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.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Oh, what tangled webs they weave...

I found Newsnicht unusally satisfying last night. It was something of a relief to see that finally, finally, the truth has caught up with the Labour Party in Scotland and bitten them on the bum. 

I've seen it often enough - scaremongering over bus passes when we actually expanded the scheme, saying Glasgow is 'ripped off' when we have the Commonwealth Games, M74, Southern General, the new rail line linking the East End to Edinburgh and new housing  for social rent popping up all over the city (and much more besides!).

The Megrahi affair was particularly distasteful, attempting to make party political gain on the back of Scotland's justice system and the families of the Lockerbie dead. 

All the time, when they had been notching up the fury against Kenny MacAskill for taking the legally and morally correct decision to release Al Megrahi, their counterparts in London had been bending over backwards for some time to help Libya secure his release by any other means. 

Other bloggers out there have made particularly good points on the matter, so I feel it best just to point you in their direction: Joan, Moridura, Pop, and Peat Worrier. This video of the hapless Richard Baker on Newsnicht is a must-watch.

"That leaves you with only three positions; either you knew and have been completely hypocritical, you didn't know and were completely sidelined by London in this or you knew and thought that the Prime Minister, the foreign secretary, the entire Government were unprincipled in the decision they were making and you would stand against them. Which is it?"

Friday 4 February 2011


I can't believe it's been more than a month now since I've posted. I've been so busy! Work is coming in steadily from constituents, I've been meeting groups, and catching up on briefings. There have been meetings of the Board of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, Health and Social Care Committee, and External Governance Scrutiny. Baby Alexander is now seven months old, starting to eat a variety of food and get about more under his own steam. 

Here are a few photos to illustrate what I've been up to! 

Campaigning! With less than 100 days until the Scottish Parliament elections, I've been out working for our candidate for Glasgow Shettleston, John Mason. Alexander has been helping me, and finds our materials quite tasty.
Arguably less tasty, but more nutritious, we've started weaning. I've discovered the butternut squash is hazardous to fingertips when dismembered with a sharp knife.
Committees. It's hard getting time to read the papers these days; harder still to focus and contribute at the meetings while keeping the wee guy entertained, but I think I'm managing. At Health and Social Care Labour were caught acting against the best interests of young people in our schools, undermining their own health messages by selling cakes and crisps (albeit within health guidelines) to make a profit. 

Family. I don't see them as often as I'd like, but my mum and dad did their first bit of babysitting last week. Exciting times. Alexander also attended two more football matches this month. You can tell he's impressed!

Champions! I attended the Community Champions awards, and was particularly chuffed to see the hardworking young people's group PEEK scoop up a prize. Their theatre productions are really fantastic.
Surgeries. Still doing eight a month, which is more than the Labour Councillors (details on the side bar). The one pictured is Bridgeton Library, where I get very well looked after by the wonderful staff!
Buddies. I attended two sessions at the Gorbals Leisure Centre for young people involved in the Active Kids Buddy scheme. They lead their peers in a range of activities in the playground at break time, which should lead to healthier, happier young people! St Anne's, Sacred Heart and St Michael's were all represented. I got a go on the Gladiators inflatable, and also got to play with the big ball pictured!
Burns. Much nervousness and inspiration needed for the Reply to the Toast to the Lassies last Saturday night at the Shettleston SNP Burns Supper. I'm hoping my mix of footie and politics went down ok!
Baby. He can now move from one side of the living room to get stuck under this coffee table. Eek.