Human Rights being violated by poverty

October 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Awareness of fundamental Human Rights would help eradicate much of the inequality being experienced in Scotland today.

Speakers (from left) Kate Lauchlin, Tricia McConalogue and Duncan Wilson with Bailie Jim Scanlon.

Glasgow Human Rights Network gave a platform to three leading exponents of the theme: Poverty is a Human Rights violation.  Hosted in Glasgow City Chambers and welcomed by Bailie Jim Scanlon, the event attracted around 50 people on Thursday 17 October 2013.

Kate Lauchlin – a seasoned community  campaigner in Partick and now working on her PhD on Human Rights at the University of the West of Scotland, set the scene: ‘Not only is it an outrage that poverty is a violation of Human Rights, it is enshrined in international law that poverty is a violation of Human Rights.’ United Nations conventions, continental ‘groupings’ and national constitutions all set down human rights. But those international conventions the UK has signed, are still awaiting ratification in many cases, she pointed out.

Among the intrinsic human rights are the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to a home which includes local family and community interaction and is much more than just a ‘house’; the right to a free choice to work, the right to social security, the right to take part in cultural life.

An illustration of a dove carrying human rights on its wings but with the bird encased in a cage,  summed up the UK’s position on human rights for her, she said.

Part of the solution was for the country to ‘invest in the human rights culture.  It matters.’  She said: ‘As far back as 2009 the United Nations’ Economic and Social and Cultural Rights inspectorate was concerned with the low level of awareness of human rights in the UK among all strata of society.’  If human rights were to be integrated into something like the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework, it would make a difference.

Another speaker was Tricia McConalogue of Bridging the Gap an organisation working in the Gorbals supporting refugees and asylum seekers.

She said that people needed to challenge the frequently presented- often Government originated – ideas that people in poverty could be used as a scapegoat. ‘If this isn’t challenged, it is accepted as fact and that is simply not the truth,’ she said.

Having been most of the day standing outside the City Chambers at the Poverty Stone in George Square hearing testimony from people in poverty, Tricia elected to sit to share her thoughts and experience.

She said: ‘Poverty today in Glasgow is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime.’ She gave details of individual situations when people receiving food from a foodbank could not afford to cook it. Of people  being ‘sanctioned’ at the Job Centre even when they had found a job. Sanctioned means that person would be denied any benefits for a period of time because of some infringement of rules which frequently was an administrative mistake.

She also mentioned how people with mental health issues could be left terrified by any appeals process they may have to face. ‘If they are deemed fit for a job, where does that leave them to recover from their mental health issues?’ she asked.  Tricia said she’d been moved to tears recently by some of the people she’d talked to – including one young man who was contemplating suicide because of the way he was being treated.

The final speaker was academic and former Amnesty worker Duncan Wilson who represented the Scottish Human Rights Commission. The Commission is working with public bodies – such as the National Health Service – and the third sector to develop Scotland’s first National Action Plan.

Voicing the question: ‘Is poverty a violation of Human Rights?’ Duncan said: ‘To some people it isn’t as clear as torture, for example. But I think it is clear there is a a very strong case to be made for poverty to be seen as a violation of Human Rights.’

He defined poverty as the denial of freedom to live, to develop, to be free from hunger and to be free to take part in society. Around the world, these freedoms are denied. Official reports suggest the issues have been addressed ‘A government report says they’ve achieve their target of having no slums, for example. But what they’ve actually done is clear the land where the slums were- leaving 100,000 people without any place to stay.’

New United Nations targets are to start from 2015 when the UN Millenium Goals programme will be completed. ‘New goals will not be achieved without accountability being incorporated in the framework of any programme. Accountability is lacking in the current framework,’ he said.

He said that poverty exist all over the world – even in Glasgow. ‘Just take a train from Hyndland in the West End to Bridgeton in the East End. There is a difference of ten years’ life expectancy among men in that short journey.

Among the ways to address poverty were that those with the least should be the last to take any cuts.  ’That is a fundamental principle of Human Rights, he said.

He instanced people in Edinburgh using candles because they couldn’t afford to switch on electricity. ‘This is the 21st century in the capital of Scotland!!’ he emphasised. ‘

He also said that people working in public services should be empowered to prevent problems rather than having to implement bad decisons of the authorities.  He commended the Poverty Truth Commission which stood by its motto: ‘Nothing about us , without us, is for us.’

‘The participation of people and the information they need to understand and take part in those decision is what is needed, especially for the most marginalised.’

Scotland’s first ever Action Plan for Human Rights will be a ‘roadmap’ for everyone at home, in school, at work or anywhere, he said. Expected to be launched next year it will empower people to know about their Human Rights, to take part in decisions, to address stigma and to increase the ability of those delivering services to ‘get it right more often.’

Dr Vikki Turbine of Glasgow University Human Rights Network thanked the panel and said it was an inspiring start to further conversations which would help protect, respect and fulfil Human Rights in Scotland and help produce solutions to poverty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EDITORIAL

September 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Saturday 14 September 2013  should be a busy day.  Glasgow’s East End will see an open day for its first,  women-only gym. In a pink painted building once used as douce offices on Gallowgate near the Forge cinema, Gill’s gym is set to spin, work-out and dance for a long time to come.

On Glasgow Green, a different crowd will gather to work out how to Bin the Bedroom Tax.  The United Nations rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik, who spent two weeks in the UK  gathering evidence on how the global financial crisis has affected housing, found that Bedroom Tax issues dominated her interviews with people who were having to cope with the  ’spare room supplement,’ as it is formally called.  She said the policy should be abolished as it was affecting human rights. Introduced by the Westminster government, the tax reduces housing benefit where the person has more bedrooms than it is judged they need.

So Saturday’s protesters will assemble on Glasgow Green for a rally and then head for the SECC where the Liberal Democrat Conference will be in process.  The protesters have been curtailed by Glasgow City Council on how they may march. And police have curtailed how many may protest at the SECC.  The erosion of these human rights is clouded by the fact that the protesters are seriously split among themselves. One wing is led by Tommy Sheridan and the other wing is bitterly opposed to the disgraced politician.

In the middle are the ordinary folk who are suffering to the point – in some cases  - of contemplating suicide.

It is a little solace that the Scottish Government has allocated £20 million in its budget this week to provide help to people affected by this iniquitous Tax. But this same Government has also allocated £20 million to boost cycling as a form of transport.

Much more energy and visionary leadership has to be found to work out how to Say No 2 the Bedroom Tax and how to protect human rights to protest, to march and to speak out.

Maybe, just maybe, if more women get together to socialise in pink gyms, a new spin could be found on strategies to save desperate people from self-destruction.

 

 

 

 

Gill’s Gym is up and running for women

September 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Women in Glasgow’s East End now have a dedicated Women Only gym.

Gill has an open day at her gym on Saturday 14 September.

Thanks to Gill Connor and her team, the Forge Fitness Centre – or Gill’s Gym – is up and running. It sits in its lovely girlie pink building near the Forge cinema at 1173 Gallowgate G31 4EG. Once the offices of Hunter and Clark, the premises have been given a feminine make-over with studios dedicated to Spinning, Vibrating Plates, Weights, Workouts and almost every other modern, professional fitness training routine.

An Open Day will be held on Saturday 14 September – from 12 noon till 3pm – with an invitation to any woman interested to drop in and find out what’s in the Forge Fitness Centre for her. A special opening offer of £20 a month with no joining fee won’t last long! So don’t miss out.

Once a new customer services officer with a bank, Gill is passionate about health and fitness.

‘The bank was very good and allowed me to reduce my working hours to follow my fitness passion and increase my freelance fitness training hours,’ said Gill who is 24. ‘That helped me manage the work / life balance. When this opportunity became available, it was a no-brainer for me to do this full time.’

From freelance fitness instructor to full time Fitness Manager, Gill has made the transition with calmness and in a planned way.

‘Since July, its been long days -practically living here – to get the place ready. But it is all coming together now,’ she said.

One of the studios in Gill's gym.

Apart from the cardio studio with treadmills, bikes, rower, cross trainers and steps, there is a weights and balls studio for Abs work. There is a distinctive yellow studio for the 10 bikes for spin sessions. ‘We have disco lights in there which gives a much more fun and motivational atmosphere,’ explained Gill.

Another unit is dedicated to vibro-plate and stretching.

‘There most definitely will be something to suit everyone,’ said Gill who has included nail bar and lipo treatment and Herbal Life professionals with their own dedicated space. Essential showers and changing facilities are included. But the prime place is a big, airy dance studio overlooking the famous Gallowgate and featuring an antique safe painted in silver and pink. ‘It’s there because we couldn’t find a way to move it!’ said Gill who proceeded to make a fun highlight of it.

‘Women can be intimidated in a gym,’ said Gill. ‘They tend to use the one bit of equipment they know about and are often afraid to ask about using the other things. That’s why my Forge Fitness Centre is women only. Women will feel much more comfortable and will ask questions. This won’t be a scary place and we’ll instruct people how to use the equipment. We’ll also sit down with each person when she joins and talk about her lifestyle and the changes she wants. That way, we can advise the best exercises for her. She may only need minor tweeking to what she’s doing, but we can keep an eye on her progress and give her encouragement when it’s needed.’

The spin studio has disco lighting.

With her Level 2 and Level 3 Personal Training qualifications, her bank experience in customer service and her own tremendous enthusiasm for fitness and good health, Gill is seeing her dream come true.  She said: ‘I want women to feel that a gym can be fun and a nice place to socialise with friends.’  She’s created that comfortable environment in a cocoon of pink at the Forge Fitness Centre in 1173 Gallowgate, G31 4EG.

Find the Forge Fitness Centre on Twitter , You Tube, and Facebook

www.forgefitnesscentre.co.uk

email: info@forgefitnesscentre.co.uk

Tel: 0141 280 7000

 

 

Thousands say ‘Axe the bedroom tax.’

March 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Wheel chair and mobility carts headed the march from Glasgow Green.

The biggest protest rally Glasgow has seen in years had more than 3000 people marching from Glasgow Green to George Square,  united in their opposition to the bedroom tax.

Seasoned campaigners, families with their children and baby buggies, trade unionists, people in a wide variety of mobility carts and folk walking their dogs, took more than an hour to wend their way to the city centre. Many of them shouting: ‘Axe the tax.’

Facing the City Chambers, a series of speakers explained why their campaign was part of a wide strategy to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

Labour MP Ann McKechin, MSP Frank McAveety and Glasgow City Councillor George Redmond were among the group who marched. Arriving in George Square, Westminster MP Ann McKechin said to this website’s reporter: ‘I’m not surprised at this turnout. People are shocked by the scale of this unfair and unjust tax. The Westminster government doesn’t understand the full impact it will have.’

But Labour politicians were castigated by different speakers. Said one: ‘They might have marched near the front but it is inconsistent with what they are doing to the families they are victimising in the learning disability community in Glasgow. Glasgow City Council has these families on its hit list by closing three of the seven day centres they use.’

Campaigners against the closure of Glasgow's day centres were out in force.

Another speaker put it more bluntly: ‘Glasgow City Council should be ashamed of themselves. They have influence and power. They should tell all Housing Associations in Glasgow and Glasgow Housing Association that there must be NO EVICTIONS in the city. We need to know who’s side they are on.’

The same speaker highlighted the £100 billion cost of the Trident refit and warheads for Faslane nuclear base. She urged people to support a March on Easter Monday from Glasgow to Faslane which they intended to shut down for the day. ‘All these things are connected. They say there is no money, so attack the poor. But they can spend billions on weapons which can wipe out half of humanity. If we stand together we have the power, strength and determination to stop evictions and end this bedroom tax policy.’

Alan Wyllie of the West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation summed it up for most of the speakers: ‘I’m an ordinary guy and don’t see this as a political fight. I ask what is right and what is wrong? I believe it is wrong that the most vulnerable people are the hardest hit. It is wrong that fuel and food costs are rising while wages and benefits are going down. It is wrong to have this tax on bedrooms when millionaires are having their taxes cut. We are all in this together and must stop evictions. I urge Labour and SNP to protect all Scots. It is your duty!’

He said he’d read all the 2010 election manifestos. ‘There was no mention of the bedroom tax. The Westminster government has no mandate for this,’ he claimed to loud applause from the crowd. ‘We didn’t ask for this. We don’t want it. But the Government is attacking the most vulnerable in our communities. Mark my words: We will unite and we will win.’

He led the way for many different groups to work together against the bedroom tax, by launching a Facebook campaign several months ago.

More than 3000 people were estimated to have marched against the bedroom tax.

Speaker John McFarlane said the first round of the battle had been won by Dundee City Council declaring there would be no evictions in their city as a result of the tax. ‘Every council should do the same. MPs and MSPs are supposed to represent us but we have to ask – do they stand for us or do they stand for the Tory bankers? If they do we must remove them!’

Black Triangle speaker David Churchley said: ‘This bedroom tax is unworkable and unmanageable. It’s better for us to get off our knees and fight than not to fight at all.’ Calling for a 24 hour strike he added: ‘It is up to us to keep what has been ours for 100 years. We didn’t cause this crisis but we’re being made to pay for it.’

Daniel McGarrall from the Glasgow against ATOS campaign said that 73 people die each week after being found fit to work by ATOS. He invited listeners to join the demonstrations on the last Friday of each month outside ATOS offices and the Commonwealth Games offices because ATOS is a sponsor of the Glasgow 2014 Games.

He outlined how he and another campaigner face a court trial for campaigning. ‘We are defending the right to protest. And we will not be beaten.’

A spokesman from Govan Law Centre said that the bedroom tax was bringing misery to 100,000 people in Scotland. ‘Around 80% of those affected are disabled. It is wrong that the Government is targetting the most vulnerable people,’ he said, voicing his support to axe the tax and for no evictions.

Mary Lockhart reminded people of the Govan women who fought against the rent increases in 1919 when their menfolk were fighting in the war. ‘They fought the landlords so that their children wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor. They took a stand, got the shipyard workers on their side and said: ‘I will stand by you, if you will stand by me.’ Everyone today needs to be ready to protest and take action and stand by each other.’

As the marchers assembled at Glasgow Green, David Churchley was proudly holding the leading banner with his one good hand – the other being unusable because of a stroke. He said: ‘ I’m on the march because of this appalling, vicious vindictive bedroom tax. If you thought Thatcher’s poll tax was bad; Cameron’s is worse.’ A former IT worker, he has been unable to work since his stroke. He added: ‘My benefit will be reduced by £12 a week. I use my spare room for equipment like my treadmill so that I can do the exercises that keep me reasonably fit.’

Said worker Michael Collins with son Finn (8): ‘We work and pay our taxes so that people can get help when they need it. We don’t want our money to be given to bankers.’

Said student Jennifer Dornan: ‘We must fight to oppose the injustice of the bedroom tax and convince people to do something about it. This attack is on the most vulnerable. We should be gunning for the people in government who can afford it.’

Paul McLaughlin of Glasgow West GAP which has been providing welfare support and advice for 13 years, said: ‘We have to show our real anger and opposition to these charges. People of good conscience can’t let this happen. Everyone must stand up and be counted because individuals are being isolated and made scapegoats. We’ve got to waken people up to the need to organise.’ The advice centre is now located at Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall Street, near Kinning Park underground.

Frank Doyle of Glasgow Against Atos said: ‘This is an unjust society. The bankers get off but there is an assault on the most vulnerable.’

A 23-year-old banner last used in protest against the poll tax, was dusted down and on display by Dundee Fintry fighters.

The Fintery fighters recycled their old banner.

Said Albert Mitchell: ‘I’ve got a two bedroom house. My benefit of £141 will be reduced by £41 a fortnight. By the time I pay things like my gas and electricity I’m left with £10 a week to live on.’ Colleague Michael MacGregor, who brought the banner out of his cupboard, said: ‘We have the same threat of evictions and bailiffs now as we had in the days of the poll tax.’

Another marcher, called Sarah, of the West of Scotland Anti-bedroom Tax Federation said: ‘There are an awful lot of people worried about the consequences of this terrible tax. A separated couple with joint custody and where the woman receives the child benefit, will find that the man will be penalised for having a bedroom for his own child.’

Supporting a 'no eviction' strategy, Margaret Jaconelli knows what it is like to be evicted.Fighter Margaret Jaconelli, who was evicted from her East End property because it was in the way of Commonwealth Games development and who wouldn’t accept £30,000 compensation for her home of more than 20 years, was also on the march. ‘This bedroom tax will mean that people will be evicted – just like me. I’m still fighting for justice two years on and haven’t received one penny of compensation.’

Mum Sharon with her two-year-old, was protesting on behalf of a friend who also has a two-year-old. ‘My friend has the wee one and a 14 year old. The two children will have to share one bedroom. Their dad, who is in a new relationship, will have to move into a one bedroom place from his present two bedroom house. He’ll need to sleep on the sofa when his kids come to stay. But where is his new partner expected to sleep? Families aren’t static today and there is no thought given to that.’

Lots more campaigns to march for too.

Another woman in the crowd told this website’s reporter: ‘I’m not paying the bedroom tax. I’ll put the money by and hope that stops them evicting me. But I’m not paying it.’

Supporters were urged to turn out ‘in your hundreds’ at every local council chambers and Housing Association headquarters on Wednesday 10 April. ‘Give them holy hell,’ said the speaker. ‘Tell them in no uncertain terms we say ‘Axe the bedroom Tax’ and ‘NO’ to evictions.’

 

Seasoned campaigners included former MP Marie Fyfe (centre)

 

Emirates Arena Rocks to the top

October 9, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

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.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, personally, welcomed local school pupils to the new Emirates Arena. Photograph by Ian Watson

 

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.’

Councillor Matheson and his VIP guests are shown how to play basket ball by resident Rocks' team star. Photograph by Ian Watson.

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.

The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is now in use. Photograph by Ian Watson

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.

Asbestos clean-up after school fire

May 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Picture by Evelyn McKechnie, was taken at the height of the blaze around 16.15 on Tuesday 22 May 2012.

Demolition of the disused St Mark’s Primary School in Glasgow’s East End will start on Saturday 26 May. The building was torched earlier this week and white asbestos revealed.

The clear-up operation is being handled by specialist contractors in the immediate area and around Tollcross Park where the suspect debris will be dealt with.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said there was no immediate risk to public health. ‘Air quality is being monitored and is well within acceptable limits,’ he said. ‘The Council has written to residents in four streets beside the former school to give advice and explain how the clean-up is being done.’

Local people have been warned to leave all the clearing to the asbestos specialists and not to attempt to do any of the work themselves. In addition, residents have been asked not to cut hedges or lawns until work is complete and to limit use of their gardens. Plot holders at Tollcross Allotments have also been advised not to use their plots until the clear-up is complete.

The work will be carried out between 7am and 10pm each day until it is finished with atmospheric and ground level monitoring continuing till the completion of the job.

The process for removing the debris has been agreed with the Health & Safety Executive. The work is being carried out by specialist contractors – Hunter Demolition – and overseen by Glasgow City Council. Anyone finding material they are concerned about should not interfere with it, but notify Glasgow City Council immediately on 0141 287 0999.

The fire, which happened on Tuesday 22 May in the afternoon, was started deliberately. Strathclyde Police are appealing for information and ask people who can help to call 0141 532 4800 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 

 

Dawn raids start again

April 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Unbelievably, in the very week when protests are growing at asylum seekers being made destitute, the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) has dawn raided a family from Azerbaijan. The family is currently in the Cedars family detention centre in Sussex and scheduled to be removed on a flight leaving at 8am on Saturday 14 April.

The 29 year old woman Endalina is five months pregnant and suffers from high blood pressure.

Immigration officials broke into the family’s home on Duke Street in the East End of Glasgow at 7.30am on Wednesday morning while the family were still in their beds. Their two year old son woke up to see his mother crying and shouting and immigration officials wearing stab-proof vests On the phone to Unity, the Glasgow support group for asylum seekers, Endalina’s husband Emil said she was so distressed about being forcibly removed to Azerbaijan where their lives will be in danger that she suffered a thirty minute long panic attack when she was restrained by four immigration officials and could not breathe. She now has badly bruised arms.

Said a Unity spokesman: ‘Endalina is now experiencing severe pain in her stomach, showing a discharge and has been advised by the nurse in Cedars to lie down and not to walk about. We are extremely concerned about her and her baby’s well-being.’  He said Unity was calling on the UKBA to immediately suspend the removal flight and to release the family.

He added: ‘Endalina is only one or two weeks away from being too heavily pregnant to travel as most airlines will not take women who are more than 28 weeks into their pregnancy and the UKBA’s own guidelines state that a medical certificate must be issued showing the mother is fit to fly.’  He urged concerned Glasgow citizens  immediately to contact Theresa May, the Home Secretary to urge her to stop the family’s removal from the UK. The Home Office reference number is M1389212 and the email addresses are:

mayt@parliament.uk

pscorrespondence@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Fax: 020 7035 4745

 

 

Salmond letter raises Accord campaigners’ hopes

March 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

First Minister Alex Salmond met Accord Centre users last year with MSP John Mason.

A promise by First Minister Alex Salmond has given hope to 50 East End families that the £18 million Tollcross Aquatic Centre can provide a replacement for their doomed day care Centre.

The Accord Centre in Dalmarnock will be demolished to make way for a coach park for the Commonwealth Games. In preparation for that, more than 100 people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome and complex learning needs have been dispersed to other centres in the city. But more than 50 families have rejected the proposed alternatives to the Accord believing they had been promised a ‘like for like’ facility.

A year ago, Alex Salmond visited the Accord Centre to see for himself what the situation was. Since then behind-the-scenes negotiations and discussions have been taking place with Glasgow City Council officials and elected members and the Scottish Government.

In a personal letter to one of the Accord Centre families, Alex Salmond said this week: ‘I am keen to follow through on the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure that the legacy of the Commonwealth Games benefits the whole community of Glasgow. While recognising that you will be disappointed that Glasgow City Council has decided that those who use the Accord Centre are to transfer to the Bambury Centre, there is a real opportunity in the medium and long term to influence the shape of the new Aquatic Centre when it is adapted for community use following the Commonwealth Games in 2014. This brand new, modern, resource could be adapted to offer a similar facility to that which you saw when you visited the Harry Smith complex in South Lanarkshire.’

After that visit to South Lanarkshire one of the carers told this website: ‘I wept when I saw it. It was everything we could wish for. There was a swimming pool, gyms, film room, cafe, art room and facilities for people with special needs like our sons and daughters. But it was also open to the public in a way that was safe for the vulnerable users but integrated with the general public.’

Alex Salmond’s letter continued: ‘The longer term plans (at the Tollcross Aquatic Centre) include a range of opportunities for people with learning disabilities such as the development and use of a community hall and function rooms. There is also the possibility of first floor accommodation in the Spectator Gallery which would provide an opportunity for a range of activities. And Glasgow Life staff are investigating how to incorporate personal changing and support areas into existing plans at the build stage of the current development. I know from discussions with my officials, that colleagues within Glasgow City Council are keen to explore and develop this option with you and I would encourage you to do so.’

He concluded: ‘The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the Games Legacy includes recognition of the needs of people with a learning disability. The longer term plans for the Aquatic Centre present an opportunity to make a positive, tangible impact on the lives of such people. I have, therefore, asked my officials, working in conjunction with Glasgow City Council to prepare a funding package to ensure that a modern facility is created within the Tollcross Aquatic Centre after the Commonwealth Games in 2014 have taken place.’

 

Some of the Accord Centre campaigners at the City Chambers with Councillor Billy McAllister

In November, a confidential report was produced by the Joint Improvement Team made up of representatives of the Scottish Government, NHS and Cosla. According to Glasgow City Council, the report ‘rules out the possibility of Tollcross Aquatics Centre being used as a learning disability centre prior to the Commonwealth Games. There is also a question mark about having a dedicated centre after the games. But it makes clear the desirability of people from the Accord/Bambury Centre using Tollcross as part of their everyday activities.’

Councillor Matt Kerr, Executive Member for Social Care in a statement issued this week said: ‘I welcome this report and the conclusion that the Bambury Centre is a suitable base for people with learning disabilities. That Centre offers a real opportunity to deliver a service that will encourage greater social inclusion for service users. Considerable effort has gone into producing the report and so its recommendations will be taken very seriously by the Council.’ He continued: ‘Since reforming our learning disability services, people are showing they relish having greater flexibility to follow their own interests and aspirations. Using the Bambury Centre allows us to strike a balance between people taking greater control over their lives and retaining a centre.’

The move of the remaining families from the Accord Centre to the nearby Bambury Centre is imminent.

The Bambury Centre in Barrowfield, was recently purchased by West of Scotland Housing Association and is being refurbished. Part of the building, with its own entrance, will be reserved for the former Accord users as a meeting place where they will go out from to different activities.

After the receipt of Alex Salmond’s letter one of the East Carers Group said: ‘ I am very, very pleased with the letter. This is what we’ve been campaigning for. We are not talking about access to Tollcross. We want a fully functional day care facility. The Bambury Centre is the epitome of Glasgow City Council’s approach. It is a shabby after-thought. Our families are not being treated with the dignity they deserve. I cannot understand why the Council is not welcoming Tollcross and incorporating the facilities we’re asking for. They are being dragged kicking and screaming to this. They have been given £150,000 of public money for a feasibility study into making Tollcross suit the needs of vulnerable people but they are not fully engaged with the idea. We want a fair replacement for the Accord Centre. The only people who don’t see this are Glasgow City Councillors.’

Grace Harrigan, an official spokesperson for the East Carers group said: ‘We welcome the commitment to provide modern day centre facilities in Tollcross. But we’d like it nailed down. This is not about access to Tollcross. By law, all new buildings should be accessible. Shame on Glasgow City Council if, after spending £18m on the Aquatic Centre at Tollcross, they have not included the needs of some of their most vulnerable citizens.’

In October at the Council meeting where the decision to close the Accord Centre was taken, Grace was one of three parents evicted from the public gallery for shouting at the Labour Councillors presenting the case for closure. Because of that, she believes she was targeted when she attended the February Budget meeting of the Council. Not only was she taken out of the public gallery by attendants but she was told she was banned for life from the City Chambers. On the day she told this website: ‘I was doing nothing but listening. Then the attendant came over and said I was disrupting the meeting, took me out of the building and told me I would never be allowed back in.’

This week, in response, a Council statement was received about the incident: ‘A member of the public was asked to leave the City Chambers after being warned by staff about their conduct during the budget debate. No-one has been banned from the City Chambers as a consequence of this incident.’

A long term supporter of the Accord campaigners, community activist, Iain McInnes told this website: ‘This letter from Mr Salmond is good news. We’ve waited a long time for this. However, this is not victory. It is positive input along the road. When we get a letter saying Tollcross will be available for day care, offering facilities which have been available in the Accord Centre, and more; then we will believe the campaign will have succeeded.’

 

 

Olympia has its dome back again

March 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The breath-taking moments when the dome was put back in place.

Wednesday 29 February 2012

Like the icing on the cake – the refurbished dome of the B-listed Olympia at Bridgeton Cross, was placed on top of the landmark building today.

The £10 million make-over of the 101 year old site across from Bridgeton Railway Station – is driven by Clyde Gateway, in close collaboration with local residents.

The wooden cupola measures 10 feet high by 15 feet in circumference and weighs 5 tonnes.  It was removed in June of last year for restoration. Much of the original timber has been preserved and some new materials added. A 60ft crane operated by local contractors CCG, lifted the familiar dome into position.

Said local Councillor George Redmond: ‘This is a historic moment for both the East End community and Glasgow as well as being another major landmark of the Clyde Gateway regeneration.’ He added: ‘The feedback from local residents since we started work on the Olympia has been overwhelming. We already knew that this building means a lot to them. However, the interest people have shown throughout the project has exceeded all expectations and helped create a real buzz and added to the sense of pride in the area.’

Bridgeton resident Jimmy McLellan sits on a local community steering group which advises Clyde Gateway. He said: ‘It’s been amazing to see the speed at which the works have progressed. For someone who has lived in the area for so long, the fact that the original dome is being restored and much of the original timber is still a part of it, means a lot. It helps ensure the history of the building is preserved. Now we are all looking forward to work being completed and local people being able to use the new facilities which we believe will be the best of their kind in Glasgow.’

The premises are expected to open this autumn – ahead of schedule. They will comprise a public library and cafe; a high performance centre and the headquarters for the National Governing Body for Amateur Boxing as well as commercial office space to be let.

Built as a theatre in 1911, the building was a cinema for 50 years. It lay derelict for almost two decades and was severely damaged by fire in 2004. Clyde Gateway purchased it and developed its refurbishment in consultation with local residents and business people.

This is part of a 20 year plan by Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company to bring investment into the area and re-vitalise the East End. Part of that plan involves the legacy outcomes from Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games. And since boxing is one of the core sports in the Commonwealth Games, and has a rich tradition in Glasgow’s East End, it was appropriate that Amateur Boxing Scotland took an option to relocate their headquarters to the Olympia when it was ready.

The team position it exactly. PIC by Colin Mackie

 

Banned for life for listening to the budget debate

February 10, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Grace Harrington believes she has been banned for life from Glasgow City Chambers.

While the drama on the floor of the City Chambers was going on, one member of the public in the packed and very small public gallery, claims she was huckled out of the building and told she was banned for life.

Grace Harrington along with other parents whose adult children use the Accord Centre in the East End, was attending Glasgow City Council’s budget meeting on Thursday to hear if the budget included any hope for a new centre for them.

The last time she sat in the public gallery she was driven to shouting down to the Councillors below. ‘They were telling a pack of lies,’ she later told this website.

And because she had been removed from the public gallery on that previous occasion, she believes she was targeted on Thursday. ‘I was doing nothing but listening. Then the attendant came over and said I was disrupting the meeting,’ said a stunned Grace. ‘He also told me I was not a model citizen and would never be allowed back in the City Chambers again.’

The Accord Centre users are adults with special needs such as Downs Syndrome, autism and other complex conditions. In Dalmarnock, the Accord centre is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a bus park for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. This week the first person has been told the centre will be closed, finally,  on Friday 24 February.

This will leave more than 50 families and their adult children without a day centre to attend. Following a visit by First Minister Alex Salmond, last May, the centre was stripped of all the facilities that had been provided to make it a useful and appealing place for people to use.

‘Now we’re being told that we’ll need to go to the Banbury community centre where a room has been hired and a fire exit has been made into a door with a ramp.’ said another parent. ‘That’s all we’re getting and it’s ‘take it or leave it’ as far as Glasgow City Council is concerned.’

The Accord families had high hopes that accommodation would be provided for their special needs within the plans of the Tollcross Acquatic Centre which is being improved for the Commonwealth Games. ‘We’re still waiting to hear what a feasibility study has suggested,’ said Grace. ‘We’ve always believed we were promised a ‘like for like’ building and centre but we’re still waiting and hoping.’

 

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