Ruth Simpson, who had been a Glasgow City Councillor for Calton and a Labour Party member for more than 40 years, was standing as an Independent candidate in the 2012 city council elections.
She was one of the long-established Labour Councillors in Glasgow who was de-selected and not allowed to stand again. ‘I thought at the time the way things were done was not democratic,’ she said as she handed out flyers at polling stations for Ward 11- Hillhead where she was one of 13 candidates.
‘I read about my de-selection in the Herald. And my feedback form from my interview pre-dated the interview. My former Labour colleagues have all been good, it is just the Party machinery which is wrong. I thought about it and was tempted to go quietly into the night but after supporting the Party through the budget and listening to the debate in the Labour Group afterwards, I decided not to let things go. I felt the Party had left me.’
Not tempted to join any other party – ‘ I’ve been a Labour Party member since I chaired the Labour Club at University ‘ – she decided at the last possible minute to stand as an Independent candidate.
‘Hyndland people have been very nice and they know me,’ she said. Her family rallied round with her daughter and grandson among the team of supporters handing out leaflets to voters at local polling stations.
Environmental issues of bins, roads and clean streets were top of people’s lists on her campaign trail. Buses were also a big issue: ‘De-regulation is the only answer. But what is happening with the loss of routes is dreadful.’ Ruth also has strong views on education and how it has to be improved to enable young people to attain their true potential.
‘I thought going Independent would be like losing a limb. But it’s not been like that,’ she said cheerfully. ‘If I’m elected, my constituents know I’ll work hard for them all, as they can see from my track record. If I’m not elected – well – I’d have more time to spend with my grandsons.’
Labour councillors were called ‘two-faced sods’ by citizens in the public gallery at today’s full Council Meeting. Three women were ejected as they shouted at the Councillors who had passed a resolution which served the death knell on the Accord Centre in Dalmarnock.
All are mothers of adult children with cerebral palsy, autism and similar learning disabilities. Along with almost 50 other families, they use the Accord Centre as a day centre and social meeting place.
But Glasgow City Council is in the process of closing it as the space is needed for a car park for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Users have been fighting for months to get the Council to keep its promised of a ‘like for like’ centre to replace the Accord.
A proposal by the SNP councillors for a ‘replacement facility which meets users’ agreed requirements,’ and amended by the Green Party councillors; was defeated.
Instead, the current administration’s plan that Accord users are dispersed to the Bambury Centre in Camlachie, and the Riddrie Day Centre, was passed.
But as Cheryl McArthur said: ‘I’d love to go to the Riddrie Day Centre. It is very nice. But they’ve told me I can’t go because it is full.’
When the vote was taken,
the mothers in the public gallery couldn’t contain their anger.
Said Mary McArthur: ‘I feel so angry they couldn’t get their facts right. One councillor said the Banbury was only six years old. It is nearer 16 years old and in one of the worst crime spots in the city. The centre is not a safe place for vulnerable people like our sons and daughters to go to.’
George (43) is the son of Maureen Crone and was sitting beside her in the tickets only public gallery. ‘A man grabbed my Mum by the arm. I’m not happy about that,’ he said. Mum Maureen added: ‘He has a very keen sense of what is right and fair. He sees this as assault.’ For herself she said: ‘The situation is terrible. The lies that were told made me angry. And I had to speak out, but I was threatened that if I didn’t go out quietly with the attendant they’d get the police to me.’
The issue cannot be raised again in the Council Chamber for six months according to the rules of the house.
Afterwards another of the Accord users said: ‘This is a disgrace. But the quicker there is an election the better, and we can get all the Labour Councillors out.’
Labour Councillor Alistair Watson who spoke in favour of his party’s proposal as ‘an improvement’ and a ‘further step towards the modernisation of day services,’ said: ‘Users should be thankful they are being moved to the Banbury which has improved services.’ Labour Councillor George Redmond of Calton, said: ‘we need to work with users to bring about a satisfactory solution.’ Green Party Councillors supported the SNP’s motion which was defeated. But since Labour hold 47 seats and SNP 19, that was always going to be the only outcome.
Accord Centre families are already looking for people to stand against the Labour Party Councillors they consider have let them down badly on this fundamental service.
Following the publication of this story on the website: www.localnewsglasgow , Glasgow City Council asked for detailed information about the Accord to be published. We are happy to do so:
Glasgow City Council told this website that the Accord Centre is closing as part of the Learning Disabilities Service’s day service reform. ‘This makes it very clear that the number of day centres in the city for people with learning disabilities would be reduced from eight to five,’ said a spokesman. ‘Two other centres have already shut down and the Accord Centre will be third to close. This is entirely in keeping with a plan that pre-dates Glasgow securing the Commonwealth Games in November 2007.’
He added: ‘It is also the case that the centre is closing because it is in poor physical condition and serious health and safety concerns have been raised in relation to the use of the centre. In other words – the Accord Centre would have been a candidate for closure in any event.
‘It is fully accepted that the site of the Accord Centre will be used to support the Athlete’s village during the 2014 games. However, it must be stressed that changes at the Accord are being driven by reforms to the Learning Disability Service first and foremost. It should also be noted that the site in question will eventually be used for a mix of social and private housing.’
This website must obtain special permission to visit the Accord Centre and has been told that no unauthorised visit by the media is permitted.
The East End Healthy Living Centre’s Doors Open event celebrated the facility’s third birthday with several hundred people joining the party at Crownpoint Road.
Recently refurbished, the café was well tested, the children’s play areas indoors and out, were busy and there was plenty to see and do. The beautifully equipped gym offered taster sessions for their Lifestyle programme. Computer nerds and geeks congregated in the computer room. Those interested in the arts and crafts side of healthy living, could see the work of the Picture Perfect Photograhic Club, the creative writing class, the Weaving group and the Cooking Club.
The alternative stress centre based within the G40 building runs relaxation and massage classes among others and provides counselling too. Outside, the professional standard running track is used by Shettleston Harriers and Red Star Athletics Clubs and full sized football pitches, tennis courts and five-aside all-weather sports space are all there for interested individuals. The Centre’s facilities are open to the public with special rates for residents in selected parts of the G40, G31, G32 and G4 postal code areas covering Shettleston, Baillieston, Calton and the East End. The Centre’s management team are working to secure the future of the community complex in partnership with the exciting developments in the East End where the 2014 Commonwealth Games will be based.