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.’
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.
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.
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.’
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.’
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.’
Skaters have from now till 6 January 2013 to enjoy Glasgow on Ice, the stunning centre piece of the Glasgow Loves Christmas festival.
Around 210,000 litres of water were used to form the six inches of ice. It took 90 hours to freeze it completely to form the 736 square metres to skate on.
Last year more than 50,000 people used the outdoor rink around the Scott Monument in the centre of George Square and even more are expected this year.
For the first time students get half price on Mondays. Parents with children up to the age of seven, can use the Penguin Sessions which allows them to skate while pushing their youngsters in specially designed pods like penguins. Prices range from £4 for Young Scot card holders to £10 for adults at peak times.
The Magical Entertainment Marquee will have a free programme every night ranging from festive films and Christmas choirs to big band concerts and comedy spots as well as quizzes.
Free family fun days will be on offer each weekend. So far the entertainment line up has included – Cami followed by Jake Beveridge, Irrational Fever, Michael Cassidy and A Band Called Quinn. But there are musical treats most nights so check the website.
Said Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council: ‘The city simply buzzes with excitement thanks to all the attractions, events and family entertainment. And, of course, there is the chance to skate under the stars in George Square. I invite everyone to come and join us for some Festive Cheer.’
Clyde 1 In: Demand presenter Romeo said: ‘I love Glasgow on Ice. It’s such a good laugh and the Square looks beautiful. I feel like I’m on a movie set in New York.’ He was put through his paces by Scottish figure skating champion, Simone Golumb
For more info on Glasgow Loves Christmas consult the website: “http://www.glasgowloveschristmas.com” or www.glasgowloveschristmas.com or Facebook
Mildred Black at 76 remembers past skaing times as she glides along.
The countdown to Christmas has officially started in Glasgow as Olympic Bronze medallist, gymnast, Beth Tweddle, joined the Lord Provost to switch on the city’s Christmas lights.
Lucky Clyde 1 competition winners Liam (4) and Beth (8) Lindsay helped flick the switch that turned George Square into a sparkling, twinkling wonderland in front of 15,000 delighted spectators. The grand finale was a spectacular 10-minute firework display from the roof of the City Chambers beautifully captured in Ian Watson’s photographs.
The crowd was entertained by Clyde 1’s George Bowie and Suzie McGuire, an acrobatic display by some of the country’s up and coming gymnastic stars from the Glasgow School of Sport, Michelle McManus, Stephen Purdon, Dean Park and others from the cast of the Pavilion’s ‘The Wizard Of Never Woz’, together with the RSNO Choir. Glasgow 2014 mascot, Clyde, also kept the crowd moving with a special appearance supported by some funky dancers from Destination Dance.
The Lord Provost, Councillor Sadie Docherty, said: “What a wonderful night!. The crowd loved it and so did I. This was my first year switching on the lights and it was magical. This really was the perfect way to start the festive season.”
The switching on of the city’s Christmas Lights is part of the ‘Glasgow Loves Christmas’ campaign. It incorporates Glasgow’s unrivalled shopping and celebrated Style Mile as well as a programme of festive events throughout the city. Full details of the ‘Glasgow Loves Christmas’ programme are available from www.glasgowloveschristmas.com. And more wonderful photographs can be seen there too.
DEFEND GLASGOW SERVICES CAMPAIGN
LOBBY OF COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING
THURSDAY 9 FEB, 12.30PM
CITY CHAMBERS, GEORGE SQUARE
On Thursday 9 February 2012, Glasgow’s Councillors intend to vote through another £43M in budget cuts. This is on top of the £100M+ cut in the last two years which has already led to huge cuts in services and the loss of thousands of jobs in the council, charities, voluntary organisations, contractors, etc in our city.
Services to our most vulnerable citizens are in the firing line once again with another £10M to be cut from services to the disabled.
The citizens of Glasgow should not be asked to pay for the mistakes of bankers. Glasgow’s Councillors should oppose all cuts by setting a “needs budget” that protects services while organising a community and trade union campaign to win more money from the Scottish and UK Governments.
Get to the Lobby – No cuts in services!
The UNISON Glasgow City Branch co-ordinates the work of the DGS campaign.
Tel: 0141 552 7069 and Facebook/defendglasgowservices
Glasgow is picking up the pieces after the storm. Teams of workers have been called back from holiday to deal with the hundreds of damaged buildings.
Winds of more than 90mph swept across the city in the first few days of 2012. Rail services were suspended and people advised not to travel. Two high sided vehicles were blown over on the Kingston Bridge causing it to be closed for the first time in most people’s memories. More than 180 trees were damaged as winds up to 95mph hit. The city’s Christmas Tree in George Square was blown over causing the square to be closed to the public for safety’s sake. The River Clyde broke its banks around the George V Bridge.
Many residents in the West End, in particular, woke to find their chimney stack blown off. In most instances debris fell to the ground and damaged cars below. In many cases, huge holes were left in the roof.
Workers were called back from holidays by David Hunter which is part of the long established Glasgow company Hugh Scott Builders and Slaters. Said Callum Hunter: ‘We have had between 500 and 600 calls to repair the damage done by the storm. We will get around to everyone but we have to prioritise and first make each place safe and make a temporary repair. Then we will have to come back.’
He said the properties most affected by the storm were traditional West End flats where the chimney heads had collapsed and flat roofed buildings from the 1970s and 1980s. ‘Often they were shoddily built and of poor design,’ he said. ‘As for the tenements; one top flat in the West End has a four metre square hole in the roof where the chimney head has been blown in. It will be at least three months before the owner can return home and he’s not alone in that situation.’
American student, Bill Baehr from St Louis, Missouri stopped to ponder one of the fallen trees in Kelvin Way as he walked to Glasgow University. He said: ‘I come from Missouri and we have tornadoes. We don’t associate Scotland with storms like this!’ But he added that it hasn’t put him off the city.
If you have experiences of the storm you’d like to retell on this website or if you have good pictures of the storm damage you’d like to show, please email this website : email@example.com The website is:www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk
Storm force winds brought Glasgow and Central Scotland to a halt today. Rail services were suspended and travellers advised not to set out to go anywhere. Two high sided vehicles were blown over on the Kingston Bridge causing all lanes into and out of the city to be closed for the first time in most people’s memories. More than 180 trees were damaged around the city from the early morning when winds of up to 95mph first hit. The city’s Christmas Tree in George Square was one blown over causing the square to be closed for safety’s sake.
Glasgow City Council’s Land and Environmental Services’ Assistant Director, George Gillespie, said the storm damage was being assessed for priority along with road repair work. He added: ‘ Cleansing operations were suspended for a short time today so some people will experience disruption to bin collection services.’
In the morning the River Clyde broke its banks in the city centre around the George V bridge.
Residents in Partickhill woke to find their chimney stack had been blown off and into a car parked at the front close entrance.
Tomorrow – Wednesday 4 January – is expected to be stormy with strong winds from the west and rain throughout the day with some chill in the air.
Pic by ’FasterStrongerDeader’
The harsh experience of living in tents in sub zero temperatures has been shared by Occupy Glasgow people with others from the worldwide ‘Occupy’ movement. The weather conditions forced the group to move off the site at Kelvin Way which they’d occupied for several weeks.
Called ‘Winterisation’ the details of what that entailed were discussed this month at a national conference in Edinburgh of more than ten ‘Occupy’ groups from around the UK.
The Occupy Glasgow camp set up in Glasgow’s George Square in October. Soon they had negotiated with Glasgow City Council to leave the Square to allow the November Remembrance Service and the commercial Christmas entertainments to take place uncluttered. The site at Kelvin Way had been provided with toilets and electricity.
Their aim was to seek a more egalitarian and fair society and to confirm their commitment to campaigning for changes to enable society to cater for the needs of the 99% of people instead of being geared to supporting the top 1%.
In their conference statement the Occupy Movement declared: ‘We seek a twenty first century Enlightenment.’ And they say they haven’t gone away but are ‘ready to forge ahead in 2012, with resources in place to enable new members and occupations no matter where they are in the UK.’
Occupy Glasgow campaigners who want to change the world have left George Square. They have moved, with agreement of Glasgow City Council to space in Kelvingrove Park off Kelvin Way.
Said a Council spokesman: ‘It was essential the camp vacated George Square in order to allow Glasgow to properly observe Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. The council entered into negotiations to resolve that situation and, as always, this required all parties to make some concessions. We are pleased that George Square will be able to host Glasgow’s Armistice and Remembrance Day observances – and that the ongoing presence of the camp will not disrupt our programme of festive events, Glasgow Loves Christmas. Any costs associated with accommodating the camp at Kelvingrove Park will be minimal compared with those the council already faced to enforce an eviction order or deal with disruption to events in George Square.’ He added: ‘We’ve been seeking a negotiated settlement right from the start. We’ve always said we respect people’s right to make their voices heard. The site they move to allows them to maintain a presence while minimising disruption to the people of Glasgow.’
A statement is awaited from the Occupy Glasgow people.
We are living in strange times. The George Square ‘Occupy Glasgow people’ settled in with high hopes of changing the world. Then a woman who joined them was raped. Glasgow City Council got set to evict them and their huddle of tents from the Square which is needed for Remembrance Day and commercial Christmas events to follow. The Occupy folk hold a nightly ‘assembly’ when all those who are actively involved have their chance to say what they think openly and democratically. While inside the city chambers new security was visible when the last full council meeting was held. On that occasion, it was ticket only into the small public gallery and three women were huckled out when they rose and spoke out in protest at statements made by councillors.
Freedom of speech and freedom of action are being curtailed by the very people who have been elected to look after the wellbeing of the citizens of this great City.
Everyone interested is invited to join a VIGIL in George Square starting at 6.3opm on Friday 28 October to pay respect to victims of violent crime and to express solidarity with those who suffer.
The organisers are the ‘Occupy Glasgow’ group who are camped in George Square as part of a global protest at greedy bankers and the capitalist system. They invite people to come and say poetry, bring flowers or do what they feel comfortable doing to show their support of victims of violent crime.
This was prompted because a woman who joined the camp was raped.
The protest has been in the Square for more than a week and the City Council has already issued them with a ‘notice of removal.’
The Council say this is not an eviction notice and the protesters say they are there for the long haul to change the world.