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.’
Christmas is coming so fast some of us will blink and miss it! But the man in red is busy, busy, busy. Traditionally he’s been the friend of little children – if they’ve been good. If they’ve been bad, then across Europe there are tales of him carrying off the offending little ones.
In Britain, the United Kingdom Borders Agency, (UKBA) has taken on the role of carrying off the children AND their parents. Entire families are locked up in detention centres such as Dungavel. Some people have been in Dungavel for more than a year.
They have committed no crime, received no trial but been judged to have no good reason to be in the UK. Therefore they are waiting to be sent back to their country of origin. One man now living in Glasgow said he spent longer in detention in the UK than he did in prison in his own country. He was tortured physically in his own country. The torture in the UK was mental and, in his instance, lasted for seven years of cat and mouse tactics.
Fortunately, he had some friends who fought long and hard to ensure his safety. Other people are not so fortunate.
When the Unity Centre in Govan knows of asylum seekers they invite them to register with them before going into the reporting centre at Brand Street and again when coming out of the grime place. If a person doesn’t come out, the Unity volunteers can raise the alarm. But many people don’t find their way to Unity and some of them have certainly been transported back without any fuss.
Santa Claus comes silently in the night. UKBA personnel come in the cold light of dawn and break down doors, enter bedrooms of sleeping adults and children and take them out of their beds. Sometimes they do not even allow people to dress properly before forcing them into a van and transporting them for hours to a detention centre.
The old fables of Santa taking away children are still told. The 21st century twist is that it is the United Kingdom Borders Agency that is spiriting away people today.
That’s why a man in a red robe spent nine hours up a pole blockading the Brand Street headquarters of the United Kingdom Borders Agency.
A man in a red coat was up the pole today (Monday 10 December 2012) for nine hours.
He blockaded the entrance to the UKBA reporting centre in Brand Street, Govan. When he was eventually brought down from his tripod, he was arrested. One of his little helpers was also arrested – allegedly for not moving fast enough out of the police exclusion zone set up around the structure to extricate the man in red. The drama happened on International Human Rights Day.
The red robed man sat at the top of his tripod in front of the gates of the reporting centre where every asylum seeker has to sign in regularly. His action stopped vehicles getting in or out of the reporting centre all day and prevented the UKBA detaining anyone.
He said: “I’m taking this action to stop any more children from being detained by the UKBA – like the 4 year old boy Shahmer who, with his two teenage sisters and mum and dad was arrested in his home in Glasgow last week by the UKBA. I am shocked that children can be locked up in this way when the government pledged they would never do this again.”
Messages of support can be sent via Santa’s Solidarity Grotto :
c/o The UNITY Centre, 30 Ibrox Street, Glasgow, G51 1AQ. Tel. 0141 427 7992 Their website is: www.unitycentreglasgow.org and the email is: email@example.com
The UNITY Centre is run and funded entirely by volunteers. It supports asylum seekers who register before going into Brand Street and it records when they come back out again. If they don’t re-appear within a sensible time, the Unity Centre volunteers can then raise the alarm that another person has been ‘disappeared’ by UKBA.
Later, Strathclyde Police said: ‘At around 06.45 hours, police were called to a report of a group of protesters blocking the entrance to the UKBA building, Brand Street, Govan. Police attended and two men – aged 26 and 28 – were arrested for alleged public order offences. The 26 year old has been detained in police custody. The 28 year old has since been released. Both will be subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal.’
It is expected the two will appear in court tomorrow Tuesday 11 December.
A comment is awaited from UKBA.
Drugs worth around £150,000 were seized by Strathclyde Police in Govan on Thursday. The early morning search uncovered cannibus cultivation in a property in Copland Road. A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. A 45-year-old man has been detained.
The body of a woman found in the River Clyde close to Napier Drive, Govan on Saturday 1 December 2012 has been identified as 23 year-old Victoria Sloss from Glasgow. Family members have been informed.
Following a post mortem examination, Police say her death is not thought to be suspicious. However, they are keen to establish her movements prior to her body being found.
It is understood Victoria got out of a silver coloured taxi in Seaward Street, Kinning Park, around 04.30 am on Friday 30 November 2012. She was around 5’6″ tall: slim build and had very long brown hair. She was wearing a white t-shirt, maroon jumper, blue legging jeans and knee high beige UGG boots.
Anyone with any information which can help re-trace Victoria’s movements, is asked to contact Helen Street Police Office on 0141 532 5400.
The body of a woman was taken from the River Clyde near Napier Drive, Govan around 8.45am on Saturday 1 December 2012. Emergency services attended, but the woman was pronounced dead at the scene which is across from the Riverside Museum. Strathclyde Police say a post mortem will be carried out to establish the exact cause of death. Till then, the death is treated as ‘unexplained.’
Karibu’s annual general meeting (agm) was as busy and productive as any gathering of African women could be.
The organisation was set up almost ten years ago to bring together women in Scotland who came from Africa so that their combined energy and talents would help them integrate and make them stronger and self-sufficient.
The agm was held in the Pearce Institute in Govan.
Among the many items on the programme were the launch of a Karibu tartan; a fashion show of clothes made by the Karibu Sewing Project; notice of an upcoming launch for Karibu Scotland’s African Tartan and Textiles book as well as Scottish Government Equalities Section speaker Mukami McCrum. This being Black History Month, there were celebrations to mark it. And, of course, there was sumptious food, glorious food as only Women of Africa can prepare.
The charity is planning to re-open the cafe in the Pearce Institute in collaboration with Tea in the Pot, a local women’s support group which has been at the Pearce for several years.
Laurentine Zibi, Chair of Karibu (Welcome in Swahali) said afterwards she was ‘proud and pleased’ that the charity had overcome various challenges this past year.
‘To see between 100 and 150 people here today is emotional for me.’ The group has moved offices from Albion Street to Gorbals’ Adelphi Centre and now to the Pearce Institute in Govan.
‘We didn’t have enough funding to carry on in the Gorbals,’ said Laurentine. A full time worker post was reduced to part-time and then was lost in April when funding finished.
But with the support of Oxfam, the volunteer work of the Karibu Sewing Project gathered in strength. ‘We hope to move this into a social enterprise soon,’ added Laurentine. Their exclusive Karibu African tartan – devised with the expertise of tartan expert David McGill – can be purchased in Byres Road Oxfam shop.
Karibu founder, Henriette Koubakouenda, declared at the end of the day she felt ‘comforted’ that the organisation was making progress. ‘To see people taking over is good. Even if I die, Karibu will continue. The fact that the next generation shares the same vision as we who founded Karibu – is worth more than a million pounds to me. This annual general meeting has been a real joy for me.’
Henriette arrived in Glasgow with her two young sons as refugees from the Congo. Along with other women she soon discovered their needs and wishes didn’t fit in with the system. ‘About 15 or 20 women gathered in my flat in Sighthill on 31 August 2003 to work out how we could organise ourselves. We needed to keep our self-respect and were willing to work hard but our voices were not being heard by the service providers. It was difficult for us because each woman was isolated and very few had fluent English. I knew that, individually, we would not be heard but together we could be strong and be the voice for our problems.’ Among the issues they had personal experience of that didn’t fit the official categories were human trafficking and genital mutilation.
Since senior citizens generally know how to party, the summer fete at Florence House in Govan on Saturday 18 August from 2pm should be an enjoyable ‘knees up.’
Said Joan Sands, the Care Home’s Manager: ‘We invite the local public to come along. We hope the sun will shine too. And we know we’ll be providing a fun afternoon of entertainment for all. This is just one of a vast range of events and activities organised for our residents and their families throughout the year by our Activities Team.’
Florence House in Nimmo Drive G51, is part of the Lambhill Court Ltd family of care homes. It has 58 large, ensuite bedrooms within a beautifully converted school building.
Admission to the fete is free and entertainment will include sing-a-longs, raffles, arts and crafts, tombola and much more. There will also be bric-a-brac and home baking to buy.
The care home currently has some rooms available. For further information at Florence House or other homes in the Lambhill Court group, contact: Lissa Ameur, Operations Manager on 0141 427 9967 / 0141 427 3988 (choose option 3) or see website – http://www.lambhillcourt.ltd.uk Lissa can arrange viewing of accommodation.
June 10, 2012 by Grace Franklin · Comments Off
International wrestling superstar Doug Williams was the main attraction at the Scottish Wrestling Alliance show at the Pearce Institute in Govan on Friday 1 June, defeating Irish-born but Govan-based wrestler Damo O’Connor in front of a vociferous and hostile crowd.
The English grappler now works for TNA Wrestling in the US but the show was something of a homecoming for the star whose career started in the UK, and who wrestled many times in Glasgow before his big break. He said: ‘It’s good to be back in the UK, and it’s always fun to wrestle in
Scotland because I can rile up the crowd and play the bad guy from England.’ He added: ‘I’ve fond memories of wrestling in Scotland and have worked with the SWA in its previous incarnation and always enjoy myself.’
In his illustrious career, Williams has wrestled all over the world and cites Germany and Japan as two of his personal favourite places to work. But he always has a special place in his heart for the independent shows in the UK where he made his name.
‘Smaller shows like the ones promoted by SWA are great because you can interact with the crowd directly and get people involved in the action. The fans in the UK are among the most passionate. They appreciate good wrestling and the technical side of the sport’
Other highlights of the show included Joe Coffey defeating Black Samurai Junior, Lewis Girvan and Mark Anthony to retaining the Laird of the Ring Championship, and Mikey Whiplash defeating Andy Anderson to win the NWA Scottish Championship.
Full results of the show and other information about SWA and its future events can be found at
Williams will be back next year as part of the TNA UK Tour, which comes to Glasgow in January 2013.
On the morning of Govan Fair 2012, an asylum seeker made homeless by Y people recently, was detained by the UK Borders Authority at its Govan office in Brand Street. He is scheduled to be deportation on Monday 11 June aboard a Qatar Airways flight to Dar es Sallam, Tanzania at 21.30 hours.
He is Ahmed Abdullah, a 27 year old Somalian man who has ‘made a significant contribution to his local community in Govan,’ say colleagues in Govan and Craigton Integration Network (GCIN) where he was a valued volunteer.
From a small island in the south of Somalia, he fled with his mother when he was aged 7 after soldiers shot his father. He lived precariously for most of his adolescence in different refugee camps and most of his family are dead. In 2005 an agent arranged a fake visa for him to come to the UK under a Tanzanian identity so that he could join his grandmother who was seeking asylum in the UK.
Volunteers at Unity Centre in Govan, which monitors and supports asylum seekers who are required to ‘sign in’ at UKBA in Brand Street at regular intervals, put out an appeal tonight (Friday 1 June 2012) for people to contact the Home Secretary, Theresa May, urgently, to ask for the forced removal flight to be stopped and for Ahmed to be returned to safety in Glasgow. They also ask supporters to contact Qatar Airways to ask them not to fly Ahmed.
Ahmed is the latest in an new wave of detentions at Brand Street. Theeparajh Thilliyampalam from Sri Lanka was due to be forcibly removed on Thursday 31 May to Colombo.
He and many of his family had been imprisoned and tortured and some murdered, by government forces. His partner disappeared in November and it is believed she has been kidnapped by government forces. His appeal for asylum was rejected because of lack of documentary evidence.
Joshua Odeke is currently in detention and is due to be forcibly removed from the UK to Nigeria on the June 7.
His life is in danger if he is returned to Nigeria because of his political roots, his Christian religion and the fact that he is homosexual. He is due to be removed on a Charter Flight number PVT090 to Lagos at 23.20.
Full details of how to protest at these forced removals is on Unity Website: www.unitycentreglasgow.org