Blow down not such a breeze

October 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

After the blow down, parts of two of the tower blocks are still visible.

After the blow down, parts of two of the tower blocks are still visible.

All six of the infamous Red Road high flats were ‘blown down’ today but remnants of two of them remained after the explosion.  Hours after the event, no one at Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) was able to comment on whether this was intended or not. Nor did the social landlord – part of the Wheatley Group – release the normal details of how much explosive was used, how many tonnes of rubble would be created etc.

One insider, however, said that the steel structure of the building was such that four times the normal amount of explosive would have been used and the two bits of building remaining standing would have been ‘not expected.’

And by early evening it was understood that hundreds of people were being advised to ‘look at the GHA website’ to see where they might spend the night if they were unable to return to their homes because of the unsafe, remaining structures.

An emergency inspection was believed to be underway as this story

The six tower blocks before demolition.

The six tower blocks before demolition.

is being written.

Local people in their hundreds stood at various vantage points for hours to wait for the massive implosion. They were well pleased.  Cheers and a round of applause accompanied the massive cloud of dust which followed the collapse of the blocks. The dust spread over a very wide area.

Said trainee photographer Joe Graham: ‘That was quick!’ as he scrolled through his images.

Local resident Joan Flanagan said: ‘That was magic. I like big bangs and love to see things being destructed like that.’

Bobby Burns, also a local resident said: ‘That’s bitter sweet to see. It is one chapter of life closed now. But I suppose it opens a new one of re-generation for the area.’  He said he’d lived in two different tower blocks and commented: ‘They’ve both gone now. They were blown down too.’

The huge operation to clear the surrounding area of people began early on Sunday morning. ‘Two thousand five hundred people had to be moved,’ said one GHA official spokesman. ‘That takes time.’

Some resistance was expected from one householder – Tina Suffredini who chairs the local residents’ association. But when the time came, the GHA’s ‘plan B’ to have Sheriff Officers physically remove the lady from her property, was not required and she left her home of her own accord.

MSP Patricia Ferguson at the viewing site before demolition.

MSP Patricia Ferguson at the viewing site before demolition.

MSP Patricia Ferguson, who spent 11 years of her early girlhood in one of the Red Road flats said: ‘These needed to come down. I hope the new developments will bring job opportunities and community facilities and the GHA is consulting with local people to do that.’

 

 

 

 

A flaming good idea for Christmas

December 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Entering the Aladdin’s cave of gifts – a shop called Velvet Moon at 79 St George’s Road, Glasgow, G3 6JA – you’ll usually find a candle burning. Owner Brenda likes to have a Melt Pool candle aflame to produce a lovely aroma in the place.

Give a Melt Pool candle gift for that warm glow of satisfaction.

The soy candles are hand made in Scotland and come in a variety of scents.

For a start you can find geranium and lavender or lemongrass and lavender. Then there’s peppermint and rosemary, Yiang Yiang, and Patchouli. Whether it is tea light sized candles, beautifully wrapped and tied with tartan ribbon, or a long lasting candle such as the cedarwood, cinnamon, cloves and orange which really brings Christmas home, you’ll find the variety of sizes and scents will provide beautiful gifts for lots of family and friends. And they won’t break the budget as they range from £5 to £15.50.

So do yourself a favour, save time get to Velvet Moon near St George’s Mansion corner.

Park cheaply in Woodlands Road or travel by the No 4 bus route. Alternatively go by low level train to Charing Cross or by underground to St George’s Cross then take a short walk to Velvet Moon to do all your important gift shopping in one stop. Choose from a vast array of gifts you won’t find on the high street or in the shopping malls.

And Brenda will wrap your presents, beautifully, too – if you wish.

Each day till Christmas, we will post one of the many, many lines of special interest Velvet Moon carries.

Velvet Moon will put a shine on your shopping this Christmas. And there are lots of coffee shops nearby too!

 

EDITORIAL

December 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A momentous week. First the tragic crash of the Police helicopter into the busy Clutha Vaults pub with the loss of nine lives – the pilot and two police officers aboard the helicopter and six patons in the pub.

Then the news that Nelson Mandela had died. The Colossus who led South Africa out of apartheid and into a new and more equal world had finally walked to freedom of a different kind.

In both instances the people of Glasgow showed their true mettle. They ran into the pub to bring out the injured. They provided tea and support for the emergency services personnel who had the terrible task of searching for survivors and retrieving bodies once the embedded helicopter had been removed.  For Mandela, they were standing in Nelson Mandela Square within hours of his passing. On a cold, dark night with slight smirr falling, several hundred people listened to tributes and learned of the proud place Glasgow and Scotland had in the struggle against apartheid.

Bouquets of flowers appeared spontaneously. People talked to total strangers, sharing grief and memories, tears and sadness, a helping hand and solidarity.

Each individual had empathy for others. Whether it was immediately at the time of the crash and in its aftermath or whether it was history when Nelson Mandela was given the Freedom of the City and the years of effort it took to achieve that, didn’t matter.

What was important was that people in Glasgow identified with the humanity of others at a critical time.  Instinctively they reacted as if the person needing help was one of their own. Let’s all hope and pray that true solidarity is in evidence for future struggles at home.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lib Dems not nuked by bedroom tax rally

September 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Lib Dem banner proclaims a Fairer Society as police guard the building.

While the Liberal Democrats started contemplating their Fairer Society and Stronger Economy inside Glasgow’s SECC on Saturday 14 September 2013, a variety of protest groups rallied outside.

Organised by the STUC and Scottish CND, the protesters raged against the unfairness of the bedroom tax and of Trident being located on the Clyde.

Falun Gong silently showing their support for people in China they believe are being killed for their body organs. SheBoom women drummers pounding out their message loud and clear. And political musician Alan Smart of Beat the Bedroom tax added telling new verses to an Adam McNaughton song to make: ‘You Canny Have a Spare Room in a Pokey Cooncil Flat.’ He said: I’ve been writing and performing political songs for more than 30 years but have never felt so motivated to do so than now through the bedroom tax.’

Beat the Bedroom tax musicians with political singer Alan Smart on the left.

Corralled in a car park, the crowd of a few hundred was continuously monitored by CCTV through Glasgow Community and Safety Services’ mobile services. This limited company, which has charitable status, is a collaboration of Glasgow City Council and Strathclyde Police.

And while the rally proceeded – with police helicopter drowning out several speeches – Lib Dem delegates strolled into the SECC at a safe distance.

The protesters gave a big cheer at the arrival of Alan Wyllie who had walked ten miles from his home in Foxbar, Paisley to highlight the fact that a ‘NO 2 bedroom tax campaign’ march was banned by Glasgow City Council.

Alan Wyllie, spokesman for 'No2thebedroomtaxcampaign' who walked to the rally and Maureen Cope, chair of Ardenglen Housing Association.

Instead, campaigners met at Glasgow Green and held a rally there before boarding a bus to the SECC to join the crowd already gathered. They had been severely warned by the authorities that they would be observed all the way and if anyone was found to be marching they’d be arrested.

Top line speakers all condemned the Westminster Government policy which reduces benefits to people who have an extra bedroom. Others condemned the continued locating of nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND came from London to address the rally. George Potter, a delegate to the Lib Dem UK conference in the SECC whose motion to scrape Trident will be heard on Tuesday was listened to respectfully. Arthur West, Chairman of Scottish CND said he was pleased at the success of the rally and hoped the Lib/Dem conference delegates would ‘see sense’ and adopt the motion. Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC said that Trident was a moral issue for the STUC.  ‘ It isn’t just the harm this ultimate threat could cause; it is the threat to our spirituality. Every day Trident is on the Clyde, we are diminished.’

On the bedroom tax issues,  the most constructive ideas came from Glasgow Trades Council when Chairperson Jennifer McCarey announced a public hearing on Thursday 31 October. She said: ‘We are inviting all community groups, housing associations, churches and others to give their testimony on how the bedroom tax is affecting lives. These voices must be heard.’ She added: ‘We will not forgive and forget Lib Dems’ part in bringing in this iniquitous tax.’

Jennifer McCarey of Glasgow Trades Council announced the public hearing of evidence of what the bedroom tax has done to people's lives.

Mary Lockhart a former Chair of the Co-operative Party and the organiser of Mrs Barbour’s Army spoke up to have exemptions to the bedroom tax expanded. She said: ‘No family with someone serving in the forces should be paying tax on the room that person will come home to. No one who is disabled should have their benefit cut because of this tax.’ She said current exemptions must be made clear and unambiguous.

Chair of Ardenglen Housing Association, Maureen Cope, MBE, got loud support from the audience when she castigated police for preventing the march from Glasgow Green. She said: ‘We need to make the most of this rally and get our message across to the Lib Dems. Calling the bedroom tax ‘an insult, an injustice and a punishment of the poor,’ she told her listeners that those who brought in the tax were ‘not fit to govern us.’ She continued: ‘These welfare cuts are breaking down our communities. It is a human right to have a home fit to live in. People should not be freezing and going without food because of benefit cuts and this tax.’

She was followed by Unite trade union’s Community Co-ordinator, Jack Ferguson who said: ‘Make no mistake, this tax is part of a plan to destroy social housing. It is destroying the basic human right to a decent home. I hope the Lib Dems have some spine and a sense of what is decent and vote to stop the bedroom tax.’

Waving a Free Cornwall flag, Michelle Kent had travelled from her home in Cornwall to support the Glasgow rally. She said: ‘Six months ago I couldn’t walk. Now I’m so angry I can stand here and say what this Government is doing is wrong on so many levels. If I’d had to move out of my house, my son would have become homeless and had to live on the street. I’m not prepared to stay quiet.’ She then invited the crowd to observe a minute’s silence to remember people who’d died while fighting the bedroom tax.

Michelle Kent waves her Free Cornwall flag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alan Wyllie, spokesman for the ‘No2bedroomtaxcampaign’ who walked many miles to the rally because a march was banned said: ‘I warned months ago that people would have to unite to beat the bedroom tax. All the political parties are the same. Labour wrote this script. Tories and Lib Dems have delivered it.’

Theresa Stirling, who organises benefits advice sessions in Penilee Community Centre said: ‘It is a shambles. We should get rid of the lot (of politcians) who brought the bedroom tax in. They are a disgrace.’

Some of the crowd who attended the rally outside the Lib Dem conference.