A petition asking for Atos to be removed as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games moved to the next stage of the Scottish Parliament process without one question being asked of the people presenting it.
Evidence for the proposed action was given to the Petitions Committee today (Tuesday 18 March 2014) by Sean Clerkin, spokesperson and fellow campaigner, Iain MacInnes of the Glasgow Against Atos campaign.
In his presentation to the six MSPs attending the Petitions Committee, Sean said Atos was a ‘toxic brand’ and it was morally wrong for the company to profit from the misery they imposed on the hundreds of thousands of people they were assessing on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions and declaring fit to work.
‘This company pays not one penny in corporation tax,’ said Sean. ‘During the assessment process at least 22,000 people have died. One man, in Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency, was taken off benefits and found, months later, having starved to death weighing only five stones.’
He concluded: ‘MSPs with a moral conscience should do the right thing and terminate the Atos contract as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. If not, the Games will be tarnished for ever.’
Answering the unspoken question of why Atos Healthcare should be targeted when it was Atos IT which was the Games sponsoring company, Iain MacInnes said: ‘The health care company and the IT company are part of the same Atos group. The so-called health care company is not in any shape or form caring for people’s health. It is working to a mathematical formula to get a target percentage of people off disability benefit. It is dealing with numbers in the same way an IT company deals in numbers.’
He offered the Petitions Committee fact packs detailing people who had suffered great hardship because of the Atos assessments processes. ‘Some of them are living in fear of losing the small amount of benefits they receive, so don’t want their names revealed,’ he stressed. ‘That’s why we don’t always give their names.’
After expressing his ‘great disappointment’ to the Petitions Committee that no questions were asked on their presentation, Sean told this website afterwards: ‘They are a disgrace. These people are supposed to be working on behalf of the people of this country. We have brought this Petition here in good faith believing they would scrutinise what we are saying and then make a decision to act. What they are doing is sending out our petition to many relevant bodies – including the Scottish Government, the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, ATOS, the Department for Work and Pensions, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland and so on – to get their feedback. Before the responses are likely to be collated, the Games will be over.’
The Committee was chaired by David Stewart (Convener) with the others in attendance being: Chic Brodie (Deputy Convener) Jackson Carlaw, Jim Eadie, David Torrance and John Wilson. The only woman at the table was one of four civil servants.
The full Petitions hearing can be seen on the Scottish Parliament website/videos/ 18 March. It is after that of Jackie Watt and Jane Plumb, Chief Executive of the Group B Strep Support. Both women have personal experience of babies dying from the condition.Their petition was to raise awareness of Strep B in pregnancy and ways to prevent it affecting mothers and infants during birth. It was screened at 1.07.56 and the Anti-Atos Petition PE1508 was heard at the end of the Group B Strep petition at around 34.56
Labour Councillers were told they had ‘blood on their hands’ at a stormy meeting of Glasgow City Council today. (Thursday 31 October 2013)
Shouted from the public gallery after a motion to removed ATOS as a corporate sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games was defeated, several people there loudly condemned the Councillors. One man was arrested and charged with alleged breach of the peace. Police Scotland (Strathclyde) say a report has been sent to the Procurator Fiscal.
The motion was moved by SNP Councillor Billy McAllister from Canal Ward 16.
While recognising the ‘immense economic and social benefits’ to be derived from the 2014 Commonwealth Games and commending the international exposure which Scotland and Glasgow would receive from the Games, Councillor McAllister said: ‘ATOS must go as a sponsor. This is a company without any conscience. It is destroying lives.’
He gave details of individuals who had been assessed by ATOS Health Care as fit to work. One died within weeks of being declared fit for work. Another committed suicide. Said Councillor McAllister: ‘At least 10,000 people have been declared fit for work. ATOS is an ugly stain on our society. Their costly contract should be pulled. I do not wish to accept the shocking damage ATOS is doing to Glasgow’s citizens.
Even as people in the public gallery applauded him, the Lord Provost gave him a dressing down for being ‘disrespectful’ of her by continuing to speak well beyond the time permitted.
SNP Councillor John Letford of Maryhill/Kelvin Ward15, supported the motion to removed ATOS as a sponsor of the Games. He said ‘ATOS is the problem, not the solution.’ He called on people working for the health care assessment sector of the company who believed in social justice to follow their conscience and move to another job. ‘We must remove this monster called ATOS,’ he said.
But Labour Councillor Archie Graham for Langside Ward 7, who is Executive Member for the Games said: ‘You must separate ATOS health care from the Games sponsor ATOS which is a different arm of the company.’ He accused the SNP Councillors of attempting to damage the Commonwealth Games. He produced a picture of Nicola Sturgeon, SNP Deputy First Minister ‘enthusiastically participating’ in a Commonwealth Games lead-in event where she was being ‘cheered on’ by ‘the man from ATOS.’ He said it had been decided that ATOS was capable of delivering the Games’ services. ‘It is now impossible to distance ourselves from them. Where would the billions of pounds of sponsorship come from now?’ he queried.
Both Green Party Councillor Martha Wardrop for Hillhead Ward 11 and First Glasgow Councillor Stephen Dornan for Govan Ward 5 spoke out strongly against retaining ATOS as a sponsor for the Games.
Councillor Wardrop said she strongly criticised ATOS and the way it treated people being assessed. But challenged the Labour group that their concern was ‘All about the money they are bringing to the Games.’
Councillor Dornan urged Labour Group members to vote with their conscience. ‘Money can never replace people. That’s your choice.’
In his final response, Councillor McAllister said to Councillor Graham directly: ‘Shame on you if you put profit before people. You can’t say this is outwith your area. This is about our constituents in Glasgow. If you don’t vote with your conscience, this will come back to haunt you. This should not be about party politics,’ he warned.
The final vote was 29 for Councillor McAllister’s motion and 42 against.
At that point the public gallery erupted with people shouting down to the Councillors and throwing down handfuls of monopoly money.
One man shouted: ‘How will the disabled athletes look on this?’
As the police intervened in the public gallery the Lord Provost closed the Council session. Most Councillors re-assembled after a 20 minute break to continue the business of the day.
During the recess Councillor McAllister said he was very angry about the whole issue. ‘A lot of Labour Councillors said to me privately they’d like to support this motion but the Labour Group have whipped them into voting against it. It shows the state of Labour in Glasgow when they can’t vote with their conscience. We govern the city. If we don’t condemn the way ATOS goes about its health business we are condoning it.’
Before the Council meeting re-convened, Councillor Graham called Councillor McAllister’s conduct ‘an outrage.’
Rod Stewart will NOT be the first to perform in the SSE Hydro which opens on Monday 30 September 2013 in Glasgow. Two musicians and SoundSational Community Choir took the opening honours when they sang at the preview night for those who steered the venue to the on-time, on budget launch.
Singer songwriter Murdo Mitchell was busking when he was spotted by an SSE Hydro organiser and hired to entertain the crowd arriving for the preview. ‘It’s just fantastic to be here,’ said the teenager.
The other singer songwriter who has beaten Rod to the SSE Hydro first spot is Pete Westwater.
A seasoned performer, he was playing a gig in a Glasgow music spot when he was heard by another organiser of the venue opening events and hired on the spot. ‘It’s a great privilege to be here,’ said Pete.
The choir was followed by Admiral Fallow a group forecast by music pundits to be heading for stardom.
The venue seats 12,000 and is the only one of this size purpose built for world class concerts such as Rod Stewart. Even before it opens, it is ranked among the top five busiest venues in the world alongside Madison Square Gardens in New York and The O2 in London because 140 major entertainment and sports events are scheduled. Glasgow’s latest Waterfront building will also host the 2014 Commonwealth Games gymnastics and netball sports.
An iconic building which glows blue and green at night, it is expected to inject around £131 million into the local economy. It is part of the SECC complex and sits well alongside the Clyde Auditorium (the Armadillo) and the SECC.
The only off-note is that the cost of parking a car in the adjacent, purpose-built car park is £7.
More than 30 people took over the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome arena today to protest against the Atos company being a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. They entered as a normal group touring the Emirate facility at Parkhead. As they reached the centre of the arena they unfurled banners and posters and shouted that ‘ATOS KILLS’
But for a few cyclists in training, the velodrome was empty.
One of the protest leaders said: ‘Both Glasgow Archbishop Philip Tartaglia and the STUC have spoken out about the inhumane way Atos Health Care treats people being sent to them by the Department of Work and Pension for assessment. More than 2200 people have died while going through the assessment process. Some of them have committed suicide. The stress is shocking. The treatment people receive during assessment is degrading. We want to highlight to the people of Glasgow and of Scotland that ATOS is not fit to be a sponsor of the Games.’
Atos Health Care is a different wing of the company from Atos SE which is the Games sponsor. The latter is an information technology company responsible for the accreditation systems for the 70,000 Games participants and for the volunteer systems and results delivery to the media.
Glasgow Life which runs some of the facilities within the Emirate stadium said it was a pity this had happened as it might impact on the hundreds of members of the public who use the premises on a daily basis. A response from the 2014 Commonwealth Games and from Atos is awaited.
Glasgow took cycling to its heart today when the 2013 British Cycling National Road Race Championships took place in the city centre.
An estimated crowd of 30,000 turned out to watch almost 200 elite athletes compete.
Former Road World Champion Mark Cavendish and London Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead were the winners.
Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quickstep) beat defending champion Ian Stannard (Sky Procyling) and 2007 champion David Millar in a sprint for the line to take his first national champion’s jersey, which he will wear during this year’s Tour de France. Simon Yates, World Points Race champion, won the Under 23 championships from 100% ME teammate Owain Doull and Team Raleigh’s Tom Moses.
Earlier in the day, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) regained the title she won in 2011, beating the Wiggle Honda duo of Laura Trott and Dani King. Trott’s 2nd place saw her take the U23 women’s title, ahead of Emma Grant (Matrix Fitness Racing) and Elinor Barker (also of Wiggle Honda).
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council said: ‘Glasgow was buzzing with excitement The success of today’s event and the fantastic public support stands us in very good stead for the portfolio of world-class events we have coming to the city prior to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and beyond.
‘As a city, we recognise how important cycling is not only to elite athletes, but to general health and wellbeing and this is why we are committed to developing cycling at all levels. I’m sure today’s event will be an inspiration for many of our stars of the future.’
Highlights of the British Cycling National Road Championships will be broadcast on ITV4 on Monday 24 June at 19:00 hours.
There were a few minor hiccups for some local residents who had not been notified of car parking restrictions. Their cars were not towed to the city pound but simply removed to a location outwith the race zones. The race brought major benefits to all road users as Glasgow City ensured that potholes along the race route were filled in.
Based in Manchester at the National Cycling Centre, British Cycling works across all levels and six disciplines of the sport (BMX, Mountain Bike, Cyclo-Cross, Road, Track and Cycle Speedway). It provides support and encouragement to get people riding their bikes for the first time. It is also home to the hugely successful Great Britain Cycling Team.
British Cycling also represents cyclists’ interests at all levels, including campaigning on important issues including road safety.
As a membership organisation, British Cycling provides benefits and support to its members who currently number over 75,000. All membership revenue is invested back into cycling. British Cycling was named Governing Body of the Year at the 2013 Sports Industry Awards.
For more information, visit www.britishcycling.org.uk
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their first formal visit to Glasgow yesterday.
They spent the morning meeting young people at the city’s recently opened £113 million Emirates Arena. The flagship venue will host badminton and track cycling events in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It is a key part of the city’s bid to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. Later this year the Junior Track World Championships and World Youth Netball Championships will take place there.
During their tour of the state-of-the-art facility the Royal couple watched pupils from the Glasgow School of Sports and other aspiring athletes, training in athletics, track cycling, badminton, football and netball. They then viewed a Glasgow 2014 exhibition where they met young people including Beth Gilmour who designed Glasgow 2014 mascot Clyde and apprentices who were employed as part of the Commonwealth Apprenticeship Initiative. They also met Mahad Ahmed and Jasmine Main – young ambassadors for Glasgow’s bid for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games – and some City Building apprentices who worked on the construction of the Emirates Arena.
Next they went to Drumchapel’s Glasgow Club Donald Dewar. There they launched a Scottish pilot of the innovative Coach Core project. Launched last July just before the London 2012 Olympic Games, Coach Core aims to inspire and train the next generation of sports coaches across the UK.
It is hoped that the Glasgow project will form an important part of the legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the city’s bid to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2018.
The Royal Foundation is partnering with Glasgow Life and the Hunter Foundation on the initiative.
Chair of Glasgow Life and the Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games, Councillor Archie Graham, said: “This visit highlights our shared vision and commitment to sport in Glasgow, from investing in world-class facilities such as the stunning new Emirates Arena through to our partnership with The Royal Foundation, which will create coaching opportunities at a grassroots level. Sports coaches are at the very heart of sport in Glasgow and we are honoured that their Royal Highnesses chose the city to launch the Scottish pilot of the Coach Core initiative. London 2012 inspired a generation and we want to continue that journey through the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Coach Core will help us do that.”
Sir Tom Hunter, Chairman of The Hunter Foundation which has provided funding to The Royal Foundation to enable the delivery of the Coach Core programme in Glasgow, said: “Coach Core is an exceptional model of positive social intervention because it uses sport to enable lasting change at grassroots, community level. We are delighted to have supported The Royal Foundation in bringing this important initiative to Scotland. Our hope is that the apprentice coaches employed by Glasgow Life each year will deliver transformational change in their communities through sports development. We’d also like to see Coach Core in every local authority in Scotland through the leadership of The Royal Foundation and Glasgow Life.”
Glasgow 2014 Chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, said: “We were absolutely delighted to show the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge how young people are an integral part of the journey towards the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the biggest multi-sport event Scotland has ever seen.
“Young people have been involved in all of our major milestones from the creation of our official games mascot, called Clyde,
to the design of the official Glasgow 2014 tartan and right through to the Commonwealth apprentices who work on delivering the Games at our Glasgow headquarters.”
Glasgow 2018 Youth Olympic Games ambassador Jasmine Main said: “It was a fantastic experience being able to tell the Duchess of Cambridge about the city’s plans to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2018.”
One of the privileges of being Lord Provost is that, as First Citizen, I have the opportunity of meeting and greeting people from all corners of the world on behalf of the people of Glasgow. And I have to say that the overwhelming reaction I receive is that they love Glasgow and its people. I also regularly meet and work on behalf of my constituents as one of their council representatives. The people of Glasgow are unique and, as a proud Glaswegian myself, I have witnessed our city change and reinvent itself from a place of heavy industry to a modern and thriving metropolitan centre. Indeed George Galster, Professor of Urban Affairs at Detroit’s Wayne State University, this month, comparing the fortunes of Detroit and Glasgow, praised local government, the social welfare system and regional planning arrangements for allowing our city to prosper. New Year is traditionally a time to gather friends and family together and reflect on the year that has passed. It will be a year to remember. We as proud hosts of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and have been working hard with our partners including the Scottish Government to ensure that this event leaves Glaswegians with a lasting, positive, legacy. We are consulting widely with them to achieve this. Despite the global economic downturn, we have committed ourselves to projects that will deliver a sensational Games: the M74 extension which will be completed in June next year and the development of the Athletes’ Village and the National Indoor Sports Arena. We’ve also just reclaimed the title of UK Curry Capital and are working hard to promote our city as a UNESCO City of Music and a City of Science.We also have a Royal Wedding to look forward to. The credit crunch is the bad news that all of us will remember this year. We are all having to spend less and make our money go further – including the Council. We, like you, want to make sure that businesses and jobs stay in Glasgow for the benefit of the people of the city and the wider economy. Let us hope that the New Year brings better news on the economic front. In the mean time, I wish you all a Happy New Year.
An estimated 70,000 people flooded into Bellahouston park for Pope Benedict XVI’s mass on Thursday 16 September. The day went without any trouble and was seen as a great success.
Glasgow set the standard for the rest of the papal visit, said Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council.
He said: ‘The Papal Mass in Bellahouston Park was an incredible event that showed what Glasgow can do. It was a wonderfully joyous occasion for the thousands of people who were there and everyone else who watched it on television. The park looked magnificent, the weather was fantastic, and the ceremony and spectacle of the Mass was awe inspiring.’
Councillor Matheson had earlier met the Pope and the Queen at a State Reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Later, he greeted the Holy Father when he arrived in Glasgow and waved him off as he left the city after the Mass.
He said: ‘On a personal level, to have met the Pope three times during the day was an enormous honour and the memories of the day will live with me for the rest of my life. I think he won a lot of hearts in Scotland just because he is self-evidently a very thoughtful and holy man.
‘I was a 15-year-old schoolboy when I saw Pope John Paul II with my family in Bellahouston Park in 1982. I never thought for a minute then that I’d one day welcome his successor to our city.
‘It was an historic honour and I am so proud of the work done by the council staff who were involved in the project and helped make the day a huge success. It proves once again that we are more than capable of organising and staging major events of worldwide significance. It also boosted the reputation of the city in a way that money can’t buy and stands us in very good stead for staging the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.’
He added: ‘In 1982, we had two years to prepare. This time we had only six months. To stage an event like that in such a short space of time was an outstanding achievement.’
Words and picture: Erik Geddes
Residents in the East End are up in arms claiming they have been kept in the dark over plans for a 50-foot chimney at the site for the proposed Athletes Village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The plans they were shown, dating from September 2009, didn’t mention any energy centre.
Now a special meeting between Glasgow City Councillors, the planners and Belvidere Village Residents Committee has been arranged.
City Legacy, the consortium behind the plan, has applied to build more than 750 homes and a care home in Dalmarnock, to be used by athletes during the Games.
The development is to be powered by a state-of-the-art energy centre where the chimney will be located.
Angry residents feel it is being dumped right outside their homes.
Angela Phillips, 32, a member of the Belvidere Village Residents Committee, was at the meeting in Glasgow City Chambers.
She said: ‘Our objection is not with the planning application but with the location of the energy centre and its chimney.
‘What annoys me is that the developers keep saying that energy centres are often in the middle of developments.
‘But this one isn’t. It’s on the boundary – almost in our back garden. And why were we not told about this from the start?
‘I feel like they have dumped it in the corner nearest us. It’s just not on.’
The Council’s Planning Committee met on Tuesday August 17 and approved the proposal but it has yet to be rubber-stamped by the full Council.
As a graduate from Caledonian University in MSc Real Estate Management, Angela knows how housing developments work.
Following the session in the City Chambers, LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW caught up with Angela at home with her husband Lee and two-year-old son Reggie.
She said: ‘At the special meeting I’ll want to find out why we were never told about the chimney. I also want to find out for the residents exactly how far away it’s going to be.
‘They said roughly 30 metres but have not made it clear if that is 30 metres from the house, the wall or the fence that separates our houses from the land they are working on.’
Councillor George Redmond confirmed that he will facilitate the meeting between Angela who is representing the Belvidere residents and City Legacy.
He said: ‘My role is about trying to find some compromise. I’ll make sure my constituents who have made an investment in the area, get the right support that they need.’
A spokesperson from City Legacy said: ‘The exact appearance and size of the building has still to be finalised.’
They also confirmed that: ‘The chimney will be located at least 34 metres away from the nearest house in the Belvidere housing development.’
And while there was no clear indication as to why the 2009 plans don’t show any energy centre near the residents, the representative from City Legacy confirmed: ‘The Energy Centre has been shown in its current location since our planning application was submitted at the beginning of May 2010, which was available for viewing at Glasgow City Council offices’
photograph by Stuart Maxwell
Glasgow’s £18m re-vamped sports stadium at Scotstoun got off to a flying start on Wednesday 7 July with the Super8 athletics meeting. And while the eight cities competing were welcomed by Councillor Archie Graham inside the stadium, Glasgow city workers were on picket duty outside.
Councillor Graham informed the sparse crowd in the 5000 capacity stadium, that Glasgow has invested more than £100 m in the city in the past decade. Scotstoun stadium was part of its plan to become the Scottish Capital of Sports and would be a venue during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
A fun relay race launched the evening with Glasgow Warriors rugby Club, Scottish Rocks basketball club, Wildcats netball Club and the city’s own Athletics Club competing and the athletes winning the trophy.
But there will be no trophies – and no bonuses or overtime pay – for the Culture and Sport Glasgow workers who stood in solidarity at the gates. Four unions – Unison, Unite, GMB and BECTU – are taking strike action in a dispute over a wage cut of up to 10% for more than 150 of their members, a pay freeze for other colleagues and cuts in public holidays and overtime rates for all. Said spokesman Sam Macartney: ‘We are here to let the public be aware of the dispute. Some staff have lost between £1000 and £2000 a year. Glasgowlife, as Culture and Sport is now called, is prepared to spend thousands of pounds bringing in a security company for this athletics meeting, but it is not prepared to spend a few pounds to resolve this dispute.’
A spokesman for Glasgowlife said: ‘This dispute is not about job losses. We have promised to protect jobs and services at a time when many other staff in public and private sectors are facing redundancy. But Glasgowlife must make savings of £3.4 million in the current financial year. As a seven-day-a-week service, enhanced overtime payments – such as effectively triple time on a bank holiday – have been replaced with plain-time overtime payments.’