Thursday 9 February
The Labour administration in Glasgow City Chambers was nearly paid-off today when its budget scraped through by only two votes. Till recently, the Labour group had a comfortable majority of 15.
A stout defence of the Party’s record by the group Leader Councillor Gordon Matheson may have swayed the day. And bringing in sick Labour Councillors by taxi to increase the vote, was also effective. But opposition Councillors said the narrow win illustrated Matheson had lost the confidence of his colleagues and that he should resign.
Combined opposition parties of SNP, Scottish Lib Dems, Scottish Green Party, Independent Councillors and the solitary Conservative Party Councillor on the City Council presented their alternative budget. This included improving Council tax collection by 1.5% to bring in £1,250,000; capital expenditure of £58 million on education and roads and lighting infrastructure and a 10% reduction in parks maintenance budget saving £1,270,000
Rebel Labour councillors who defected on the eve of the vote included Southside Central Councillor Anne Marie Millar who said: ‘I’d been thinking of resigning for some time. Then at a meeting recently an item was removed from the agenda and I was told it would be discussed later among the others. I was made to feel like a second class citizen – isolated – and that I didn’t belong.’ At the end of the dramatic meeting, she freely told reporters that she had felt intimidated when another Labour Councillor was asking her to re-consider her decision in order to gain her vote for today’s vital budget meeting. ‘I asked him to give me a good reason why I should do that. He then talked about one of the programmes to get people into work and commented that my son had gone through that and was now working for City Building, where, incidently, that Councillor was on the Board. I stopped him there and asked him ‘Is my son being threatened with losing his job? I felt intimidated.’
Govan Councillor for 17 years, Stephen Dornan, formally resigned from the Labour Party a few days earlier. ‘I will always be a supporter of the labour movement,’ he said. ‘It is in my blood.’ But his reason for bowing out was that the Labour Party had not given his Govan branch their proper democratic right to select their own candidate for the May election. Despite an appeal, he was de-selected so he chose to vote against the Labour Administration’s budget. After the vote he said: ‘It is a sad day.’
Question marks were put against eight or nine Labour Councillors in advance of the budget debate. But Councillors Anne Marie Millar and Stephen Dornan were the only two who said openly what they had decided.
The SNP Business Manager, Councillor Graeme Hendry of Garscadden/Scotstounhill who helped co-ordinate the combined opposition parties’ budget said after the dramatic vote: ‘It was a great result for us. Labour got their budget through by the skin of their teeth. A week ago they had a huge majority. It shows that their Leader does not command the confidence of his own group.’ He added: ‘I’m really pleased with the outcome. The combined opposition groups worked well together. It shows what is possible.’
On exiting from the Council Chamber immediately after the historic two vote win for the Labour budget, Labour Group Leader Gordon Matheson said: ‘I’m thrilled. This is a dramatic win for Labour’s record, vision and policies. This has helped our renewal and healing.’ During his winding up speech at the end of the debate he accused the opposition parties of ‘exploiting the divisions within the Labour group in a calculated and shoddy way.’ He stridently proclaimed: ‘We stand
n our record.’
The City’s budget for the next financial year invests in jobs for young people, education, dealing with potholes and tackling dog fouling and litter.
Measures approved include an additional £2m to tackle youth unemployment and provide a new Glasgow Guarantee for all 16-24 year olds; £12m for road repairs; £200,000 for new Youth Enterprise Zones, and £0.71m for more enforcement officers to tackling littering and dog fouling.
Councillors also approved £0.5m to fund a 25% increase in Kinship Care payments, £0.8m for outdoor school play equipment and attainment initiatives, and £300,000 for new community bus routes.
The extra £2m to tackle youth unemployment will be allocated to the existing Commonwealth Jobs Fund to extend it to 16 and 17-year-olds. It will provide employers with a 50% wage subsidy and would also include targeted training support for under-18s.
Training would range from basic literacy and numeracy to more complex support and could include other transferable skills for young people, such as driving lessons.
The new £25m Glasgow Guarantee will include a guaranteed apprenticeship for all school leavers who qualify; £6m for employers who will receive a 50% wage subsidy for each unemployed 18-24 year old they recruit; £10m for employers as a 50% wage subsidy for each unemployed graduate they recruit.
Councillor Matheson added: ‘This is the fourth budget we have set in the shadow of a global economic crisis – and in a term that has seen £210m removed from our budgets. With the proportion of our revenues controlled by government rising and our funding falling harder and faster than the national average, we have had to struggle to protect front line services.
‘We have had to be bold, we have had to be innovative and we have only succeeded because years of effective and prudent stewardship have put Glasgow in the best possible shape to meet these challenges. This year alone, we need to bridge a funding gap of £42.9m. Despite, that, we remain committed to our key priorities, which we share with the people of this city – education, jobs and targeted support for our most vulnerable citizens. We are determined to build on the success we have had over the last five years; for the benefit of every community and every Glaswegian.’
Glasgow City Council has now approved measures to save a total of £42.9m in 2012/13. The majority of these savings – £34.9m – were approved a year ago. On Thursday councillors approved a further £8m in savings for 2012/13.
IF you are holding a hustings meeting and want to publicise it through this website, please email the information to: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
By Erik Geddes
The 2011 Scottish Parliament election is only five months away. The late winter and spring political landscape will be dominated by jostling, posturing and campaigning by all the main parties, and possibly the return of that well known independent, George Galloway.
Glasgow is divided into nine regional constituency areas; Anniesland, Cathcart, Kelvin, Maryhill & Springburn, Pollok, Provan, Shettleston, Glasgow Southside and – despite no longer being in the citiy’s council area – Rutherglen. Each one merits a seat in the Scottish Parliament. On top of this, there are seven Glasgow regional list seats where we will see a greater variation in the parties due to the second choices people make on their ballot papers.
After winning by the slimmest of margins in 2007, the SNP minority Scottish Government had an incredible, extended honeymoon of 18 months. But they have come under fire from all angles recently. If the bookmakers are anything to go by they will lose to Labour on Thursday 5 May 2011.
Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s Glasgow Southside seat being one of Labour’s key targets, the Nationalists have time, yet, to retain their standing and credibility both in Glasgow and across the nation.
Bill Aitken, a Conservative List MSP for Glasgow, who has been in office at Holyrood since the Parliament’s inception in 1999, will be retiring from Holyrood. Bill, a Partick Thistle supporter, is a name and character who will be sorely missed by the Tories who have never polled particularly well in Glasgow in recent times. The next time round is unlikely to be any different. Also calling it a day will be Labour’s Margaret Curran who will focus on her role as Glasgow East MP at Westminster.
The smaller parties, collectively known as ‘the others’ will be hoping to poll better than the three seats they won in 2007. Two of these went to the Scottish Green Party. In 2011, for the first time, the Scottish Green Party will stand on a ticket where the environment is not top of their agenda. Instead they will push for what they describe as ‘responsible revenue streams’ and a reduction in the cuts on public services programmes. They are hoping that Glasgow will not only return Patrick Harvie but also Councillor Martha Wardrop who will be second on the Green regional list.
Rumours of an internal rift at the Glasgow Lib Dems due to Katy Gordon being top of their list, were denied by the careers advisor who is hoping that she will be voted into the Scottish Parliament along with existing MSP Robert Brown. She narrowly lost Glasgow North to Ann McKechin in the 2010 general election.
What could be interesting is if – as expected – George Galloway confirms early in the New Year that he will be standing. Despite dozens of phonecalls and emails over the past couple of months, George hasn’t got back to us at the LOCAL NEWS yet. This may be due to his own busy schedule or his ties with other, far larger, Scottish media organisations. One thing is certain – the other parties won’t be welcoming George back to Scottish politics with open arms.
The return of Galloway won’t help the Scottish Socialist Party as it could split what remains in Glasgow of the left wing vote.
SSP spokesperson Ken Fergusson compared George Galloway’s expected return to the Scottish political arena to a character from Alan Bleasdale’s 1980s Boys From The Blackstuff drama. He said: ‘It looks a bit like ‘Gissa Job’. He tied his wagon to a political career in London – then lost it. His policy is George for Glasgow – but that doesn’t tell us too much about what he wants. I suspect we will be looking at just another Labour MSP if he gets elected.’ In 1987, Galloway won the Glasgow Hillhead seat at Westminster. In 1997 and 2001 elections he won Glasgow Kelvin.
Labour would feverishly refute any parallel between themselves and the former Big Brother contestant who was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003. There will be no love lost between the Labour candidates and George at the hustings, if he stands. And while George clearly has some respect for First Minister Alex Salmond, Glasgow SNP MSP Bob Doris who will stand in Maryhill and Springburn and on the list, isn’t too keen on George.
Bob said: ‘I don’t see George Galloway as a threat. He despises Scottish democracy and offers nothing more than personality politics to the people of Glasgow, who deserve better. ‘The Scottish Parliament is still in it’s infancy and the 2011 term will see the development of our working democracy, the last thing we need is George Galloway using it as a platform for his own ends.’
The LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW will interview all of the candidates standing at the May 2011 Holyrood elections so sign up for your weekly ENEWS by clicking on the last line of this one and entering your details. That way you will receive your weekly ENEWS letter direct to your inbox.
The people and businesses of Woodlands are fighting back after a summer of anti-social behaviour that has plagued their streets.
On Thursday morning one local resident found his car windscreens smashed when parked on Arlington Street, outside The Arlington Baths Club.
Now local business groups and residents are calling for heightened security to halt the vandals in their tracks.
A resident of Arlington Street, a woman in her 60s, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Smashed glass, damage to property and noise on the street has got worse and worse recently. But enough is enough.
‘It seems some of the young people who come to this area don’t have enough to occupy them in the evenings, but this just isn’t on.
‘We won’t stand for it.’
Scottish Green Party Councillor, Martha Wardrop, says a holistic approach is needed to address the issue.
She said: ‘I am very concerned about property being damaged by vandals in the area and will seek additional patrols by local community police.
‘Increased support should be provided to local groups who are seeking to improve the area through food growing projects, local sports programmes and recreational activities based within Woodlands Millennium Park.’
The Arlington Baths Club has dropped leaflets round the local houses calling for the community to help the police by reporting any suspicious or threatening behaviour they see.
And it would appear these calls are being responded to.
Inspector Craig Linton, Communities Inspector at Glasgow West End Police Office says they are already cracking down on the vandals.
He said: ‘We are fully aware of several reports in the last few weeks regarding anti-social behaviour by groups of young people in the area around Arlington Street, including vandalism to two cars.
‘In partnership with Glasgow Community and Safety Services, we have already undertaken to increase patrols in this area and deal robustly with any disorderly behaviour.
‘I would urge anyone with information regarding those responsible to contact Glasgow West End Police Office – 0141 532 3500.’
by Lynsay Keough
With the regional ballots for the 2011 Holyrood elections continuing until mid September, the SNP have selected their candidates for several of their Glasgow constituencies:
Glasgow Anniesland – Bill Kidd
Glasgow Cathcart – James Dornan
Glasgow Kelvin – Sandra White
Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn – Bob Doris
Glasgow Pollok – Chris Stephens
Glasgow Provan – Anne McLaughlin
Glasgow Rutherglen – Jim McGuigan
Glasgow Shettleston – John Mason
Glasgow Southside – Sturgeon
The Lib Dems hope to be able to reveal their candidates by their autumn conference in October and the Scottish Green Party are preparing to post a list by the middle of September.
The Scottish Conservatives have so far confirmed four candidates, with the recent selection of their Southside candidate. They are:
Glasgow Anniesland – Malcolm MacAskill
Glasgow Cathcart – Richard Sullivan
Glasgow Kelvin - Hamira Khan
Glasgow Southside – David Meikle
The Scottish Labour Party have so far confirmed that Steve Curran will be their candidate for Glasgow Southside and his campaign launched this week.
Can this rush to confirm candidates for Glasgow Southside be a reflection of the high profile issues of housing, crime and anti-social behaviour, red-flagged in the area at present or could it have more to do with trying to oust the sitting incumbent, Nicola Sturgeon?