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 -