Thousands say ‘Axe the bedroom tax.’

March 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Wheel chair and mobility carts headed the march from Glasgow Green.

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.’

Campaigners against the closure of Glasgow's day centres were out in force.

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.

More than 3000 people were estimated to have marched against the bedroom tax.

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.

The Fintery fighters recycled their old banner.

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.’

Supporting a 'no eviction' strategy, Margaret Jaconelli knows what it is like to be evicted.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.’

Lots more campaigns to march for too.

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.’


Seasoned campaigners included former MP Marie Fyfe (centre)


Dead woman identified

December 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Men sing to praise the Lord

April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A Festival of Male Voice Praise will be held in Harper Memorial Baptist Church in Craigiehall Street, Kinning Park, Glasgow G51 1 EU on Saturday 19 May 2012 starting at 6.45pm.

Guests will include Ministry in Song with accompanist Heather Moffat. The speaker will be Garry Blair.

Part of an international Christian praise festival, the evening is free but a collection will be taken for missionary work.

Titanic pastor’s sacrifice remembered in Glasgow

April 15, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Dr Erwin W. Lutzer beside the Harper memorial stone in Craigton Cemetery before the service.Almost 100 people gathered in Craigton Cemetery, Cardonald on Saturday 14 April 2012, to pay tribute to a Titanic victim whose name is recorded on a monument there.

Pastor John Harper drowned with 1500 others when the RMS Titanic sank in the early hours of 15 April 1912. He had founded the Baptist Church in the Plantation district of Glasgow where he ministered for 13 years. During that time, his wife Annie died and was buried in Craigton Cemetery where a monument was erected to her. John left Glasgow to lead a church in London. A renowned preacher, he was on his way with his six year old daughter Nana to the Moody Church in Chicago for a second visit as a guest speaker when the tragedy happened. The state-of-the-art ship was holed by an iceberg and sank within hours. Pastor John gave his life jacket to another man who was one of the few rescued from the icy waters. His name and his sacrifice were recorded on his wife’s headstone.

When the Plantation church was rebuilt many years later, it was named the Harper Memorial Baptist Church and was opened by Nana Harper. Quietly attending the memorial service in Craigton and laying their own flowers at the monument which tells the tragic story, were John Harper’s grand-daughter, Dr Mary Gurling, her sons Stephen and Paul and her nephew, Andrew Pont. Said Stephen: ‘We are standing on the shoulders of giants through this inspiring legacy.’

John Harper's grand daughter, Dr Mary Gurling, her son Stephen (left) Paul (centre) and nephew Andrew Pont (right), laid their own floral tribute.

The memorial and re-dedication service was organised by the Harper Memorial Baptist Church as one of several events during their Titanic commemorative weekend, 100 years after the terrible disaster.

The service was conducted by preacher Craig Dyer who introduced Dr Erwin W. Lutzer who has been pastor for 32 years at the Moody Church in Chicago where John Harper was going. In his epilogue Dr Lutzer said: “When I became a Pastor there, you walked down the hall to the John Harper meeting room.” In his passionate witness he explained that there was compelling evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the death. “Jesus was the forerunner. But you can’t get into Heaven with your physical body. The spirit can be released through faith, alone, in Jesus Christ. John Harper believed that and was able to say as the ship sank – ‘I’m not going down; I’m going up (to Heaven)’ ”

Among the guests of honour were Bailie Iris Gibson who brought greetings from the Lord Provost and said the City had been pleased to refurbish the lettering on the memorial stone in Craigton. ‘Pastor John Harper’s story deserves to be better known,’ she said. Also speaking was Councillor Alistair Watson who told how he’d grown up in the district, played in the cemetery and knew  John Harper’s story. ‘It is humbling to know of his remarkable self-sacrifice,’ said Councillor Watson. ‘He will feature in a booklet detailing the heritage trail through Craigton Cemetery. That is due to be printed soon and will tell the story to an even bigger audience.’ Also present were Councillor Stephen Dornan and Rebecca Lutzer, Dr Lutzer’s wife. MSP John Mason, who is an active member of the Baptist Church in Easterhouse, attended as a practising Christian and supportive church member and preferred to stand in the crowd.

Hymns and prayers were offered in thanks and tribute to John Harper and his sacrifice.

In the crowd were two particularly dedicated students of the Titanic. Andrew Learmonth, dressed in respectful white shirt and black tie, said he has been ‘obsessed’ by the disaster and all the attendant details since childhood. ‘My flat in Glasgow is like a Titanic Museum,’ he admitted. He is a member of the Titanic Historic Society, the British Titanic Society and the Ulster Historic Society – the ship was built in Belfast where a new museum has been opened to promote the fact. He recently visited Southampton to see the vessel which left to make the commemorative voyage of the fated Titanic.

Titanic devotees, Andrew Learmonth (left) and Brian Brodie

Giving out sheets telling the story of John Harper and showing a dramatic image drawn at the time, was Brian Brodie, a fire officer at Govan fire station. He pointed out that the Titanic was correctly referred to as RMS Titanic. ‘That stands for Royal Mail Ship, Titanic,’ explained the former marine engineer. ‘It shouldn’t be SS – sailing ship – Titanic as engraved on the memorial stone.’ Enthusiastically, he walks visitors through Craigton Cemetery to tell them John Harper’s story, show them the monument and visit other interesting grave stones with their own fascinating stories.

The Harper Memorial Church’s programme continues through Sunday 15 April 2012 with a morning service conducted by Jim Wylie, soloist Gillian Strang and guest speaker Dr Lutzer of Moody Church, Chicago. In the evening, Walter Whitelaw offers the welcome for the celebration with Dr Lutzer preaching and the Govan Salvation Army Band playing.

On Friday 13 April, the Glasgow congregation held a holiday club for schoolchildren and a rock concert in the evening for young people. Both events were well attended and have strengthened the Church’s outreach, especially in the local communities around Kinning Park and Plantation off Paisley Road West.

Titanic weekend raises hope

April 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Harper Memorial Baptist Church was named after a minister John Harper who was lost when the Titanic sank.

Harper Memorial Baptist Church in Kinning Park is buoyed up for a Titanic weekend starting Friday 13 April 2012.  One of the 1500 people lost when the Titanic sank 100 years ago, was John Harper who had been a minister of the church in Glasgow.  He was on his way to be a guest preacher in Chicago at the Moody Church.  And the current preacher in that American church – Dr Erwin W. Lutzer – will be the guest speaker in Glasgow during the commemorative events and services.

To recognise John Harper’s sacrifice – he gave his life vest to another man – the congregation has planned a wide variety of events to which they invite anyone along.

Friday 13 April started with a school  children’s holiday club. That evening a Christian rock band – Superhero – were scheduled to play their only UK gig. They’ve completed a European tour and are about to go on tour in the United States. That event is the only one where a door entry charge applies (£3)

On Saturday 14 – a commemorative service and re-dedication will be held in Craigton Cemetery, Cardonald at 2.30pm. There John Harper’s wife was buried and her headstone has details of his subsequent death when the Titanic sank after being holed by an iceberg on its  maiden voyage to America.  Dr Lutzer will conduct a service at the graveside and  local Councillors Alistair Watson and Iris Gibson are expected to attend.

That evening – the 100th year to the date of the sinking of the Titanic – a service of praise will be held in the church which is located off Paisley Road West in the midst of a complex of modern houses. Among the contributions will be the choir ‘Father’s Song.’

Sunday services, morning and evening, will be conducted by Dr Lutzer with communion being celebrated in the morning and the Govan Salvation Army Band playing in the evening.



Titanic Weekend ahead

April 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Harper Memorial Baptist Church in Kinning Park Glasgow, is preparing for a mega weekend starting on Friday 13 April through till Sunday 15 April.

The church was named after Pastor John Harper who had grown it in the early 1900s and who was one of the 1500 people drowned when the Titanic sank.

The Glasgow Harper Memorial Baptist Church has a school children’s holiday club running from 10.30am till 12.30am on Friday 13.

That evening the Christian rock band ‘Superhero’ will play on their single UK gig before they head for America. There is a £3 ticket for this gig. tel: 01698 275343 or

On Saturday 14 April at 2.30pm, a memorial and redidication service will be held in Craigton Cemetery Cardonald. The wife of John Harper is buried there and his sacrifice aboard the Titanic is recorded on her headstone.  The service will be conducted by Dr Erwin W. Lutzer of Moody Church in Chicago. It was to that church that John Harper was travelling when the vessel sank.

On Saturday evening at 7.30pm Dr Lutzer will preach and remember the events of exactly 100 years ago. Music will be provided by Father’s Song and a play about John Harper’s life will be presented for the first time.

On Sunday 15 April at 11am, the regular morning service will have Dr Lutzer as their guest speaker and communion will be celebrated.

The evening service on Sunday will feature Govan Salvation Army Band along with Dr Lutzer.



Painting the complex white

March 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Handing over the paint: John Callander of Barr Construction, Colin Begg director of Kinning Park Complex, Councillor Allison Hunter, Phil Moss of Johnstone’s Paints and Emily Roff events manager at Kinning Park Complex.

Kinning Park Community Complex is being spruced up thanks to Barr Construction and Johnstone’s Paints. They have donated 200 litres of paint which will be used by volunteers to give the busy centre a much needed make-over.

Built in the early 1900s as a primary school. It was saved from closure by a longterm sit in by local people who saved it for community use. The building is host to a range of activities including Zumba classes, public meetings, sports clubs, music workshops, art shows and live music events.

The venue has been crying out for re-decoration for sometime but the committee feared funds would be hard to come by as the income they receive from tenants and groups who use the facility is tied up in the everyday running of the building.

Barr Construction and Johnstone’s Paints work together on such projects as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes. Said Barclay Chalmers, managing director of Barr Construction: ‘We are committed to working with local communities to support initiatives which provide resources for people and generate training and employment opportunities. We were happy to step in and donate paint along with Johnstone’s Paints as part of our ongoing drive to keep Scotland’s communities alive.’ Johnstone’s Decorating Centre on Watt Street, near Kinning Park, supplied the paint.

Colin Begg, a visual artist and director of Kinning Park Complex, said: ‘At a time when money is tight, support from Barr Construction and Johnstone’s Paints makes a tremendous difference to our facility. There is so much going on here for local people and we’re starting to drum up a reputation as the place to be in the arts community, so keeping the place in decent nick is really important to us to keep attracting users.’

The facility is entirely community-run and currently welcomes hundreds of people each week.

Local Councillor Allison Hunter – who was born and grew up in the area – stopped by the complex to support the project and meet those involved. She said: ‘Kinning Park Complex has been a huge asset to the local area for many years and is well deserving of a make-over as it is a truly fantastic facility. I am grateful for this kind donation and hope people continue to use the centre for many years to come.’


Business network has sense to touchbase at Touchbase

May 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Some of the Networking Unlimited members who toured Touchbase, the headquarters of charity Sense Scotland in Kinning Park.

Some of the Networking Unlimited members who toured Touchbase, the headquarters of charity Sense Scotland in Kinning Park.

 A  relaxed way to enhance business connections has been devised by Networking Unlimited and charity Sense Scotland together. Ashish Kulkarni, who heads up his own software company, is leader in the Glasgow branch of Networking Unlimited. He has chosen to have their regular meetings in the airy space of Touchbase, the Kinning Park headquarters for the charity.

Pictured here are some of the Networking Unlimited members and guests who were shown over the extensive premises this week. They saw the public cafe, the conference rooms for hire, business meeting spaces and extensive capacity to hold events that the premises can offer. Said Ash: ‘We’ve been meeting here for a year and find it just right for us.’

Added Mairi Morrison, Business Development Manager for Sense Scotland: ‘We aim to bring even more businesses into the building. It is fabulous to have the opportunity to tell people about our work with disabled children and adults across Scotland.’

Commented one guest afterwards: ‘ I never knew such good premises were here within a minute’s walk from Kinning Park underground. I’m impressed by the open-ness, ease of access and facilities that are available and certainly plan to use them.’

For more information see websites: and

Creating a new heart in Scotstoun

April 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

First cut: Heart of Scotstoun friends and volunteers prepare for breaking ground

First cut: Heart of Scotstoun friends and volunteers prepare for breaking ground

Heart of Scotstoun community group are building their own community centre while others in the city are closing.
More than 600 people attended a family fun day at the Balmoral Street site to witness the cutting of the first sod – the ceremonial digging into the ground by a JCB to start the building works.
It has taken the Heart of Scotstoun group 12 years to get to this stage.
Among the many VIPs attending were local champions Jean Donnachie and Noreen Real who were made Scotswomen of the Year for their campaign to stop dawn raids after they saw asylum seeking neighbours carried away.
Said Jean: ‘The Heart of Scotstoun has been pushing for a community place for so long now that the start of building is a real cause for celebration. I hope it inspires even more local people to come on board and get active in managing the centre.’
John Robertson MP, Pauline McNeill MSP, Councillors Jean McFadden and Graeme Hendry all played a part and offered their congratulations to the people who comprise the Heart of Scotstoun.
While that exciting event was taking place, other established community centres around the city were being closed because of funding cuts experienced by the City Council.
At Lorne Street centre in Kinning Park, community activists were locked out when they went to collect Community Council computers and other items.
Said Nicola Burton Secretary of Kinning Park Community Council: ‘I was very surprised and shocked to find the place locked up. We are in negotiation with the Council to get funding to run it.’
Across Glasgow, 41 community facilities were reviewed by the Council. Some were underused and others needed £6m worth of repairs. The Council decided to close 11 places. But local communities and groups were given the opportunity to submit fully-costed business plans to run them. Letters with a temporary licence to occupy, were issued to Overnewton, Ledgowan and Cadder community facilities on the basis that they have an organisation in place to take over the halls and all associated costs or have progressed significantly with their business plan.