Scotland’s future was mapped out today with the Scottish Government’s launch of its guide to an independent Scotland.
In a smooth performance First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy Nicola Sturgeon presented the 650 paged book of proposals.
Corralled in Glasgow’s Science Centre with several hundred journalists from around the world, the pair easily answered all the questions usually quoting the exact pages where the information was printed.
Alex Salmond called the document ‘the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published.’ Entitled ‘Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’ the 170,000 word document is available online and 20,000 copies have been printed. It can be read on: http://www.scotreferendum.com/
He said: Scotland’s future is now in Scotland’s hands. It won’t be decided by the government or the media but by the people of Scotland.’
Setting out his prospectus he said: ‘It is a mission statement for the kind of country we should be and which this Government believes we can be.’ He emphasised that one part marked the route to a vote for independence. The other part contained the proposals to achieve the objectives set out, should an SNP Government be returned in the general election following such a vote.
He said: ‘We know we have the people, the skills and the resources to make Scotland a more successful country. What we need now are the economic tools and powers to buld a more competitive, dynamic economy and create more jobs.’
Deputy Nicola Sturgeon asked as many people as possible to read the guide and make up their own minds about Scotland’s future. She said: ‘This is an incredibly thorough and detailed guide which includes 650 questions about an independent Scotland – with the answers.’
‘When it comes to social equality, health, quality of life and economic performance, Scotland has too often lagged behind the performance of our near neighbours across Northern Europe – many of them countries of similar size to Scotland.’
She went on: ‘ This is an unprecedented chance to transform our country for the better. Our employment and social policy proposals – including a revolution in childcare – show what is possible.’
Among the key parts of the massive document is a section detailing the changes needed, the opportunities independence would provide for a Scottish Government to make those changes and the present SNP Government’s priorities for action.
The timescale and the process needed for Scotland to make the transition following a ‘yes’ vote, are outlined. Details of the negotiations and agreements that would be needed are set out. Emphasis is placed on a written constitution and equality and human rights being protected and promoted in a future ‘modern democracy.’
Among the priorities of an SNP Scottish Government in an independent Scotland would be:
an expansion of childcare provision to enable more women and parents to work.
a reduction of corporation tax by three percentage points
cutting Air Passenger Duty by 50 percent.
A safe, ‘triple-locked pension’ to put more money into pensioners’ pockets.
basic rate tax allowances and tax credits to rise, at least, in line with inflation.
A change in the way ‘green levies’ are paid to save families around £70 a year on energy bills.
A fairer welfare system, including a halt to Universal Credit and the abolition of the Bedroom Tax.
Said Alex Salmond: ‘We do not seek independence as an end in itself, but rather a means to change Scotland for the better.’
Outside the historic launch there were three sets of demonstrators.
The persistent Anti-ATOS campaign with their Gorilla showing how barbaric they consider the ATOS health care company treats people they assess as job -ready. The group’s constant call is that ATOS should be removed as a sponsor of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Football fans ‘United 1994′ showing a spirited blue and green ‘together’ stance. And some totally committed Yes supporters who make a point of showing their devotion by being at all such events.
This website contacted all 12 candidates for the Shettleston by-election when they were confirmed. Each was invited to send a photograph and 150 words to say what they’d do FIRST if elected. Here is the latest to arrive.
This makes the fourth candidate to respond. Only eight more to go…
ALASDAIR DUKE, Green Party
I would work alongside other Councillors, including Glasgow’s five Green Councillors to prevent cuts in services for elderly, children and young adults.
Greens pushed the Council to increase discretionary housing payments to tackle the dreadful bedroom tax and to support food banks. We support community empowerment, allotments and local food networks. These allow people to grow their own food, work together as a community and get funding to do it.
Greens are working with the Council to reduce fuel poverty by creating local electricity-generation projects such as the windmills on Cathkin Braes. They should attract grant funding and offer quality local employment.
I’d keep essential services especially in social work and schools and end a culture of big retirement pay-offs to senior managers.
I believe in listening to people and would have regular surgeries in various locations throughout Shettleston to ensure I am listening to and working hard for Shettleston.
A forceful Facebook campaign resulted in almost 200 people attending a ‘gathering’ to discuss the state of Govanhill and Crosshill on Saturday 16 November in Holyrood Secondary School. At the end of the day, Westminster MP Anas Sarwar and local MSP Nicola Sturgeon answered questions.
Angry local residents said it was a repeat performance of five years ago when a similar event showed how run-down the area was and what the main problems were.
But the Restore Govanhill Community Group who set up the Facebook initiative with co-operation from Glasgow City Council, Govanhill Housing Association, Govanhill Community Development Trust and Police Scotland, delivered some straight talking.
Neutral chairperson Jonathan Coburn of Social Value Lab set out the plan for the day which ended with a free lunch but not a free-for-all. He conceded there were ‘lots of tensions,’ and that ‘Glasgow City Council was not the best at listening.’
Pressure of time obliged Gordon Smith of the Govanhill Partnership to give a very fast presentation on local service provision. A powerpoint presentation provided a great volume of facts and figures which, he said, proved the area had ‘moved on considerably.’
He touched on the £1.5 million provided by the Scottish Government to reduce the density of private landlord provision with 500k of that due to be used in 2014/15.
Improvements in backcourts were highlighted. ‘But this is not finished. Nothing like it,’ he added. ‘There are nine backcourts to go.’ Front garden improvements in Allison Street were about to start and a community training garden was included in the Development Trust plan.
He detailed how much had been spent already on tenement repairs and controlled entry systems. ‘But they’re not much use if people don’t bother to use them,’ he commented. Another £5 million was committed to housing stock repair. And 500 tonnes of fly tipped rubbish was cleared away from the area last year. Around 80 bags of street litter are picked up locally, daily.
Gordon Smith went on to say increased Police visibility had reduced anti-social behaviour.
Despite all the improvements, five of the 12 datazones were ranked in the bottom 10% in Scotland for health. Another four were in the bottom 5% for addiction and mental health problems. While drug related health issues were down, low birth weight was only ‘improving.’
The success of 600 children from four local primary schools enjoying the ‘Big Noise Orchestra’ established by Sistema Scotland was important, he said, as a long term intervention.
Assessing the level of poverty, Govanhill had half its datazones in the 15 bottom ranks in Scotland. All but two datazones were in the bottom 30.
Other statistics he gave were that people in the area were 150% more likely to be unemployed, 50% were on benefits and 75% on job seekers allowance. Of the 2600 properties owned by private landlords 2300 were now officially registered.
His outline of Govanhill differed from the survey carried out by the Restore Govanhill Community’s survey.
In her first ever public speech, Jade Ansari Murphy, who started the Facebook campaign, said: ‘No one said the place was getting better. The vast majority said it is getting worse and a few said it was about the same.’
‘Living conditions here are not acceptable. People are leaving because of crime and lack of cleanliness.’ Pictures posted on the Facebook pages showed how bad some streets and backcourts were. ‘But why has it needed a Facebook campaign before anything is done?’ she asked.
‘This is our community. We want a clean living environment. We want to be happy to live here.’ Her passionate speech was followed by details of the survey given by Fiona Jordan, another of the Facebook campaigners.
Restore Govanhill Community had asked nine questions which were answered by more than 220 people in a seven day period using online internet technology and going round local businesses such as hairdressers to ask people not on the internet, for their views.
When asked: ‘How strong is the sense of community in Govanhill?’ 54.07% said not strong; 31.10% said strong and 15.79 said very strong.
When asked: ‘How safe do you feel in Govanhill?’ 81.11% said ‘not safe’, 15.21% said ‘safe’ and 3.69% said ‘very safe.’
When asked: ‘How clean is Govanhill compared to other areas in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland?’ 100% said ‘not clean.’
Said Fiona: ‘We thought we’d made a mistake when we got 100%. We laughed and said that couldn’t be true and certainly would not be acceptable in any university dissertation. So we went back to check all the figures. From the comments we found the word ‘clean’ was the problem. People said we should have used – manky, boggin’, minging – compared to other areas.’
Comments ranged from ‘a disgrace,’ to ‘a hovel’. This illustrated the great frustration people felt and their sense of shame. We urgently need more resources. All residents need to know the process to dispose of anything. How come the entire contents of a house can be dumped in the street and no one knows who did it?’
Continuing with the analysis of the survey she said the question ‘How proud are you to say today, you live (or have lived) in Govanhill?’ had 70.42% saying ‘not proud’ 13.62% saying ‘proud’ and 7.98% saying ‘very proud’ with 7.98% saying the question didn’t apply.
When asked: ‘Overall, are you satisfied with your experience jof living, working and visiting Govanhill?’ 79.81% said ‘not satisfied,’ 16.90% said ‘satisfied’ and 3.29% said ‘very satisfied.’
Summarising the changes need to improve Govanhill, the survey said the area needed ‘a vision.’
‘Government at both national and local level must show leadership and come together with the local community to provide that strategic vision. Many people now look to neighbouring communities such as Gorbals and Oatlands and feel that in comparison, their area has either been abandoned or ignored. At best, Govanhill has received ad hoc, fragmented investment and improvements to the physical built environment and any attempts at improvements to local services such as cleansing have been short term and inconsistent.’
Some people surveyed saw ‘demolition of the area’ as the only solution. Others said that strong leadership and investment from Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council was an ‘absolute requirement’ to ‘re-awaken the spirit of Govanhill.’
Said the summary: ‘This leadership must have the capacity to create and deliver a regeneration strategy that utilises joined up thinking and services from all areas and aspects of government and local agencies. That strategy must implement legislation to prevent slum-like properties, unscrupulous landlord practices, unsanitary cleansing conditions and a feeling of threat to safety from ever prevailing again in Govanhill.’
The ‘snapshot’ survey had been printed out to distribute on the day. But two of the Facebook Restore Govanhill Community Group were confronted by five police officers before the event started and warned that if they did distribute it they’d be liable to be prosecuted for some racist comments it contained.
Said Jade: ‘We were very careful to delete anything we thought was unacceptable and we don’t know how the police got a copy of the survey.’
Another member of the Facebook Group was visited by two police officers on the morning of the event to be questioned about a person who’d lived at that address 13 years before. They also asked where the current householder was going that morning? When asked for their badge numbers, the police officers left.
Following workshops where people vented their strong feelings on the issues, the politicians faced the diminished crowd.
Commented Jade afterwards: ‘We feel we’ve been met in a positive, constructive manner and look forward to meetings promised soon.’
Many Glasgow agencies, working to respect the planet, found much in common today thanks to Maryhill Climate Challenge. The Challenge had organised a Community re-use day in the Community Central Halls in Maryhill Road near St George’s Cross.
Pan African Arts Scotland used cloth for its art works which came from The Reclaimer. That agency encourages people to start the separating process in their own home then picks up the things being disposed of and re-cycles them.’I didn’t know these other people before,’ said Naa Densua Tordzro the fashion designer at Pan African Arts.
The Impact Arts young team were making bird boxes out of wood that was being thrown out. ’We didn’t know many of these organisations at this community re-use day, either,’ said Dawn Barrett Impact Arts team leader. Impact Arts is recruiting 16-19 year olds who are not in education or training for a new course starting now.
Among the others mixing and finding useful connections were Spruce Carpets which trains people to clean quality carpets they’ve been given before they sell them on.
GalGael, the Govan based group which enables people’s skills to emerge through learning to build things in wood, particularly, was also at the event with some of their unique products. Most people don’t know that GalGael crafted the wooden handle of the Queen’s silver baton which is currently travelling round the world. But items as fine as that will be available to buy at their Christmas Fair on Saturday 14 December at their Fairley Street premises in Govan, G51 2SN
From Crieff, mosaic Artist Katy Galbraith had a full stall of fascinating items from ornaments to mirrors all embellished with beautiful, colourful mosaic designs. ‘I use anything from crushed windscreen fragments to coloured sweetie papers to make things,’ she said.
Starter Packs Glasgow gives packs of household goods such as dishes, cutlery and bedding, to people who’ve been homeless and are setting up in a new place. ’We always need donations,’ said their spokeswoman. ‘We’re at 47 Burleigh Street, Govan G51 3LB.’
And GUEST – Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team – is working with the university staff and students to promote sustainable transport, biodiversity, energy conservation, and recycling including embedding the concept of sustainability within the curriculum.
Said Lauren Lochrie of Maryhill Climate Challenge: ‘While I would have liked more members of the public in today as well as the schools which came, I am pleased so many of the organisations we invited have become acquainted with each other for they have lots in common.’
Anti ATOS campaigners demonstrated today at the door of the legal advisers to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – Harper Macleod LLP. There was no monkey business – but there was a ‘gorilla’ wearing a white ‘doctor’s coat’ with ‘trained ATOS Medical Examiner’ printed on the back.
The law company is located in the same city centre office block in Gordon Street as ATOS health care which carries out assessments for people being reviewed by the Department of Work and Pensions to find those capable of working.
ATOS (Societas Europae) is the IT wing of ATOS which provides the technology for the Games results, volunteers and many other facets of the 2014 event.
In recent months the campaigners have carried out a series of similar demonstrations at targeted companies including ATOS health care and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games offices.
Spokesman for the Anti ATOS campaigners, Sean Clerkin, said: ‘We think Harper Macleod should be ashamed for not calling on ATOS to be removed as a sponsor of the Games. We consider ATOS is responsible for the deaths of 2,200 people who died before the end of their ATOS assessment process. Some committed suicide, others were terminally ill. ATOS is responsible for driving tens of thousands of disabled people from social security benefits, reducing them to utter penury and extreme poverty.’
The group left a letter for the law firm’s chief, Professor Lorne Crerar calling on him as a co-sponsoring company of the Commonwealth Games, to: ‘talk to your fellow sponsors, such as Ernst & Young, Ford, etc to exert pressure to remove ATOS as a sponsor as they are not fit to grace such a fine occasion as the Commonwealth Games in 2014.’
Harper Macleod’s website says: ‘The values we treasure: Integrity, trust and a strong sense of social responsibility. We expect our people to maintain these characteristics in all our business dealings with clients, with each other and with our stakeholders in our wider communities.’ A comment is awaited from Harper Macleod.
By the end of the brief demonstration inside the Ca’d’oro building, the half dozen demonstrators were outnumbered by nine police officers. After some discussion between the demonstration leader and the senior police officer, the group left the building quietly.
Later ATOS issued a statement: ‘We fully respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we understand that the Work Capability Assessment can be very difficult.
We do not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure that service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be. We do this through a constant programme of training and education for our staff, a rigorous recruitment process for healthcare professionals and through continual work with the Government, disability rights groups, healthcare professionals and those going through the process on the ground.’
Following the death of Labour Party Councillor George Ryan last month, his seat in Glasgow’s Shettleston Ward 19 is being contested by 12 candidates – only one of them is a woman.
As this website did when there was a by-election recently in Govan, we have invited each of the candidates to give us 150 words telling what they’d do FIRST, if elected.
Here are the few responses we’ve received so far. Voting takes place on Thursday 5 December under the Single Transferable Vote system. Voters mark 1 against the candidate who is their first choice, 2 against the name of the candidate of their second choice and so on.
In Govan there was only a 20% turn-out of voters – 10% less than the previous election. So far, there are no serious signs of a bigger turnout in Shettleston.
JAMIE COCOZZA, Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.
LAURA DOHERTY Scottish National Party (SNP)
‘Should I be elected on Thursday 5th December, my first priority will be to get into the City Chambers and get the relevant Council officers working on problems relating to parking around Mount Vernon Primary School, the anti-social behaviour in the Kilmany estate and the refurbishment of Tollcross Winter Gardens. In the case of the latter, there is a very serious danger that if work isn’t undertaken, then the winter gardens will end up looking like the Springburn glasshouse. As the local Councillor for Shettleston I simply won’t allow this to happen.’
JAMES SPEIRS Scottish Liberal Democrats
Our city is facing real challenges. As a councillor, I would fight to improve skills training for young people and boost support for local businesses. Unemployment is a big problem. We need to be getting more people in Shettleston into work.
I am angry that the Labour Administration has cut its funding to day centres and carers’ groups while wasting money on other things. They have left council taxpayers with a bill for £100,000 after scrapping the competition to re-vamp George Square and they paid a golden goodbye of £600,000 to a Director of Social Work who retired at 54 after less than six years in office.
We know that a choice between Labour and the SNP is no choice for Shettleston. Labour have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds. The SNP have pushed through college reforms which have slashed the number of part-time places in Glasgow.
A Christmas pop-up will happen on Saturday 30 November between 3pm and 6pm in Possilpark’s Saracen Street. And everyone and their dog…or cat is invited!
Those there at 5pm will witness the Saracen Street Christmas Lights SWITCH ON. It rivals George Square for excitement and glamour.
Santa’s Elves who’ve been working to make the pop-up happen, are charities Depot Arts and Concrete Garden which work in partnership to provide art and gardening services locally.
With the theme of ‘Just Imagine’ the pop-up will appear in the Imaginarium at 257a Saracen Street. Most of the items on sale are made from re-cyclable materials and are made by local people and specialised crafters. A wide range of goods will be available and suitable to gift at Christmas.
Local musicians are scheduled to play and there will be activities for children, a raffle, food, cakes, home baking, jams and other things to buy.
The invitation distinctly says: ‘Open to everyone and their dog… cats invited too!’
Charlie Reid Centre
In our Community Café
19 Elmbank Street
Thursday 5th December
11:30 till 3:30pm
Home Baking Jewellery Xmas Gifts
Bottle Stall Raffles Books
Come along and grab a bargain
All donations greatly appreciated
Asylum seekers in Scotland have set up their own residents’ association to promote the interests of all residents in asylum seekers’ housing.
They will have an open day on Saturday 16 November at Alive and Kicking’s building in Red Road, Glasgow. The organisers will provide information about housing and carry out a survey to gauge how satisfied people are with current arrangements.
Called Scottish Asylum Seekers Residents’ Association, the organisation will liaise between the accommodation provider and the resident. It will also support individuals who wish to raise concerns about housing conditions or needs.
Established in 2009, the Association is run by people from a variety of troubled countries around the world. They have a wide range of cultures and languages but all are resident in Scotland.
Originally the Association worked with the YMCA or Ypeople who originally provided housing for Glasgow’s asylum seekers. That multi million pound contract is now held by Serco with Orchard and Shipman Housing as the local operator.
Anyone keen to create a Zero Waste Society is sure to find lots of help on Friday 22 November in the Community Central Hall at 292-316 Maryhill Road G20 7YE.
From 10am till 2pm that day a community re-useevent will be held there by Maryhill Climate Challenge (MCC) group.
Part of the European Week for Waste Reduction, the day will promote re-use and re-cycling of everything possible with the aim of hitting a Zero Waste Society soon.
Lauren Lochrie, is project officer for Food Cycle developments at Maryhill Climate Challenge. Along with her colleagues, she aims to improve health, reduce fuel poverty, improve biodiversity and improve the quality of the built environment through promoting a low-carbon lifestyle.
‘Our idea is to promote re-use and re-cycling to move towards a zero waste society,’ she said. ‘Along with the Glasgow re-cycling charity ‘The Reclaimer’ we’ll be providing textile printing and arts and crafts workshops. Local re-use organisations and charities have been invited to join us with promotional tables or give workshops.’
Among those who’ve taken up the invitation are Impact Arts, The Reclaimer and Pan African Arts. The event is free to the public.
More information see:
http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/ewwr2013 or The Reclaimer’s Facebook : – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Reclaimer/156816964330622?ref=hl and Maryhill Climate Challenge Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryhillClimateChallenge