Monday, 12 December 2016

Walk beside the River Kelvin

On Saturday 10th December, I spend some time on the Kelvin Walkway, meeting up with members of Friends of the River Kelvin and going along to the Botanic Gardens.

A new bridge installed to provide access 
along the riverbank at the Botanic Gardens.

Sunset over the Kibble Palace.

I heard about pollution and rubbish in the river. Please support efforts to reduce the amount of rubbish found in our rivers and seas. Please refer to information at: https://www.mcsuk.org/what_we_do/Clean+seas+and+beaches/Pollution+and+litter+problems. 

Bulb planting to support backcourt improvements

On Saturday, 10th December, I helped with planting bulbs within a backcourt in Woodlands. This gardening project helped to bring together neighbours to improve their backcourt.

Furniture dumped in the last month has been uplifted by Cleansing Staff.

Residents planting bulbs on Saturday.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of social events for residents in the backcourt which support efforts to reduce the problems with refuse and bulk.

Bhopal Commemoration at Glasgow Green

Along with representatives from the Scottish Friends of Bhopal, The Bhopal Medical Appeal, Trade unions, and members of the European Green Party, I organised a commemoration for the Bhopal Gas Disaster on 3rd December 2016 at the Workers Memorial in Glasgow Green. This event remembered the thousands who died as a result of the gas explosion in Bhopal between 2nd to 3rd December 1984, but also the survivors who have long-term injuries and people who are second or third generation sufferers.

People gathered at workers memorial in Glasgow to remember Bhopal.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal continues to seek funds for clinics for the survivors. Currently, they are concerned about the proposed merger of Dow Chemical and Dupont, and have written to the EU Competition Commissioner to seek an investigation in to this merger. 

St. Georges Cross Xmas Lights Switch On

This year, the Xmas lights on the trees at St. Georges Cross were switched on by Robert Alston, winner of the Glasgow Community Champion Seniors Award for North West Glasgow and member of Woodside Community Council. The switch on of the lights took place on Thursday, 1st December and was organised by Woodside Community Council.


Musicians from the Salvation Army.

Kingsley, the mascot from Partick Thistle FC and Robert Alston.

I attend this event along with other local politicians, local children and their parents, local school teachers, staff of the Salvation Army, and local community police officers. We gathered in the Woodside libary after the lights were switched on. Thanks to everyone at Woodside Community Council, and staff at Woodside Library who supported this event.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Special Xmas Tree for Byres Road

As part of the festive celebrations, I am delighted that a Christmas Tree has been established in Vinicombe Street by the Byres Road and Lanes Business Improvement District. 

Xmas Tree in Vinicombe Street.

There was an Xmas Fair and a Xmas Tree Lights Switch On within Vinicombe Street on Sunday 28th November.  The switch on event was supported by hundreds of residents and was a great success. 

Further details at: https://www.visitwestend.com/whats-on/

Support for St. Andrew's Day Anti-Racism March and Rally

No Racism: Protecting Rights, Defending Communities is the theme of the STUC St. Andrews Day Anti-Racism March and Rally took place on Saturday 26th November 2016. Thousands of people marched from Glasgow Green to the Glasgow Film Theatre to stand up for human rights, employment rights and migrant rights.

On the march.

Meeting up with Scottish Green Party members.

Concerns were raised about the impact of the election of Donald Trump as US President and on the uncertainty arising from the Brexit result. People gathered together to show their ongoing support for anti-racism campaigns and efforts to tackle hate crime.


Monday, 28 November 2016

Future delivery of digital and ICT services

Today, I took part in a committee meeting which called in a report on the  the future delivery of digital and ICT services by Glasgow City Council. The report was called in by four SNP councillors and myself for further scrutiny. I was able to present key concerns about the proposed arrangements to deliver ICT services when the current contract comes to an end. 

Critical is the calculation of long-term costs. I asked what account has been taken of outcome of the business case established when Serco was awarded a 10 year, £265m contract in February 2008 to deliver ICT and Property Services to Glasgow City Council.
Service Glasgow LLP (trading as ACCESS), a Limited Liability Partnership jointly owned by Serco and GCC was formed soon after to deliver the contract from 1 April 2008. The contract was to deliver savings to GCC in the order of £70m over 10 years, according to GCC’s Business Case. 

The projected savings arise mainly from a guaranteed reducing charging profile over 10 years. Serco has committed to underwrite the performance of ACCESS to provide the services for 30% less by the end of the 10 year term and so the savings are guaranteed to GCC. These savings were to be achieved by increased productivity, requiring less staff to deliver the services and significant reductions against the third party supply chain of £12.4m inherited from GCC. I enquired if the costings have been reviewed, evaluated and used to help inform the development of the proposals emerging for the services from 1st April 2018?

In the committee report at 6(3), it refers to an annual budget of £57m with a 7 year budget of £399m. The provision of this annual budget would appear to be significantly higher that was originally set out in the contract established in 2008. I asked for reasons for this annual budget and ongoing costs for the next 7 years. I enquired how does the budget process for the existing contract inform development of the budget for the new proposal.


Another concern is the assessment criteria. At 2.3 in the report, it refers to key criteria for the assessment.

The current contract focused on benefits and protections for Glasgow City Council to ensure that Best Value continues to be achieved. These include providing GCC with:
  • A single point of accountability;
  • Streamlined governance processes;
  • Economies of scale;
  • Standardisation of systems and processes;
  • Established track record of delivery.

The overarching commercial framework provides the Council with cost certainty and protects the Council by transferring the financial and delivery risk to ACCESS (which is underwritten by Serco), while continuing to share any additional benefits.

This new proposal has been developed without reference to the above list of criteria. It refers to;
  • service delivery and ability to innovate
  • affordability
  • risk transfer to the party best placed to manage it and
  • time to implement the option

It seems to be a lack of continuity in terms of assessment of:
  • A single point of accountability;
  • Streamlined governance processes;
  • Economies of scale;
  • Standardisation of systems and processes;

Due to the significant change in the criteria used in the assessment process, it would appear that the current contract arrangements provided by a joint venture model are less likely to emerge as the preference for future service provision.

I asked what process has led to the key criteria being chosen. Also, why did the criteria change from the list used as part of the current contract arrangements? I am particularly concerned about a council assessment process removing any reference to provision of "a single point of accountability". This proposal involves millions of pounds of public funding and there appears to be a lack of any consideration to ensure accountability for decision-making within the contract.

There is reference to a list of principles at set out in section 3 of the report.

At 3.5 there is reference to protection for staff:
Terms and Conditions, including pensions, protected
No compulsory redundancies
No compulsory relocation from Glasgow

How is this going to be achieved without current governance arrangements, processes and procedures? Reference to structure of the current ACCESS Board was not provided. What is the Project Board? How will the contract report to councillors and committees? What about the adoption of the Living Wage? How will the proposal guarantee job security? How will all current terms, conditions and employment status be retained for all staff? How will current pensions arrangements be guaranteed for all staff?

There is no mention of property and asset management in the list of principles. How will this contract support Facilities Management and Preventative Maintenance? How does the contract support carbon management and sustainability of our assets?

There is reference to details provided in section 6 risk transfer.The Council is now completely reliant on ICT to run services such as Education and Social Care. There is move to a paperless office and mobile services. The context of the proposal including changes since 2008 are not mentioned and trends for the next 7 years are not detailed. I asked what about the risks associated with financial systems and impacts of any failures. I sought details of safeguards to be in place if the ICT is outwith council control and there is significant failures in service delivery.

I mentioned the consultation with the council family and ALEOs to develop the proposal. There is no reference to any discussions across the council services and ALEOs. I asked for information about consultation to develop the principles as set out in section 3.

After committee deliberations between 1.30- 4pm, there was a vote on a motion by Green and SNP councillors to refer the report back to the Executive Committee seeking independent appraisal of all of the options for the future of digital and ICT services. This was passed by 8 votes to 7 votes.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Raising funds for the Beatson

Yesterday, I took part in the West End Festival's Torchlight Parade to celebrate St. Andrew's Day. The procession weaved its way down Queen Margaret Drive to Byres Road, on to University Avenue and Kelvin Way. We had dry, cold weather which provided ideal conditions to put on a fiery display. 

View of the Torchlight Parade.

It was an enjoyable, worthwhile event with local pipe bands and samba band providing excellent musical performances. 

We raised funds for the Beatson Cancer Charity and gave vital support for cancer care. Further information available at: http://www.beatsoncancercharity.org/

Everyone has an HIV status

Yesterday, I attended Waverley Care's Health in Faith Conference and Dinner to mark World Aids Day and European Testing Week.

I very much appreciate the dedication and commitment that people of faith have made and continue to make in the fight to end HIV and AIDS in Scotland and around the world. It is also a time to remember those who have died due to HIV and AIDS and to support those affected.


I am increasing concerned about the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers with HIV and AIDS. A particular issue that has been highlighted is access to housing and financial support. There is a need to renew our commitment to human rights as a cornerstone for informing policy and practice in relation to HIV-positive Asylum Seekers.  

Work-related rights could be reviewed and Asylum Seekers given permission to work if they have been waiting for more than six months for their cases to be concluded, or if they have been refused asylum but cannot be returned home through no fault of their own. This will prevent vulnerable people being left in a state of limbo for prolonged periods of time, will reduce the burden on the taxpayer, and will allow a small number of asylum seekers to support themselves and their families while contributing to the economy.

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted concluding observations at its 49th meeting, held on 24 June 2016 with regards to Asylum Seekers in the UK:-

"The Committee is concerned about the challenges faced by asylum seekers in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly those that are due to restrictions in accessing employment and the insufficient level of support provided through the daily allowance (art. 2 (2) and (11)).
The Committee recommends that the State party increase the level of support provided to asylum seekers, including through the daily allowance, in order to ensure that they enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the right to an adequate standard of living. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (see E/C.12/GBR/CO/5, para. 27) and encourages the State party to ensure that asylum seekers are not restricted from accessing employment while their claims are being processed."

In terms of what community leaders can do to make a difference, there is a need to reach out and extend collaborative working across the voluntary sector and involve new groups. We can building expertise on migrant destitution and help to increase capacity within the sector. As highlighted  by the work of Waverley Care's African Health Project, there is also a need for formal voluntary sector organisations to link up with faith-based organisations, African-Caribbean churches in particular, so that destitute migrants can access good quality advice, facilitated by people they trust.
Access to quality advice is the most important operational concern for voluntary sector organisations in the response to migrant destitution. There is a need for resourcing of a technical solution for managing referrals and booking appointments for services, including advice, thus formalising joint work between organisations, making it more efficient. Investment in IT systems would support a systematic way of collecting data on the extent of and nature of destitution amongst migrants. Alongside this, hubs of expertise on destitution amongst migrants could operate and work in partnership with a broad range of organisations across the voluntary sector, and including churches and other places of worship, to ensure wide access points into the system.

The development of authoritative and up-to-date research on the extent of destitution, and the qualitative nature of destitution, amongst migrant children and families is needed. This is required to provide evidence to inform policy. There is a need for evidence on the kinds of services and intervention that work and do not work, based on what outcomes they have.

By taking forward three areas of development – extending collaboration, investing in new systems to facilitate access to advice and building a strong evidence base – will not solve underlying problem of migrant destitution, but will help to strengthen the voluntary sector’s capacity to inform policy, and to alleviate the destitution of this group of children and families.

It is recognised that demand for services is likely to grow alongside a diminished statutory response, and so, the need for such voluntary sector developments has never been more acute or timely.

Further information on support for destitute asylum seekers is available at: 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Celebrating heritage of the Annan Gallery

I am interested in promoting the rich history of the Woodlands area. The Annan Gallery on Woodlands Road is a long established business within the area beginning in 1855. Along with local residents, I am gathering support for a heritage project supporting this gallery's contribution to the area.


Views of the Annan Gallery.

If you are interested in taking part in this project or have any information about the history of the Annan Gallery to share, please let me know.

Support for Interfaith Glasgow

Last week, I gave my support to the development of Interfaith Glasgow by attending a launch event for Interfaith Week in the City Chambers and taking part in a Fun Day at Hillhead Primary.

Fun day at Hillhead Primary

There is a need to bring people together from different faiths to promote better understanding, and develop mutual respect.  I am concerned to ensure that there is support for people who experience religious hate crime.

Further details about Interfaith Glasgow available at: 




Meeting up with Dyslexia Action

In the last month, I have been supporting voluntary organisations who are tenants based in offices at the Napiershall Street Centre. 

During discussions, I have heard about the work of Dyslexia Action. Several leaflets are available about their free information and advice services in Glasgow.


Free Literacy Catch-up Clubs are provided in conjunction with local libraries and Glasgow Life for parents and children and for adults who need help with literacy skills.


Staff at Dyslexia Action are available to assist adults, children, and organisations with dyslexia, literacy and numeracy and specific learning difficulty needs. 

Further information is gained from their website at: 
http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/content/glasgow-centre


Birdlife on the River Kelvin

Last week, I enjoyed a walk along the Kelvin Walkway between Kelvinbridge and the Botanic Gardens to go to a meeting. I was delighted to find a heron on the riverbank. 


If you are interested in the wildlife on the River Kelvin, please support FORK. Details at: http://www.fork.org.uk/about-fork/

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Glasgow's Improving the Cancer Journey

Congratulations to all of the staff and key partners across Glasgow working very closely together to deliver "Improving the Cancer Journey". Through work with the NHS, this service can contact everyone in Glasgow who has had a cancer diagnosis, as part of a data-sharing agreement.

The development of this new service supported by MacMillan has transformed people lives, enabling them to access support across the city in a much more efficient way. 

All carers who are identified are referred for a formal statutory carers assessment which is making a significant difference to people's lives. The provision of information and advice within local community facilities managed by Glasgow Life has encouraged support networks to develop within communities. I have been very impressed with the drop-ins and information available displays for the general public in libraries.

There has been learning about unmet needs since the service was set up in 2014. Almost everyone who has been seen by the service has between six and eight concerns that are not about health. As Macmillan has found through research, this includes caring responsibilities, housing and family concerns. 

"Improving the Cancer Journey" is about people coming together and using various expertise to help solve a complex problem. This fantastic project has seen everyone pull together to meet the needs of people affected by cancer. 

Further information at: 
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/aboutus/healthandsocialcareprofessionals/newsandupdates/macvoice/spring2016/glasgowimprovingthecancerjourney.aspx

Support ongoing reduction in re-offending

Glasgow Community Justice Authority is responsible for bringing together a range of agencies and local elected members to work in partnership to reduce re-offending and make our communities safer places to live in. This involves coordinating the delivery of quality services for people with convictions and their families, as well as victims of crime. 

Glasgow's Community Justice Authority is responsible for the allocation and monitoring of the section 27 grant awarded to Glasgow City Council by Scottish Government. This grant funding of £18m annually provides core statutory services set out in Scottish Government legislation such as court reports delivered by Community Justice Social Work. It also provides for investment in long-term prevention projects focused on sending less people to prison on short sentences and supporting community-based programmes. 

A continuation of the S27 grant at its current level is critical to delivery of ongoing reduction in re-offending in Glasgow and to ensure delivery of innovative, evidence based work by third sector providers.

Glasgow Community Justice Authority has been in receipt of an administration grant of £227,000 on an annual basis. Under the transition arrangements arising from the dissolution of Glasgow Community Justice Authority at the end of March 2017, the same level of grant to cover the operational costs to support the delivery of services has not been made available. 

Glasgow is the only one of the 8 CJAs that corresponds to one local authority area. We would anticipate this being taken in to account as part of the transition planning. The level of transition funding should be about £200,000 annually to ensure that existing Community justice awareness and activity across Community Planning partners is maintained.

We face many challenges and influences on offending which justify this level of funding support to the city. 

Poverty and social deprivation affect one in five people. Evidence suggests that there continues to be a strong correlation between poverty and crime levels. 

Drug misuse is an issue as Glasgow has the second highest rate of drug-related offences recorded in Scotland between 2011-2015. 

Glasgow has experienced considerably more deaths in those aged under 65 than other UK cities, with a higher proportion of these deaths being related to alcohol consumption. In the 2015 Scottish Prisoner Survey, 38% of participants from HMP Barlinnie and 49% from HMP Greenock reported being drunk at the time of committing their offences.

Homelessness is a major issue. Recent research of prisoners in Glasgow has identified that 15% were homeless when they first came in to prison and 42% had no accommodation at their time of release. About one fifth indicated that they did not know where they would stay on the first night out of prison.

Short term sentences are having little positive impact as they are not able to address the root cause of offending behaviour. Community sentences have been shown to reduce re-offending rates. 

Remand prisoners are likely to receive little or limited support to tackle their offending behaviour. However, many will lose accommodation, work and family links as a result of their sentences.

Re-offending is costly to the public purse and is estimated as £600m per year in Glasgow.

Glasgow Community Justice Authority has given leadership and direction to build effective joined up working to address the key triggers to offending in Glasgow. 

The current challenges linked to re-offending require alignment of resources across Community Planning partners under the new Community Justice Scotland model from 1st April 2017. 

This requires dedicated local authority funding at current levels provided to the Glasgow Community Justice Authority.  Resources are needed for local authority Community Justice staff with expertise and knowledge to support forward planning and early intervention. They are vital to coordinate services, provide a single effective point of contact and offer leadership and direction to ensure we can continue to reduce offending.


Useful link:

Glasgow Community Justice Authority - https://www.glasgowcja.org.uk/

Monday, 17 October 2016

Save the 4A Bus Service

Local residents rely on the current 4A bus route to get to the shops and services available in Byres Road. It is also essential for students who live in Kelvindale, Anniesland and Knightswood and study at the University of Glasgow.  
The move by First Bus to terminate the 4A at Broomhill will have a devastating affect on School pupils. The current bus service has to be retained to maintain a direct bus service for pupils attending Cleveden Secondary School and it is relied upon by young people travelling to Hyndland and St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary schools. 
On the route of the 4A at University Avenue.
First Bus has to urgently reconsider this decision, and to consult much more closely with the local schools, businesses and University.

Road safety issues at Kelvinbridge

In the last month, there has been ongoing concern about road safety at the pedestrian crossings on Great Western Road, around the Kelvinbridge area. 

The importance of maintaining two school patrol attendants at Otago Street and Belmont Street has been highlighted as critical to support children crossing the Great Western Road at the start and end of the school day.

View of Great Western Road at junction with Otago St. and Belmont St.

Otago Street is a difficult road to cross, even though it is a one way street as cars appear from both west and east directions on Great Western Road. It is well used by pupils attending Hillhead Primary, Hillhead High and Glasgow Academy.

The difficult pedestrian crossings at Bank Street and Great Western Road have been highlighted as well. I understand that Road Safety staff are available to visit schools to offer advice and guidance to pupils and staff. Ongoing issues around people walking in to the roadway when it is not safe to cross,  the traffic congestion at peak times, careless driving and cars not always stopping at red lights have been raised. 

Traffic survey and discussions are underway to develop solutions on how to improve road safety within Kelvinbridge. 

Useful link:

Road safety resources at: http://www.gosafeglasgow.com/


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Focus on North Woodside Road

Today, I met with residents on North Woodside Road to hear their concerns and take up complaints about council services on their behalf. This is a quiet street with a new student residence known as Woodside House.


Newly opened Woodside House

Discussions are taking place with residents about the impact of this new development on their neighbourhood.  Provision of bins, community safety issues and repairs to the pavements/footpaths are priorities.

Within the street, there is a barbers shop which I hope will benefit from new customers living in the student accommdodation.

Penny Lane Barbers on North Woodside Road.

There is a swap shop event at the Napiershall Street Centre at the corner of North Woodside Road / Napiershall Street on 22nd October where residents can exchange clothing and take part in recycling initiatives.

Napiershall Street Centre

There is ongoing investment needed for this Centre. It is providing vital services for local residents.


Friday, 7 October 2016

Graffiti Trail

This week, I found a graffiti trail during a walkabout in Woodlands. Graffiti has been painted across walls and garage shutters of backcourt areas.



If you have concerns about graffiti or are interested in developing an arts project to improve the local environment, please let me know.

Don't Stay Silent!

Today, I attended the launch of Hate Crime Awareness Week at the CCA on Sauchiehall Street. This is the 2nd annual week of awareness raising and the theme is Don't Stay Silent! 

There were a range of presentations including Remembering Srebrenica, an example of hate crime leading to Genocide in 1995. Over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were massacred and buried in mass graves. Further information with video footage is available at: https://www.srebrenica.org.uk/

The independent chair of Glasgow's Adult Protection Committee highlighted a guide on Disability Hate Crime available from their website at: 
http://www.hatecrimescotland.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Disability-Hate-Crime-Professional-Guide-SCLD-2013.pdf



The highlight of the event was a performance by the Purple Poncho Players from Glasgow Disability Alliance. Further information available at: http://www.gdaonline.co.uk/index.php


There is an exhibition about the life of Anne Frank touring Glasgow's Schools. Further details at: http://www.annefrank.org.uk/what-we-do/schools-project/our-work-schools

Anne Frank has had a major influence on my life. I gained increased knowledge and understanding of the holocaust from a visit to her home in Amsterdam as part of a school trip when I was in primary 7. I have signed the Anne Frank Declaration making a personal pledge to join thousands of others in: Standing up for what is right and speaking out against what is unfair and wrong; Defending those who can’t defend themselves and Striving for a world in which everyone is treated fairly and has an equal chance in life. 


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Contribute to local election campaign

A fundraising appeal has been launched by the Glasgow Green Party to help gain funds to support the local election campaign for May 2017. This appeal is organised with Lorraine McLaren, the Green councillor candidate for the Calton Ward. We both completed the Great Scottish Run 10K through Glasgow to help raise funds. today.


At the finishing line of the Great Scottish Run 10K.


You can help by donating and/sharing this appeal with friends and family until 25th October 2016. Every penny is needed to help re-elected myself as a local councillor for the Hillead ward in May 2017. 

Further details at: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/martha-and-lorraine-are-running-for-council

Risks of Nuclear convoys through Glasgow


A report by Rob Edwards called "Nukes of Hazard: the Nuclear Bomb Convoys on our Roads" includes information released by the MoD under freedom of information law, responses from local authorities and fire services and an opinion poll commissioned from YouGov. It is available from the webpage at: http://nukesofhazard.co.uk/

On Tuesday 27th September, I supported a public meeting organised by Scottish CND and ICAN UK to discuss this report

With Alison Thewliss MP, Jane Tallents - Nukewatch, 
Rob Edwards and Rebecca Sharkey - ICAN.

An accident involving a nuclear convoy could do catastrophic harm to Glasgow's people, environment, and commerce.

In terms of public health, the convoys increase risk of injury or loss of life for people living in the city centre in particular. In addition, there is the long-term risk of cancers affecting those exposed to radioactivity contaminating within communities across the city and wider area. 

Risk of cancer increases for babies and toddlers. They are about four times as sensitive to radiation cancer-inducing effects as middle-aged adults. Pregnant women and young mothers are also highly vulnerable. There is a higher risk of low-birth weight babies and infant deaths as a consequence of this disaster. Women are uniquely impacted by nuclear radioactivity. In particular, there are high rates of stillbirths, miscarriages, birth defects, and reproductive problems.

Destruction of local infrastructure such as schools and hospitals disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in a population, including young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic illness.

Members of emergency services, health care professionals, other personnel providing essential services, and the many who may be called to assist in responses to humanitarian emergencies would face unique dangers and difficulties following any nuclear explosion, with widespread and persistent radioactivity severely complicating and hampering access and relief efforts.

The capacity to assist survivors of a nuclear detonation would first and foremost be restricted by limited access to the victims.

As shown in the 2007 City of Hiroshima ‘Report from the Committee of Experts on Damage Scenarios Resulting from a Nuclear Weapons Attack’, any intervening agency would have to find a way to access the area affected without exposing themselves to unacceptable levels of radiation, particularly during the days immediately after the explosion.

The firestorms erupting a few minutes after the explosion would pose another barrier. The explosion from a single nuclear weapon accident would impose economic costs at least equivalent to, and most likely well beyond, the costs of a major natural disaster.

Past experience with large-scale natural and human-induced disasters tells us that the resulting economic costs depend strongly on the population density and the nature and extent of economic activities carried out in the zone surrounding the site of the explosion.

In a key urban area of Glasgow, the costs of the immediate destruction and longer-term economic disruption inside and potentially far outside of that area could easily run into millions of pounds. 

It is not difficult to imagine that extraordinary pressure would be placed on Glasgow City Council, and Scottish Government to take some form of strong action in response. Disasters affect the achievement of development through loss of lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure, but also through the diversion of funds to emergency relief and reconstruction and address the broader effects on the economy.

In the aftermath of any major disaster people are typically displaced from their homes for varying amounts of time.

As has been shown in the Marshall Islands, Fukushima, and Chernobyl, displacement is a serious issue in the wake of a nuclear catastrophe. The inhabitants of the Marshall Islands became nomads, “disconnected from their lands and their cultural and indigenous way of life. The tsunami, earthquake, and Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster destroyed 90 percent of homes in the small town of Futuba. The government evacuated residents living within 20 km of the nuclear power plant, resulting in the displacement of 77,000 people. Many people continue to live in temporary shelters and residences, uncertain if they would ever be able to return home. In October 2012, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) declared the Fukushima nuclear disaster to be an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Disasters have devastating effects on the environment depending on their type, severity, and location. Generally, disasters affect key natural resources such as fields, soil, forests, and biodiversity. In the near term, restoring these assets is often impossible. Nuclear weapons have a particularly horrific effect on the environment, from water through to soil.

This report highlights the responsibility on us all to show stronger leadership in outlawing and eliminating these weapons.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Residents concern about Unconventional Oil & Gas Extraction

On Wednesday, I received a copy of a report outlining the Community Case Against Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction. A Broad Alliance of communities has produced research to show the case that Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction is incompatible with the Scottish Government's Climate Change reduction targets.


With members of the Broad Alliance receiving 
their report at the City Chambers.

This research will inform further discussion about Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction with council officials and other councillors. 

Copy of the report is available at: www.broad-alliance.org


Friday, 9 September 2016

Carnegie Libraries across Glasgow.

Yesterday,  a motion in support of Carnegie Library buildings across Glasgow was agreed by councillors. Andrew Carnegie, American businessman and philantropist is quoted as saying;

“A library out ranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

In  my role as a councillor for the Hillhead Ward, I have been working to support the restoration of Woodside Library, one of the council libraries run by Glasgow Life.  During discussions about the history of this building, it came to my attention that it is the largest of the Carnegie libraries of Glasgow. Its importance has been recognised as part of the Woodside Heritage Trail and the building is featured as part of Glasgow’s Doors Open Day Programme.

I think that it is essential to put on record that 13 council libraries were built with grant support from Andrew Carnegie and that there are seven of these building still operating as libraries today. These Council libraries managed by Glasgow Life are Maryhill, Parkhead, Govanhill, Woodside, Dennistoun and Langside. The former Bridgeton Library is now the home for the Glasgow’s Women’s Library.

Three Carnegie libraries have been demolished – these are Anderston, Townhead and Kinning Park. Anderston Library opened on 21 December 1904. The building in MacIntyre Street was the first of Glasgow's Carnegie libraries to disappear when it was demolished along with most of Anderston to make way for the M8 motorway in 1969. A new Anderston branch library opened in 1984 in Berkeley Street, in the Mitchell Library building.Townhead Library was officially opened on 4th July, 1907. After lying in a state of neglect and dereliction in the shadow of the M8 motorway for many years, it was finally demolished in 1998. Kinning Park Library was officially opened on 25th October, 1904. The library closed in 1967 and was used as a store by the Council's Social Work Department until its demolition in 1978.

Former library buildings which have found a new use are Kingston, Springburn and Hutchesontown. Kingston Library was officially opened on 8th September, 1904. The library building finally closed in 1981 after the population had moved away and has been for some years been occupied as facilities provided by the Talbot Association for Glasgow's homeless population. Springburn Library was officially opened on 1st May, 1906. In recent years, it has been used as an Enterprise, Learning and Conference Centre. Hutchesontown Library, Gorbals opened in February 1907. It closed on 31st July, 1964 and was partially occupied as a day nursery before being occupied as offices. The offices are currently available for rent from City Property.

Carnegie Libraries are a significant part of the network of Public libraries which have been at the heart of Glasgow’s communities. They are founded on a powerful sense of equity and justice.  These libraries should be acknowledged as key resources to delivery “A Vision for Glasgow Libraries” Strategy. They are helping to support people across the city to access knowledge and learning to help make a better life.

In addition, these building are significant architectural landmarks and cultural assets within local communities across the city. They should be acknowledged as sources of inspiration and catalysts for regeneration and economic development within our local high streets. 

There is a project planned to celebrate this legacy of Andrew Carnegie, and support a partnership with heritage groups, and community councils to ensure they are promoted as part of National Libraries Day on 16th February 2017. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Walking around Gartnavel Hospital's open spaces

There are walking trails within the grounds of Gartnavel Hospital which provide access to a beautiful walled garden, wooded area and the wildlife haven of Bingham's Pond. This offers opportunities to relax and observe nature.

Walled cottage garden at the hospital

There is a hill within the grounds where you can get a view over Glasgow and the railway line. There are designated paths which are suitable for walking and jogging.

Open space for events

Over the last three years, there has been significant support for the development of outdoor facilities at Gartnavel Hospital. There is an specific area for gardening with beds for growing vegetables and flowers which is supported by the NHS, Forestry Commission and Scottish Government. 

Regular weekly 30-minute walk to take part in.

Health walks are a good way to get more active. There is further information on health walks across Glasgow at: www.goodmovesglasgow,com/walking.