A petition asking for Atos to be removed as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games moved to the next stage of the Scottish Parliament process without one question being asked of the people presenting it.
Evidence for the proposed action was given to the Petitions Committee today (Tuesday 18 March 2014) by Sean Clerkin, spokesperson and fellow campaigner, Iain MacInnes of the Glasgow Against Atos campaign.
In his presentation to the six MSPs attending the Petitions Committee, Sean said Atos was a ‘toxic brand’ and it was morally wrong for the company to profit from the misery they imposed on the hundreds of thousands of people they were assessing on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions and declaring fit to work.
‘This company pays not one penny in corporation tax,’ said Sean. ‘During the assessment process at least 22,000 people have died. One man, in Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency, was taken off benefits and found, months later, having starved to death weighing only five stones.’
He concluded: ‘MSPs with a moral conscience should do the right thing and terminate the Atos contract as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. If not, the Games will be tarnished for ever.’
Answering the unspoken question of why Atos Healthcare should be targeted when it was Atos IT which was the Games sponsoring company, Iain MacInnes said: ‘The health care company and the IT company are part of the same Atos group. The so-called health care company is not in any shape or form caring for people’s health. It is working to a mathematical formula to get a target percentage of people off disability benefit. It is dealing with numbers in the same way an IT company deals in numbers.’
He offered the Petitions Committee fact packs detailing people who had suffered great hardship because of the Atos assessments processes. ‘Some of them are living in fear of losing the small amount of benefits they receive, so don’t want their names revealed,’ he stressed. ‘That’s why we don’t always give their names.’
After expressing his ‘great disappointment’ to the Petitions Committee that no questions were asked on their presentation, Sean told this website afterwards: ‘They are a disgrace. These people are supposed to be working on behalf of the people of this country. We have brought this Petition here in good faith believing they would scrutinise what we are saying and then make a decision to act. What they are doing is sending out our petition to many relevant bodies – including the Scottish Government, the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, ATOS, the Department for Work and Pensions, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland and so on – to get their feedback. Before the responses are likely to be collated, the Games will be over.’
The Committee was chaired by David Stewart (Convener) with the others in attendance being: Chic Brodie (Deputy Convener) Jackson Carlaw, Jim Eadie, David Torrance and John Wilson. The only woman at the table was one of four civil servants.
The full Petitions hearing can be seen on the Scottish Parliament website/videos/ 18 March. It is after that of Jackie Watt and Jane Plumb, Chief Executive of the Group B Strep Support. Both women have personal experience of babies dying from the condition.Their petition was to raise awareness of Strep B in pregnancy and ways to prevent it affecting mothers and infants during birth. It was screened at 1.07.56 and the Anti-Atos Petition PE1508 was heard at the end of the Group B Strep petition at around 34.56
This lovely photograph of the Govan Fair Queen 2013 was taken by amateur photographer Iain MacInnes.
The Queen is Rahat Baig who was attended by maids Zartashia Rana, Billie-Jo Leiper and Eve Elliot and attendants Mark Wright and Mohammad Halane. The young royal crew are all around 11 years old and are star pupils at Lorne Street Primary School.
Following the crowning ceremony in the Victory Christian Centre, the entourage was taken to the head of the parade in Arklet Road and led the colourful procession all the way to the review point at Elderpark.
Said Dorothy Courtney who has chaired the Govan Fair Committee for only a few of its 257 years: ‘This is a great Govan tradition. Everyone comes out to celebrate it.’
By Alieu Ceesay
The election season is upon us with one of the first hustings being Govanhill and Crosshill Community Council`s event on Monday16 April at Samaritan House in Coplaw Street.
Prospective candidates – aiming for one of the four seats in Southside Central ward – were quizzed by the public. Among the issues raised were social care, crime, privatising of council services, fuel poverty, benefits and the local economy.
The meeting was chaired by Iain MacInnes the Community Council`s Secretary, who called on the candidates to fight for the local community and to oppose all forms of privatisation in the city. He said: ‘There is a national debt but the austerity crisis is contrived. The need for the punitive, austerity measures being imposed on communities across the country, is a fallacy.’ He also questioned why so few resisted the ‘unsound, illogical economic orthodoxy.’
Moira Crawford, Green Party candidate, said that if elected on Thursday 3 May she would campaign for a city-owned energy company which would sell its surplus to the National Grid and use it to improve the City’s housing for the benefit of people. She also promised to work with residents and community organisations.
Labour Candidate Dr Soryia Siddique said she would fight for the building and refurbishment of local primary schools and the provision of up to five months of additional care for all three years olds as well as the creation of 1000 jobs each year for young people.
Anne Marie Millar has served the area as a Labour councillor for nine years and is now standing as an Independent candidate. She claimed her efforts achieved an investment of £13 million in housing for Govanhill. She promised to continue to work with residents, community organisations and the police to make neighbourhoods and streets safer and address knife crime and domestic violence; anti social behaviour and the regulation of private landlords. Although the crime rate has fallen the fear of crime still remains, she said.
Jahangir Hanif, SNP, who is seeking re-election to the Council, said it was time for regime change at the City Chambers. He pointed to the SNP’s successful campaign which halved the cost of chauffeured cars for councillors. He berated Labour’s record on ‘the state of our roads’ and was sure his party, ‘as the new majority,’ would do much better on infrastructure.
He added: ‘We will be campaigning to keep council tax frozen to help hard pressed households and for the council to do more to help local businesses create new jobs for young people.’
Robert McIlroy, Conservative, who is standing in Newlands and Auldburn ward represented local candidate Thomas Connor. The Conservative party would fight for weekly bin collections instead of fortnightly ones. ‘Waste must not be left uncollected for a long time,’ he said. He also advocated investment in roads and pavements.
William Bonnor, Scottish Socialist Party, emphasised the democratic accountability of the Council. ‘Local people should be consulted on the issues affecting them,’ he contended.
David Jago, Liberal Democrat, said rules must be enforced to ensure that private landlords are better regulated. In addition, he called for more money for housing.
Gavin Mc Nae, local resident, highlighted that none of the candidates had given recognition to the Community Council for mounting a sustained campaign on slum housing in the area.
Iain MacInnes told this reporter that it was the Community Council’s efforts that led to the Scottish Government taking notice of the dire housing problem. In March 2010, Housing and Communities Minister, Alex Neil said ‘hit squads’ could be set up to tackle Govanhill’s poverty and housing issues. Iain said: ‘this was translated into a ‘task force’ by Labour’s then Councillor, Anne Marie Millar. Through that, a hub was created to coordinate acute housing problems. But this put the issue into the doldrums. After being treated as a political football, the hub seems to be back on track.’
Iain said that the Community Council would continue to: ‘Campaign on housing in particular and on other relevant issues brought to our notice.’
One person asked if the panel would join him in opposing the current care ‘personalisation’ plans being presented as choice when, in reality, they were being used, cynically, to create cuts to services for vulnerable people and their families.
A question relating to the Commonwealth Games was: ‘How do the candidates feel about Glasgow hosting the ‘public relations’ front line for some of the countries which have abysmal human rights records?’
A member of the public said that money could be saved by abandoning the opening and closing ceremonies at the Commonwealth Games. ‘The money could be used to reinstate services cut by the Council. She went on: ‘The ‘Games are really about land deals and building contracts; there is little by way of a sustainable legacy for the people of Glasgow.’
New flats built for Maryhill Housing Association in the past two years, are leaking badly, according to residents.
The houses in Ruchill Street, G20 have had ceilings collapse and one resident is sleeping in her living room because of the water in her bedroom. Said Debbie McKenna: ‘My bed was drenched. I was glad I was not in it at the time. I’d noticed water dripping off the light bulb. I’ve had to throw out some of the bedclothes and the mattress.’
Debbie, who stayed with neighbours for a while says that the problem has still not been resolved though her deluge happened on Sunday 4 December. ‘It means my grandson can’t come to me at weekends as he usually does in case my ceiling falls in or the water starts coming through again.’
Another neighbour, who wishes to remain nameless, claims to have fallen because of the water cascading down the close stairs.
Said Iain MacInnes, Secretary of the Scottish Tenants’ Organisation: ‘This shouldn’t be happening in such a new property. But it seems to be taking an inordinately long time to find why and where the water is coming in and to fix it. Landlords have a legal responsibility to keep a place windproof and watertight.’
A spokesman for Maryhill Housing Association said that Chief Executive Willy Briody had visited the homes, personally, to check out the situation with senior staff. ‘We agree it is totally unacceptable to have water coming in, especially at this time of year. We are doing everything possible with Bellway, the building contractor to fix this.’
By Stuart Maxwell and Elyas Hussain
An award winning Post Office in the heart of Glasgow’s Southside is poised to be shut down despite fierce community opposition who see the service as vital.
There are plans for Crosshill Post Office, Victoria Road, to be closed and relocated to 540 Cathcart Road- where it will be a hybrid service, integrated with another retail venture. This comes a little over a year after the branch was awarded ‘Best Town and City’ Post Office in Scotland.
Fiercely opposed to the relocation, Iain MacInnes, Govanhill and Crosshill Community Council secretary, has headed a local campaign. Said Iain: ‘We have nearly 700 signatures from the local community in opposition to this. People are showing great displeasure. Post Office provisions have cut heavily all over the Southside. All such cuts are morally bankrupt. It is an iconic building to all cultures. They see it as part of their community being taken away.’
Iain’s campaign has been supported by Nicola Sturgeon, local MSP and Government Minister. In a letter to Post Office Ltd. Nicola wrote: ‘Many in the area doubt the business viability of such a ‘dual purpose’ branch and fear that if it wasn’t successful, it would not be too long before a proposal was forthcoming to close the branch altogether.’
Govanhill resident Brian Rowinson is one of many angry at the proposed closure. The 39 year-old told LOCAL NEWS: ‘If they close this post office it will effect the elderly community because Crosshill is within walking distance. The new premises are smaller- how will they possibly accommodate all the customers? It’s horribly ironic that Crosshill Post Office won the Post Office of the Year and is being closed?
The LOCAL NEWS has been told by Post Office Ltd that the decision to advertise the franchise was taken after the business went in to receivership in December 2009, and that the sole applicant wants to move the service to Cathcart Road. Julie Morrison, Head of External Relations for Post Office Ltd said: ‘She (the applicant), wants to relocate to Cathcart Road. Rents and rates on Victoria Road make it an nonviable option. This is the best solution available to us.’
Iain MacInnes is not convinced: ‘As a community we have seen no evidence to show that there were proper procedures for other people to put their names forward to run this post office.’
The period for consultation, allowing the public to respond to the proposal, ended on October 26. Julie Morrison has pledged that Post Office Ltd ‘will take all all submissions into consideration before making a final decision.’ Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, who has presented a motion to the Scottish Parliament against the relocation, fears community views will be shelved
Said Patrick: ‘The decision to close and relocate has been taken too early.. I don’t think the Post Office have explored all options for maintaining the service on Victoria Road. The branch on Victoria Road is clearly more accessible for the local community. There have been many reductions to Post Office services in the Southside and there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. The peoples’ wishes tend to be ignored but this decision has stirred enough reaction to make the Post Office think again.’
In 2007, David Meikle, Councillor for Pollokshields, led a protest against Post Office plans to close a branch on Kildrostin Street. 1300 signatures were gathered but the closure went ahead. David told LOCAL NEWS: ‘At the time, the Post Office cited a new service on Shields Road and Crosshill itself as alternatives. We were promised two counters in the Shields Road hybrid, but have only one. To now hear that Crosshill is to close is really a piece of nonsense. You get the impression there is no real consultation period and that it’s a done deal. This will be another nail in the coffin for the vitality of Victoria Road.’