Tuesday 1 November 2011

On being a woman in politics

A few things have recently been rattling around in my head which concern women in politics; I've been trying to gather some ideas as to why there aren't more of us, and how I might encourage female candidates to come forward. At the same time, I noticed that the launch of the Counting Women In campaign, couldn't miss the outrageous attack on Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, and I've been enjoying Winnie Ewing's very readable autobiography. I've also been out on the doorsteps for Ken Andrew in Hillhead.

All of these together really say: the culture of politics in the UK is what's at fault. Women don't think it's for them and just disengage. 

Now, obviously that's a generalisation. I'm a woman, and I'm very engaged in politics. I'm prepared to accept I'm a bit odd.

I chapped on a door the other week while canvassing. I had Alexander with me in the pram. A woman answered, I politely introduced myself and my purpose on her doorstep - she shook her head and told me she wasn't interested. I asked why. She firmly asserted that all politicians are just the same. I asked her if anyone from any political party had ever come to see her with a baby in a pram. She thought briefly, admitted that'd never happened, and sent me on my way. 

I'm not sure whether that experience tells me whether I ought to a) leave the wee man at home or b) work on my doorstep pizzaz, but I bet that woman had opinions on all kinds of things. I don't think she believes them to be particularly political - provision of care services, or bin collection, say - but in the end they're determined by politicians. I want women like her to tell me what she wants and why it matters. More than that, I want women who care about issues to join political parties to further that cause. There are all kinds of causes promoted within the SNP, and I will most likely welcome you in.

I'm sure I've said before that I've always felt welcomed as a woman in the SNP, and that remains true. I'm not sure how Labour men treat women in general (not great by some accounts, which appear to be no barrier to reselection), but they're certainly not great at giving SNP women the respect they are due.

I recalled hearing when Winnie's book came out that she had been bullied while at Westminster. The Scotsman's 2007 interview put it thus:

As the lone SNP member in the Commons - at best an intimidating place for an inexperienced politician - she found herself without friends, without party colleagues, without any supporting structures. She was completely alone. She was hundreds of miles from her husband and her children in an excessively macho and very hostile environment. "I was treated as the enemy, I was shunned and despised. It's a peculiar experience to suddenly find yourself hated. At times I did feel terribly lonely, close to despair." 

Reading the autobiography, you really get a vivid picture of the pressure Winnie Ewing was under as an MP on her own. Her every action was scrutinised; if she didn't attend a debate, the other parties would ensure it got in the papers. The nuances of what said were taken apart. She was under political and personal attack from all sides and, even more sinister, stalked by another MP. Interventions by others had some impact, but it must have been a great emotional strain.

What I didn't know was that when Winnie was appointed as an MEP (pre-democratic elections to Europe), the bad behaviour of two particular Labour bullies continued in the European Parliament when she was alone again, deliberately working to ridicule and undermine her for over a year. By the account in the autobiography, this only ended when the President of the Parliament intervened, threatening to have them withdrawn as being "not fit to represent their country and Parliament in Europe".

You might think that, around forty years later, a female SNP MP might expect some kind of change to have occurred in attitudes, as with wider society. Women are accepted in a range of jobs, universities are gaining majorities of female students, there are innumerable opportunities and directions for careers. And then, there's Ian Davidson MP.

Eilidh has written a revealing article in the Scotland on Sunday - I'd urge you to read the full article, but I think this small quote does illustrate the point perfectly:

"It does not matter that all I had done was disagree with the committee. In fact what inspired Mr Davidson’s remark is utterly irrelevant. There is no action, no misbehaviour that justifies the threat or act of “a doing”. We hear too often of women being told they were “asking for it” in justification for intimidation or violence. I never expected to hear that from an MP in Parliament.

But this is not simply an issue of aggression towards woman; it’s about a culture of intimidation and bullying affecting men and women that seems to flourish with impunity in the Westminster world."

The tragedy is that it's primarily through this Westminster lens that the viewing population sees politics and politicians. They see argument, they see confrontation; they see crowds of boorish suits moaning a weary "hear hear". And they switch off. They say "that's not for me".

They don't see a politician arguing the case with a housing association, trying to help a vulnerable tenant. They don't see someone working on a committee, trying to improve a policy that will help improve children's health. They don't see the joy that is presenting prizes to year groups of school students, with the hope that you can encourage them in that tiny second as you shake their hand. They don't know what a privilege it is to be invited into so many lives and homes, to meet with groups and organisations and offer what help you can.

The work of politics should never be that yah boo nonsense that men excel at and so many women hate. More women should be in politics for the fantastic difference they can make every day.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Building in Bridgeton

I've been watching the new Glasgow Community and Safety Services building rise out of the ground near Bridgeton Cross over the past weeks and months, and on Thursday morning I got the chance to visit. Clyde Gateway were very helpful - both in minding Alexander while I donned a hardhat, and explaining how the building will work.

It's pretty impressive - the atrium area (shown in the photo) will dominate the building. There's a lot of light too, streaming in the big glazed areas facing south on London Road. The views over the city from the upper floors are also impressive - you can see the City Centre rooftops, up to Dennistoun, along to the new velodrome. 

Part of the rationale for the building of the offices is to show other developers why locating in Bridgeton can work for them - the development's still a few months away from having people sitting at desks, but you can just about imagine people working and meeting in the different spaces. 

Local people have been employed in the construction works, and although most of the jobs will be moving from a City Centre office to this one, this kind of development could really be a boost to local businesses, cafes, shops, and even various other retailers. It'll bring life to a bit of London Road that's quite lonely at night.

I'm looking forward to going back in the New Year, when more of the building works will be nearing completion.

Monday 24 October 2011

SNP Conference: A Family Affair

I love coming to SNP conference in Inverness; it was the first one I came to in 2003, so I always associate it with that first time and the excitement I felt then. It was really something to be a young activist in the Eden Court, knowing that I shared a belief in independence with so many others. The party remains full of bright, committed, friendly people, and I think it’s one of the SNP’s greatest qualities.

Being in the SNP is being part of a family. Even as I write this blog, on a laptop at the foot of the stairs in the old Bishop’s Palace part of the Eden Court, everyone’s been stopping to say hi and play with Alexander (aka Baby Nat) – Alex Salmond paused before his press interview to say hello (and has since come back and chatted about Casablanca), Auntie Nicola came to compliment him on his shoes, John Swinney was came and played a while with Percy, but Angus Robertson’s magic ear trick was sadly rebuffed. He's going to try again tomorrow!

It was in this friendly vein that Nicola’s speech began with by wishing Allan Angus – a fantastic activist I got to know living in Aberdeen – a very happy 78th birthday, and promising the twinkle-toed charmer a dance at tonight’s ceilidh. Her sincere thanks to activists for their hard work over the years was equally as warm and genuine.

I love to hear people talk about independence and the way that it motivates and inspires them. It’s different for everyone. There’s been a real focus in speeches today on independence as a means of bettering future generations – doing well by our children and their children. Alex Neil spoke of his renewed enthusiasm (not that it needed renewing!) since becoming a grandfather.

Nicola spoke of the aspirations of working class families, who can be sure that their children will make it to University without being inhibited by fees. 

I was speaking to a very proud mum in my ward last week, whose daughter is now in second year at Uni. Her eyes were shining with joy, telling me how well she’s getting on. I’m just delighted to be part of a party that values free education.

I was glad to hear Nicola speak about how much more we could do with the full powers Independence will bring:

“Independence means no longer having to watch our national wealth being squandered by Westminster governments. 

"Independence means having an economic policy suited to our needs, with increased capital investment supporting and creating jobs.

"Independence means having a welfare system that can tackle the scourge of child poverty. It means not having to put up with Tory policies that will consign tens of thousands of our children to a life of deprivation.

"Independence means deciding for ourselves whether to send our young men and women into conflict. And it means knowing that we need never, ever, again be dragged into an illegal war. 

"Independence means getting to decide our own priorities. 

"And, delegates, independence will mean no longer having to put up with the obscenity of Trident nuclear missiles on the river Clyde. 

"Delegates, Our case for independence will be based on the simple but powerful belief that, as a country, we are better placed than anyone else to take the right decisions for our future. 

"That with the talents and skills of our people, and control over our own resources, we can build a more successful, prosperous and socially just country. 

"It's a message of empowerment and responsibility. A message of hope and possibility.” 

This, as delegates, we already know in our hearts and our heads. I’m just loving taking that message out on the doorsteps, and those I’ve spoken to the doorsteps have been keen as well.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Parkhead Library

I've been keeping an eye on the renovations to Parkhead Library. When the library closed on the 11th of April, it was due to be closed for twenty weeks. 

I contacted Glasgow Life last week to see if they had a date for re-opening, but sadly it'll now be the week beginning the 3rd of October before the library is open to the public again. 

According to Glasgow Life:

"the 20 week completion date was an initial 
estimate by City Building who are undertaking the works. However, there has been significant 
reinstatement work required to the ceiling which wasn't anticipated at the outset. This has 
meant that specialist plasterwork has had to be undertaken, which unfortunately has 
resulted in a slightly longer timescale for the re-opening of the library."
I'm quite disappointed by this, as I know lots of people use the library not only for reading, but 
for accessing computers, participating in classes, and just meeting people. I'll continue to 
monitor the situation and will update on here if I get more info!

For weddings!

It's my third wedding anniversary today, but thoughts of marriage have been playing on my mind since last week, when John Mason laid down his controversial motion in the Scottish Parliament.

During summer recess when MSPs are in their constituencies (not on holiday, as some may think), visiting organisations and constituents and taking the time to prepare for the session ahead. This is particularly true of those newly - elected MSPs. It's not really a time to take stances unless you're very keen to do so, as anything remotely newsworthy is certain to get in the papers. And so it does

A Scottish Government consultation is to be held later in the year on equal marriage; it's well known that John is a man of faith, but I must say I didn't expect this motion at this time. The wording for those who've missed it, is as follows:

That the Parliament notes the current discussion about same-sex marriages and the Scottish Government’s forthcoming public consultation concerning equal marriage; further notes that, while some in society approve of same-sex sexual relationships, others do not agree with them; desires that Scotland should be a pluralistic society where all minorities can live together in peace and mutual tolerance; believes that free speech is a fundamental right and that even when there is disagreement with another person’s views, that person has the right to express these views, and considers that no person or organisation should be forced to be involved in or to approve of same-sex marriages.

Supported by: Dave Thompson, Bill Walker, Richard Lyle
The motion, and the interpretation of it has provoked a lot of debate, both within the SNP and outwith. It has opened the party to criticism, when the notion of disapproving of equal marriage is not party policy or anything approaching the view of most members I know. 

Three years ago, Joe and I had a civil ceremony in the beautiful Trades Hall in Glasgow, where we were strictly instructed not to mention God or religion anywhere in the proceedings. My family are notionally Church of Scotland, but since I hadn't been any kind of regular attendee at any church, I felt it would be a bit rude and hypocritical to suddenly decide that I wanted to be married in a church. It was a lovely ceremony, with poems by my brother and Joe's brother, and family and friends around us. 

I can't support the current situation, where for some, a marriage can't be called a marriage. To me, that is immoral and discriminatory. If two people love each other enough to stand up in front of friends and family, to commit to sharing a future together, they deserve to be recognised and celebrated by society, regardless of their gender. Some Churches may question this, but I wonder what their opposition serves other than to turn people away from organised religion. It may be that we could consider adopting practice such as in France, where everyone has to have a Civil Ceremony, followed by a religious one if people so choose.

For the sceptics and the critics, it's worth noting that an increasing number of MSPs have signed Patrick Harvie's amendment to John's motion. I hope that those who try to pin a badge of inequality on the party I love will bear this in mind.

As an amendment to motion S4M-00586 in the name of John Mason (The Equal Marriage Debate), leave out from “desires” to end and insert “considers that the balance between these views has changed substantially over recent decades, with the 2006 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showing 53% in agreement with equal marriage and only 21% in disagreement, and a poll in 2010 showing 58% support with only 19% against; congratulates the Scottish Youth Parliament on the launch of its Love Equally campaign for equal marriage and civil partnership, a campaign that it voted to select after consulting over 42,000 young people across Scotland; believes that the Scottish Government is recognising this shift in public attitudes with its forthcoming consultation on equal marriage; considers that allowing same-sex marriage and mixed-sex civil partnerships would in no way undermine the rights and freedoms of those who do not wish to participate in them, and further believes that it would be both right and popular for secular and religious Scots alike to be free to reach their own view on the legal status that is right for their own relationship instead of being banned by law from having their relationships recognised on equal terms.”

Supported by: Jamie Hepburn, Linda Fabiani, James Dornan, Sandra White, Liam McArthur, Jim Eadie, Kevin Stewart, Maureen Watt, Dennis Robertson, Joe FitzPatrick, Gil Paterson, George Adam, Kezia Dugdale, Alison Johnstone, Neil Findlay, Aileen McLeod, Joan McAlpine, Jean Urquhart, John Finnie, Drew Smith, John Park, Willie Rennie, Richard Baker, Mark McDonald, Jenny Marra

Monday 1 August 2011

Return to blogging

The past few months have flown past scarily fast. I never intended to give up blogging - I just couldn't find the time and energy to devote to it. I do think it's important though, and I hope (having given the blog a wee facelift) that I'll manage to stage a return to blogging.

I put a fair bit of effort into establishing and keeping up the blog; with so much going on in my ward, it would be a shame to let it die now. Twitter has been a good medium for sharing news quickly, but it lacks the depth of information or opinion that a good blog post can provide. So please forgive me blogosphere, and watch me fill this space!

Saturday 9 April 2011

Glasgow City Council fails to heed it's own advice

Just the other day, this letter appeared in my inbox, warning Councillors that we should be very careful what we send out during the period of the Scottish Parliament elections Quite right too - and not only because there are several Councillors bidding for one seat in particular.

You'll see in the second paragraph that the Glasgow Magazine is mentioned - how odd therefore that the Council itself has been caught using that very publication to make blatant party political statements

Sunday 27 March 2011

Illiterate Labour

My mum passed on to me this rather poor piece of campaign literature from Labour in Clydesdale. Labour are claiming to support the apprenticeships and the Council Tax freeze which they voted against, present falsehoods about NHS cuts, are apparently now against tuition fees which they introduced in government, and are promoting the 'two week cancer guarantee' (sounds a bit scary, but relates to waiting times, which have actually fallen under the SNP's stewardship).

The real sweetie in the letter is in the fourth paragraph. I've noticed before that Labour have a bit of a problem when it comes to literacy. This letter is just embarrassing - two typos in the paragraph which calls for bringing literacy teachers 'back' into schools for goodness sake. The simplest spell checker could pick that up. 

Furthermore, I'm not sure where these imaginary literacy teachers went, or how something which never existed can be brought back; as ever for Labour, the facts just get in the way of a nice wee bit scaremongering. 

If this is Labour's standard of campaigning, I do hope they contact lots of people...  

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Would you like your road repaired?

I've just received the following email... if you have any suggestions please get back to me and I'll add them to my list!

Dear Elected Member

Following the Council’s decision to award a further additional £8M capital to address the road condition challenge in Glasgow we are currently finalising our suggested programme for next year.

Could I, therefore, ask that you provide me with any detail based on local knowledge of locations or schemes that you would wish to have considered in the 2011/12 spend before we finalise this proposal.  Thereafter we will discuss the draft programme with Area Committees and other interested groups.

A response by Thursday 31 March 2011 would be appreciated as it would allow us to consider your priorities with those currently being developed by our Roads Investment Group.
Thanking you in anticipation for your assistance.



Robert Booth
Executive Director
Glasgow City Council
Land and Environmental Services
231 George Street

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Skittish Labour's Council Tax Confusion

Things really must be getting desperate over at John Smith House - Labour's recent u-turn on the Council Tax demonstrates how few ideas they have for governing Scotland. 

At Full Council back on the 28th of October, Glasgow City Council Treasurer James McNally proposed a motion saying that a continued freeze on Council Tax was "not sustainable" and called on the Scottish Government to "restore the flexibility to councils to set a reasonable level of Council Tax without suffering financial penalty". All very interesting euphemisms for increasing taxes, I'm sure you'll agree. 

Glasgow Labour were far from the only part of that party calling for an increase in Council Tax, however. Iain Gray had made remarkably similar comments in the Herald on the 3rd of October:

“It does not look to us that the council tax freeze is sustainable... They (local authorities) have to have as much flexibility as possible."

Labour were against the freezing of Council Tax, they said, due to the alleged threat to public services. That threat, if it ever existed, seems to have vanished like yesterday afternoon's snow flurry over Glasgow. 
In the Scottish Parliament, they claimed various catastrophes would strike: 

David Whitton (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (Lab): "The cost of the unfunded council tax freeze does untold damage to local authority services, just so the SNP can claim to have helped the average band D council tax payer to save a few pence a week."

Helen Eadie (Dunfermline East) (Lab): "Campaigners in Scotland warned that people would die as a result of the cuts, which councils blame on the SNP Government's council tax freeze."

On the 30th October 2010 Des McNulty made a conference speech claiming that:

"The consequence of freezing the council tax is cuts in our children’s education"

Where do all these spokespeople, Councillors and MSPs stand now? Do they still believe that the Council Tax freeze, which has  helped hard-pressed householders (including those on fixed incomes such as pensioners), is dangerous? Or did they never really believe that in the first place, prepared yet again to put the party political interest before the needs of ordinary people? I think they owe Scotland an apology, and at the very least an explanation.

Monday 14 March 2011

Conference Weekend


Really enjoyed SNP campaign conference over the weekend - not least as it was in Glasgow so I didn't have the hassle and expense of travel and accommodation! 

It's great arriving at conference, going into the venue to meet so many people you know. The SNP feels like an extended family to me - even though we are now the largest political party in Scotland with over 16,000 members, conference is like a big reunion, full of smiles, hugs, promises to catch up, and the odd dotled old auntie or uncle who you love despite their various eccentricities (I'm naming no names!). 

It's a bit different now I have Alexander - Joe's parents were visiting and they looked after him on the Saturday morning; everyone wanted to know where he was and why he wasn't attending! I put the opportunity to good use to pop around some of the exhibitor stalls, speaking to the Fire Brigades Union, Shelter and Action for Children among others. It's important to get the chance to find out what their key issues are, and to pass on some of the issues going on in my ward.

I also got called to speak on a resolution calling for our Government to re-introduce the policy of minimum pricing for alcohol. I've submitted speakers cards a few times at conferences past, and hadn't expected to be called this time either - so I was a bit surprised to hear Bruce Crawford call my name! I highlighted the issue of Labour in Glasgow City Council being implored by the Director of Public Health to support minimum pricing, but instead doing the equivalent of putting their hands over their ears and going 'lalallalala, can't hear you!'. It still drives me nuts that they would make such an important public health issue into a political football.

Joe dropped Alexander off just before his namesake (joking, really!) got up on the platform for the keynote speech. It was one of the finest speeches I've ever seen Alex Salmond deliver. He presented a real, tangible vision, calling on Glasgow as the former workshop of the empire to create a "new empire of the mind".

"We intend that this nation - this Scotland - researches and develops, constructs and fabricates and then supplies and maintains the new green energy systems that will dominate this century. 

We intend that this city of Glasgow, marine engineers the 21st century just as it once led the marine engineering of the 19th - when ships from the Clyde carried a nation in their hold."

"The green energy revolution in which we are embarked is the right course. It is the right course for Scotland, for Europe and for the planet. We shall be the green energy powerhouse of the European continent and a world leader in many of the key technologies."

Alex also made it clear how little the other parties have to offer, and their narrow,  vested interests; by contrast, we can really speak to and for all of Scotland.

"We speak for the poorest Scots the low paid families and pensioners who have benefited most from our freeze on the council tax and our ending of prescription charges.

We speak for the young delivering the 25,000 apprenticeships that Labour voted against, lowering class sizes and keeping education free

We speak for the vulnerable – we are protecting them with 1,000 extra police officers who have led crime to a 32 year low.

We speak for the aspirational.  The millions of Scots who want a better future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

We speak for those who want to start their own business. The small business bonus has cut or abolished rates for 80,000 small businesses. Labour voted against that as well.

We speak for the communities of Lossie and Leuchars who have served this country well and expect loyalty not betrayal in return.

Delegates we speak for all of Scotland and all of Scotland needs the Scottish National Party"

This last part of his speech is almost like poetry, with some great turns of phrase.

We have the best team on the park and we govern for the whole of Scotland.

But politics is nothing without a bigger vision 

In government, much is in the day-to-day 

But you must still keep an eye on the horizon 

On the big prize

For us that prize is independence 

But independence is a means to an end 

That end is a society safe, happy, healthy 

Confident in its skin 

A global citizen acting to help the world where it can 

Because the map makers’ ink is becoming smudged on every border 

Globalism, the rise of the knowledge economy, the big economic changes, the great environmental challenges

All point to a world where the responsibility of the nation 

Is to raise people who are responsible to the world 

And the definition of a nation is a community of people with a shared commitment to their culture and to their children 

By having a strong sense of ourselves 

That allows our new communities from Asia to know what it meant to be Scottish 

And to give them something to join, to be part of 

And that sense of self is built on community 

On the shared value of helping each other out, lending a hand

On a sense that society should try to be as equal as it can be 

That is what we value and what we think is the purpose of government. 

To the rights of the ordinary to triumph over vested interests.
In our capital city of Edinburgh there stands a monument to Thomas Muir and his fellow friends of the people

His memory should cast a beam across the work of every civil servant in the Scottish Government and every Minister – because the monument to Muir and his fellows revolutionaries spikes out of Calton graveyard like a shaft of stony light across from St Andrews House.

And this monument contains Muir's own vision:

“I have devoted myself to the cause of The People. It is a good cause - it shall ultimately prevail - it shall finally triumph.”

And his message was not just for this place, but for every place

For his spirit, for Robert Burn's spirit, Jimmy Reid’s spirit, our spirit,

It is for the common weal.

The rights of man - and of women

And the legitimacy of the ordinary over the powerful

This party has travelled a similar path

This movement, this nation, has been patronized, talked down, told it wasn't good enough.

And yet this party has risen from a few MPs and a land without a parliament, to a Scotland with a parliament, and an SNP government

We never lost the strength of hope - and we fought on to triumph.

But we, in our mix of the national and the international, of the personal and the political, we fought not to govern over people

But for the people to govern over themselves

It is for that reason and that reason above all that we are the Friends of the People of Scotland and for that reason we shall prevail."

I was very proud indeed of Alexander, who sat on my lap, bright, happy, quiet and attentive all the way through the speech. He repeated the trick for John Swinney on Sunday, but was a bit more restless for Nicola. I can only guess it's because he sees Auntie Nicola a lot more often!

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Calton meeting tonight

I've been asked by Betty Cosgrove, Chair of the Calton Area Association to let people know that there's a meeting tonight in the Thenew Housing Association offices on Green Street about plans for the memorial gardens. It's from 6pm-8pm. I have a surgery tonight, but hope to make it along!

I can't knit, but I can sew...

Prompted by a tweet and blogpost by Vonnie, I popped over to the Tramway on Monday afternoon to lend a hand to the Garterstitch 100 project for International Women's Day. The project aims to highlight the estimated 100 million women missing from the world today by creating a blanket with 100 million stitches; people have been knitting small squares so that together it will create a giant patchwork blanket.

I'm not the best knitter (my Gran White is excellent and my mum can crochet, but I'm a bit ham-fisted), but I hoped I could do something to help. I was in luck - all the beautiful, multicoloured squares that so many people had made needed to be sewn together, first into strips of ten, then blankets of 100! I managed to sew together seven strips, and these were quickly added to blankets. It was quite exciting seeing it all come together.

I couldn't manage over on Tuesday for the Loop 100 events for Women's Day, but I hope to pop over and see the blanket, which will be at the Tramway until Sunday. 

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Riverside Museum

I was invited by Glasgow Life to go on Friday morning for a wee sneak preview of the Riverside Museum, the new Museum of Transport down by the Clyde. Like many folk, I did love the old museum and wasn't quite sure I would like it; I was very pleasantly surprised. 

The museum is a striking building, although close up, it does seem a bit grey. The real treats are inside. 

I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say without giving up any secrets, but I can say that the big vehicles are all in place - trains, trams and cars of all descriptions. Some of the model ships are in place, lovingly cleaned and beautifully displayed. Other ships will get the chance to move as if sailing! There's a new old street, which feels so realistic you feel you could pick up some messages and get a pint while you're there. I can't wait to see the finished article!

According to the website, there will be more items on display than even in the old museum - with lots of interactive displays to put the items in context. I hope, since I asked questions about this at committee some time ago, that these will be built to last. We were told on the tour that museum curators will be able to add information, so there will always be more to discover. 

Part of the reason we got a preview was to spread the word about the Riverside Museum Appeal. All this restoration, preservation and inspiration doesn't come cheap - some £74million in fact. The Appeal hopes to generate £5million towards that total, and has nearly achieved that. They need your help to make it to the target. Please do check out the link, and find out more!

P.S. thanks to @michaels_dad, I now know that there is also an excellent blog for the project

Wednesday 23 February 2011

More Scottish Government money comes to Glasgow!

I'm attending an update event on the Commonwealth Games tonight at Tollcross Leisure Centre (5pm, all welcome!), so I was particularly pleased to see in my news feed this morning that Glasgow will be getting even more money from the Scottish Government related to the Commonwealth Games. 

The Scottish Government are already providing 80% of the funding for the Games; this additional sum of over £1m will go towards the redevelopment of the Theatre Royal and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

I've heard a few people in arts organisations mention that they were a bit concerned that the focus would be sport, sport, sport in the run up and legacy for Glasgow 2014, so it's good to hear that these important cultural venues will be getting investment too. 

"Culture and External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop confirmed the Scottish Government has allocated more than a million pounds from its 2011/12 budget for work on the Theatre Royal and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Scottish Opera will receive £605,000 to progress plans to upgrade the Theatre Royal while the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will receive £413,000 towards the redevelopment of its new home at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Ms Hyslop said:

"Hosting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is a fantastic opportunity to create a lasting legacy for the people of Scotland.

"The Scottish Government's funding commitment will enable Scottish Opera and the RSNO to take the first steps with the redevelopment of these venues, enhancing the programme of cultural activities on offer in 2014 and beyond and supporting Glasgow's continued status as UNESCO City of Music.

"These projects form part of the major regeneration work going on in Glasgow in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, which includes more than £1 billion of infrastructure projects which are already helping generate significant economic benefits for Glasgow and the whole of Scotland.

"The Scottish Government is passionate about delivering a successful Games which is not only a spectacular sporting extravaganza but which also showcases Scotland's world-renowned culture and creativity. Our intention is to make a further substantial capital contribution to the overall construction costs of the Theatre Royal Redevelopment and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall projects."

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Improvements for cyclists and pedestrians

Some info on forthcoming improvements for cyclists and pedestrians in the Calton ward. 

Glasgow City Council will shortly be commencing cycling and pedestrian infrastructure enhancements on Morris Path, London Road, Claythorn Park, Stevenson Street, Crownpoint Road, Fielden Street and Camlachie Street.

The main works which have been approved following statutory consultation; are to construct a new footway shared cycle path, from Glasgow Green to Parkhead Forge utilising existing footway with improved pedestrian safety and lighting along the length of the route.

In addition the following works will also be undertaken:

Upgrades to the Pedestrian Crossings at Fielden Street / Alma Street and Crownpoint Road.

Installation of Pedestrian Crossing on London Road at Claythorn Park / Morris Path.

Lighting upgrades along the route with the installation of enhanced lighting columns.

Installation of Raised tables at Stevenson Street / Tobago Street.

Newlay Civil Engineering Ltd, 55 Glencraig Industrial Estate, Airdrie, Lanarkshire, ML6 9AS have been appointed to undertake these works and intend to start on site week commencing 21  February 2011, the duration of the whole of the works being approximately 8 weeks. 

Every effort will be made to maintain loading/ unloading facilities within the area affected, although some disruption will be inevitable and it may be necessary for local residents and businesses to liaise with the contractor regarding deliveries/ rubbish removal, etc, as work progresses.


Some info on upcoming roadworks in the Calton ward area.

The main changes which have been approved following statutory consultation; are the proposals to amend the existing waiting and loading along the route in order to construct a new on carriageway segregated cycle path on London Road from Bridgeton Cross to Kirkpatrick Street and footway widening works on James Street and London Road from Kirkpatrick Street to Boden Street to provide a new 4.5m wide shared pedestrian / cycle path.

In addition, the following works will also be undertaken:

Upgrades to the Pedestrian Crossings at James Street / Arcadia Street & London Road / Dunn Street.

Bus stop upgrades along the route with the installation of High Access kerbs and enhanced bus shelters.

Newlay Civil Engineering Ltd have been appointed to undertake these works and intend to start on site week commencing 21  February 2011, the duration of the whole of the works being approximately 8 weeks. 

Every effort will be made to maintain loading/unloading facilities within the area affected, although some disruption will be inevitable and it may be necessary for local residents and businesses to liaise with the contractor regarding deliveries/ rubbish removal, etc, as work progresses.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Budget passed, Labour out of step!

I'm just rushing out to my surgery, but I'm delighted to hear the Scottish budget has passed. Labour failed again to rise above their petty politics for the greater good of Scotland. The other parties managed to find common ground. 

Take it to the doorsteps: Labour do not support the following:

A further £11.5 million to create 25,000 modern apprenticeship places - a 
record high for Scotland;
Abolition of prescription charges and the Council tax freeze;
Continuing Small Business Bonus Scheme;
Invest an additional £15 million across 2010-11 and 2011-12 in funding 
for college bursaries; 
1,000 additional police officers;
£10 million support for SME employment creation – focused on new 
starts, sole traders and small firms to take on new employees by 
assisting with employment and recruitment costs and assist with 
Provide 7,000 flexible training opportunities for SMEs - 2,000 more 
than originally planned in the draft Budget;

Invest £8 million to provide enough funding for an extra 1,200 college 

Maintain educational grants (EMAs) for pupils and college students 
most in need which were cut south of the border;
Extending the Living Wage of £7.15 to all agencies the Government is 
responsible for and Scotland's NHS; 
Guarantee a probation place for every newly-qualified teacher and 
provide enough teaching jobs for every post-probationer in 2011-12;

New Early Years and Early Intervention Fund, with start-up funding of 
£5 million;
£2m Freight Facilities Grant;

£1m Post office Diversification Scheme;
£12.5 million for Urban Regeneration Companies – increase of £6 million 
on the Draft budget;
£16 million further investment in Housing;

Protect Health Spending and continue provisions for free personal care;
£2.5 billion infrastructure investment programme;
Infrastructure Commitments such as the new Forth crossing, New South 
Glasgow Hospitals project and school building programme;

£70 million Renewables Infrastructure Fund – over four years;
£48 million support for energy assistance package and Home Insulation 
All this done in spite of £1.3 billion in cuts started under Labour.

Steak and Cherry

Big city centre fires are quite unusual these days due to improved fire detection; last night's fire in Sauchiehall Street looks to have been quite serious and could have been much worse. The crews who attended made some rescues in what must have been quite challenging circumstances, and they  rescued a family from the top floor of the building. 

If you live in a flat, you're dependent on the fire safety of those around you - an even greater risk if you live above a restaurant or shops. I consider it a responsibility to have a smoke detector - and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue will come and fit one for free if you ask. Do it today. 

On a less serious note - I was only in the Steak and Cherry once, at the end of a very random night out, but I'm still sorry to see it go.

Shortly after 11pm on Tues 8th Feb 2011, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue's Operations 
support centre in Johnstone received reports of fire at the premises of The Steak & 
Cherry Restaurant in Sauchiehall street, Glasgow.Initial appliances from Cowcaddens, 
Springburn and Yorkhill community fire stations were quickly mobilised and in 
The blaze which is thought to have started in the kitchen area of the premises,  
quickly spread to the upper floors and roofspace of the tenement style property. Due 
to the construction of these property types,hidden fire spread via enclosed voids and 
spaces, are notoriously difficult and dangerous for crew to tackle.
On arrival the crews were faced with a rapidly developing fire involving the 
restaurant itself and spreading to occupied residential tenement flats above. These 
intial crews had to deal simultaneously with the original fire, it's spread to the 
upper floors and more immediately,a family trapped by smoke in their top floor flat. 
In total two males, two females and a child were rescued by firefighter's using fire 
service ladders, which had been manhandled into position to an elevated area to the 
rear of the property.
Commenting on this aspect of the incident in particular, Area commander Garry Milne 
commended the crews saying " the rescue of this family from the upper floors, was a 
textbook ladder rescue".
The family was subsequently transported to the Royal Infirmary for a precautionary 
While this rescue was underway,firefighters assisted by their Police colleagues 
systematically searched and cleared adjacent flats.
Additional fire engines and crews were quickly ordered on to the incident, with at it's 
height, 11 engines, including two with a high reach capability responding and around 70 
Firefighters in attendance.
Premises and flats on either side of the affected part of the building were evacuated as a 
precautionary measure and in conjunction with Strathclyde Police and Local authority 
partners, overnight accomodation was arranged  for householders who required it.
The blaze was brought under control by a combination of high volume water jets being 
directed down from a high reach fire appliance and the sustained and determined efforts 
of Firefighter's entering with hand held hose lines.
Control of the incident was assisted greatly by Strathclyde Police organising traffic control,
cordons and an initial rest centre for residents evacuated.
A joint investigation into the cause of the blaze will be carried out by Strathclyde Fire and 
Rescue and Strathclyde Police. It is expected that crews will be in attendance for some 
considerable time and local traffic diversions have been put in place.
There is no further information available at this time.