Within minutes of polling stations closing on Thursday 3 May, white vans were being packed with the ballot boxes to deliver to the SECC. The first arrived from Jordanhill within 25 minutes. In the course of the following hour, 110 vehicles from City Building and GHA delivered all the others.
They were guarded through the night by security staff who were keeping a sharp look-out for the inquisitive fox which managed to enter the building earlier in the week. Counting of the votes in this council election was scheduled to start at 9am on Friday morning and will be done electronically.
There was a poor turnout at polling stations according to the sample visited by this website. Most campaigners at the gates estimated between 10 and 15% of those entitled to make their mark, actually did so. But 50,000 people across the city requested a postal vote and around 70-80% of them were anticipated to have submitted that by the deadline.
At Hyndland Secondary School, one of several places for voters for the Hillhead Ward, 1394 people had slipped their ballot paper into the box out of the possible 5168 on the electoral roll. This would suggest almost one person in four had voted. But another 500 people used a postal vote taking the turnout to nearer one person in three.
The complex single transferable vote (STV) system establishes a quote figure by dividing the number of ballot papers counted in the ward by the number of seats to be filled + 1 and finally adding another 1 to that total.
Glasgow’s Chief Executive, George Black, is the returning officer who announces the results. He is responsible for the election mechanics, security and scrutiny. ‘I expect the job will be done by 5pm on Friday,’ he forecast as he supervised the arrival of the ballot boxes in the SECC.
The sharp disparity between jobs and joblessness was highlighted this week in Springburn. A government announcement on Wednesday said Remploy’s Springburn factory will close with the loss of 46 jobs of which 43 are held by people with disabilities.
On Friday, Scotland’s First Minister visited the nearby manufacturing base of Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft’s (RSBi) to pay tribute to its 240 award winning staff – of whom more than half have a disability.
The two establishments are within a five minute drive of each other.
On his visit, First Minister Alex Salmond said: ‘Jobs are this government’s top priority, and a major part of that is investing in workforce training and development.
Employers, workers, union and communities working in partnership with government to promote workplace learning, benefits all of us – which is why it’s so important to recognise achievements like those of the STUC award winners at Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries here in Darnick Street, Springburn.’
He went on: ‘Scottish Union Learning is supported financially by the Scottish Government and I’m proud of what our efforts are helping to achieve. But of course, the real credit lies with the staff here who work so hard to develop not only their own personal potential but the effectiveness of their teams. Each and every one of them has my very best wishes.’
RSBi is operated by City Building, Glasgow City Council’s arm’s-length construction firm.
City Building managing director John Foley said: ‘The First Minister’s visit today is recognition of the great job our staff are doing every day at RSBi, producing quality products for the public, private and third sectors. RSBi is a commercially successful organisation because we continue to adapt our product range to suit the evolving needs of our customers. That’s why we can employ 240 people. RSBi is not run as a charity but as a thriving social enterprise.’
Community Union – the largest trade union within RSBi – provides funding for a range of training courses via the Scottish Union Learning Fund, which is administered by the STUC.
Many RSBi staff have benefitted from training through the Fund, which has brought a direct economic benefit to individual employees and to the company as a whole.
Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: ‘The STUC Union Rep Awards highlight the invaluable contribution that trade union members make in the workplace.’
The First Minister’s visit was organised after Robert Mooney, a development officer at RSBi, was awarded the STUC One Workplace Equality Award by the First Minister in November 2011.
A registered blind person, Robert invited the First Minister to visit his workplace and witness the state-of-the-art manufacturing taking place at Springburn.
RSBi has had a presence in Glasgow for more than 200 years. The business has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the marketplace and currently specialises in manufacturing a wide range of products from office, domestic and educational furniture to timber kits for houses and schools and beds among many other items.
In Remploy’s factory in Edgefauld Road, the impact of the closure announcement was just sinking in. Established since 1976, it is one of the 36 out of 54 Remploy factories expected to be closed this year as not commercially viable. This is because of the Westminster Government’s decision to reduce current funding as part of a package of reforms ‘to maximise the number of disabled people supported into work.’ Of the 46 workers at Remploy in Springburn, 43 have disabilities. They manufacture steel wheelchairs. Government funding for the entire Remploy network is expected to be reduced during 2012/13 with the aim of completing changes by autumn 2013. Soon, Remploy will start discussions with trade unions and management forums to begin the formal consultation on the proposals.
After the announcement William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East said: ‘This is devastating news. In my constituency there are almost 20 people chasing every vacancy. It is incredibly tough out there. There is a big enough shortage of jobs without placing strain and pressure on some of the most vulnerable members of the workforce. The way this has been sneaked out is unacceptable.’
In Glasgow last year, Employment Services found 534 jobs for disabled and disadvantaged people.
Thursday 9 February
The Labour administration in Glasgow City Chambers was nearly paid-off today when its budget scraped through by only two votes. Till recently, the Labour group had a comfortable majority of 15.
A stout defence of the Party’s record by the group Leader Councillor Gordon Matheson may have swayed the day. And bringing in sick Labour Councillors by taxi to increase the vote, was also effective. But opposition Councillors said the narrow win illustrated Matheson had lost the confidence of his colleagues and that he should resign.
Combined opposition parties of SNP, Scottish Lib Dems, Scottish Green Party, Independent Councillors and the solitary Conservative Party Councillor on the City Council presented their alternative budget. This included improving Council tax collection by 1.5% to bring in £1,250,000; capital expenditure of £58 million on education and roads and lighting infrastructure and a 10% reduction in parks maintenance budget saving £1,270,000
Rebel Labour councillors who defected on the eve of the vote included Southside Central Councillor Anne Marie Millar who said: ‘I’d been thinking of resigning for some time. Then at a meeting recently an item was removed from the agenda and I was told it would be discussed later among the others. I was made to feel like a second class citizen – isolated – and that I didn’t belong.’ At the end of the dramatic meeting, she freely told reporters that she had felt intimidated when another Labour Councillor was asking her to re-consider her decision in order to gain her vote for today’s vital budget meeting. ‘I asked him to give me a good reason why I should do that. He then talked about one of the programmes to get people into work and commented that my son had gone through that and was now working for City Building, where, incidently, that Councillor was on the Board. I stopped him there and asked him ‘Is my son being threatened with losing his job? I felt intimidated.’
Govan Councillor for 17 years, Stephen Dornan, formally resigned from the Labour Party a few days earlier. ‘I will always be a supporter of the labour movement,’ he said. ‘It is in my blood.’ But his reason for bowing out was that the Labour Party had not given his Govan branch their proper democratic right to select their own candidate for the May election. Despite an appeal, he was de-selected so he chose to vote against the Labour Administration’s budget. After the vote he said: ‘It is a sad day.’
Question marks were put against eight or nine Labour Councillors in advance of the budget debate. But Councillors Anne Marie Millar and Stephen Dornan were the only two who said openly what they had decided.
The SNP Business Manager, Councillor Graeme Hendry of Garscadden/Scotstounhill who helped co-ordinate the combined opposition parties’ budget said after the dramatic vote: ‘It was a great result for us. Labour got their budget through by the skin of their teeth. A week ago they had a huge majority. It shows that their Leader does not command the confidence of his own group.’ He added: ‘I’m really pleased with the outcome. The combined opposition groups worked well together. It shows what is possible.’
On exiting from the Council Chamber immediately after the historic two vote win for the Labour budget, Labour Group Leader Gordon Matheson said: ‘I’m thrilled. This is a dramatic win for Labour’s record, vision and policies. This has helped our renewal and healing.’ During his winding up speech at the end of the debate he accused the opposition parties of ‘exploiting the divisions within the Labour group in a calculated and shoddy way.’ He stridently proclaimed: ‘We stand
n our record.’
The City’s budget for the next financial year invests in jobs for young people, education, dealing with potholes and tackling dog fouling and litter.
Measures approved include an additional £2m to tackle youth unemployment and provide a new Glasgow Guarantee for all 16-24 year olds; £12m for road repairs; £200,000 for new Youth Enterprise Zones, and £0.71m for more enforcement officers to tackling littering and dog fouling.
Councillors also approved £0.5m to fund a 25% increase in Kinship Care payments, £0.8m for outdoor school play equipment and attainment initiatives, and £300,000 for new community bus routes.
The extra £2m to tackle youth unemployment will be allocated to the existing Commonwealth Jobs Fund to extend it to 16 and 17-year-olds. It will provide employers with a 50% wage subsidy and would also include targeted training support for under-18s.
Training would range from basic literacy and numeracy to more complex support and could include other transferable skills for young people, such as driving lessons.
The new £25m Glasgow Guarantee will include a guaranteed apprenticeship for all school leavers who qualify; £6m for employers who will receive a 50% wage subsidy for each unemployed 18-24 year old they recruit; £10m for employers as a 50% wage subsidy for each unemployed graduate they recruit.
Councillor Matheson added: ‘This is the fourth budget we have set in the shadow of a global economic crisis – and in a term that has seen £210m removed from our budgets. With the proportion of our revenues controlled by government rising and our funding falling harder and faster than the national average, we have had to struggle to protect front line services.
‘We have had to be bold, we have had to be innovative and we have only succeeded because years of effective and prudent stewardship have put Glasgow in the best possible shape to meet these challenges. This year alone, we need to bridge a funding gap of £42.9m. Despite, that, we remain committed to our key priorities, which we share with the people of this city – education, jobs and targeted support for our most vulnerable citizens. We are determined to build on the success we have had over the last five years; for the benefit of every community and every Glaswegian.’
Glasgow City Council has now approved measures to save a total of £42.9m in 2012/13. The majority of these savings – £34.9m – were approved a year ago. On Thursday councillors approved a further £8m in savings for 2012/13.
Glasgow based City Building has won a £2million contract to supply kitchen units and worktops for homes in East Ayrshire. The range of units and worktops will be manufactured by Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBi) which is a supported facility operated by City Building. The three year contract will provide 3000 kitchens for East Ayrshire Council’s Housing Asset Services which will install the fixtures.
John Foley, managing director of City Building, said: ‘We’re delighted with this contract win. The RSBi produces furniture and construction products to high standards, while giving genuine and lasting employment opportunities to local people, including those with disabilities. We look forward to working in partnership with East Ayrshire Council on this important project.’
Recently the RSBi gained Gold Certificate standard from the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA), an independent industry authority which recognises high quality products and professional craftsmanship. This is understood to have been a factor in City Building’s successful bid. Said Chris McAleavey, head of housing services at East Ayrshire Council: ‘We are confident that the finished product will match our high expectations. RSBi is well known for its high quality products and unique social ethos.’
City Building has been successful in gaining a separate contract with East Ayrshire Council, to fit kitchens, bathrooms and to carry out rewiring.
One of Europe’s largest supported employment facilities, RSBi has 240 workers of whom more than half have a disability. The company works closely with a range of organisations including Glasgow’s Helping Heroes and various disabled ex-servicemen and women’s groups.
City Building has delivered more than £28 million in cash surplus over the last five years, which is passed to Glasgow City Council for investment in frontline services.
City Building’s award-winning training academies in Queenslie and Laurieston are the most successful apprentice-training centres in Scotland.
The thaw has brought a deluge of burst pipes.
City Building has responded to 702 burst pipe reports when they’d normally cope with 102 in an average two day period. The company operates repairs and maintenance contracts for clients including housing associations, schools and private sector companies. It also received 1700 gas call-outs since the big thaw began.
Over the past five days City Building’s hotline has been red hot with 6500 calls of which 4000 were emergencies.
Plumbers have been drafted in from other areas of its business to meet round-the-clock demand for its repairs and maintenance services. City Building employees who could not make it to work at construction sites this week, have helped grit pavements and shovel snow around health centres and schools in the Glasgow area.
City Building managing director Willie Docherty said: ‘We’re pleased to be playing a small part in helping the people of Glasgow and the West of Scotland get back on their feet.
‘The disruption caused by burst pipes and the like cannot be underestimated and we will continue to work round-the-clock to meet our clients and their customers’ needs.’
Any outside leaks can be reported to Scottish Water Helpline on 0845 6018855. Any leaks on private property should be addressed by the property owner.
Scottish Water is advising property owners to heat, insulate and protect their homes and businesses, prevention being better than cure. The company also recommends that property owners locate their stop valve, which is usually under the kitchen sink and keep a note of necessary telephone numbers such as a registered plumber (SNIPEF – www.needaplumber.org or on 0845 224 0391 Lines open Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm and Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm).
Information on protecting pipes and short films showing practical advice such as how to locate your stop cock to stem the flow of a burst can be found on a special Scottish Water website: www.scottishwaterresponse.co.uk.
By Grace Franklin
The Red Road flats area of Glasgow is being transformed by North Glasgow Housing Association.
Leader of Glasgow City Council, Councillor Gordon Matheson, recently formally opened the 1000th new home to be built in Springburn.
On a windy day on the Broomfield Road site he said: ‘This is good news for the families affected by Glasgow Housing Association’s demolition programme. It is good news for Springburn and it is good news for North Glasgow Housing Association who have now delivered 1000 new build homes.’
Robert Tamburrini, Chief Executive of the North Glasgow HA added: ‘I’m very proud that we have built 1000 homes here. It is great to see new communities emerging and local families enjoying warm, safe, affordable homes in a new North Glasgow. This is a great place to live, learn, work, visit and invest in.’
The 1000th home is used as a show home to illustrate to prospective tenants and buyers, the quality work done by Alexander Morton Homes and City Building. The £27 million Broomfield Road development is transforming a 16 acre site adjacent to the high flats and has created 198 homes in a unique partnership between Alexander Morton and North Glasgow Housing Association.
Maryhill MSP Patricia Ferguson attended the 1000th celebration. ‘I was brought up in the Red Road Flats and have happy memories of our family life there. But it is good to see this progress.’
The tower blocks are scheduled for demolition in the near future and will dramatically alter the skyline of Glasgow.
Story by Grace Franklin Photographs by Stuart Maxwell
The Duke of Rothesay started it in Glasgow yesterday.
Aiming to encourage people to START to do what they can to make better use of natural resources and protect the environment, Prince Charles is making a whistle-stop tour of the UK in a train fuelled by recycled cooking oil, to visit good examples of what is being done already.
START – is a co-operative of partners who have all started down the eco friendly line.
The initiative was launched in Glasgow with the Duke going walk-about among the stands in Glasgow Central Station.
After being welcomed by Lord Provost Bob Winter, he chatted with people in the crowd and made Nancy Gray’s day. From Shettleston, the 74-year-old is an avowed Royalist. ‘I just love the Royal Family,’ said the retired tailoress. But when
Prince Charles shook her hand and said he hoped he was not interrupting her day, she went all aflutter. Literally shaking with excitement, Nancy told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I came here specially to see him.’ She followed the Royal entourage around all the stalls which highlighted what could be done to START looking after the planet better.
Price Charles – who is correctly addressed as the Duke of Rothesay when he is in Scotland – first dropped off a pair of his old green cord trousers into the Oxfam clothes recycling point.
Waitrose showed off their new trolley which can be borrowed by customers from their Byres Road shop, starting this week. It is fitted to the customer’s bicycle and enables them to pedal home with a big amount of shopping.
Cube Housing Association was able to illustrate their new district heating scheme on the Wyndford Estate in Maryhill. The cost effective system delivers low-carbon energy and reduces carbon emissions in a whole neighbourhood.
Virgin Money had a wish tree to get people to promise to do something – and they’ll come back to you in a month’s time to see if you’ve done it for the planet.
B & Q staff showed the Prince how they make peat free compost. ‘He was really interested in what we’re doing,’ said Douglas Szafranek.
Husband and wife team Alan and Hazel Tomkins were delighted to be presented with their award for sustainable business for their restaurants which include Gamba, Urban and Dining Room in Glasgow. The first such award from the START group, the company has worked to train staff in food safety, minimising waste and maximising on local produce. Said Alan Tomkins: ‘It is very special to have been recognised for this.’
Four young apprentices from City Building’s Queenslie training centre in Glasgow, explained to the Prince how they are building two different models of sustainable houses to test what works best. Said Laura Twigg (18): ‘He was interested in the fact that we used tyres as one of the building materials.’ Michael Connelly (17) commented: ‘It was a great honour to meet Prince Charles. I never would have imagined I’d meet a member of the Royal family one day.’ Naveed Mohammed (19) admits he’s been bragging about meeting the Prince since he knew he’d been selected for the START event. And Brian Docherty (17) found the Prince asked a lot of questions about the pipe layout in the sustainable houses.
Glasgow City Council had a large number of stands in their exhibition. Most noticeable was a Peugeot electric seven seater vehicle which came from Allied Vehicles in Possilpark and is one of the fleet of electric vehicles the city has purchased. Said Allied Vehicles managing director Paul Nelson: ‘The Prince was very interested in the project. Glasgow city has purchased 10 of these seven seaters and 30 smaller vehicles – called Peugeot Partners – from us.’
Quietly in the background, Richard Bellingham, Senior Research Fellow on energy Policy at the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, was pleased that a report produced by the Institute had brought together so many of the organisations in Glasgow which are STARTing to implement sustainability procedures. ‘By drawing in the right partners, the benefits will be real for the city and more likely to be supported and therefore, stronger,’ he said.
At the end of the tour, Jane Wood, Chief Executive of Scottish Business in the Community said that Scotland – home of the Enlightenment – should be proud of leading the way in carbon reduction and sustainability as instanced by the work shown on the stands the Duke of Rothesay had toured. She was wearing an eye-catching outfit designed by Joey Dee of Edinburgh and using 75% recycled materials.
Before Prince Charles boarded his train to go to Edinburgh where a similar exhibition was to be visited, he told the assembled crowd: ‘START is all about what each one of us can do for the benefit of our children and our children’s children. It can be really simple to make better use of natural resources. Each of the major sponsors of START have their own message because they know their own customers best. Through these initiatives we are leading by example and showing what can be done to make that first step to sustainability.’
He added: ‘Glasgow is good at working together. This will take the city forward to develop the brand Sustainable Glasgow.’