Wednesday 21 November 2007

Unhappy household

Both halves of the Thewliss - Wright household are united tonight in our individual grumpiness and gutted-ness.

Since neither Scotland nor England are going to Austria and Switzerland next summer, perhaps some alternative tournament might be worth having? It would be a useful warm up for the World Cup Qualifiers, and Scotland are now good enough to stand a chance of winning such a tourney... ;-)

Tuesday 20 November 2007

A poisoned chalice?

I had it drawn to my attention by the wonderful Mediawatch that Kezia Dugdale was having a go at the YSI.

I'd considered whether to respond to this on her blog, but as Ms Dugdale moderates comments, I didn't think it would be worth it.

For her, and anyone elses's benefit, the YSI wouldn't be having info on policies like student debt on it's website because it's the youth, not the student wing of the party. Student issues are not our bag. We draw our membership from young people aged 14 - 26, and campaign for things like votes at 16, rights for the children of asylum seekers, and, of course, we take the independence message to Scotland's youth.

Student interests are particularly narrow and selfish interests - which I respect, having been a student - but these interests are much better served by the FSN acting on it's own than a joint organisation trying to meet the needs of very different groups. Not all young people are students, and not all students are young people.

Anyhoo, perhaps Ms Dugdale will have less time to spend slagging off other parties on her blog now she's taken on such an elevated position. Wonder whether she'll manage to do any better in the job than her predecessors...

Saturday 17 November 2007

Scotland - Italy

Gutted about the result today - I was at the game, and the boys played like heroes. I was crying after Italy scored that last minute goal that should never have been. I really believed and hoped there was a chance that we could qualify, so I'm drowning my sorrows tonight.

I suppose the best thing for the team to do now is regroup and work towards the World Cup, but it's still hard to take after such a fabulous campaign. Almost every minute was nail biting, but it's been phenomenal.

Friday 16 November 2007

Unexpected press

I was a bit surprised yesterday to get a call from the Evening Times about Dalmarnock Sewage Works (the majority of coverage this last week has mostly involved one particular Labour Councillor in the ward, so I'd started to think I didn't exist to them!).

I know that that local people have complained about the smells from the plant, as well as issues of river pollution, but I had some confidence that Scottish Water would be fulfilling their commitment to refurbish since the Commonwealth Games bid was successful. This seems now not to be the case, so I've taken the issue to Scottish Water for a reply. I'll keep the blog updated on what I find out...

Glasgow Labour: stifling debate

I'm still mulling over the events of yesterday, where Labour moved to end a Special Council Meeting called by the SNP. The meeting had been called to discussed the motions which had fallen off the agenda at the previous Council meeting.

This included motions on a range of issues, and even a Labour motion. We thought that Labour would at least debate, and out vote us; that's the way things happen in Glasgow after all. Disappointingly, Cllr Colleran simply moved a adjournment under the standing orders of the Council. We voted, along with the Greens and the Conservative to continue the debate, but Labour's majority won out.

I was due to speak at the meeting on services for young people in Glasgow, and had got myself all psyched up. In the big scheme of things it might not seem very important that we sit in a room and speechify on worthy issues, but it's part of democracy in our city, and allows all Councillors the opportunity to try and influence Council policy. An unidentified "source" was quoted thus in the Evening Times:

A source close to Council leader Steven Purcell said: "The council is not a debating club.

"They cannot afford to waste their time on matters that have nothing to do with the council."

Attendance and participation at Council meetings are part of the Councillor's job, and it's disappointing to see that Labour consider that a waste of time.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Dalmarnock Primary and London Road Nursery

I attended the official opening of Dalmarnock Primary and London Road Nursery today, and was very impressed by the show put on by the pupils. Many of the pupils had been given special responsibilities for meeting and greeting guests, and were a real credit to the school.

All the pupils were involved in putting on performances to celebrate the opening, from the nursery children who opened the event with a song about "people who help us", to the recorder players and the choir, and the very moving song which I was told had been composed in the school. One of the pupils presenting it said that the song was available to download, but I can't seem to find it. Once I track it and the composer down I'll post the details up. The whole school sang it and knew it off by heart; perhaps a replacement for Scotland the Brave?

Every colour, race and creed
May we celebrate indeed
A treasure tae this land
For aw tae see
And may peace and harmony
Keep us all in unity
Let's come together one and all

For this one bonnie Scotland
This bonnie, bonnie land
Let's stand together hand in hand
And may the world it see
We can live in harmony
Working together for this one Scotland

May the Muslim and the Jew
And the Sikh and the Hindu
The Protestant and Catholic one and all
May we build our future high
And we never hear the cry
Of bigotry and hatred never more


Monday 12 November 2007

Planning for Glasgow's Future

I was amused to read an article in The Herald today which frets that "erratic planning decisions ‘may drive away city investors’". The article goes on to warn that personal taste shouldn't come into decisions made by the planning committee of Glasgow City Council. Initially, I was curious about who exactly the "senior Council source" quoted is - perhaps someone who was upset at having a decision rejected at an earlier Planning Committee? I'm not on the Planning Committee, so I would hesitate to guess who...

It made me think though - while the City Plan sets out various planning guidelines and principles, surely aesthetic values must have some place. Everyone has their own personal tastes - and that's a good thing. I'd decorate a room one way, my neighbour will choose something entirely different. So why should the influence of personal taste stop completely at the doors of the committee room? Otherwise, what kind of city will we end up with? If it's a city where buildings are juxtaposed entirely inappropriately, will that not also "drive away city investors"? If some Councillors recognise something is ghastly, hideous or tacky, surely citizens of Glasgow and visitors to our city might just think the same? Much discussion is had on message boards like Hidden Glasgow over the merits of developments in the city, and many good points are raised. Important decisions on the future shape of Glasgow should also be allowed to be made both with the head and with the heart.

This issue also throws up a pet peeve of mine - that the Council is fast becoming (I'll be generous and say it isn't yet!) a rubber stamp for developers and the Evening Times. Decisions should be made because they're correct, not because they're convenient!

Friday 9 November 2007

Glasgow did it!

Nearly there!
Totally delighted by today's news that Glasgow has won the Commonwealth Games bid for 2014. I was at the Old Fruitmarket for the announcement, and I've never been in a room so tense! My hands were shaking as we got closer and closer to the result.

After the result was called, I headed out to the Bambury in my ward to join the celebrations. It's great news for the people of the East End of Glasgow, and the folk at the Bambury were excited for what the future holds. I hope we can all make it live up to their expectations.

Off to work with my fingers crossed...

So today's the day. By lunchtime, we'll know whether or not the Commonwealth Games comes to Glasgow or goes to Abuja. I've got a few butterflies in my stomach; this is such an important decision for the city and for the people I represent. I hope our team in Sri Lanka have done enough to convince the Commonwealth delegates that we're the best choice.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Post offices at full Council

The issue of Post Office closures was under consideration at Full Council today following the submission of an emergency motion by Cllrs Findlay and Braat. This read:

This Council strongly believes that the local post office lies at the heart of the community and condemns the decision by Post Office Limited to propose the closure of a further 22 community post offices in the Greater Glasgow area.

Most severely hit in this wave of closures will be disadvantaged areas and communities with significant elderly populations.

Whilst recognising that Post Office Limited is now run on a commercial basis and that many of its former functions have been overtaken by technology and modern methods of communication, the company is - at the same time - a public service and must recognise that its network is of a significant strategic, economic and social importance to the communities it serves.

This Council, therefore, demands that, as part of the consultation process, an economic impact study be carried out in order to assess the impact of future closures both on rural - and urban - communities.*

All very worthy stuff and sentiments I generally agree with. It misses the point a fair bit though - this was brought about by the Labour Government in Westminster. All the Labour Glasgow MPs voted for it. None of this was mentioned in the debate by the Labour members who moved it.

The SNP's amendment sought to rectify what had been left out by adding:

Council deplores the duplicity of Labour MPs who voted for legislation and government policy to reduce the number and functions of local Post Offices, thereby betraying vulnerable communities. Council further urges all members to campaign for their retention.

This was brilliantly moved by Cllr Duffy, who tore into Labour for their lead role in all this and the hypocrisy in their current position. I seconded, talking about the Post Office in Dalmarnock, as mentioned below.

It came as little surprise that we were defeated 52:21:1, but it was fun to be able to play on the consciences of Labour members and at least attempt to get them to take some share of the blame. While they didn't make the final decision, the failure of the Labour group in Glasgow City Council to influence their MPs on such an important issue is pretty worrying. Perhaps they believed it would never happen to them.

I was patronised later in the debate in the most oily fashion possible by another member from my ward, but perhaps the least said about that the better. Perhaps if that member was true to the principles of cross party consensus espoused by the leadership of the Labour group, he would have been in touch to fight this closure together. Thus far he hasn't phoned, he hasn't written...

*I don't understand why there are so many commas in that last sentence either!