Of the 21 people retiring as Councillors from Glasgow City Council, around ten attended a poignant farewell earlier this week. Hosted by Lord Provost Bob Winter, who is, himself, standing down, it brought closure to many of the participants.
Said Jean McFadden who represented Garscadden-Scotstounhill and has served the city for 41 years: ‘Everyone felt it was a really nice touch to honour those of us leaving. Each person was presented with a personalised plaque which has the city’s coat of arms and the dates they’ve served. I have similar plaques from Glasgow Corporation but this is the only one which has my name on it.’
She has no plans to retired. Among her many ongoing activities she is an official examiner for work submitted by honours law students at Strathclyde University; she will get back to studying Advanced Italian for herself; she will mentor girls in a secondary school to help them achieve their potential; and she might go for an HGV licence!
‘I’ve always fancied driving one of those heavy goods vehicles round a tight corner!’ she said quite seriously. These are all outwith her commitments serving on the Legal Services Clinic and the Scottish Planning and Environment Law’s editorial board among others. She has also set herself to correct fundamental errors in some newspaper archives about who did what and when in the revival of Glasgow. ‘I just want to put the record straight. I was council leader from 1979 to 1986. That is when the team decided to change the direction of the city to move it into the creative industries and the financial sector. The minutes are there so I want the facts to be known.’
One of her future students will be former Drumchapel- Anniesland Councillor Matt Kerr, who leaves the Council to read law at Strathclyde University. He was selected after the resignation of Steven Purcell. He also attended the Lord Provost’s farewell event and said it was a very pleasant occasion.
Councillor Alex Glass who represented Greater Pollok for 13 years, told this website: ‘The evening and the presentation of the plaques was a good way to close off my time as a Councillor.’ Latterly he had been business manager for the city, overseeing many of the negotiations which kept Glasgow’s coffers from being emptied. One of the ways he saved the city money was to recommend cutting the fresh flowers budget. ‘That saved £50,000,’ he said. ‘ Stopping newspapers for every Councillor saved another £30,000 and at least that was saved on print bills when we cut back on paperwork.’ Aged only 52, he said this will be the first time in his life he’s been made redundant and he has, so far, no job offer. ‘I’ve work to do at home which I’ve long promised to complete for my wife,’ he said with a smile. ‘So I’ll do that and wait and see what happens. Everything is in the hands of fate,’ he commented philosophically.
Latterly a Bailie, Councillor Catherine McMaster has served Glasgow North East for several terms and said: ‘The event was not an obituary! It was really important to have something to say you’ve been here. Our training records were also included for every Councillor was expected to have extensive training in many areas of the work we do. That is the kind of record that was ignored by the Labour Party and dismissed in our interviews with them,’ she said pointedly. She was one of the Labour Councillors who did not take it kindly that she was de-selected by the party. She admitted she was still angry with the party for deciding she was ‘past the sell by date’ – ‘that is pure ageism,’ she commented. Her plan is to re-commence her private practice as a psychotherapist. ‘I’ll update my accreditation first,’ she added. The leading thinker behind the celebration of Glasgow’s medieval history, which has excited much attention and creative talent, she plans to continue to use her history knowledge within her local community in Easterhouse where Provan Hall Trust operates a building considered to pre-date the Provand’s Lordship on High Street. She said that her community had been generous in their appreciation of her work for them. ‘It has been a great privilege to serve this community. I’ll leave the new team to get on with the job and hope they will work to ‘let Glasgow flourish.’ But that will depend on how many voters turn out on Thursday.’
May Day in Glasgow was mainly unobserved by anyone of any political hue. A saltire flew above the City Chambers.
But there was one exception: – a group of Anti-Cuts Coalition Campaigners boldly stood outside the City Chambers’ front door and waved their red banners to show they cared.
They are all standing for election in local council wards so it wasn’t just a fun exercise.
Said Eric Stevenson (centre) ‘I haven’t given up on Socialism.’ A retired housing administrator, he is standing in Drumchapel –Anniesland ward. ‘I was a member of the Labour Party for 37 years and was expelled for being Militant. The current parties – including Labour – are letting people down. People have to have a voice and that’s why we are part of this country-wide Anti- Cuts Coalition.’
The others are from left: Ronnie Stevenson (Eric’s brother) who is standing in Langside ward; Luke Ivory who is standing in Springburn; Graham Campbell who is standing in Anderston City Centre and Akhtar Khan who is standing in Pollokshields.
Luke, who has recently come to Glasgow from Sutherland said: ‘People of Glasgow need an alternative. We’re it!’
Weel kent figure Graham Campbell who is secretary of the Afro Caribbean Centre in Glasgow and who works for an Anti Racist charity, added: ‘People are friendly but not giving away how they are going to vote. We think our results will run close to the Green Party’s votes.’
Added Akhtar, who with Graham , is a member of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC): ‘It’s a tough one to call. I might be fifth out of the eight candidates.’
All are agreed, the Anti-Cuts Coalition is a new political kid on the block and one they believe voters should consider as an alternative to established parties who’ve disappointed the electorate in the past.