Sunday, 20 March 2016

Stand up to Racism Gathering

On UN anti-racism day on 19th March, people across the world take a stand. Together we show unity in the face of racism. The racist tide will only be driven back by you and me standing up and confronting it. 

Across Scotland, people are outraged at the Islamophobic and anti-Semitic backlash after the Copenhagen and Paris attacks. Immigrant communities are fed up with being wrongly blamed for an economic crisis they did not create. Scotland can be proud of progress that has been made to enhance equality, protect diversity and strengthen access to justice. However, we do not yet live in a country where everyone has equal access to security and opportunities.

The Scottish Green Party stands for zero tolerance against all forms of discrimination. We are focused on tackling barriers to services, employment and participation in society, and defending access to justice for all as a fundamental human right. Racial discrimination remains a crucial issue in Scotland, for UK-born individuals, as well as for refugees and first generation migrants. People from Scotland’s minority ethnic communities are significantly more likely to live in poverty, and employment and political representation rates are unacceptably low compared with white ethnic groups. Greens support full implementation of the Racial Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030 in order to tackle pervasive racism across our society.

Scottish Greens support groups across Scotland who assist refugees and asylum seekers fleeing horrendous situations in the Middle East and Africa. We are a welcoming nation, and there is a strong voice across Scottish society determined to offer asylum and create safe routes for travel.Scottish Greens are members of the European Green Party and this provides opportunities to support efforts to address the refugee crisis at an EU level.

Stand Up to Racism Rally in George Square.
On Saturday, at Glasgow's Stand up to Racism Rally and March, we showed solidarity with efforts to welcome and support integration of refugees across Europe, celebrating human unity and the diversity of the human race. it was a chance to reaffirm our commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination and help create communities and societies where all citizens can live in dignity, equality and peace. 

Pavement at Hughenden

This week, the pavement between Devonshire Terrace and Lismore Road, next to Hillhead Sports Club was resurfaced using tarmac. This improvement work by the Council was requested as the existing slabs were an uneven trip hazard.

View of resurfaced pavement.

Further to the request from the local community, the Council has clarified ownership and agreed to adopt this stretch of pavement. This is welcome news for many pedestrians who use this route to get to and from Gartnavel Hospital. The ongoing maintenance of the pavement will be provided by the Council in the years to come.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Bulk and recycling in back lanes

This week, I have been made aware of ongoing problems with bulk and cardboard within Burnbank Lane. I made a check on the lane and found a series of dumped items to be uplifted.

Various bulk items have been reported 
to Cleansing staff for removal.

Residents are seeking a weekly bulk uplift service to prevent the built up of household items and cardboard for recycling. They have created a garden area within the lane. Attempts are being made to keep the lane clean and tidy. Hopefully, there will be more regular uplifts of bulk items and recycling in the coming weeks.

Useful link: 

Clean Glasgow -

Recycling event swaps clothes and books.

Today, I joined in a recycling event with clothes, and books swapping at the Napiershall Street Centre, hosted by the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council. I took some clothing and found a dress to wear. 

Poster for the Spring Festival Swap.

Feedback was provided using paper leaves 
hung on a handmade tree.

View of garden area.

There are regular events and classes at the garden area within the Napiershall Street Centre. Workshops take place on Fridays, 1-3pm. Further information is available at

Collective effort to tackle business rates

The high cost of non-domestic rates and rents for shop premises on Byres Road was highlighted this week. Bernard Corrigan Fishmonger closed up their shop on Byres Road due to rates and rent bills. This is a great loss to the West End. Thankfully, this fishmonger will continue to source fish from the Glasgow Fish Market and distribute it from their Howard Street depot.

Shop unit of Bernard Corrigan, available for rent, on Byres Road.

There are many family business on Byres Road that face similar pressures. The one and only butcher on Byres Road, Rodgers, is seeking to attract more customers. 

Shopfront of Rodgers Butchers.

This butcher offers a range of locally sourced quality beef from Gaindykehead Farm near Airdrie. To find out more about the Rodger Butcher, please follow at:

The Byres Road and Lanes Business Improvement District is developing a collective effort to tackle the rates to bring down the costs for all of our businesses. Details at:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Protecting public services

Today, Glasgow's Green Group of Councillors released their headline budget proposals for Glasgow's funding crisis. Proposals from Labour, SNP and Greens will be debated on Thursday 10th March by Glasgow City Council when the Council Tax for next year is set. The Council meeting will be deciding how to respond to more than £130M of cuts to the city’s budget over the next two years being imposed by SNP Scottish government. 

Green councillors will put forward budget plans which give priority over the next two years by Green investments to generate income and cut our energy costs, by Green action to protect our city's health and wellbeing by safeguarding voluntary sector grants, by a bold Green measure to resource our infrastructure by generating more income through a Tunnel Toll. At a time when Council staff and unions are calling for jobs, wages and conditions to be defended, Green budget plans would take proposed working terms threats off the table.

The budget amendment put forward by Greens offers the choice of softening that blow on frontline services and providing extra money for street lighting, renewable energy projects, and bike hire. Green plans would commit the Council to further cuts in its energy costs as well as ensuring it plays its part in meeting the challenges of climate change by taking action to reduce its carbon footprint.
We are facing a funding crisis Greens would never have let happen. Between SNP tax bullying and funding cuts, building on Labour’s old broken local government finance system, it’s Greens who are seeking out bold local measures to help address the City’s needs, fend off further cuts and put the most vulnerable people of this city first.

Specifically, the Green budget amendment provides funding to:
  • Invest £1.2 million to build 20 wind turbines in 6 sites, generating income and energy for the city
  • Introduce a Clyde Tunnel Toll (generating up to £20m a year for roads, pavements and cycle infrastructure) cutting air pollution & tunnel congestion
  • Invest £6.7m to save more energy (and money and reduce emissions) in a further phase of 10,000 LED street lights
  • Protect the Integrated Grants Fund (IGF) which supports the Third Sector projects supporting Glasgow’s most vulnerable groups
  • Build trust with staff and protect service delivery - reject imposition of cuts of £4.5m from review of staff working terms
  • Set aside £3.1m to support community management of 19 community centres
  • Invest £164,000 to extend Glasgow’s public bike hire scheme by installing 37 additional bike stations

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Staff shortages and changes at Fire Service

Today, I heard about the impact of staff shortages on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. 
Over the winter months, the Fire Service has been at the forefront of the rescues and clean up work during the flooding incidents across Scotland.

We have to recognise the vital importance of our Fire Service in being able to meet the demands from increased number of severe weather events that we face. 

The pressures arising from staff shortages have been highlighted by union officials. Resources are needed to protect frontline services provided by Fire and Rescue Crews across Scotland.

Useful link: FBU -

Fukushima and lessons we can learn

On 11th March, it will be five years since the nuclear accident at Fukushima laid waste over a large area of Japan,  making it uninhabitable to people and livestock. 

Today, there are toxic trains carrying high level nuclear waste along the commuter routes of central Scotland on a weekly basis. During the transportation of nuclear waste through many of our towns and cities, there is the risk of an accident which could result in similar devastation affecting our population, livestock and the environment to that experienced by Fukushima.

I am supporting the work of Scottish CND to raise concerns about the trains carrying high level nuclear waste across Scotland.

Useful link:

Fukushima? Scotland? -

Impact of benefit sanctions

On Saturday, 6th March, I attended a conference of Foodbanks organised by The Trussell Trust. It provided an opportunity to hear about the concerns of volunteers involved in running foodbanks across Scotland. 

There were representatives from the five main parties who took part in a hustings and the Scottish Green Party was represented by Anni Pues. During the debate, the issues of poverty, welfare reform, benefit sanctions and low wages were raised.

Anni Pues and myself with a representative of the Trussell Trust. 

I heard about research in to the impact of benefit sanctions from Dr David Webster of the University of Glasgow. He has analysed statistical evidence about benefit sanctions and this has been submitted to the Work and Pensions Select Committee. 

The current system of benefit sanctions leaves many people facing destitution and crisis. This is unacceptable inhumane and degrading treatment.  It is vital to ensure that people who have been affected - some of the most vulnerable people including those with mental health issues and learning disabilities - are not left by the benefits system to suffer from hardship and hunger. Benefit claimants should not be left without any income at all. Further improvements are needed to to ensure that people access support through Jobcentres, Local Welfare Assistance Schemes and the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Foodbanks offer a lifeline for people facing destitution and crisis. However,  they are not a sustainable solution. The benefits system has to be resourced to provide the safety net and support services required by people in crisis.

Useful links:

Benefit sanctions: Britain's secret penal system- 
CPAG - Briefings on benefit sanctions by David Webster -

Real Stories from The Trussell Trust -