festivals at home. Staying out of London’s “rat race” provides benefits, including “a lot more freedom” for the arts community. We can help artists to promote Scottish culture, both locally and globally.

I support a vision for Scotland which breaks the addiction to road-building. Moving to electric vehicles will help reduce emissions directly, but unless we get a grip on traffic levels the energy demand will be astronomical. Walking, cycling and public transport must be given far higher priority.

The evidence is clear – Glasgow and Scotland can become stronger economically, socially, culturally and globally with more Scottish Greens elected.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Improvements at Ashton Road

This year, there has been resurfacing of the pavements on Ashton Road and roadway at the entrance to Ashton Lane. These improvements have been long-standing requests from residents. These works enhance safety for both pedestrians and vehicles within Ashton Road.

New paving to improve pedestrian safety.

New tarmac surface at Ashton Lane.

The works are possible with support from Glasgow City Council and Glasgow University. Their assistance is very much appreciated.The ongoing maintenance of roadways and pavements is a concern for many residents. It is relief to witness the completion of the necessary works within the Ashton Road area.

Byres Road & Lanes BID Update

The result of the ballot to create the business improvement district for Visit West End - Byres Road & Lanes was announced on Friday. The Ballot was held by post with polls closing at 5 pm on Thursday 26 February 2015.

View of Byres Road at Hillhead Library

The result gives approval to the development of the Business Improvement District (BID). Since the initial discussions, I have given my support to the development of the BID due to general concerns about the vacant shop units and need for investment in the street. It makes sense to bring businesses together and work on shared plans which aim to boost the local economy. A five year business plan will be implemented as part of the BID.

More information at: