Holyrood approves three more primary schools

November 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


Pollokshields and Garrowhill are two of the latest beneficiaries of the Scottish Government’s £1.25bn schools building programme.

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Fiona Hyslop’s, announcement includes rebuilding projects at Garrowhill Primary in the east of the city and Glendale Primary in the south.

The latest tranche of rebuilding also allows Glasgow City Council to nominate a third school project. A total of 21 primary schools are now part of the programme to replace crumbling post-war buildings with modern facilities.

In September, the Government announced that 14 secondary schools will be rebuilt or modernised.

The Cabinet Secretary said: ‘This Government inherited a legacy of 260,000 pupils in poor or bad condition school buildings and in just two-and-a-half years that number has dropped by over 100,000.

‘We are on track to deliver in excess of 250 new or refurbished schools in the lifetime of this Parliament through £2bn already under way, supported by decisions made by the Scottish Government.’

Welcoming the news of a new Garrowhill Primary, Glasgow East  MP, John Mason, fired a broadside at the Labour-led council, saying they had failed in their responsibility to keep schools in good repair.

‘The Scottish Government’s school building fund is meant to provide additional support, but the Labour council really needs to start pulling its weight on schools.’

The rebuilding project will be managed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), a limited company wholly owned by Holyrood ministers, set up to govern infrastructure investment in Scotland, working in partnership with the private sector.

Established last year, the Government claimed the SFT would cost less than public finance initiative deals with the private sector. Infrastructure investment in Scotland over the next 10 years has been put at some £35bn.

Open doors weekend at Little Einstein’s in Pollokshields

October 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Southside parents are invited to an open day at the newly-launched Little Einstein’s kindergarten in Nithsdale Road, Pollokshield, on Saturday, October 31, between 10.00am and 1.30pm.

Nithsdale House Nursery provides a first-class early learning experience for children from shortly after birth until they are ready for the first days of primary school.

The new facility – the latest in a thriving business with four premises in Tayside and two in Glasgow – has created 20 jobs for a team of qualified and professional carers.

Nithsdale House expands and enhances Little Einstein’s offering of the Hillside Crèche and the Hillside Clubhouse in Mansewood in Glasgow, which meet increasing levels of demand from parents in the surrounding area and beyond.

The new facility, at the corner of Nithsdale Road and Shields Road, provides parents with a safe, secure and nurturing environment where children can progress through the early stages of personal development.

For all 52 weeks of the year, it offers four huge and comprehensively equipped learning areas where children of different ages will be cared for by staff in ratios as intensive as one nursery professional to every three children.

Children also have frequent access to a pleasant and secure outdoor garden area and they are further stimulated by outings to the local community.

Nithsdale House’s cook provides healthy nutritious meals and snacks to cater for all dietary and cultural requirements.

Nithsdale House’s Nursery Manager, Leighann Bain, said: ‘We seek to build a strong and effective working relationship with parents so that they can be satisfied that their child is happy, safe and well-stimulated at all times.

‘We aim to provide an environment in which each child can grow and develop at its own pace and where staff plan responsively to children’s needs to ensure that learning is of the best possible value to children as individuals.’

Islamic Relief Arson Attack

July 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The fire damaged shop on Albert Drive

The fire damaged shop on Albert Drive

Two men, Mark Bining aged 34 and Stuart Rose, 25, were charged at Glasgow Sheriff Court with wilful fire-raising in connection with an arson attack on the Islamic Relief charity shop on Albert Drive in Pollokshields. They made no plea and were bailed. Habib Malik from Islamic Relief said: ‘We were notified by the fire brigade at 5.08am in the morning. They were working until 11am to bring the fire under control. Our own CCTV footage shows two men outside the shop. There is a gas pipe outside the shop and they seemed to be tampering with it. The next thing you can see is huge flames coming up in front of the shop.’ Habib explained that the shop had received telephone threats during the Gaza crisis in January, but that there had been no recent incidents. He went on to say that they had received messages of support from charities including Oxfam and from across the Scottish political spectrum. Mohammed Sarwar MP, Hanzala Malik and Nicola Sturgeon have all sent their best wishes, with Nicola Sturgeon even offering to help with the clean up. The bill for damages is estimated at £70-80,000, and it will take at least 6 weeks to get the shop up and running again, due to extensive smoke damage. Habib said: ‘The people who did this did not think about the deprived people who the charity helps. This is not a profit making business, it is a charity which raises money to help people in poverty. They are the ones who will suffer.’   

Habib Malik outside the shop

Habib Malik outside the shop



David Milliband meets Glasgow Muslims

April 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

UK Foreign Secretary David Milliband took time out from the Cabinet’s Glasgow visit, to speak to members of Glasgow’s Muslim community.

He answered questions about foreign policy, particularly the UK’s engagement with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Hosted by Pollokshields Youth and Community Support Agency (YCSA) the event took place in the Kabana restaurant on Seaward Street and was attended by around 70 people. Anwari Din from YCSA said: ‘We had very positive feedback. The young people would have liked more time to speak to Mr Milliband. He was as open as he could be, and was relaxed and informal, which the audience appreciated.’

David Milliband was in Glasgow attending the UK Government’s historic Cabinet meeting in Scotland to discuss the economy. The Cabinet last met in Scotland in 1921.

Mr Milliband was welcomed to Glasgow by YCSA’s Shoket Aksi, first in Arabic then in English. The event was hosted by YCSA’s Anwari Din, shown wearing a green dress and headscarf.

David Milliband takes questions on UK foreign policy. The sound quality varies because Mr Milliband does not use a microphone.

Nithsdale and Newark Nurseries on the March

March 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Parents across the city are up in arms at the proposals by Glasgow City Council to close and amalgamate 13 primary schools and 12 nurseries at a saving of £3.5m a year to address sub-standard buildings and under-occupancy. Around 2000 children would be moved to new locations. A six week consultation is in process with the City Executive’s final decision expected on Good Friday – 17 April. The full Council would ratify it on Thursday 23 April. Agreed mergers would take effect from August 2009. Steven Purcell, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘This is not financially driven. It makes no sense to manage half-empty buildings. Every penny saved by this exercise will be reinvested in the establishments the pupils transfer to.’

Protestors brave the rain to demonstrate that 1.5km is too far to push a buggy to nursery

Protestors brave the rain to demonstrate that 1.5km is too far to push a buggy to nursery

Braving the rain, more than 300 parents, children and supporters pushed buggies from Nithsdale Road nursery in Dumbreck and Newark Drive Nursery to Pollokshields Primary Annexe in Melville Street on the Southside to protest against the proposed closure of Nithsdale Road and Newark Drive Nursery Schools.
The protestors say the 1.5 miles they’d have to walk to the new nursery school location in Melville Street, is too far to push a baby buggy and is outwith the walking range promised by the Council.

They were accompanied the entire 1.5miles by local MSP Nicola Sturgeon who also attended a protest meeting earlier in the week and called the Glasgow City Council’s consultation procedures a ‘sham’ and a ‘shambles.’
None of the City’s Labour Councillors who voted for the changes were on the march but opponents of the changes, Councillor David Meikle (Conservative) and Councillor Khalil Malik (SNP) were.
Marchers kept their spirits up by singing songs and nursery rhymes and were greeted with supportive horn blasts by passing drivers.
At Melville Street, the united thong sang more songs and chanted ‘Save Our Nursery.’

Asked by the LOCAL NEWS if the Scottish Government would call in any decision made by the Council, Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘I hope it doesn’t come to that. The consultation has been a sham and the Council has not demonstrated the educational benefits of the proposed closures.’

Proposed Scottish Government legislation – the Schools (Consultation) Bill – sets out a rigorous process for a local authority to follow when it wants to close a school. It includes six weeks of term time consultation, a report from her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and an extended list of mandatory consultees, including staff and pupils. If passed, the proposals could be in place by next year.
A few days before the ‘buggy march’ a consultation meeting was held in Bellahouston Academy by Glasgow City Council officials for the three nursery schools scheduled to merge in Melville Street. Children currently attending Newark Drive, Nithsdale Road and Pollokshields Nurseries should transfer to a new, early years centre at Pollokshields Primary Annexe in Melville Street.

Ajaz Ahmad speaks out at the consultation meeting in Bellahouston Academy

Ajaz Ahmad speaks out at the consultation meeting in Bellahouston Academy

Parents were adamant that the distance from the Nithsdale Road Nursery to the intended site at Melville Street was too far to walk. Many said they had no car and pointed out that the 59 bus was not reliable enough to provide guaranteed transport. In any case, the buses are restricted to carrying only two baby buggies at a time.
Council officials apologised for errors in the consultation document – the condition of the Nithsdale Road Nursery building was listed as ‘C’ (poor) when it is ‘B’ (satisfactory). Parents were encouraged by the officials to submit response forms but did not get direct answers to most of their questions on the night.
Local MSP Nicola Sturgeon was present as was Councillor Stephen Curran from Newlands and Councillors David Meikle, Irfan Rabbani and Khalil Malik.

Nicola Sturgeon said that Glasgow City Council had allocated a small proportion of their capital budget to school and nursery buildings compared to other local authorities such as South Lanarkshire. Councillor Stephen Curran responded by saying that it was not the time to score political points. Several people in the audience called for him to ‘be quiet’ since Nithsdale Road Nursery is not in his ward.

At a consultation meeting at Victoria Primary in Govanhill, Bailie James Scanlon was shouted down when he addressed the angry parents of Victoria Primary School. He was told in no uncertain terms to ‘shut up!’ amid claims that he had refused to help them keep their school open. Campaigner Cathy Wotherspoon told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘We approached Bailie Scanlon and he told us Govanhill was not in his area. He also didn’t show up at other meetings.’
Of 22 schools slated for closure by Glasgow City Council, Victoria Primary and Nursery is the only one where the pupils would be sent to two separate schools – Annette Street and Cuthbertson Primary.

Council officials at the meeting promised £70,000 in funding for the receiving primary schools if Victoria Primary and Nursery closed. A further £25,000 was promised for Govanhill Nursery where the 67 nursery pupils are destined to go if the school closes. Parents were promised free transport for any child travelling more than one mile to school. Parents speaking out in support of their school – sometimes through interpreters – were vociferous in their opposition to closure.
Victoria Primary has a roll of 83 pupils and a capacity of 463 giving an occupancy rate of only 18%. The 83 pupils are spread across four composite classes.
Pupils Sophie Mackinnon (11) and Kayleigh Wotherspoon (11) read out a poem of their feelings on the planned closure.
‘Friends of Victoria’
I’ve played I’ve sang, we have fell out
Sometimes we even shout
We will moan we will groan, but we will stay good friends
At Victoria today
Split us up and we won’t see our friends from Victoria any day
Different schools we’ll have to go across the street we’ll say ‘cheerio’
Hi and bye we’ve known since primary
We’ll have to go we’ll have no choice
The children’s charter says we have a voice
We’ll have to go we’ll have no choice
I keeping with the charter we’ll make lots of noise
Friends of the Victoria we’ll have a say
Someone will listen to us today
Keep our school so friends can play
Friends of Victoria say ‘good day’

Maxwell Park Station Adopted

February 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Maxwell Park Train Station has been adopted by a local conservation group under Scotrail’s ‘Adopt a Station’ scheme.

Pollokshields Heritage has transformed the station’s former ticket office and turned it into a community meeting venue and exhibition space. The station adoption was officially launched by Jack Kernahan, author of ‘The Cathcart Circle’ and railway historian.

Jack shared memories of spending time at the station in the early 1960s when he was a pupil at Hutchie Grammar. Jack and his friend Hamish Stevenson helped out at the station in their spare time and did their best to maintain the gardens. Jack also donated some historic artefacts, including station master Tom McPherson’s hat, a map of the surrounding area drawn by a staff member in 1920, and a selection of photos and tickets from the 1960s. One of the photos from 1951 shows the station in the days before the line was electrified. Lighting came from gas lamps and the locomotives on the line were mostly steam powered.

The station was built in 1894 by the Caledonian Railway Company as one of the ten original stations on the Cathcart Circle. Although it was un-staffed by 1987, the building was ‘B’ listed in 1990. By 1996 the building was in serious disrepair, and British Rail actually applied to demolish it, as they subsequently did to Pollokshields West train station. 

China Trip for Future Leaders

November 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A GROUP of Glasgow youngsters visited China in November as part of a cultural exchange programme.

Organised by the British Council, the UK- China 400:An Exchange of Future Leaders, will initially enable 100 UK young people to visit the Far East. The primary aim is to strengthen the understanding between youngsters in both countries.  Over the next 12 months another 300 young people will visit different parts of the China. Organisers also hope to arrange a reciprocal visit to the UK, including Glasgow, for Chinese young people.

The Youth Counselling Services Agency (YCSA) is leading the 10 member Scottish delegation. Anita Yu of the YCSA said: ‘I am delighted to be part of this exchange programme as it is an excellent opportunity for me and the other participants to experience a new culture and learn from other young people from areas around UK as well as China.

‘It is a fantastic opportunity for me as China is the root of my heritage, but I have not visited it before. Although I am born into a Chinese family, my upbringing has been a Chinese culture within a Western society.  What I can experience during the exchange is a Chinese culture within a traditional Chinese society.’   

The China 400 programme was officially launched at the British Council HQ in London and has the support of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao. 

The Glasgow group will travel to London, where they will join the 90 other youngsters before flying to Beijing.  Apart from the Chinese capital, they will visit Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province. The visiting schedule will include youth organisations and educational establishments in villages and towns. The British Embassy in Beijing will host a reception in their honour.

Liam McEmerson, 21, from Clydebank says the trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Currently working for the Prince’s Trust, he said:  ‘This visit will broaden my mind and give me invaluable knowledge of how things are done in a different country.  Hopefully, some of the things I pick up, can be transferred to my current job here.  I am also secretly looking forward to eating some authentic Chinese food.’

Samira Adris, 22, is from Pollokshields. She said: ‘It will be the furthest I will ever have travelled.  I never imagined that working as a volunteer youth worker I would get to China.  I have been learning a few Chinese phrases and can’t wait to share my experiences with other youth workers in China.’

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