By Alieu Ceesay
Following its successful debut four years ago, the Southside Festival attracted thousands at the weekend to Queen’s Park to celebrate the cultural diversity and community spirit of this unique part of the city.
The area was packed with fun and entertainment for all ages with live music, dance, sport, relaxation and comedy as well as the ever-popular face painting and displays from major contributors such as Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service. Also available was some of the fine, locally produced food and goods.
Said chair of the organising team, Andrew Montgomery: ‘The event this year has been stunning with the best of Glasgow weather and more activities for all ages.’
Local mum of three, Clare Boyd, said: ‘Events like this help bring the communities together to appreciate each other’s culture. The kids had great fun trying all the different children’s activities.’
Japanese tourist Yuko Okumura said: ‘The Southside Festival was really good! A real family festival, lots of games for children, lots of children, lots of balloons. There was a big stage for music and many people lying in the sun. There was a long line of food stalls and people drinking beer and talking – a lot! Not everyone was young. Whole families were there. And it was peaceful!’
As a commercial design student at home and a hobby Taiko drummer, Yuko enjoyed the whole sound and atmosphere of the day.
The fun continued on Sunday when the Picnic in the Park brought another day of music and family fun and good community spirit.
SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, James Dornan, is hosting a public meeting in his constituency on Thursday 8 March following an announcement by First Bus that they intend to withdraw the local 29 bus service from 29 April 2012.
The meeting will be at 19:30 in Tinto Primary School, Hillpark Drive, and two representatives from First Glasgow will also be in attendance.
Following a huge number of calls from members of the local community, the MSP agreed to host a public meeting on the matter. He said: ‘I am hugely disappointed in First Bus for withdrawing this service without any consultation with the local community or passengers. If this does go ahead it will be devastating for the Hillpark and Mansewood neighbourhoods. Many of the residents here are elderly people or people with children who don’t have cars, and the local bus service is all they have to get them to the doctors, the post office and out shopping. I appreciate that First Glasgow, like every other company, is struggling with the high cost of fuel against a tough economic backdrop. But cutting off vital services to some of the most needy communities in Glasgow is not the way to respond to it.’
He said he’d called the meeting to enable local people to get their concerns across to First Bus and for the company to hear, first hand, how much this service means to these communities. Councillor Dornan is urging everyone concerned to come up with a viable option that will service the local community and be sustainable for First Bus.
The statement from First Bus said:’ Service 29 is being withdrawn from 29 April due to the fact it is no longer a commercially viable route. A high proportion of revenue from this route is generated by reimbursement from Transport Scotland in respect of concession card usage. Changes made by the Scottish Government to the payment levels made to bus operators in respect of the National Concessionary Travel Scheme and the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, can only lead to service cuts such as this.’
They confirmed that David Robertson and Chris Carberry of First Glasgow Network Planning Team would attend the meeting on Thursday 8 March at Tinto Primary School.
Several MSPs spent time over the Christmas holiday seeing, for themselves, what is being done by volunteers to help homeless people.
This week, Humza Yousaf, SNP MSP for Glasgow, went out with a street team run by the charity Al-Khair working in conjunction with the Simon Community and Emmaus in the city. Said Humza: ‘The street team help people with addiction, mental health, social exclusion, employability, literacy and numeracy problems. The Muslim community spends a lot of time and effort tackling social problems. I was privileged to join those volunteering over the festive period. And am always touched by the amount of work people do to help others at this time of year.’
A few days earlier, James Dornan, Glasgow SNP MSP for Cathcart spent a night patrolling Glasgow city centre with the Street Pastors. He said: ‘Seeing first-hand the work these volunteers do and how positively they are received by people of all ages, was an eye-opener. Their support of those in most need, particularly the homeless, was fantastic – from giving out blankets, gloves and socks to ensuring they were welcome at Glasgow’s City Mission.
‘At this time of year we should give a thought to those unfortunate people who find themselves on the streets. But we should also pay tribute to the volunteers and organisations that do so much to make life as bearable as possible for them.’
In Aberdeen, Mark McDonald, SNP MSP for North East Scotland, visited a winter shelter run by the Bethany Christian Trust. He said: ‘The experience was deeply humbling. I heard the stories of some of the individuals using the shelter; how they became homeless and how important the services provided by the Trust are to them at this time of year. I spoke at length with the volunteers, including a group from a local recruitment firm who were giving up their time, and making a donation, to assist the work of the Trust. It is important we take time to remember the many people who face real hardship. I commend the work of organisations such as the Bethany Trust, for what they are doing to help homeless people.’
Payments made to Glasgow City Councillors appointed to ‘Arms Length’ companies set up by the Council are to stop.
The successful Constituency and List candidates from last week’s election lost no time in starting work at the Scottish Parliament.
Familiarisation for the newcomers, settling in for the seasoned MSPs and the swearing in ceremony on Wednesday 11 May for everyone. With a new presiding officer selected -Tricia Marwick, the first female to hold this important office – the Team Scotland in all its different hues was ready for action.
The LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW has asked each party what its priorities are now.
Glasgow’s lone Conservative and Unionist Party MSP, Ruth Davidson, said: ‘I’m delighted and honoured to be elected to represent Glasgow in the Scottish Parliament. I pledge to work for everyone regardless of how they voted – especially during the period of the Commonwealth Games when the eyes of half the world will be upon us. I will do everything I can to stand up for Glasgow in the Scottish Parliament.’
In the Green corner, Patrick Harvie retained one of the two seats his party had held previously in the Scottish Parliament, by attracting 5.95% of the Glasgow List vote. He said: ‘It’s great to be back in Holyrood again and thanks to everyone across the city who voted Green last week. Now the SNP have won their historic majority, it will be harder and more necessary for the rest of Parliament to scrutinise them and to hold them to account. But we will also aim to work constructively with them where there are opportunities to do so. I am also committed to being as strong a Green voice as possible for Glasgow and to working with party colleagues towards next year’s crucial local council elections.’
The jubilant SNP, with 69 seats have a majority for the first time in the Scottish Parliament’s history. Now they can easily drive through their legislation. Even reduced by one seat when Tricia Marwick became Presiding Officer, the SNP majority gives their Government real clout.
Labour have 37 seats in the Scottish Parliament and have lost several leading politicians in Glasgow – Frank McAveety, Charlie Gordon, Bill Butler and Pauline McNeill. Conservatives took 15, Lib Dems 5, Greens 2 and one Independent seat to bonnie fechtur, Margo Macdonald.
First Minister Alex Salmond was on the phone to Westminster as soon as he knew the good hand the Scottish electorate had dealt him. His first negotiation was to push to strengthen the Scotland Bill. The demands from Holyrood now press the Westminister government for earlier access to enhanced borrowing powers to support capital investment, responsibility for Corporation Tax and control of the Crown Estate to benefit the renewables programme.
The first SNP MSP to respond to the LOCAL NEWS request for their priorities was James Dornan for Cathcart Constituency. He took the seat from Labour’s Charlie Gordon.
He said: ‘my immediate priority is to put my office in a high-profile, extremely visible location to ensure everyone knows who their MSP is and where they can contact me. I’ll continue the work I started as a Glasgow City Councillor in representing my constituents and do all I can to save Glasgow’s charities from the brutal and heartless decision of the city’s Labour administration, to cease the concessionary rent scheme. This is leaving some of Glasgow’s most crucial charities in real danger of closure.’
Sandra White the Constituency MSP for Kelvin said: ‘One of my many priorities will be to ensure that the grassroots voices of the people of Kelvin will be heard. I also aim to protect our open spaces and the unique character of Kelvin and to promote equality of life for all through housing, jobs and education.’
List MSP Bob Doris of the SNP said: I intend to ensure that sectarianism and anti-Irish racism continues to be tackled long after the latest round of media headlines have faded. We need a consistent, long-term approach and I hope to lead a Members’ Debate on the matter in the Scottish Parliament in the near future. I also want to do all I can to promote jobs and economic recovery in our city and – yes- that does require more powers for Scotland. I am also preparing to consult on a Members’ Bill to change legislation to allow Fatal Accident Inquiries to be held into suspicious or unexplained deaths of Scots overseas. This follows the tragic death of Maryhill woman Julie Love’s son, in the waters of Margarita Island, Venezuela. Add to that my wedding to my fiancee, Janet, in Rhodes in August and it should be a busy few months ahead!’
The first Labour MSP to respond was Paul Martin who said: ‘ It is a privilege to be elected the first MSP for the new Glasgow Provan seat. The next five years will be incredibly challenging given the decrease in public spending that is forecast. I want to spend the next term in Holyrood fighting for health services to stay local by making sure we keep Lightburn Hospital in my constituency open. I also want to make sure that local people are not left stranded with a bus service more worried about profits than the public. The re-regulation of the bus industry is vital and the cowardice from the current Scottish Government cannot continue. However, most importantly for me, I will always make sure that the views of local people and communities are heard. It is an honour to serve the area I was born and brought up in and I will spend the next five years dedicated to its residents.’
In an extraordinary night which changed the political landscape of Scotland, Glasgow voters rejected long established Labour Party names: Charlie Gordon, Pauline McNeil, Patricia Ferguson and Frank McAveety.
Instead the Scottish National Party (SNP) was able to declare: ‘It’s a stunning night.’
Nicola Sturgeon was returned to the Scottish Parliament for the newly configured Glasgow Southside with 12,306 votes to Labour Stephen Curran’s 7957 votes.
SNP gained Anniesland constituency by seven votes for Bill Kidd who polled 10,329 votes to Labour Bill Butler’s 10,322.
In Cathcart Constituency James Dornan took the seat for SNP with 11,918 compared to Labour Charlie Gordon’s 10,326
Kelvin Constituency was won by Sandra White with 10,640 compared to incumbent Labour’s Pauline McNeill who polled 9,758.
Glasgow Shettleston went to SNP’s John Mason with 10,128 compared to Labour Frank McAveety’s 9,542.
The only seats to stay in Labour Party hands were:
Newly aligned Maryhill and Springburn constituency with Patricia Ferguson polling 9884 compared to SNP’s Bob Doris on 8592.
Glasgow Pollok seat stayed with Labour’s Johann Lamont with 10,875 compared to SNP Chris Stephens’s 10,252.
Paul Martin kept Glasgow Provan with 10,037 in contrast to SNP Anne McLaughlin’s vote of 7,958.
As other wins for SNP were being announced during the Glasgow count, Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘The SNP is now a force to be reckoned with across Scotland. This is a triumph for our Positive campaign. Our job now is to unite Scotland and to lead.’
In a bitter response at the podium her opponent, Labour’s Stephen Curran said: ‘The SNP will never get away with this in Glasgow.’
Sandra White commented later: ‘The SNP has broken the back of Labour in Glasgow with our Positive campaign.’
Labour’s Pat Ferguson said: ‘I’m proud and privileged to have served this constituency. I was the first Labour MSP for the former Maryhill/Springburn constituency and do not take one single vote for granted for one second. I am there to fight for every sector of the community in this new constituency and to make sure they are dealt with fairly.’ Her SNP opponent, Bob Doris, announced his wedding in his speech. ‘Four years ago I didn’t mention Janet my girlfriend in my thank you speech. Today I’m mentioning my fiancee Janet and soon she’ll be Mrs Doris!’ He also said the overall results in Glasgow and Scotland were ‘staggering’ for the SNP. And in an impassioned plea he asked for ‘even more positive results next time.’
John Mason who won and later lost the Westminster seat in the city’s East End, and secured the Shettleston constituency for SNP at Holyrood, first praised the outgoing Frank McAveety who had been the Labour MSP for the area. ‘We must thank him for all the work he’s done in Glasgow’s East End.’ But he went on: ‘The SNP ran a positive campaign – securing the M74 completion work, the Commonwealth Games and the rail link to Edinburgh as well as the council tax freeze. But Labour ran a negative campaign, running down the SNP and running down Scotland. The Labour Party must take a long, hard look at themselves.’ In promising to have a visible presence with a shop in Shettleston and being easily contactable by his constituents he added: ‘It is an incredible privilege to be trusted by the voters to serve this constituency.’
Frank McAveety in his farewell speech said: ‘I’ve served the East End of Glasgow for 22 years – as a teacher, a city councillor and as MSP. I care passionately about my city and its problems.’ Amid shouts and boos from the assembled crowd at the Glasgow constituencies’ count in the city’s SECC, he went on: ‘This country is now polarised. The Commonwealth Games was a Labour led initiative as was the National Indoor Sports arena. We made the largest investment in schools and education and I will work tirelessly to win this seat back for Labour.’
At 4am when it was clear that SNP had made remarkable gains in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I’m thrilled. There are quite stunning results across Scotland.’
In Cathcart were Labour’s sitting MSP Charlie Gordon lost the seat to SNP’s James Dornan, James Dornan said: ‘Charlie conducted his campaign in a gentlemanly fashion.’ In an emotional speech he went on to say: ‘I will represent everyone in this constituency. It is the area I was brought up in. I raised my kids here. We have worked hard day and night for the past three months and I thank all those who worked like Trojans to secure this positive result for the constituency.’
A sombre Charlie Gordon responded: ‘I’ve been a Labour Party activist for 42 years. I leave this stage tonight a wealthy man. Wealthy because I have my health and a wonderful family.’
Paul Martin who retained Glasgow Provan for Labour ranted about the SNP cuts. When his SNP opponent, Anne McLaughlin took the podium, a re-count was in process for the Anniesland Constituency where initially one vote appeared to be the difference between the lead candidates. She forecast: ‘These successes in Glasgow and across Scotland are not a one-off for the SNP. By electing SNP in force in Glasgow, the city has broken the link of people’s dependency on Labour for ever. If Labour continue their scurrulous attacks on Scotland, their lies will be found out and the people of Scotland will stop listening to them.’
In Glasgow Kelvin where SNP’s Sandra White took the seat from Labour’s Pauline McNeill, Sandra paid tribute to Pauline’s hard work in that community and said: ‘The SNP have aspirations for the people of Scotland. We believe every person deserves to have aspirations.’
In her turn, Pauline McNeill said: ‘I represented the area for 12 years. I did my best for everyone and I’ll miss them. I’m proud of what we achieved and hope that whatever happens with the government of Scotland that everyone will unite on the issues in the Scottish Parliament that will take the country forward. The UK coalition is wrecking our lives.’
As the night wore on a two party state emerged in Glasgow’s voting between SNP and Labour.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat’s highest vote was in Glasgow Kelvin where Natalie McKee got 1900 votes. In Anniesland, Lib Deb Paul McGarry got 1000 votes. In Cathcart, Eileen Baxendale got 1118 votes. In Maryhill and Springburh, the Lib Dem candidate, Sophie Bridger, got 833 votes. In Pollok, Isabel Nelson got 490 votes. In Provan, Michael O’Donnell got 413 votes and in the Southside constituency, Lib Dem’s Kenneth Elder got 612 votes.
Conservative Ruth Davidson became an MSP on the List vote. She said: ‘I’m pleased the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will continue to have a presence in Glasgow. It’s needed with the SNP being rampant! ‘
The last vote to be announced around 6am in Glasgow was the Anniesland constituency where a recount had taken place because of the narrow margin. The final result was: Bill Kidd, SNP, took the seat with 10,329. Bill Butler, Labour was close behind on 10,322. Next was Matthew Smith of the Conservatives who polled 2,011 and Lib Dem’s Paul McGarry received 1000 votes with the Communist party of Britain’s candidate, Marc Livingstone taking 259 votes.
In a victory speech, Anniesland constituency winner by seven votes, Bill Kidd said: ‘My opponents behaved in an exemplary fashion and the outgoing Bill Butler has done fantastic work in the constituency. I and the SNP will work hard for the next four years to ensure carers are treated in the manner becoming to a civil society and that our country is not despoiled by Trident – British weapons of mass destruction.’
In his turn, Bill Butler thanked his team ‘We fought hard and I don’t think we let the party down. This is not my farewell to politics where I’ve been for ten and a half years. I will continue to campaign for social justice – socialism as I know it – I will renew my opposition to the new Trident and will be on any platform with those who do that too.’ He singled out his mother, Patricia Ferguson who retained the Maryhill and Sprinburn seat, for special thanks for her support.
The only other candidates in Glasgow’s eight constituencies were Tom Muirhead an independent in Kelvin where he polled 405 votes and John McKee, an Independent in Cathcart where he polled 450 votes.
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NOTE: You can email your QUESTION for the SUNNYGOVAN hustings to the email below……
Friday 15 April at 7.30pm: West End Hustings in St Mary’s Cathedral, Great Western Road. Candidates from the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party and Scottish Green Party expected. A representative from Christian Aid Scotland will also be on the panel. All the Holyrood candidates are standing for the Glasgow Regional list so what they have to say will be relevant to voters across the city.
Tuesday 26 April at 7pm: Southside Community Hustings in Kinning Park Church. Nicola Sturgeon, Stephen Curran, David Meikle and Kenneth Elder have agreed to attend. Hosted by Sunny Govan Radio, the event will be chaired by Jim Boyle of Oxfam. If you have questions you’d like to ask this panel please email: email@example.com or phone 0141 445 3741
Sunday 1 May at 7pm: Langside Church if the builders have completed work on the new building, or in the David Cargill Centre, 166 Ledard Road, Glasgow G42 9EU, if not. Candidates for Glasgow Cathcart on a Question Time type of panel: Eileen Baxendale, Scottish Liberal Democrats: James Dornan, Scottish National Party: Charlie Gordon, Scottish Labour Party: John McKee Independent: Richard Sullivan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.