Wednesday 27 May 2009

Naughty Labour

Along with Labour's apparent use of automated cold calling for their European campaign, a couple of other pieces of poor form have come to light.

If you live in the West of Scotland, you may have received Labour's odd-looking electoral address in the past week. It's odd-looking for a reason. Instead of being constituency-specific or very general, some punter called Alan from Bishopbriggs is on the front with his wife and child. Who might he be? Oh right. He's their local by election candidate.

Our candidate, Denis Johnston, is none too pleased!

“I understand the Labour Party are being referred to the Electoral Commission for their blatant misuse of their European Election address – delivered free to the electorate of East Dunbartonshire by the Royal Mail. The supposedly European Election leaflet has the Labour by-election candidate on half of the leaflet and also has their Westminster candidate on the inside.

At a time when the public are rightfully angry at the abuse of the public purse at Westminster we have a Labour council candidate and a would-be Westminster politician abusing the Royal Mail. Not only that, it shows just how much contempt they have for the electorate and the European elections."

I wonder if this laziness is due to a lack of activists on the ground. If you can't get your own people to out leaflets through doors, why not piggyback on the Euros and get the local posties to deliver for you? It wrong, it's misleading, and it gets round election expenses. I hope the proper authorities are taking action.

The second piece of dodgyness relates to Labour's party election broadcast for the English Local Elections. Yes, I'm that sad; I like to watch irrelevant PEBs in quiet moments. Anyway, to the point. At around 50 seconds, and again at 1.30, 1.54 and 2.13 some familiar-looking apprentices appear. I've watched it several times, and I'm pretty sure they are City Building Glasgow apprentices. If I'm wrong on this, please tell me. I wouldn't like to think there's nothing been achieved in apprenticeships in the whole of England that they can use in an English PEB. Labour's links with City Building have made the press before, but this is a step too far!

PS - I notice that the photos from my colleague's recent visit haven't made it up on to City Building's website among the Labour (and single Lib Dem) photos. Hmm...

Thursday 21 May 2009

MSYP election hustings

On Tuesday evening, I dropped into the Fuse Youth cafe to watch the Scottish Youth Parliament election hustings for the Baillieston and Shettleston areas.

I know from speaking to former MSYPs that the Scottish Youth Parliament isn't everyone's cup of tea (due to their inclination to stay away from partisan politics) but for young people interested in politics generally, it's certainly a good learning experience.

The candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves, and then took pre-arranged questions from the floor. I was really impressed by how confident they were, and how passionately they spoke about the issues they face. I'm sure many of them will go far. In a political world dominated by old, white men, they were a real breath of fresh air. There was a great turnout too, and it gave me hope for the future. I wish all the candidates the best of luck.

Getting involved in politics can be daunting. When I was at school, I often felt like I was the only person interested in politics, and it can seem a bit geeky. Not many teenagers want to stay in and watch Question Time and Newsnight! I joined the SNP while I was still at school, but I didn't get properly active until I reached university in Aberdeen. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't had that option; I'm certain I'd be in the SNP, but the rest of my life would probably look very different.

I didn't join Young Scots for Independence until after I left uni, but once I did, I didn't look back! I owe a great deal to Aileen, Jamie and David McDonald, and I'm very proud to have played my small part in building up the YSI as a real way for young people to get involved in the SNP and learn the ropes. I am very glad to see more and more young people getting up at conference and putting their points across in such a thoughtful and compelling way. They seem much more confident than I was (I still get incredibly nervous!) and they can hold their own in debate. More importantly, they're dedicated campaigners, and understand the importance of taking to the streets.

I know that these days the very thought of politics is enough to make people throw their tv out the window, but perhaps a new generation is what's needed to clean up our political system. The people coming up behind me can see the problems, and I hope they will be able to make change happen.

Wednesday 20 May 2009


I was on my way to my surgery in Dalmarnock last Tuesday when I heard a rumble thump noise - new composting bins were being literally rolled out in the area.

This is part of the Council's drive to improve Glasgow's woeful recycling record, and a move I fully support. Householders will be able to put garden waste (grass and hedge clippings, leaves, branches, weeds and even Christmas trees!) into the bin, which will then be collected on a fortnightly basis. They'll be collected on Fridays between 1.30pm and 10pm, which makes extra use of Glasgow's bin lorries.

If you have any comments or problems with the bins, let me know, or call the Customer Care Centre on 287 9700.

Holes repaired

Credit to Land and Environmental Services - as of last Friday, the holes have been fixed.

It's been suggested to me that people could use Fix My Street, and I'm happy to flag that up.

Councillors do however have a direct line to the Council's departments, and it might still be quicker to get in touch with us directly. I also chase up issues that have not been dealt with! All part of the service...

Monday 11 May 2009

Holes in the road

If you use the road, by bus, car or bike, potholes are a serious hazard. They damage vehicles, cause accidents, and make for a very uncomfortable journey. Bus lanes are particularly bad, almost bouncing me off my seat at times!

I've been trying to note down potholes where I see them and report them to Land and Environmental Services for repair.

There have been a few good patching jobs in my ward after I've reported a problem, and I'm hoping to do as much as I can to improve the road surface. I've just reported this bumpy bus stop on the Gallowgate at Coalhill near Parkhead Forge, and will be keeping an eye on it over the coming weeks.

If you have any complaints or particular areas you'd like to report, contact me at the details on the sidebar or get in touch with the Council on the RALF hotline.

At the most recent Area Committee, we considered a report on scheduled road repairs. Over the course of the coming year in additional to general repairs, the following roads will be resurfaced or recoated:
  • Dunn Street at Dalmarnock Road junction Resurfacing £16.9k
  • Plant Street (full length) Resurfacing £20k
  • Nuneaton Street (full length) Resurfacing £25k
  • Macduff Place (full length) Nimpactocote £3k
  • Canmore Street (Macduff Place to Canmore Place) Nimpactocote £10.1k
  • Canmore Place (southern carriageway - full length) Nimpactocote £4.1k
  • Bell Street (Hunter St to McFarlane Street) Nimpactocote £7.1k
The following pavements will also be redone:
  • London Road (north footway- Charlotte St to Ross St) Resurfacing £14.9k
  • Bellgrove Street (west footway - from Duke St south to railway bridge at Bellgrove Station) Resurfacing £18.2k
  • Dunn Street (south footway at Old Dalmarnock Road) Resurfacing £12.1k
  • Greendyke Street (west footway southwards from London Road) Resurfacing £10.4k
  • Gallowgate (south footway - along frontage of St Mungo Academy) Resurfacing £11k
  • London Road (north footway from Nuneaton St to Kerrydale St) Resurfacing £16k
  • London Road (south footway from Binnie Place to Monteith Place) Resurfacing £20k
  • Dalmarnock Road (north footway from Springfield Rd to Summerfield St) Resurfacing £11k


I've blogged before on various matters relating to Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, and was recently switched from being a substitute member of the Fire and Rescue Board to being a 'fishel member. I enjoyed participating in the meetings I attended as a sub, so I was happy to take the opportunity when it arose.

I went with a couple of Fire Board members to visit the site of the new training centre at Clydesmill Industrial Estate the other week, and was impressed by the scale of the development. The training centre should be a great asset to SFR (and hopefully wider!), and I hope it will be a success. The facilities aims to be as realistic as possible to give firefighters the best possible training. There will also be an academic block to allow for seminars and conferences.

It's a large site, and will also house the merged Cambuslang-Parkhead station. I noticed on the visit that you can actually see the current Cambuslang station from the site - obviously Parkhead is a wee bit further away. Hmm. One of the Councillors on the trip seemed to be trying to bait me on the issue. I accept the Fire Board voted against retaining Parkhead, but that doesn't mean I concede the argument.

On a much happier note, I visited North East Area Headquarters in the Calton and got to see the award winning Firereach programme in action. This aims to break down barriers between young people and fire fighters, allowing them to learn about the dangers of fire while having a bit of fun training with fire crews. It started in Easterhouse as a means to deal with fire hydrant vandalism and anti-social behaviour, and has snowballed due to the hard work of some very dedicated firefighters.

When I visited on Friday, third year pupils from St Mungo's were taking part in fire hose drills and fire and rescue simulation activities in Kilbirnie House. They certainly looked like they were getting a lot out of it. I sat in on two of the boys completing a 'rescue' in the cage room - they had to work together to negotiate their way around a two storey cage structure in the pitch dark wearing protective clothing and breathing apparatus. It's a great way of encouraging teamwork and communication, and I was impressed by the serious way the young people treated the exercise. It's certainly a good way of instilling respect for the dangerous work carried out by firefighters. Check out the video below!

Tuesday 5 May 2009

How some MPs live

I've been out delivering leaflets in the past week or two, and have been mulling over a comment one of my constituents made. It's been bothering me.

I'd put a leaflet through a door, and moved on to the next house in the street. A guy came out of the house, scrunched up the leaflet and, for dramatic effect, put it in the bin.

He said "when youse live like us, then you can come back and speak to us".

I didn't take the bait to go back and argue with him, because he clearly hadn't bothered to read the leaflet. The front of the leaflet was an update from John Mason. The back was a wee bit from me. John's side features a FAQ section, letting people know some details of his life as an MP. It mentions his home address, a flat in Sandaig Road Barlanark. Pretty modest. Certainly not a £350,000 house on the south side.

John gives an honest account of what Westminster requires of him - four days in London, three in Glasgow. I know this is odd to him, being so used to daily life in his ward. He's doing his utmost to be there for his constituents despite this, employing staff in the constituency, opening a highly visible shop on Shettleston Road, holding regular surgeries, visiting local groups. When Parliament's in recess, he's out leafleting and getting seen around the constituency. He works incredibly hard.

It upsets me that people think all politicians are the same, that we all have our noses in the trough. It's clear that the continual expenses scandals from London don't help combat this. It's a real shame that the badly behaved few manage to smear the rest of the hard working public representatives in this country.

I'm sure I've probably said it on here before, but I favour a move to the Scottish Parliament's open, accountable system, where all expenses are available for everyone to see. The Council isn't open enough either, and I'd like that to change. The register of interests isn't enough. Something like this would be a start.

PS - I realised I mentioned John's home but not mine - for info, I live in a flat on Roebank Street, between Ally Parade and the M8. It's small, comfy, and conveniently placed.