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.’
Informally dressed they may be, but this is the world leading Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band in public rehearsals in Kelvingrove Park today, preparing for the World Pipe Band Championships on Glasgow Green tomorrow (Saturday 11 August 2012). Last year they came first in every major competition they entered including the ‘Worlds’.
Around 8000 pipers, drummers and performers are expected to take part in the ‘Worlds’ which have been associated with Glasgow for 70 years. They’ll bring with them an audience of at least 40,000 and will create a spectacle that is difficult to match.
From County Antrim, the Field Marshal Montgomery pipers were checked individually by Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE (pictured centre) as part of their intense concentration on the quality of their sound. That kind of scrutiny while being watched by a crowd, is all part of the discipline of a pipe band.
Even if you’re not partial to the sound of the great Highland bagpipe, it is worth a visit to Glasgow Green tomorrow to watch the style and the dedication of skilled musicians from all parts of the world. Truly a memorable day out.
More than 230 bands will compete in the World Pipe Band Championships on Glasgow Green on Saturday 11 August. The fierce competition to be world champions for bands and individual bagpipe players and drummers, will attract more than 8000 skilled musicians from around the world.
Tickets for the finals at World level, are already sold out. People who buy tickets for the all – day spectacle show, can listen, free, to the competitors in the early, other levels of the ‘Worlds’ as the event is fondly referred to.
Ian Embelton, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Bands Association said: ‘The entry this year in the ‘Worlds’ is an indication of just how much the bands enjoy coming to Glasgow to compete.’ The competition has been associated with the city for more than 60 years. He added: ‘The pipers and drummers and all the supporters, enjoy a great day out. This year we have more than ever on offer. There is nothing quite like a day out at The World Pipe Band Championships.’
The event is for all the family with Highland Games, Highland Dancing, children’s activities and a serious competition among six of Scotland’s best known chefs. They will vie with each other in cooking demonstrations at the Flavour of Scotland arena, using some of this country’s finest ingredients.
Picture here are two of the chefs – John Quigley of Red Onion and Colin Manson of Malmaison – who were checking out where they’ll be cooking up a storm on Saturday 11 August. They’re wearing Help for Heroes kilts from Cameron Ross, the world’s biggest kilt hire supplier. The company has pledged £4 to Help for Heroes charity for ex-military service personnel, for every kilt hired from them in the Help for Heroes tartan.
For further information about ticket availability, prices and concessions for the World Pipe Band Championships call 0141 353 8000 or go to www.theworlds.co.uk
by Martin Graham
BIKE charity Freewheel North are holding organised bike rides throughout the spring and summer months.
Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome to attend the sessions taking place on Mondays and Thursdays from 11am to 1pm. Rides are planned and led by qualified instructors, and will help to boost cycling skills and bike confidence.
The rides are ideal for beginners, seasoned cycling veterans and those who haven’t been on a bike for years. Freewheel can even provide bikes and helmets to those without their own two wheeled transport.
If you do bring your own bike, they can carry out some basic maintenance to get you moving.
The rides offer a sociable and enjoyable way to boost cycling confidence and improve wellbeing. They start at the Glasgow Green Cycling Centre, which is near the Templeton Business Centre.
To book a place, contact Freewheel North’s cycling development officer Michelle Letowska on 07951 969394.
By Martin Graham
THE GLASGOW International festival of visual art has thrown up some unusual treats.
From Jeremy Deller’s ‘Sacrilege’ (the bouncy Stonehenge at Glasgow Green) to the “tiramisu” inside GOMA, playful and unusual work has provided unexpected delights for art lovers.
One of the more unusual “happenings” took place beside the Clyde, and even brought the river into the work.
“Keening Luna” by Glasgow artist Douglas Morland took place at high tide beside the Victoria Bridge opposite the sheriff court.
A group of female singers, all dressed in black, performed a tone poem, their voices rising and falling, creating an eery atmosphere.
Morland himself began conducting the choir, but soon clambered out on to a platform to draw water directly from the river.
He repeatedly threw down buckets on ropes to gather water from the Clyde. The river water was then poured into a large fishbowl. The water will be kept for a future performance. And then the singing was done and the performance was over.
Douglas explained that the work was inspired by the moon. He said: “As a child at night, I often wondered what would happen if the moon were to simply just disappear. One thing I did know was that it would affect the tides in some way or other.”
The Glasgow International festival continues until May 7.
Glasgow Bike Station is freewheeling in good directions.
First – this weekend – they re-locate to new, bigger premises in Haugh Street, Yorkhill. ‘We’ve over run the tiny space we started with in Barrowlands,’ explained Richard Kidd, the workshop manager.
In the expanded space, they’ll have more space for recondition bikes for sale and bike repair workshops among the other bike related activities the charity fosters.
Their newly acquired Awards will also be given display space in the sales show room. Earlier in March The Glasgow Bike Station won first prize at the Scottish Green List National Awards. The 2012 event honoured those working to make a difference to sustainable development in Scotland.
Gregory Chauvet, Bike Station Project Manager, said: ‘I am extremely proud of everyone at The Bike Station for their continued hard work throughout the year and for winning this prestigious award.’ It was presented by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson and announced by Keep Scotland Beautiful Chief Executive, Derek Robertson.
The Glasgow Bike Station picked up a further two awards the next day (Wednesday14 March) at the Grow Green Awards held at the Winter Gardens, Glasgow Green.
The first was for Best Sustainable Transport Project in Glasgow and the second for Outstanding Green Project in Glasgow.
The awards recognise individuals, groups, schools, and local businesses that made a real difference; whether getting people out on their bikes, growing their own food or even setting up community composting schemes.
Greg said: ‘These awards act as a catalyst for everyone at The Bike Station. It pushes us all to work towards a more cycle and environmentally friendly city.’
The project is one of more than 40 across Scotland granted Scottish Government Climate Challenge Funding. Their ‘A Better Way to Work’ events which promote cycling, walking and public transport as convenient and sustainable ways to travel to work, continue to keep The Bike Station on the move.
By Seneiya Kamotho
With Sandra White, the Scottish National Party MSP determinedly leading the way, a 15,000-strong procession of people resolutely marched through the streets of Glasgow on Saturday 1 October in solidarity against the UK Government’s cuts to public spending and campaigning for the protection of those hardest hit by them.
The march from Glasgow Green to Kelvingrove Park was part of a campaign spearheaded by the Scottish Trades Union Congress in partnership with equality, campaign, faith and anti-poverty organisations.
A sample of views revealed the deep despair of the marchers and their collective hope that the Government would reconsider its draconian job and services cuts.
Said Lorraine Leed: ‘I have been a teacher for over 30 years and it is heart-wrenching to witness the callous way in which such long-serving, conscientious members of society are being unsympathetically discarded as a result of this policy. It is an ultimate betrayal by Government of the people it is meant to serve.’
Kenneth Kilbride of the Prison Service agreed: ‘These cuts mean that prisoners will only receive basic services and not the much-needed specialist mental and psychological care.’
Said Charles Atangana from Cameroon: ‘New comers are also badly affected. English classes and interpretation options for asylum seekers and refugees, whose first language is not English, will be scrapped if public spending is cut. Black and ethnic minority people will suffer the most; how do they read their official letters; interact with banking and other public service institutions; how do their children learn the English they need for school; how do asylum seekers interact with their English-speaking lawyers and judges? The cuts work against the Government’s integration policies.’
The passion of the marchers against the cuts was palpable. The event culminated peacefully but poignantly with a speech by Tony Benn, Labour politician and former MP and Cabinet Minister.
Because of the continuous rain on the day, many people planning to speak, did not do so. One of them was Rev. Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland who is minister at Gorbals Parish Church.
In his blog he details the speech he would have made.
‘When the rich go on getting richer, and the poor go on getting poorer, and nothing – nothing – in government policy is designed to change that – it’s time for people from churches to stand beside people from unions, to stand beside people from disability groups, to stand beside people from right across Scotland and say that this is an offence against the kind of society and that we want to be part of.
‘Of course,’ said Ian Galloway: ‘Some people think they come first because of their wealth, their status, their position, or their antecedents. Their deep desire is to stay first. That’s why we have millionaires making up the Cabinet, trying to get their own taxes cut and telling us that we can’t afford poor people. The Bible says that when there are resources to be shared out, everyone should get enough. And everyone can get enough.
‘By this march we exercise our choice to say no to the same old business as usual. It is time to make other choices. It is time to put some other people first. Scotland has a proud record of caring for all of its people. We should not cease in our efforts to put people first and the ideology of market forces last.’
Today, a handful of students managed to get into the Collins building on Strathclyde University Campus and occupy the ‘posh’ board room used by Senate meetings and the like.
‘This is a peaceful occupation,’ said spokesman Ramy Albanna. ‘We are doing this to claim freedom of access, to highlight the hike in fees for students coming here from England and to express our concern at the closure of Community Education, Sociology, Geography and even Music course.’
We will be marching with the STUC and many other people on Saturday 1 October in the People First march from Glasgow Green to a rally in Kelvingrove Park. Because of that, we told the University we’d be out by Saturday.’
Security personnel at the University shut down the Collins Building in a bid to prevent numbers swelling. Two police officers arrived around 2pm after a number of protesters attempted to gain access to the building via a side entrance.
The neighbouring McCance Building in which Strathclyde senior management is housed, including the Principal’s office, was closed to students following the occupation which started around 11.30am onThursday 29 September.
The move comes two days after Strathclyde University announced plans to charge students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales £9,000 a year from the next academic year, taking the cost of a four-year degree to £27,000 after a cap was imposed.
At 4.30pm the University issued a brief statement saying: ‘A small number of protesters are holding a sit-in in one of the University’s administration buildings. The impact is localised and the University is working to minimise disruption.’
When it was pointed out that police were involved and indeed this website had pictures, the response was a promise to get more information.
University of Strathclyde Students’ Association president Charandeep Singh is understood to be in discussions with Principal Professor Jim McDonald.
The People First march and rally on Saturday will be led by the STUC but incorporates a large number of faith groups as well as campaigners in a large number of equality and anti-poverty organisations.
After speeches and music in Kelvingrove Park, groups will disperse to places of worship, student unions, public buildings and hotel in the vicinity to address specific issues.
The day will also feature fund raising for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal on the famine in Africa.
The day will challenge poverty levels and campaign for re-distribution of wealth across Scotland and the UK. People will also be campaigning to protect the hardest hit by service and benefit cuts and to build and re-connect communities and movements across the country.
Strathclyde University’s fees are now set at £9000 a year for undergraduates from the rest of the UK outwith Scotland. Glasgow University fees are set at £6750 and capped at £26,000 for a four year degree course. The annual fee for Scottish students studying at Scottish universities – which is effectively paid for by the Scottish Government – is unchanged at £1800.
Charandeep Singh, of the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association said: ‘We oppose all student fees and anything that could lead to the commercialisation of higher education. ‘The University Court had a chance to show leadership by minimising the impact of fees at Strathclyde. Instead they have chosen to charge the highest possible fees, proving that they are motivated purely by profit.’
The organisers of the World Pipe Band Championships for 2011 are to be congratulated. They made a lot of people very happy on Saturday 13 August when around 8000 pipers and drummers in 230 bands entered into fierce competition. The spectacle was enjoyed by an estimated 30,000 onlookers. Despite monsoon rains for days beforehand, the Glasgow Green was well prepared to take the crowds without too much mud underfoot.
Said one international visitor: ‘This has been an amazing day. I have never seen pipe bands before. It has been very exciting.’
Graded into different levels of ability, the band Grade 1 winners were Field Marshal Montgomery from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, making them top band in the world and leaving them feeling on top of the world.
Said Lisburn Mayor, Councillor Brian Heading: ‘I am delighted that this world famous band has once again brought this supreme title back to Lisburn. With 21 Ulster and 19 All Ireland Championships and now 7 World Champion titles, they are officially the most successful pipe band in history.
‘Quite simply, they are in a league of their own. To perform and compete at this level takes countless hours of practice. Their success is richly deserved.’
The Band’s Drum Major, Alicia Dickson also won the adult Drum Major event.
Interviewed by Jackie Bird for the BBC live coverage that went world-wide, the band’s Pipe Major, Richard Parkes MBE said: ‘We had a strong band on the day and I couldn’t have asked for more. We really wanted to win and everyone has worked hard all winter.’
Second place went to Simon Fraser University of Canada and Scottish Power was third. Fourth place in Grade 1 went to Inveraray & District. Fifth place went to St Laurence O’Toole from Eire and sixth place went to Boghall & Bathgate.
Glasgow Lord Provost, Councillor Bob Winter, was Chieftain of the Games, for possibly his last time as there are council elections next May. He said: ‘Nothing brings Glasgow Green to life like the World Pipe Band Championships. We all appreciate the dedication, mastery and team work required to play to the highest standards to be in the Worlds. The city is very proud to continue to be host at least till 2012.’
The event brings an estimated £10 million into the local economy.
Apart from the pipe bands and the associated competitions for pipe majors and for drummers and pipers, there were Highland Games which attract heavy weight athletes ‘putting the shot’ and ‘tossing the caber”. Highland dancing competitions fielded competitors from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as Scotland.
The day ended with all the pipe bands in a march past to salute the Chieftain and his VIP guests.
Planning for next year’s competition is already under way by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council, EventsScotland, Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau.
The life-saving charity – The Glasgow Humane Society – has launched a £100,000 appeal on its 221st birthday. It needs a new patrol boat and support vehicle as well as equipment to help save the lives of people they rescue from the River Clyde.
Launching the appeal on Tuesday 16 August, Glasgow’s Lord Provost Bob Winter said:’The Glasgow Humane Society is an important and well-loved society to which thousands owe their lives. We owe a big debt of gratitude to their officers and the volunteer lifeguards who patrol the River Clyde and our city’s waterways seven days a week to make them safer for us all.
In the last ten years the Society has saved 201 people and prevented 611 from drowning. So it is with a great sense of pride and purpose that we launch the Riverman Appeal. I hope the people of Glasgow and the business community will respond generously to raise the £100,000 to replace and upgrade the Society’s life-saving equipment.’
Supporting the Lord Provost at the launch was actress Blythe Duff of STV’s Taggart and actor Tom Urie of BBC’s River City drama. Both programmes feature the city and the River.
Donations to the Riverman Appeal can be made by text to 70070 quoting RIVE16 and the amount you wish to donate (for example RIVE16£5) or by paypal through the charity’s website www.glasgowhumanesociety.com or by cheque or postal order to the Glasgow Humane Society, Glasgow Green, Glasgow G40 1BA
Society Chairman John Park said: ‘This is our first-ever appeal to raise money. The Society still has a big role to play in making the city’s river and waterways safer and in preventing water accidents. We are an ever-present, voluntary resource to the statutory emergency services and always on hand for the hundreds of sports and boat users on the Clyde each week and the many thousands who use the waterway walkways.’
Set up in 1790 with a £200 legacy from local merchant James Coulter the aim was ‘prevention of accidents, rescue and recovery’ of people on the waterways. Drownings in the Clyde were much more common than today.
Affectionately known as “the Riverman” the Society’s officers and volunteer lifeguards have saved thousands of lives.
Since 1889 it has had only three senior officers – George Geddes 2nd (1889 – 1932) Benjamin Parsonage (1928 – 1979) and his son George Parsonage (1979 – till present day). They have passed down their knowledge of the Clyde and the city’s waterways.
Benjamin Parsonage and the Society is highlighted in a special display on the ground floor of the newly opened Riverside Museum. It features “The Bennie”, a river rescue rowing boat designed by Benjamin that will not capsize when rescuing or recovering someone from the water.
George Parsonage, the current Society officer, started at 14 years of age saving lives on the Clyde with father Benjamin. He has saved over 1500 people and recovered over 500 bodies. His rescue work on the Clyde and other waterways has been nationally and internationally recognised.
He is assisted by Antony Coia, who has been in post for five years, and a team of more than 30 volunteer lifeguards.
Apart from rescuing people and recovering bodies the Society personnel also help when floods strike. They have used their knowledge and experience in floods in the city’s East End and in Bearsden and Paisley’s Ferguslie Park.
A registered charity, the Society works closely with all the statutory agencies and local authorities