On balance – kids’ programme wins

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Balanceability Coach Scott Cowan  with four -year-old Max Nelson, Emma Clancy and  Junior Nelson  at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the Emirates Arena. Photograph: Ian Watson :

Balanceability Coach Scott Cowan with four -year-old Max Nelson, Emma Clancy and Junior Nelson at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the Emirates Arena.
Photograph: Ian Watson :

London Road Nursery children had their first experience of a Glasgow Life Balanceability class in the inspirational Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, this week.

The tiny tots learned to use the latest pedal-less bikes. Balanceability is a ‘learn to cycle’ programme, designed for children under 6. It is the first step in learning the balance, co-ordination and stability needed to ride a bike. By learning these core skills it is hoped that the youngsters will learn to ride a bike in future and be inspired to continue to lead healthy and active lives.

Already, the legacy is evident. A number of the children in the programme have started to access other physical opportunities at the Emirates Arena including mini kickers football and gymnastics.

Parents and Glasgow Life staff also benefit from the Balanceability class. Around 85% of the parents had never been to the Emirates Arena till their child was enrolled at the Balanceability class. To keep parents and children coming back, incentives are offered: as a tour of the Emirates Arena; a Glasgow Club gym session or a chance to watch Glasgow Rocks – the professional basketball team which plays at the world class stadium.

Ten Glasgow Life staff members have been trained to teach the Balanceability programme in the Emirates Arena. Another 14 are doing the same across the city.

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Executive Committee Member for the Commonwealth Games, said: ‘Programmes like these create a legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Local people are encouraged to use our world-class facilities and future generations are inspired to get active and learn core skills.’

Scott Cowan, Glasgow Life Balanceability coach, said: ‘You can see the kids progress every week. Within a couple of classes they are so excited they don’t want the session to end. Learning to ride a bike here is something they will never forget.  I am very proud to be part of that.’

Wendy McLauchlan, London Road Nursery staff member, said: ‘We have seen our kids flourish due to the staff’s excellent approach. Some children who were wary in week one, now confidently participate.’




Mandela – Glasgow’s Freedom Citizen, now free for ever

December 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Nelson Mandela 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela who led the fight to dismantle apartheid in South Africa, has died.

Many hundreds stood in Nelson Mandela Square to hear tributes to Nelson Mandela.

Within hours of his passing, Glasgow mourned and honoured Nelson Mandela in the square named after him while he was still in prison.  Many hundreds of people stood in the cold night to hear a wealth of speakers who paid tribute to Mandela.

Brian Filling, Honorary Consul of South Africa and at the forefront of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, hosted the tribute gathering.

The event was hosted by Brian Filling who was Chairman of the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Committee during the long years of Mandela’s incarceration on Robben Island, and is now Honorary Consul for South Africa.

Jean McFadden was City Council Leader when Mandela came to Glasgow in October, 1993 to receive the Freedom of the City and similar honours from nine other UK cities. Said Jean: ‘That was the proudest day of my life. Glasgow had been chosen to host the ceremony because it was the first city in the world to give him the Freedom of the City.  I had the honour of leading  Mr Mandela round each of the rooms in the city chambers where each city was able to greet him personally.’

She said his kindness in sitting down beside a councillor who’d had had a stroke and struggled to stand in Mandela’s presence, would never be forgotten.   She went on: ”The Council took a bit of stick when we re-named this square Nelson Mandela Square in 1986 when Mandela was in prison and still denounced as a terrorist in some quarters including the Tories. But we’ve been vindicated!’

Graeme Smith, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said: ‘It is impossible to overstate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Quite simply, he changed the world and gave hope to millions that even in the face of crushing injustice, a better future was possible.

‘Not only did he lead the people of South Africa to freedom, in overthrowing apartheid and returning his country to the family of Nations, he provided the most powerful example possible for all who are committed to the cause of social and economic justice.

‘He was an inspiration to me and to millions across the globe. He was an astonishing and remarkable human being – a man of great wisdom, dignity, fortitude, integrity and compassion. He endured decades of persecution with the same strength and courage he demonstrated in reaching out to his persecutors.

‘Nelson Mandela embodied all that is good in humanity. He was a revolutionary leader who became a President and the greatest statesman we have even known.

‘He did his duty and his long walk is over. Ours continues emboldened by his example.’

MP Ian Davidson proposed the resolution which finally produced the Freedom of the City of Glasgow for Nelson Mandela

In the crowd was Westminster MP Ian Davidson wearing his South African rugby tie. He proposed the original  resolution in his Labour Party Branch. This was endorsed by the City, the Trades Union movement, the churches and the Anti-Apartheid movement to give Mandela the Freedom of the City while still a prisoner on Robben Island. ‘This is a happy/sad day,’ he told this website. ‘Mandela was a tremendous ikon for the entire world.’  Another person in the crowd was an 81 year old woman who’d travelled by bus from Ayrshire – and waited for the bus for an hour. ‘Mandela would have been heart broken at the African police shooting African miners, recently,’ she said. ‘Corporations still rule the world. So we still have to fight.’

Gordon Matheson, the current Leader of Glasgow City Council’s Labour Group offered the City’s ‘deep condolences’ to the people of South Africa.  Humza Yousaf, Scottish Government Minister for External Affairs promised that the Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July 2014 would be ‘taken to a new level.’  He said it was a great privilege and honour to be alive while Mandela ‘the Colossus of history’ had been alive. ‘ He said: ‘One of Mandela’s sayings was  –It always seems impossible until it’s done. – The best tribute we can give is to live his legacy and fight racism,  fascism and inequality.’

The Rev Ian Whyte, a strong campaigner in the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement since the early days, said: ‘The Freedom of the City and a widespread boycott kept the flag flying. In the churches, not everyone was supportive, but people like Anne Hepburn of the Church of Scotland’s  Woman’s Guild were a powerful force. The churches stood beside the Anti-Apartheid Movement. I was proud to be a comrade in the struggle.’

Westminster MP Anas Sarwar said: ‘We are sad he has died but proud he lived. He personified that anything is possible when fighting for freedom and justice. He gives us huge hope for the future and all those suffering now: children in Palestine; people in Afghanistan; those at war in Syria.  He is the proof that you can fight and win if you believe in the cause and  right is on your side. We must make sure we live Mandela’s values and pass them on to the generations who follow.’

The Eurydice socialist women’s choir sang Nkosi Sikelel, the South African national anthem and explained that in Africa, songs are tears and that was why so many people were singing outside Mandela’s home from the time his death had been announced.  A Scottish group dedicated their songs – A Man’s a Man for a’ that; Your Daughters or Your Sons and Freedom for All – to the people who wanted to support what Mandela stood for – ‘making the world a better place.’




Nelson Mandela dead

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Within the hour of Nelson Mandela’s death being made known, Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty paid tribute to South Africa’s father of democracy.

She said: “The world has lost a true political and moral icon. Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to bringing freedom, justice and equality to the people of South Africa.

“His beliefs cost him years of his own freedom but his vision for peace and democracy prevailed. His legacy will live on and inspire generations to come.

“Glasgow was proud to be the first city in the world to honour him with a Freedom of the City award and he will be sadly missed by a city which had the greatest of respect for him.”

A book of condolence, with the Lord Provost as the first to sign, will be available in the city chambers foyer, situated beneath a plaque commemorating the 30th anniversary of Glasgow awarding Mandela the Freedom of the City. It was unveiled in 2011 by Denis Goldberg, a fellow defendant at the now infamous Rivonia trial.

The plaque is engraved with words Mandela spoke from the dock during that trial on 20 April 1964. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

The City Chambers flag will fly at half mast in respect of Mandela’s passing and will remain at half mast until his funeral.

Allison’s legacy honoured by all

August 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Allison Hunter, Govan Councillor and life-long SNP worker who died on 23 July 2013, was given a fond farewell today at Govan Old Parish Church.

The hundreds who attended the funeral service begin to leave Govan Old Parish Church.

A former SNP Group Leader in Glasgow, and SNP National Organiser before that, Allison was 71 when she died of cancer after a long and unpublicised battle.

The entire church was full with people from all parties and none paying their respects. They included Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, Council Leader Gordon Matheson and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond.

The funeral service was led by the Rev Dr Moyna McGlynn and heartfelt tributes were paid by City Council SNP group leader Graeme Hendry and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Pall Bearers were: James Dornan, John Mason, Norman McLeod, Graeme Hendry, Jahangir Hanif, Kalil Malik, Phil Greene and David McDonald.

Mrs McGlynn said Allison had asked her to say at the service that she had been incredibly proud of what both Graeme Henry and Nicola Sturgeon had achieved.

In his eulogy Councillor Hendry said: ‘Allison was a fantastic colleague, a wonderful wife to Ian, mother to Fiona, Mhairi and Roy and grandmother to Kathleen and Andrew and an inspirational friend. She didn’t seek the limelight. Scarcely anyone knew of her cancer but throughout her treatment she continued with a quiet strength.’

Allison had been election agent for Nicola Sturgeon when she won Govan in 2007.  Said Nicola: ‘I don’t think I’d have won without her.’ Describing her first encounter with Allison, Nicola said: ‘It was the 1988 Govan by-election. I turned up as an 18 year old volunteer at the campaign rooms only 200 yards from this building. Allison was obviously in charge. There are some people who are in charge because they tell you that. There are those who exude being in charge. Allison was in the latter category. She was really in charge and had an aura of organised authority. Her methods, training and campaigning tricks were drummed into generations of party activists. Those organisational skills are a big part of her legacy.’

Allison cheerfully answered media questions at the last election but kept private the fact she was fighting cancer.

Called Auntie Allison within the SNP family, she was a dedicated, passionate and formidable person who was scary on first contact, said Nicola. ‘While she ruled the roost, she did so in an effective way that motivated and unified people. Allison’s contribution to the SNP’s success was massive. As National Organiser at Party Headquarters from 1990 till 2002 she laid the foundations of our historic election victories in 2007 and 2011. There are few of today’s MSPs, councillors and organisers who were not trained and mentored by Allison.’

Following her retiral as national organiser, Allison was elected a Glasgow City Councillor for Govan.  Said Nicola: ‘ Allison loved Govan. Her parents came from Govan, she attended primary school in Kinning Park. She was very happy to represent the people of the area. And while she would be too modest to have said so herself, testament to what she’s achieved is visible all around.’

Only at the very end of her eulogy did Nicola’s voice shake with emotion: ‘Allison was a Nationalist to her core. She was an internationalist, a unilateralist a proud Glaswegian and a patriot.. She would have loved to have been around to campaign for a Yes vote next year. The rest of us will now redouble our efforts to do so in her honour.’

After the service in the gathering in the neighbouring Pearce Institute, others paid their own tribute.  Said Stephen Dornan, Independent Councillor for Govan: ‘ She was a peace maker, a voice or reason at all times.’ Commented former Govan Councillor John Flanagan: ‘Allison was always supportive, willing and helpful. She constantly went the extra mile.’  Said Scottish  CND Chairman Arthur West: ‘We will always be grateful for Allison’s substantial support of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the wider peace movement over many years.’ Said Sandy Black: ‘She was a great support to the Govan Fair too.’  Stewart Clark of Govan Youth Information Project (GYIP) said:  ‘She’s left a great legacy. Future generations have learned her way of doing things – thoroughly and for the benefit of all.’




April 15, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

Love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher has left a big legacy.

Trade Unions no longer hold the power they once had. Which means several generations of citizens have not had the chance to find out how to organise a campaign, how to conduct a meeting or the importance of taking accurate minutes.

But what does that matter? What’s the point of taking minutes when you can tweet?

In a different way the legacy has allowed hundreds of thousands of families to get onto the housing ladder by enabling them to buy their council house.  That has depleted the housing stock, of course.

But what does that matter? A mortgage was relatively easy to obtain – until recently – so the essential of a roof over one’s head was a matter of two people working flat out for 40 or more years.

And we can’t blame the unscrupulous bankers on Mrs T – they happened well past her term of office.

But it leaves the unhappy thought that the ethos of  ‘no such thing as community’ has taken root. Bankers, like trade unionists of past times, have allowed power to corrupt and absolute power to corrupt absolutely.

One suspects she would never have allowed that to happen in her day.

It will be interesting to hear what is said to the 2000 official mourners. And even more interesting to see what might happen around the country on the day of the funeral by way of paying respect.

The children of Thatcher are now grandparents who may take a more mellow view of the legacy. Or they might realise how little a legacy they can leave for their grandchildren.



Museum hosts Art Fund judges

April 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Glasgow Life Chief Executive, Bridget McConnell, points out some interesting items to the judges: Sarah Crompton, Bob and Roberta Smith and Stephen Deuchar


Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the only Scottish contender for the title ‘Museum of the Year 2013’ and a £100,000 Art Fund Prize that goes with it.

Last week, judges made the popular Glasgow Gallery their first visit on a tour of the ten UK Museums competing for the coveted award. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 4 June, live on Radio 4.

On the shortlist twice before, the KG as it is known locally, is hoping to make it third time lucky. Said Bridget McConnell, Glasgow Life Chief Executive: ‘It was a real honour to host the Art Fund judges and tell them why we and the citizens of Glasgow love the KG so much.’

Each year the Art Fund rewards and highlights the innovation and creativity of leading museums in bringing objects and collections to life.

Following presentations from the Museums team, the judges walked around the place on one of the busiest days of the year – the last Friday of the schools’ Easter holidays.

Said Stephen Deuchar, Chair of the Judges and Director of the Art Fund: ‘The Kelvingrove is not only rooted in its collections but also attracts new audiences.’  He instanced three recent big shows – the rock super group AC/DC; the Pharaoh of Egypt and the Italian Collection. ‘They all brought in new people who wouldn’t have visited otherwise. That’s the real legacy.’

Another judge, Sarah Crompton, Chief Arts Editor of the Telegraph, said: ‘This is a really invigorating place to visit. It is full of people clearly enjoying the excellent historic collections which are presented in accessible ways. And it invests in its visitors with an interestingly diverse exhibition programme.’

The third visiting judge, Bob and Roberta Smith who is a contemporary artist and activist, agreed and added: ‘This is an amazing experience. Everything the museum does is about investing in the people of Glasgow.’

Since reopening in 2013 after a £35 million refurbishment, the KG has had more than 10 million visitors. Commented Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life: ‘The staggering success of Kelvingrove has not been achieved by accident. We work incredibly hard to put on a programme of temporary exhibitions, events and activities to inspire citizens and visitors alike.’ He added: ‘We’re over the moon to have been nominated for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year and hope it will be third time lucky for an attraction that is much loved and admired by the people of Glasgow and Scotland.’

PHOTOGRAPH by Ian Watson.

Emirates Arena Rocks to the top

October 9, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Glasgow’s Emirates Arena is up and running!

The £113 million sports venue at 1000 London Road in the city’s East End was opened on Friday 5 October 2012 by Glasgow City Council Leader, Gordon Matheson.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, personally, welcomed local school pupils to the new Emirates Arena. Photograph by Ian Watson


He stood at the door and personally welcomed some of the 400 pupils from Sacred Heart and Dalmarnock Primary Schools who were among the first official users into the building. They were trying out the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Scotland’s only indoor velodrome, which is an integral part of the venue.

During the weekend following the opening, the place attracted well over 10,000 people who were freely able to inspect the new facility.

Located next to the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village and Celtic Park, the Emirates Arena is the largest facility of its kind in Europe. During the Commonwealth Games in 2014, it will host the badminton and track cycling events and will be called the Commonwealth Arena for the duration of those Games.

The 10.5 hectare site also contains an indoor sports arena, three full-sized sports halls, 12 badminton courts, four outdoor 5-a-side football pitches, a 1km outdoor cycle circuit, one of the largest of Glasgow Club health and fitness centres and a luxury spa.

While it is home to Scotland’s only professional basketball team, The Glasgow Rocks, it is also home to citizens of Glasgow who are members of the Glasgow Club.

Said Councillor Matheson: ‘By investing in new facilities such as this, we will help to inspire a generation to become more involved in sport.’

Councillor Matheson and his VIP guests are shown how to play basket ball by resident Rocks' team star. Photograph by Ian Watson.

He took a party of VIP guests on a tour of the Emirates Area. They included Shona Robison MSP, Minister for the Commonwealth Games and Sport; Gordon Arthur, Director of Communications and Marketing at Glasgow 2014; Michael Cavanagh, Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland; Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland and Denise Holmes, Emirates’ Sales Manager for Scotland and North East England.

Said Minister Shona Robison: ‘This will be an excellent venue for the 2014 Games, a world-class venue for Glasgow and a legacy for the West of Scotland.’

Emirate’s Sales Manager, Denise Holmes said: ‘This facility is unlike any I have ever seen. The thought that has gone into the design and execution makes it one of the best equipped and high-tech venues of its type, worldwide. The Emirates Arena is a flagship venue and we are honoured to be able to have such a close association with it and the people of Glasgow.’

Commented Lord Smith, Chair of Glasgow 2014: ‘This landmark venue is ready to welcome the best Commonwealth sportsmen and women, competing for glory in the badminton and track cycling events in less than two years’ time. The fact that it is now open to the local community and will host world-class events well in advance of the Games, is a tangible example tha the Games’ legacy is starting now.’

Said Michael Cavanagh, Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland: This truly fabulous facility will be one of the iconic venues in 2014. It all adds to the excitement for the athletes and their determination to be competing for Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014.’

Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland, said: ‘The Emirates Arena opening marks a key milestone on the road to Glasgow 2014. It is a truly phenomenal facility which will help inspire future generations to become involved in sport and physical activity. It will undoubtedly provide some fantastic sporting moments for years to come – the World Cup Track Cycling and the World Cup Gymnastics for a start. It will also be a real asset to the surrounding community who will benefit from regular access to this world-class facility.’

Between now and early February 2013, the Emirates Arena will be host to eight Scottish, European or World level sporting events.

The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is now in use. Photograph by Ian Watson

For further information and ticket details see website: www.emiratesarena.co.uk

Glasgow Rocks fans describe the venue as ‘amazing’ despite the fact that their team lost to Newcastle Eagles in the very first game in the new arena. The Eagles won 106 – 84 after a strong push in the final quarter of the game.

East End opens up with new roadway running clear

April 28, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

A vintage bus opened the new roadway on Thursday 26 April 2012. pic by Ian Watson

The £25 million Clyde Gateway (the East End Regeneration Route) opened to traffic on Thursday 26 April 2012. It is a key piece of infrastructure associated with Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the expectation is it will bring jobs and economic advantage to the East End of Glasgow – Shawfield and Dalmarnock in particular – by improving accessibility.

The four-lane, 2.6km carriageway links the Oatlands and the M74 junction at Polmadie in the south to the Forge Retail Park in the north. Designed by Gronmij and built through a joint venture between Farrans and I&H Brown, it will give easy access to Celtic Park, where the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games will be held, the Commonwealth Arena, Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and the Athletes’ Village.

This will be a critical route to transport some of the 18,000 athletes and support staff and hundreds of thousands of spectators expected during the Games. Afterwards, the roadway will be a legacy for the benefit of the local community.

Traffic congestion on existing local roads should also ease, especially during peak times. Recent traffic modelling studies have shown that there will be a reduction in traffic across the major east/west arteries crossing road around London Road and Gallowgate and in association with the new M74 link, this will free up road space to allow for additional walking, cycling and bus routes to be put in place.

Phase 1 of the road opened in April 2007 as part of the development of new housing in the Oatlands area and was officially re-named- New Rutherglen Road. Phase 1A followed in April 2010, running from the Polmadie junction of the M74 and Shawfield Stadium. This stretch totals 1.5km.

The Chris Hoy velodrome is in the background. pic by Ian Watson

Phase 2 is the longest section, crossing the Clyde at Rutherglen Bridge and passing Dalmarnock Railway Station, the Commonwealth Arena and Celtic Park before joining the Parkhead by-pass at the Forge Retail Park

Brian Devlin, Executive Director for Land and Environmental Services said: ‘The Clyde Gateway creates a new, direct link between the completed M74 and the heart of Glasgow’s East End. This will offer fantastic new opportunities for people and business either currently living or based in this part of Glasgow or looking to move there. This is part of the wider regeneration of the city.

Neil MacDonald, Chairman of Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company said: ‘The M74 has already shown that new roads play a very important part in businesses choosing where to make crucial investment decisions and there is no doubt that Shawfield and Dalmarnock in particular will benefit from this new piece of infrastructure. Our on-going efforts to attract developers to the East End have been helped immensely by this road opening and I’d like to thank Glasgow City Council for again demonstrating their commitment to the long-term regeneration of the Clyde Gateway area.’

Children on bikes got an early trial run on the new Clyde Gateway road system.

Prior to the formal opening when traffic started flowing, children from four primary schools in the east end were given the chance to try out the newest section of the road.

More than 100 Primary 6 and 7 pupils from St Michael’s, St Anne’s, Dalmarnock and Quarrybrae primary schools cycled around an obstacle course set up on part of the new tarmac running from new Oatlands over Rutherglen Bridge, through Dalmarnock to Gallowgate.

The children experienced, first hand, the road’s new cycling facilities including dedicated cycle lanes and extended footpaths that are provided along the full length of the route.

They also got the chance to brush up on their safety skills with Glasgow City Council road safety officers and Strathclyde Police cyclists and motorcyclists.  Dr Bike offered advice on maintaining bikes and gave practical demonstrations to ensure they were fit for the road.

As well as providing better facilities for cyclists, the new road, funded entirely by the Council, will improve public transport links and accessibility around the East End.

With phase one opened as part of the Oatlands new neighbourhood development last year, phase two of the 2.4km stretch runs over Rutherglen Bridge, continues via Dunn Street, Poplin Street, Dalmarnock Road, Mordaunt Street, London Road and Camlachie to join the existing road network at the Parkhead by-pass, Forge Retail Park.


The facts of building a new motorway are all here. pic by Ian Watson

TheClydeGateway (Phase 2) Facts

1.   More than 35,000tonnes of asphalt used to lay roads, footpaths and cycle ways.

2.  800m of 2.74m diameter tunnel used to alleviate storm water flooding.

3.  More than 250 trees planted and 40,000 sq m of landscaping to the road corridor.

4.  10km of new drainage pipes installed for new roads.

5.  250 new traffic signal heads installed over seven junctions.

6.  330 new lighting columns.

7.  Construction period 2 years (April 2010 to April 2012)