Sunday, 29 January 2017

Year of the Rooster 2017

Today, I enjoyed fantastic performances at the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Maryhill Community Central Halls. This event was organised by the Chinese Community Development Partnership.

There were performances of contemporary dance, Mongalian Dance, and Chinese Classic Dance. Traditional chinese musical instruments were played including the Er Hu and Gu Zheng (as above). 

Keep Glasgow's Jobcentres

On Monday, 23rd January, I took part in a walk to protest at the proposal by the UK Government to close half of Glasgow's Jobcentres. There is a consultation on the plan to close Maryhill Job Centre and expect people to go to Springburn Jobcentre. 

By walking from Maryhill Jobcentre to Springburn Jobcentre, I highlighted the distance to get to an appointment and that it would take an hour and two minutes to get there. Walks in excess of two hours to and from an appointment, rather than a 22 minute round journey by car will be the typical experience for claimants facing the loss of their local Jobcentre. In reality people making the journey from their homes, will have distances and times that are even longer. This is not reasonable or necessary.

 At the entrance of Maryhill Jobcentre.
On arrival at Springburn Jobcentre.

I am very concerned that the closure of job centres will result in more claimants being sanctioned for being late to appointments. Far from supporting more claimants to find work, the closures will increase hardship for communities across Glasgow.The closures would be disproportionately felt by disabled people, older people and women. Women are more likely to have caring responsibilities and will therefore have to make arrangements to have children or relatives looked after while they make the longer journey to a busier jobcentre. There will be additional costs, longer walking time and general stress that is not acceptable.

Objections to the plan to close jobcentres in Glasgow can be submitted until 31st January 2017. 

By post - Etta Wright, District Manager’s Office, Public consultation,1st Floor 
Laurieston Jobcentre, 159-181 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow G41 1PW

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Calls for bridges not walls

A guiding principle of Donald Trump’s presidency is likely to be denial of the scientific consensus that human activity is the primary cause of global warming. Trump has a well-established track record of skepticism and denial about climate change. He has called global warming a “hoax” and recently suggested that “nobody really knows” if climate change exists. 

Trump also plans to nominate Republicans to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department who have expressed skepticism toward the scientific agreement on human-caused global warming. Indeed, Trump’s election appears to be a triumph of climate denial. 

Climate change barely came up during the presidential debates, and voters rated the environment as a far less urgent concern than issues like the economy, terrorism, and health care. This lack of concern suggested that US voters have not prioritised action on climate change. 

From Sisters March, Edinburgh.

However, Scientists warn that the devastating consequences of global warming are under way and expected to intensify in the years ahead. The consequences of a Trump Presidency that fails to take climate change seriously, is that little is done to address the threat of a warming planet in the next four years. 

A presidential administration is likely to continue to put forward the false claim that global warming is a hoax, not happening, not human caused, or not a serious problem. This evident by the appointment to his administration of climate change deniers and oil barons. 

Campaigners fighting to end polluting coal, oil, gas and nuclear projects have to join together and call on Mr. Trump to help us accelerate the urgent leap to a future powered by 100 percent clean renewable energy. This is the key to security and wellbeing for all. 

From Sisters March, Edinburgh.

Whether there is a legacy of Mr. Trump's presidency will be determined by his action or inaction on climate change. If the US does not support renewable energy, it will miss out on all the opportunities that this brings in terms of jobs, investments and technological advances. Other countries such as China and India are racing ahead to be the global leaders in clean energy and surely the US does not want to be left behind.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Development of Mixed-use University Campus

On Tuesday, planning permission in principle was agreed for the site of the former Western Infirmary on University Avenue. This plan provides for teaching and learning buildings, University research buildings, commercial research and development/offices, food and drink, hotels, retail shops, sports and recreation facilities, day nursery, creche, residential flats, and energy centre with landscaping and public realm. Some of the existing buildings are to be demolished. 

Whilst I have given my general support to the plans for site by the University of Glasgow, I raised concerns about the proposal for a supermarket, the loss of trees and increased noise issues. 

My objection to the proposal for retail shops including a convenience supermarket and two comparison anchor stores with a total floorspace of 4,000sqm was based on my view that this will have a negative impact on the existing retail, commercial, leisure facilities in the area. It is potentially contrary to Development Policy Principle DEV 9 Civic, Hospital and Tertiary Education. The current market conditions experienced by high street retailers are influenced by increased competition from the development of online shopping and use of mobile phone technology to facilitate click and collect. The proposal for additional large scale retail floorspace will bring increased pressures on our thriving and highly valued, local businesses in the south end of Byres Road. Any regeneration should focus on the University working in partnership with the Byres Road Business Improvement District to increase footfall to these existing units.

I also objected to the current principles in the Campus and Public Realm Strategy of the Campus Development Framework and specifically the section 4.14 Trees and Planting. I raised concerns about the removal of healthy, established trees as this will not enhance this are of wildlife corridor and its use as a wildlife habitat. The protection of existing trees, vistas, and riverbank as part of a "green corridor" along the River Kelvin between Kelvingrove and the Botanic Gardens should be embedded in principle within the Campus Strategy.

View of Kelvingrove Park and University Buildings.

Finally, I made reference to the Noise Impact Assessment as part of the proposals for residential and hotel uses within the site. Further noise surveys are needed to ensure that sufficient data is available for analysis. Residents have been experiencing noise nuisance from the late night economy within Dumbarton Road and are concerned about increased noise levels arising from new development within the area.

At the Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to planning permission for the proposal but a further condition related to trees was added. It is to read as Condition 43: “A minimum of one tree shall be planted for each tree that requires to be removed to facilitate the proposed development”. Reason: To ensure that the landscaping of the site contributes to the landscape quality and biodiversity of the area”.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Monthly clean up of the riverbank

Yesterday, I joined a group of volunteers from the Friends of the River Kelvin to take part in a monthly clean up along the riverbank. Over the course of an hour and a half, I gathered three bags of rubbish from areas within Kelvingrove Park. Empty and broken bottles were the most common item that I found dumped next to the river.

View of the riverbank cleared of rubbish.

Broken glass left on the riverbank.

I was very concerned to find broken glass and plastic bags within the riverbank. These items could seriously injury wildlife moving through the area. It is essential that any packaging and broken glass is disposed of quickly and safely by wrapping it thickly in newspaper before putting it in a bin. 

Refer to the information on the impact of litter on animals at:

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Development of Woodside “Mini Holland” Scheme.

I have given my support for cycling investment to develop the Woodside “Mini Holland” Scheme.This area of the city is overshadowed by M8 motorway.  There are concerns about congestion; road casualties; physical inactivity; and the ill health caused by it such as obesity and air pollution.

Investment in a cycling route within Woodside could help to substantially reduce these risks, while strengthening the local high street economy in the area; supporting local businesses and property values; boosting the health of residents; and improving access for disadvantaged groups to skills and employment opportunities.

The economic benefits of investing in such small scale projects that benefit cycling are often underestimated. The Woodside mini-Holland will support cycling activity linked to the city centre strategy and wider regeneration of the Canal Quarter. 

The initial capital outlay needed to construct cycling infrastructure will be more than repaid by savings to the health budget, from reduced congestion, from reduced wear and tear on road infrastructure, from reduced pollution, and from improved house prices. Project funding has been sought by Glasgow City Council from the Sustrans and we await the outcome of this bid. 

Hillhead Library is B-listed

In recent weeks, I have received information confirming that Hillhead Library on Byres Road has been included in Historic Environment Scotland's list of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. It is listed category B. 

Scaffolding has been erected around the library.

Today, I visited the library to use the photocopying facilities. It requires substantial capital investment to cover the cost of urgent repairs and maintenance, installation of a lift and upgrading of the toilets. I have contacted staff at Glagsow Life to seek details of the library's maintenance plans and a copy of the option appraisal for future development.