Thursday 21 March 2013
Glasgow City Council will – today – almost certainly decide to close three of the seven day centres currently used by 520 people with learning needs.
More than 300 angry people who consider the centres vital to the well-being of their families, agreed tactics to persuade the city’s Executive to reverse the expected closures of Berryknowes in Cardonald, and Summerston and Hinshaw Street in Maryhill. Some of them will be at the City Chambers to make their voices heard.
The mass meeting on Sunday elected representatives to continue pressure on the Council. An 11 point action plan was also agreed unanimously.
Dr Christopher Mason, Glasgow’s official Carers’ Champion elected by the Council, admitted his report hadn’t made much impression on the Council decision makers. He had proposed a review of the services for people with learning needs before any decision on closures. ‘There is not enough money to run seven centres. Therefore they need to shut three. But we have to ask the question: ‘After the centres are closed, will the 320 people who attend them, suddenly have got better ?’ The answer, of course, is no.’
SNP Councillor Susan Aitken for Langside Ward said that ‘constructive suggestion, after constructive suggestion’ had been ‘blocked and shouted down’ by the Labour group. ‘They have lost the moral argument and their language has become offensive. It is disgraceful. This decision (to close the centres) was made a long time ago and the administration don’t want to listen. The Labour group are in power and they’ve made it clear they’ll use that power. But their decision on Thursday has no legitimacy. Not one single Labour Councillor is present at this meeting to listen.’
Bob Doris SNP MSP who has presented two motions against the closure of the centres in the Scottish Parliament told the meeting: ‘It is unacceptable that a Glasgow Labour Council is closing these day centres. They are lying when they say they have to do this. They can’t use legislation as an excuse. Other local authorities are doing things better and when the SNP administration in Dundee got it wrong, they had the humility to admit it and start again. Glasgow’s approach is a shambles and an affront. Neither services users nor carers have been asked what they want and that is not acceptable.’
Karin Mc Sherry, a 50-year-old user of one of the centres said: ‘I love my centre. It’s where I see my friends and use the computers.’ Her sister Eileen explained how much the centre meant to her sister. She said: ‘When Karin was five, we were told she’d never learn to read or write. But our mother fought that. The centre has given her a life far beyond what had been mapped out for her. She has friends, goes to college, done drama and computing. The Labour administration does not represent constituents like us. It represents the Labour Party.’
Brian Smith, Secretary of Glasgow branch of UNISON union which helped organise the meeting in the Radisson Blu hotel, said: ‘We are shoulder to shoulder with you in opposing any closures.’
A similar message came from Ian Hood, co-ordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance for Scotland. He gave detailed figures of how spending on learning disabilities in Glasgow was much smaller proportionately than the budget for older people and even less than the rate of inflation. ‘We’re in this for the long haul,’ he said. ‘Glasgow’s action is discriminatory against people with learning disabilities.’
Glasgow City SNP Councillor, Billy McAllister, speaking from the floor of the meeting, said: ‘The people of this city need to waken up. They are being treated with total contempt.’ He recommended that families concerned in the day centre closures should make Councillors’ lives ‘misery.’ He said: ‘Go along to their surgeries. There’s usually no-one there. Talk to them for three or four hours and tell them they were voted in to represent their constituents – not their political party.’
One carer outlined the time when social workers who’d rarely visited her, arrived in force and stayed for three hours. ‘We were exhausted,’ said the carer. ‘But we are still fighting and we won’t go away quietly. We have rights and we can make demands.’
Chairman Tommy Gorman said a carer who was called ‘obstructive’ by social works’ people was actually being ‘protective’ of their family. Later he said: ‘In the short term we’re not going to change the minds of the Councillors but we can vote them out next time round.’
Councillor Matt Kerr, Executive Member for Social Care on Glasgow City Council later said: ‘The way social care is to be delivered will be completely changed by the Scottish Government’s self-directed support legislation and we have to manage that change.
“We believe that a Public Social Partnership offers the best possible way ahead as providers, service users and carers will all be involved in the design of future services.
‘We have also written to the Scottish Government asking for transitional funding to support the Public Social Partnership and to assist with the modernisation of our learning disability day services.
‘The reform of services would be phased in over a 12 month period and no-one will leave their day centre until they have a personal care plan that details exactly how they will be supported in future.’
by Alastair Brian
In the first law of its kind in Europe, the Scottish Parliament voted to introduce a minimum price of 50p per alcohol unit this week.
It will come into force in April next year and aims to cut alcohol consumption to save lives and cut the adverse impact alcohol misuse and over consumption has on health, crime and the economy. Four cans of lager will then cost a minimum of £7.92, a bottle of win will be from £4.69 and a bottle of vodka will retail for at least £13.13
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the move would have ‘a significant and historic impact.’
It was passed by 86 in favour, 1 against and 32 abstentions.
Labour Party MSPs abstained. Their Shadow Public Health Minister and former addictions specialist, Dr Richard Simpson MSP, said: ‘Scottish Labour offered to support the Bill if the SNP Government accepted our positive proposals to recoup the massive £125 million windfall this generates for big supermarkets and invest that money in tackling the root causes of alcohol misuse and dealing with its consequences.’ He went on: ‘By refusing to reverse its opposition to Scottish Labour’s progressive proposal, the SNP Government has thrown away an opportunity for the whole Parliament to be united in support of minimum pricing. Communities that suffer alcohol-related, anti-social behaviour, will be left wondering why – at a time when budgets across the public sector are tight and the alcohol misuse budget is being cut by SNP by over £3 million – the SNP has voted to stuff the pockets of supermarket shareholders with gold, instead of ploughing the £125 million windfall back into our police and health service that are left to deal with the effects of alcohol misuse.’
The one vote against the new law was a mistake by SNP’s Rosanna Cunningham who admitted she pressed the wrong button in a tweet, later.
However, the new law puts question marks against the authority of Scottish Labour Leader, Johann Lamont. It appears that while she and the Scottish Labour Party in Holyrood opposed the Bill despite their amendment, Scottish Labour MPs are expected to support such a minimum price policy at Westminster.
Bob Doris, SNP MSP for Glasgow, commented: ‘The fact that Labour’s Scottish MPs – including their Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar – support the policy as part of the Westminster Labour group, makes a mockery of Johann Lammont’s claim to be leader of all Scottish Labour. She had one last chance to put Labour’s dreadful politicking of the last few years, behind her and back a policy which she knows is in the interests of the people of Scotland.’
The minimum pricing measure is part of the wider strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse set out in’Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action.’ Research shows that since 2000 enough alcohol is sold annually in Scotland to enable every adult aged over 16, to exceed the sensible male weekly guideline of 21 units every week. Scottish per capita alcohol sales are now almost a quarter (23%) higher than in England and Wales. While sales have fallen by around 8% from a 2005 peak in England and Wales, there has been no similar decline in Scotland.
In 2009-10 more than 100 people were discharged from hospital each day following alcohol related illness and injury. These discharge figures have more than quadrupled since the early 1980s.
Mortality figures, based on cases where alcohol use is considered to be the direct cause of death, may significantly underestimate the true scale of the problem. Now it is estimated that 1 in 20 deaths in Scotland is alcohol linked. This is almost twice as many as previously calculated. A quarter of male deaths and a fifth of female deaths in the 35-44 year age group, are thought to be alcohol attributable.
Scotland has one of the fastest growing rates of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the world, leading the Chief Medical Officer to add alcoholic liver disease to the list of ‘big killers’, alongside heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The successful Constituency and List candidates from last week’s election lost no time in starting work at the Scottish Parliament.
Familiarisation for the newcomers, settling in for the seasoned MSPs and the swearing in ceremony on Wednesday 11 May for everyone. With a new presiding officer selected -Tricia Marwick, the first female to hold this important office – the Team Scotland in all its different hues was ready for action.
The LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW has asked each party what its priorities are now.
Glasgow’s lone Conservative and Unionist Party MSP, Ruth Davidson, said: ‘I’m delighted and honoured to be elected to represent Glasgow in the Scottish Parliament. I pledge to work for everyone regardless of how they voted – especially during the period of the Commonwealth Games when the eyes of half the world will be upon us. I will do everything I can to stand up for Glasgow in the Scottish Parliament.’
In the Green corner, Patrick Harvie retained one of the two seats his party had held previously in the Scottish Parliament, by attracting 5.95% of the Glasgow List vote. He said: ‘It’s great to be back in Holyrood again and thanks to everyone across the city who voted Green last week. Now the SNP have won their historic majority, it will be harder and more necessary for the rest of Parliament to scrutinise them and to hold them to account. But we will also aim to work constructively with them where there are opportunities to do so. I am also committed to being as strong a Green voice as possible for Glasgow and to working with party colleagues towards next year’s crucial local council elections.’
The jubilant SNP, with 69 seats have a majority for the first time in the Scottish Parliament’s history. Now they can easily drive through their legislation. Even reduced by one seat when Tricia Marwick became Presiding Officer, the SNP majority gives their Government real clout.
Labour have 37 seats in the Scottish Parliament and have lost several leading politicians in Glasgow – Frank McAveety, Charlie Gordon, Bill Butler and Pauline McNeill. Conservatives took 15, Lib Dems 5, Greens 2 and one Independent seat to bonnie fechtur, Margo Macdonald.
First Minister Alex Salmond was on the phone to Westminster as soon as he knew the good hand the Scottish electorate had dealt him. His first negotiation was to push to strengthen the Scotland Bill. The demands from Holyrood now press the Westminister government for earlier access to enhanced borrowing powers to support capital investment, responsibility for Corporation Tax and control of the Crown Estate to benefit the renewables programme.
The first SNP MSP to respond to the LOCAL NEWS request for their priorities was James Dornan for Cathcart Constituency. He took the seat from Labour’s Charlie Gordon.
He said: ‘my immediate priority is to put my office in a high-profile, extremely visible location to ensure everyone knows who their MSP is and where they can contact me. I’ll continue the work I started as a Glasgow City Councillor in representing my constituents and do all I can to save Glasgow’s charities from the brutal and heartless decision of the city’s Labour administration, to cease the concessionary rent scheme. This is leaving some of Glasgow’s most crucial charities in real danger of closure.’
Sandra White the Constituency MSP for Kelvin said: ‘One of my many priorities will be to ensure that the grassroots voices of the people of Kelvin will be heard. I also aim to protect our open spaces and the unique character of Kelvin and to promote equality of life for all through housing, jobs and education.’
List MSP Bob Doris of the SNP said: I intend to ensure that sectarianism and anti-Irish racism continues to be tackled long after the latest round of media headlines have faded. We need a consistent, long-term approach and I hope to lead a Members’ Debate on the matter in the Scottish Parliament in the near future. I also want to do all I can to promote jobs and economic recovery in our city and – yes- that does require more powers for Scotland. I am also preparing to consult on a Members’ Bill to change legislation to allow Fatal Accident Inquiries to be held into suspicious or unexplained deaths of Scots overseas. This follows the tragic death of Maryhill woman Julie Love’s son, in the waters of Margarita Island, Venezuela. Add to that my wedding to my fiancee, Janet, in Rhodes in August and it should be a busy few months ahead!’
The first Labour MSP to respond was Paul Martin who said: ‘ It is a privilege to be elected the first MSP for the new Glasgow Provan seat. The next five years will be incredibly challenging given the decrease in public spending that is forecast. I want to spend the next term in Holyrood fighting for health services to stay local by making sure we keep Lightburn Hospital in my constituency open. I also want to make sure that local people are not left stranded with a bus service more worried about profits than the public. The re-regulation of the bus industry is vital and the cowardice from the current Scottish Government cannot continue. However, most importantly for me, I will always make sure that the views of local people and communities are heard. It is an honour to serve the area I was born and brought up in and I will spend the next five years dedicated to its residents.’
In an extraordinary night which changed the political landscape of Scotland, Glasgow voters rejected long established Labour Party names: Charlie Gordon, Pauline McNeil, Patricia Ferguson and Frank McAveety.
Instead the Scottish National Party (SNP) was able to declare: ‘It’s a stunning night.’
Nicola Sturgeon was returned to the Scottish Parliament for the newly configured Glasgow Southside with 12,306 votes to Labour Stephen Curran’s 7957 votes.
SNP gained Anniesland constituency by seven votes for Bill Kidd who polled 10,329 votes to Labour Bill Butler’s 10,322.
In Cathcart Constituency James Dornan took the seat for SNP with 11,918 compared to Labour Charlie Gordon’s 10,326
Kelvin Constituency was won by Sandra White with 10,640 compared to incumbent Labour’s Pauline McNeill who polled 9,758.
Glasgow Shettleston went to SNP’s John Mason with 10,128 compared to Labour Frank McAveety’s 9,542.
The only seats to stay in Labour Party hands were:
Newly aligned Maryhill and Springburn constituency with Patricia Ferguson polling 9884 compared to SNP’s Bob Doris on 8592.
Glasgow Pollok seat stayed with Labour’s Johann Lamont with 10,875 compared to SNP Chris Stephens’s 10,252.
Paul Martin kept Glasgow Provan with 10,037 in contrast to SNP Anne McLaughlin’s vote of 7,958.
As other wins for SNP were being announced during the Glasgow count, Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘The SNP is now a force to be reckoned with across Scotland. This is a triumph for our Positive campaign. Our job now is to unite Scotland and to lead.’
In a bitter response at the podium her opponent, Labour’s Stephen Curran said: ‘The SNP will never get away with this in Glasgow.’
Sandra White commented later: ‘The SNP has broken the back of Labour in Glasgow with our Positive campaign.’
Labour’s Pat Ferguson said: ‘I’m proud and privileged to have served this constituency. I was the first Labour MSP for the former Maryhill/Springburn constituency and do not take one single vote for granted for one second. I am there to fight for every sector of the community in this new constituency and to make sure they are dealt with fairly.’ Her SNP opponent, Bob Doris, announced his wedding in his speech. ‘Four years ago I didn’t mention Janet my girlfriend in my thank you speech. Today I’m mentioning my fiancee Janet and soon she’ll be Mrs Doris!’ He also said the overall results in Glasgow and Scotland were ‘staggering’ for the SNP. And in an impassioned plea he asked for ‘even more positive results next time.’
John Mason who won and later lost the Westminster seat in the city’s East End, and secured the Shettleston constituency for SNP at Holyrood, first praised the outgoing Frank McAveety who had been the Labour MSP for the area. ‘We must thank him for all the work he’s done in Glasgow’s East End.’ But he went on: ‘The SNP ran a positive campaign – securing the M74 completion work, the Commonwealth Games and the rail link to Edinburgh as well as the council tax freeze. But Labour ran a negative campaign, running down the SNP and running down Scotland. The Labour Party must take a long, hard look at themselves.’ In promising to have a visible presence with a shop in Shettleston and being easily contactable by his constituents he added: ‘It is an incredible privilege to be trusted by the voters to serve this constituency.’
Frank McAveety in his farewell speech said: ‘I’ve served the East End of Glasgow for 22 years – as a teacher, a city councillor and as MSP. I care passionately about my city and its problems.’ Amid shouts and boos from the assembled crowd at the Glasgow constituencies’ count in the city’s SECC, he went on: ‘This country is now polarised. The Commonwealth Games was a Labour led initiative as was the National Indoor Sports arena. We made the largest investment in schools and education and I will work tirelessly to win this seat back for Labour.’
At 4am when it was clear that SNP had made remarkable gains in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I’m thrilled. There are quite stunning results across Scotland.’
In Cathcart were Labour’s sitting MSP Charlie Gordon lost the seat to SNP’s James Dornan, James Dornan said: ‘Charlie conducted his campaign in a gentlemanly fashion.’ In an emotional speech he went on to say: ‘I will represent everyone in this constituency. It is the area I was brought up in. I raised my kids here. We have worked hard day and night for the past three months and I thank all those who worked like Trojans to secure this positive result for the constituency.’
A sombre Charlie Gordon responded: ‘I’ve been a Labour Party activist for 42 years. I leave this stage tonight a wealthy man. Wealthy because I have my health and a wonderful family.’
Paul Martin who retained Glasgow Provan for Labour ranted about the SNP cuts. When his SNP opponent, Anne McLaughlin took the podium, a re-count was in process for the Anniesland Constituency where initially one vote appeared to be the difference between the lead candidates. She forecast: ‘These successes in Glasgow and across Scotland are not a one-off for the SNP. By electing SNP in force in Glasgow, the city has broken the link of people’s dependency on Labour for ever. If Labour continue their scurrulous attacks on Scotland, their lies will be found out and the people of Scotland will stop listening to them.’
In Glasgow Kelvin where SNP’s Sandra White took the seat from Labour’s Pauline McNeill, Sandra paid tribute to Pauline’s hard work in that community and said: ‘The SNP have aspirations for the people of Scotland. We believe every person deserves to have aspirations.’
In her turn, Pauline McNeill said: ‘I represented the area for 12 years. I did my best for everyone and I’ll miss them. I’m proud of what we achieved and hope that whatever happens with the government of Scotland that everyone will unite on the issues in the Scottish Parliament that will take the country forward. The UK coalition is wrecking our lives.’
As the night wore on a two party state emerged in Glasgow’s voting between SNP and Labour.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat’s highest vote was in Glasgow Kelvin where Natalie McKee got 1900 votes. In Anniesland, Lib Deb Paul McGarry got 1000 votes. In Cathcart, Eileen Baxendale got 1118 votes. In Maryhill and Springburh, the Lib Dem candidate, Sophie Bridger, got 833 votes. In Pollok, Isabel Nelson got 490 votes. In Provan, Michael O’Donnell got 413 votes and in the Southside constituency, Lib Dem’s Kenneth Elder got 612 votes.
Conservative Ruth Davidson became an MSP on the List vote. She said: ‘I’m pleased the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will continue to have a presence in Glasgow. It’s needed with the SNP being rampant! ‘
The last vote to be announced around 6am in Glasgow was the Anniesland constituency where a recount had taken place because of the narrow margin. The final result was: Bill Kidd, SNP, took the seat with 10,329. Bill Butler, Labour was close behind on 10,322. Next was Matthew Smith of the Conservatives who polled 2,011 and Lib Dem’s Paul McGarry received 1000 votes with the Communist party of Britain’s candidate, Marc Livingstone taking 259 votes.
In a victory speech, Anniesland constituency winner by seven votes, Bill Kidd said: ‘My opponents behaved in an exemplary fashion and the outgoing Bill Butler has done fantastic work in the constituency. I and the SNP will work hard for the next four years to ensure carers are treated in the manner becoming to a civil society and that our country is not despoiled by Trident – British weapons of mass destruction.’
In his turn, Bill Butler thanked his team ‘We fought hard and I don’t think we let the party down. This is not my farewell to politics where I’ve been for ten and a half years. I will continue to campaign for social justice – socialism as I know it – I will renew my opposition to the new Trident and will be on any platform with those who do that too.’ He singled out his mother, Patricia Ferguson who retained the Maryhill and Sprinburn seat, for special thanks for her support.
The only other candidates in Glasgow’s eight constituencies were Tom Muirhead an independent in Kelvin where he polled 405 votes and John McKee, an Independent in Cathcart where he polled 450 votes.
SNP MSP for Glasgow, Bob Doris, led a Members’ debate in the Scottish Parliament, paying tribute to Scotland’s Irish diaspora. During the debate he encouraged all Scots of Irish descent to celebrate their cultural heritage by ticking the ‘Irish’ ethnicity box in this year’s census form. This is the first time such an option has been available.
Among other things the MSP called on both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to help create an Irish Centre in the city. This would be a tourism hub, promote health awareness and develop cultural links throughout Scotland’s Irish communities, he said.
‘The contribution to our culture by the Irish communities is immense. It is right to acknowledge the many good community initiatives – especialy as this is Celtic Connections month.’
In response, Danny Boyle, Project Manager of Harps Community Project said: ‘We have the opportunity, for the first time ever, to find out how many people of Irish descent live in Scotland. I am confident that, when the Government sees the numbers, more action will be taken to tackle the health inequality experienced by the community and more will be done to promote Irish culture in Scotland.’
By Erik Geddes
LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW can reveal that in the past three months, Glasgow charities have benefitted by more than £70,000 from cash seized from criminals.
Now a Glasgow MSP is seeking cross-party support to allow Scotland to retain all the money received from criminals under proceeds of crime legislation.
Currently, anything over £30m in any one year is clawed back by the UK Treasury. But The SNP’s Bob Doris says this could cost community groups across Scotland £3m this year alone. Bob has placed a motion before the Scottish Parliament on the matter and has written to Chancellor George Osborne calling on him to scrap the ceiling completely.
Bob Said: ‘We should welcome the huge success of Scotland’s Police Forces in recovering record amounts of cash through proceeds of crime. This has led to over £33 million going to projects in both the public and voluntary sector in Scotland’s deprived communities since 2003. 2010/11 has already seen £24m seized from criminals, an annual record, and it is crazy that the UK Treasury has imposed an artificial limit of £30m.
‘Every penny recovered should be spent supporting the communities in Scotland that have suffered from crime. Voluntary and community groups who do great work across the country would greatly benefit from the money. It is estimated that by the end of this financial year, £33m will have been taken from criminals in Scotland. Given that last year the annual limit was raised from £17m to £30m, I am optimistic that this ceiling can be scrapped entirely. I have written to the Chancellor to press him on the matter.’
One of the charities to benefit is Royston Youth Action, based in the North East of the city. Project Co-ordinator, Harry Young, explained how important the money is to the charity which helps over 300 youngsters between the ages of 5 – 18.
He said: ‘It has helped us go on day trips to the pantomime and on outdoor activities. Like everyone else, funding is a major issue with us. All the young people appreciate and understand where this cash has come from, so the money certainly helps us.’
In the most recent three month period, Glasgow charities have benefited by over £70,000 from cash for crime proceeds. The groups which received funding were:
Glasgow Parkhead Youth Project £13,000
Glasgow Helenslea Hall Management Committee £7,200
Glasgow Royston Youth Action £7,098
Glasgow Gorbals Youth Café £5,000
Glasgow St Paul’s Youth Forum £22,500
Glasgow North United Communities Ltd £3,969
Glasgow Plantation Productions £11,900
By Erik Geddes
The 2011 Scottish Parliament election is only five months away. The late winter and spring political landscape will be dominated by jostling, posturing and campaigning by all the main parties, and possibly the return of that well known independent, George Galloway.
Glasgow is divided into nine regional constituency areas; Anniesland, Cathcart, Kelvin, Maryhill & Springburn, Pollok, Provan, Shettleston, Glasgow Southside and – despite no longer being in the citiy’s council area – Rutherglen. Each one merits a seat in the Scottish Parliament. On top of this, there are seven Glasgow regional list seats where we will see a greater variation in the parties due to the second choices people make on their ballot papers.
After winning by the slimmest of margins in 2007, the SNP minority Scottish Government had an incredible, extended honeymoon of 18 months. But they have come under fire from all angles recently. If the bookmakers are anything to go by they will lose to Labour on Thursday 5 May 2011.
Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s Glasgow Southside seat being one of Labour’s key targets, the Nationalists have time, yet, to retain their standing and credibility both in Glasgow and across the nation.
Bill Aitken, a Conservative List MSP for Glasgow, who has been in office at Holyrood since the Parliament’s inception in 1999, will be retiring from Holyrood. Bill, a Partick Thistle supporter, is a name and character who will be sorely missed by the Tories who have never polled particularly well in Glasgow in recent times. The next time round is unlikely to be any different. Also calling it a day will be Labour’s Margaret Curran who will focus on her role as Glasgow East MP at Westminster.
The smaller parties, collectively known as ‘the others’ will be hoping to poll better than the three seats they won in 2007. Two of these went to the Scottish Green Party. In 2011, for the first time, the Scottish Green Party will stand on a ticket where the environment is not top of their agenda. Instead they will push for what they describe as ‘responsible revenue streams’ and a reduction in the cuts on public services programmes. They are hoping that Glasgow will not only return Patrick Harvie but also Councillor Martha Wardrop who will be second on the Green regional list.
Rumours of an internal rift at the Glasgow Lib Dems due to Katy Gordon being top of their list, were denied by the careers advisor who is hoping that she will be voted into the Scottish Parliament along with existing MSP Robert Brown. She narrowly lost Glasgow North to Ann McKechin in the 2010 general election.
What could be interesting is if – as expected – George Galloway confirms early in the New Year that he will be standing. Despite dozens of phonecalls and emails over the past couple of months, George hasn’t got back to us at the LOCAL NEWS yet. This may be due to his own busy schedule or his ties with other, far larger, Scottish media organisations. One thing is certain – the other parties won’t be welcoming George back to Scottish politics with open arms.
The return of Galloway won’t help the Scottish Socialist Party as it could split what remains in Glasgow of the left wing vote.
SSP spokesperson Ken Fergusson compared George Galloway’s expected return to the Scottish political arena to a character from Alan Bleasdale’s 1980s Boys From The Blackstuff drama. He said: ‘It looks a bit like ‘Gissa Job’. He tied his wagon to a political career in London – then lost it. His policy is George for Glasgow – but that doesn’t tell us too much about what he wants. I suspect we will be looking at just another Labour MSP if he gets elected.’ In 1987, Galloway won the Glasgow Hillhead seat at Westminster. In 1997 and 2001 elections he won Glasgow Kelvin.
Labour would feverishly refute any parallel between themselves and the former Big Brother contestant who was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003. There will be no love lost between the Labour candidates and George at the hustings, if he stands. And while George clearly has some respect for First Minister Alex Salmond, Glasgow SNP MSP Bob Doris who will stand in Maryhill and Springburn and on the list, isn’t too keen on George.
Bob said: ‘I don’t see George Galloway as a threat. He despises Scottish democracy and offers nothing more than personality politics to the people of Glasgow, who deserve better. ‘The Scottish Parliament is still in it’s infancy and the 2011 term will see the development of our working democracy, the last thing we need is George Galloway using it as a platform for his own ends.’
The LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW will interview all of the candidates standing at the May 2011 Holyrood elections so sign up for your weekly ENEWS by clicking on the last line of this one and entering your details. That way you will receive your weekly ENEWS letter direct to your inbox.
Tennis courts that normally sit empty in a deprived area of Maryhill will be brought into use on Sunday 20 June – the day before Wimbledon starts.
A free, community, tennis competition for young people aged from 14 to 18 will be played at Maryhill Park, off Spence Street, G20 starting at 2pm.
Sports charity ASAP (After Schools Activities Programme) supported by tennis playing MSP Bob Doris and volunteers, have lobbed new life into the courts which have lain neglected and run-down for several years.
Young people from Glasgow, Barrhead and Giffnock will play in a friendly tournament on the courts which have been transformed with volunteer effort and will provide the culmination of five weeks’ free tennis coaching sessions that ASAP offered young people.
The event will be the first time that all five tennis courts have been in a playable state for more than a decade. SNP MSP Bob Doris contacted Culture and Sport Glasgow and local tennis clubs to encourage them to work in partnership in the future with the charity ASAP, which uses volunteer coaches, to develop a strategy which will see the courts maintained and get more young people involved in the game. ASAP are also hoping that any publicity generated from the competition will help encourage volunteer coaches to come forward and wider participation by young people in tennis. Anyone wishing to get involved in ASAP’s sports activities whether as a volunteer coach or as a participant should contact ASAP on 07766 70 8363.
Speaking ahead of the G20 tennis competition, Stephen Koepplinger of ASAP said:’This is a perfect way to round off our Tennis Programme. It will be a fun day for all involved, as well as an excellent way to celebrate the five courts being brought back into a usable state. I hope the interest generated from our competition will be a springboard to get more youngsters involved not just in tennis but in wider community activities in general.’
Added Bob Doris: ‘It is crazy that as Scotland’s Andy Murray inspires our youngsters to swing a racket, five tennis courts in Maryhill would be sitting empty if it was not for this charity. Wimbledon is a world away from G20 but the youngsters of Maryhill deserve the same opportunities as everyone else. I am hopeful that both local tennis clubs and the City Council will work with us to promote the scheme and to support the roll-out of further tennis provision.’
Bosses at Scotland’s biggest conference and events centre will rethink the £100-plus power tax charge imposed on journalists.
Following the Glasgow North East by-election in November last year, Local News Glasgow published a story on the political opposition to the charge.
In December, The Herald ran a story about the SECC having a good financial year, in spite of the recession.
In light of this, on 14 January, SNP List MSP Bob Doris lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament.
Doris congratulated the SECC on their financial success, but called for the levy to be dropped.
He said: ‘We have to strike a balance between the fantastic corporate success of SEC Ltd and the social responsibility that we would expect from an organisation 91% owned by Glasgow City Council.
‘The money raised by the Exhibition Centre by charging journalists for electricity when trying to report on an election is peanuts to them given their corporate success.
‘However, it is a significant drain on the likes of small community papers.’
John Sharkey, Chief Executive of SECC, said: ‘I’m happy to have a look at this. Perhaps there will be some way that that the fee placed on journalists can be incurred in our hall hire to Glasgow City Council.
‘However, the fundamental fact remains that we need to cover the additional costs of having to install electrical points in our halls for events such as elections.’
The SECC refused to say when the issue will be addressed, but Doris is looking for a fast turnaround on the matter.
He said: ‘With a UK General Election looming this matter must be examined speedily.
‘I have written to the two councillors that sit on the SEC Ltd Board to ask them to raise the matter at their next meeting.’
An SNP MSP has called for Glaswegians to use The Energy Saving Trust in order to claim the financial assistance they are due.
Bob Doris, List MSP for the city, insists he is not criticising what he he describes as a ‘exceptional service’, only that Glaswegians use it.
Scottish Government statistics show that 28,000 Scottish households have benefited with Energy Assistance Packages (EAP) in the first eight months of the service.
However, only 2,196 of these households receiving EAPs – a disproportionately low number – are from Glasgow.
Glasgow, Scotland’s poorest city, makes up approximately 12 % of the country’s population – and this service is aimed at the elderly and the needy – but just over 7% of the beneficiary of this scheme have been from Glasgow.
Speaking exclusively to Local News, Doris said: ‘There could be a number of reasons for the lower uptake of this service in Glasgow.
‘It’s something I’m looking into and I welcome the new publicity campaign which will help minimise the impact of the big freeze.’
And Doris’s calls have not fallen on deaf ears.
A spokesperson for The Energy Savings Trust explained that a national campaign advertising the assistance will kick off tomorrow.
And while the phones have being ringing red hot they are urging people to get in contact to see if they are eligible.
The service is now available weekdays from 9am until 7pm and on Saturday between 9am and 1pm.
Since the cold snap started, calls to the helpline have doubled to nearly 1000 a day, with enquiries tripling to 1,500 a day over the last few days.
Temperatures are set to drop as low as -20C by this weekend.
The Energy Assistance Package offers instant energy saving information over the phone. The number is 0800 512 012 .
Doris added: ‘I welcome the new publicity campaign which will help minimise the impact of the big freeze.’
Meanwhile, at First Minsters Questions at Holyrood, Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray criticised the Scottish Government’s slow response to the cold weather.
Gray took a swipe at Finance Secretary John Swinney’s reported comments where he described the walking conditions ‘perfectly adequate’ across Scotland.
First Minister Alex Salmond responded by saying that Iain Gray should rise to the occasion of being in opposition and try to stop deflecting attention away from Labour’s leadership crisis in Westminster.