With six months to go to the Commonwealth Games, protesters will continue their challenge to drop Atos as a Games sponsor. The French company’s IT wing is responsible for all the information technology connected to the games, especially the delivery of the results.
But the Atos health care company is the one which causes concern. It has won a multi million pound contract from the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions to screen people on benefits and decide who is fit to work.
According to a Westminster Parliamentary reply in 2013, more than 2200 people in the UK had died before their Atos assessment had been completed. Some were terminally ill, others committed suicide.
Said Anti-Atos protesters’ spokesman, Sean Clerkin: ‘We consider Atos is unfit to be a sponsor of the Games. It is targetting the poor and vulnerable who are really suffering. Ours is a moral campaign. We will continue to bring this to the notice of other sponsors and ask them if they really want their company to be tarred with the same brush.’
The protesters have systematically challenged sponsors of the 2014 Commonwealth Games to disassociate themselves with Atos by dropping that company as a sponsor. One of the most recent to be approached was lawyers Harper Macleod. (see photograph below)
There’s a giant panda in Queen’s Park. It was last seen up a tree near the glasshouses. But the animal will be there for ages so don’t rush right now! The 3.5 metre tall, 3 tonne animal has been carved by artist Robert Coia and is one of 11 sculptures he is creating for the city’s parks for the Commonwealth Games Legacy celebrations.
Each park has been tagged with one area of the Commonwealth – Queen’s Park is ‘Asia’ for example. Then the local schools are ‘twinned’ with that park so that they can learn about the local environment, nature and sustainability, first hand and at the same time discover similar things in the part of the world the park is allied to. Robert runs two afternoons of workshops with the schools. The results give the children a ‘lasting legacy’ and provides an interesting focal point in the park.
The pupils of Langside School near Queen’s Park, chose endangered species from Sri Lanka then created carved stepping stones under Robert’s guidance. The child keeps the original, but a cast is made and produced in durable form to provide the stepping stones around the Panda and its tree.
Said Robert: ‘The Langside children even had the names written on their butterfly or spider or other species they’d chosen, in Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka which was the country they were studying.’
He added: ‘This gives each child a true legacy. They have something they can hand on to their grandchildren and they can bring them here to the park to see it in place.’
Said Councillor Archie Graham, Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow City Council: ‘It’s hard to believe this amazing feature was hand-made. Robert is an exceptionally talented individual and brings his sculptures to life. The pupils have also done a fantastic job. Everyone involved should be very proud indeed.’
He added: ‘The Games will be the biggest event of our generation and will provide lasting benefits for everyone in the city. The parks legacy project will last long after the event itself has come and gone.’
The other parks which have their Legacy feature in place now are: Tollcross which has a carved African Baobab Tree; Auchinlea which has an African mask Bench; Pollok which has a life-sized elephant and Bellahouston which has Mackintosh themed roses.
Still to come are a snow leopard for Springburn Park, a whooper swan for Hogganfield Loch and a South Seas Tikki for the Botanic Gardens – the only indoor sculpture – as well as others, to create a Commonwealth Legacy.
Said Robert: ‘This isn’t like work for me. I love it when the children learn to do things and realise what they can create. It is empowering for them.’
Within an hour of the Langside children launching their special project today in Queen’s Park beneath Robert’s Panda up its tree, school children from Sighthill in Glasgow arrived to discover the art works during a visit to the park. They didn’t know which local park they were supposed to be attached to and determined to find out fast.
There are only a few days left to nominate people to carry the Queen’s Baton on the final leg of its journey next year to the Commonwealth Games. Up to 4000 people will be needed to carry the Baton around Scotland and into Glasgow for the opening of the Games in July. It is currently being carried across the 70 nations and territories which will be taking part in the Games.
It is due in Tuvalu – a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean- on Tuesday 19 November 2013. Tuvalu became independent within the Commonwealth in 1978 to become the 198th member of the United Nations.
The deadline for final nominations to carry the Queen’s Baton in Scotland, is 5pm on Friday 22 November 2013.
As long as the person has made a difference to their local community in Scotland, they can be nominated. People can nominate as many local champions as they wish but have to have their nominee’s consent and email address.
Details of the selection criteria and the nominating process can be found on http://glasgow2014.com/queens-baton-relay/pass-baton
George Square is about to be transformed from fiery red to several shades of grey. The makeover of the central public space in front of the City Chambers begins on Monday 22 July 2013.
The existing statues and monuments will be cleaned. Grass will be re-introduced to the West side of the square and a grey epoxy resin surface will cover the existing red tarmac. The total cost will be in the region of £500,000. Work is scheduled to take nine weeks till September.
A further development will be costed and plans published in the autumn. Scrapped plans for the Square are now the subject of various investigations within the Council and externally following pressure from the architect whose design had won a competition to re-configure the area in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. He was told almost as soon as the announcement was made, that his plans would not be implemented.
Thursday 7 March 2013
For almost two hours today, people spoke in Gordon Street, Glasgow using a megaphone. No one was arrested. Last week, when exactly the same public protest was being made – about Atos, a sponsor of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – two people were arrested after a heavy squad of police officers ‘kettled’ them.
‘We want the charges dropped,’ said Sean Clerkin, one of the speakers last week and today. ‘They were doing nothing wrong. They were simply speaking with a megaphone. I’ve lodged a formal complaint with the Chief Constable and understand it is being investigated.’
Today’s public gathering attracted a crowd which averaged between 40 and 50 people at any one time.
Said Paul McKenna, another speaker: ‘It is vital we defend our right of free speech. We are calling for charges against the Anti-cuts activists – the Atos 2 – to be dropped. We’ll be outside the Glasgow Sheriff Court on Friday 22 March to support them and let the public know what is happening.’
Tuesday 26 February 2013
The race to find £2.7 million to create a Mountain Bike and Activity Centre at Cathkin Braes was launched today.
‘We already have £50,000 promised,’ said Anne McChlery, Director of Glasgow Building Preservation Trust which is behind the project. ‘It’s a big ask so late in the day, but we are confident this Centre will be ready for the Commonwealth Games next year.’
She praised the ‘synergies’ of an already popular mountain bike track being created at Cathkin Braes by Glasgow City Council and the willingness of Glasgow Archdiocese to allow a redundant, B-listed, church building to be adapted as a centre for the mountain bike activities and for local community use.
Architects responsible for the proposed transformation of St Martin’s Church are award winning Elder and Cannon who are based in Glasgow. Their feasibility study and appraisal plans were commissioned by Ardenglen Housing Association Ltd in Castlemilk.
Said architect Alison Hesketh who with colleagues Stephen Hoey and Tom Connolly has devised the plan: ‘The main challenge is to get this open for the Commonwealth Games and to accommodate a wide range of facilities. There will be a community cafe, performance space and education activities as well as mountain bike changing facilities and a bike repair workshop all contained in the church building on Cathkin Braes and all easily accessible.’
Lord Provost Sadie Docherty: ‘This is very much a community led project. I’m delighted to see this proposed Commonwealth Legacy project emerging to support the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike Track.’ She said the iconic church building had fantastic memories for many Castlemilk people who attended the Sunday discos run by the church. ‘They led to a lot of marriages…’ she added.
Councillor Archie Graham, who has Executive responsibility for the 2014 Commonwealth Games said: ‘This is a fantastic project. It builds on the challenging mountain bike course which is already well used. It promotes cycling, puts a derelict building to good community use and encourages a healthier lifestyle. We should celebrate all of that. And it comes with a panoramic view of Glasgow!’ He added: ‘Once the elite athletes have gone, there will be something tangible for everyone. I forecast that when 2019 comes and the Games are reviewed, the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike and Activity Centre will still be up there among the best legacy projects.’
Local cyclist Colin Hyslop, a member of the very active Mitchelhill Community Group which is one of the key partners driving the idea said: ‘We are getting positive feedback all the time. On Sunday, out on the Track, I could hardly get cycling for people asking me when would the Centre be ready to use? My only concern is that it won’t be big enough!’ The facebook page has already got 687 ‘likes’ and more than 2000 people use it each week to get information on cycling activities at Cathkin Braes.
On behalf of the Archdiocese, surveyor Kenneth Crilley said: ‘The church building is an architectural jewel in Castlemilk. This project will bring it back to life and allow it to be used by the wider Glasgow community. We are all delighted at the prospect.’
Thursday 24 January 2013
Protesters invaded Scottish Government offices today in Glasgow to highlight their concerns that ATOS is a sponsor of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Said a spokesman for Citizens United Against Cuts to Public Services: ‘Across the country, hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people are being railroaded into abusive and degrading assessments to determine they are ‘fit for work’ by ATOS. The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) has given this task to the profit-making French multinational company ATOS which is being paid more than £100 million a year to cut the number of people on benefits. We want ATOS removed from involvement in the Commonwealth Games.’
Another of the protesters said a member of his family worked as a carer for sick and disabled people. ‘They have witnessed ATOS tests and the effect it has on people. They are being assessed as suitable for work when they have to have 24 hour care. That’s why I’m here today. It is simply wrong what is happening.’
One protester who is a retired civil servant added: ‘There are serious issues around ATOS and the fact that they are able to access people’s health records which are supposed to be confidential. Also, until now, a doctor decides when a patient is fit to work again. Why should this French company decide this now? They are not doctors and don’t know the patient.’
A Scottish Office statement issued later said:
“The Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee appointed ATOS, the international IT services company and worldwide IT partner to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as their technology sponsor. Glasgow 2014 assesses commercial and sponsorship proposals on a number of criteria to ensure best value for the 2014 Games. Securing the right sponsors is vital to the success of the event.”
Around 15 protesters walked into Scottish Government offices in Highlander House, Waterloo Street on Thursday morning and stayed for about one hour making their protest with slogans and banners. After police attended, they left peaceably.
At the end of last year, the same group invaded the offices of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in Albion Street. At that time, a spokesman for the Games said: “We are very proud to have global IT experts Atos as part of Glasgow 2014’s sponsor family. As a worldwide IT partner for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the company has demonstrated unwavering commitment to driving forward the Paralympic movement by providing dedicated practical support to athletes for the last ten years.
“An important consideration for us is how a sponsor will contribute to the mission and ambitions of Glasgow 2014 and we are confident in the positive role Atos will play in helping us deliver an athlete centred and sports focused Commonwealth Games.”
When asked for a comment on Thursday’s invasion of the Glasgow Scottish Office premises, the Games spokeman re-issued the same statement.
The man who famously cornered a senior politician in a sandwich shop, now has his sights on the Commonwealth Games 2014 sponsors Atos.
Sean Clerkin and around 20 of the Citizens United group of campaigners, occupied the 2014 Games offices in Albion Street, Glasgow today (Tuesday 27 November 2012). They called for Atos, a global IT company which provided consulting and technology services for the recent Olympics, to be removed as a sponsor of the Commonwealth Games 2014.
”This company is the same one that assess whether people are fit to work or to claim sickness or invalidity benefits,’ said spokesman Sean.
One of the protesters claimed Atos had only ten doctors to cover the North East of England and Scotland to make all the assessments. ‘They don’t have a clue,’ he said. ‘And they are not qualified to assess anyone with a mental health problem.’
Citizens United claim Atos has a 7 year contract worth more than £1 billion. ‘This is happening while the people of Glasgow are suffering and are being victimised by the same company and are being treated in a shocking and inhuman way during the assessments.’
One retired civil servant in the protest said: ‘Atos is involved in assessing if civil servants are fit to work or not after they’ve been off sick. If a person is declared unfit to work and applies for disability allowance, the same company turns round and assesses they are fit to work and therefore not entitled to any allowance.’
The Commonwealth Games 2014 senior press officer, Matthew Williams, said later: ‘We are very proud to have global IT experts Atos as part of Glasgow 2014’s sponsor family. The company has demonstrated unwavering commitment to driving forward the Paralympic movement by providing dedicated practical support to athletes for the last ten years. We are confident in the positive role Atos will play in helping us deliver an athlete centred and sports focused Commonwealth Games.”
Glasgow’s Emirates Arena is up and running!
The £113 million sports venue at 1000 London Road in the city’s East End was opened on Friday 5 October 2012 by Glasgow City Council Leader, Gordon Matheson.
He stood at the door and personally welcomed some of the 400 pupils from Sacred Heart and Dalmarnock Primary Schools who were among the first official users into the building. They were trying out the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Scotland’s only indoor velodrome, which is an integral part of the venue.
During the weekend following the opening, the place attracted well over 10,000 people who were freely able to inspect the new facility.
Located next to the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village and Celtic Park, the Emirates Arena is the largest facility of its kind in Europe. During the Commonwealth Games in 2014, it will host the badminton and track cycling events and will be called the Commonwealth Arena for the duration of those Games.
The 10.5 hectare site also contains an indoor sports arena, three full-sized sports halls, 12 badminton courts, four outdoor 5-a-side football pitches, a 1km outdoor cycle circuit, one of the largest of Glasgow Club health and fitness centres and a luxury spa.
While it is home to Scotland’s only professional basketball team, The Glasgow Rocks, it is also home to citizens of Glasgow who are members of the Glasgow Club.
Said Councillor Matheson: ‘By investing in new facilities such as this, we will help to inspire a generation to become more involved in sport.’
He took a party of VIP guests on a tour of the Emirates Area. They included Shona Robison MSP, Minister for the Commonwealth Games and Sport; Gordon Arthur, Director of Communications and Marketing at Glasgow 2014; Michael Cavanagh, Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland; Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland and Denise Holmes, Emirates’ Sales Manager for Scotland and North East England.
Said Minister Shona Robison: ‘This will be an excellent venue for the 2014 Games, a world-class venue for Glasgow and a legacy for the West of Scotland.’
Emirate’s Sales Manager, Denise Holmes said: ‘This facility is unlike any I have ever seen. The thought that has gone into the design and execution makes it one of the best equipped and high-tech venues of its type, worldwide. The Emirates Arena is a flagship venue and we are honoured to be able to have such a close association with it and the people of Glasgow.’
Commented Lord Smith, Chair of Glasgow 2014: ‘This landmark venue is ready to welcome the best Commonwealth sportsmen and women, competing for glory in the badminton and track cycling events in less than two years’ time. The fact that it is now open to the local community and will host world-class events well in advance of the Games, is a tangible example tha the Games’ legacy is starting now.’
Said Michael Cavanagh, Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland: This truly fabulous facility will be one of the iconic venues in 2014. It all adds to the excitement for the athletes and their determination to be competing for Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014.’
Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland, said: ‘The Emirates Arena opening marks a key milestone on the road to Glasgow 2014. It is a truly phenomenal facility which will help inspire future generations to become involved in sport and physical activity. It will undoubtedly provide some fantastic sporting moments for years to come – the World Cup Track Cycling and the World Cup Gymnastics for a start. It will also be a real asset to the surrounding community who will benefit from regular access to this world-class facility.’
Between now and early February 2013, the Emirates Arena will be host to eight Scottish, European or World level sporting events.
For further information and ticket details see website: www.emiratesarena.co.uk
Glasgow Rocks fans describe the venue as ‘amazing’ despite the fact that their team lost to Newcastle Eagles in the very first game in the new arena. The Eagles won 106 – 84 after a strong push in the final quarter of the game.
Thanks to sporty schoolgirl – 12-year-old Beth Gilmour from Cumbernauld – the Commonwealth Games 2014 now has an official mascot! Her design for a thistle figure with purple hair, green body, golden running shorts, and a saltire flag running vest won a UK wide competition which attracted 4000 entries.
Named ‘Clyde’ after the River Clyde, the mascot was unveiled with great excitement today (Thursday 20 September 2012) at the BBC Scotland HQ in Pacific Quay, Glasgow.
Beth met Michael Jamieson, Olympic silver medal swimmer and Rebecca Adlington, Olympic bronze medal swimmer. ‘It hasn’t sunk in yet,’ said the schoolgirl badminton player who also swims. Earlier she’d commented: ‘It’s amazing to see Clyde come to life. I hope everyone loves him as much as I do.’
Hosted by Sam and Mark, children’s tv personalities; the event saw Mascot Clyde swing into the arena from the upper reaches of the BBC’s vast interior, much to the delight of the crowd.