Science writer Duncan Lunan is a busy man. He has just had a book on the Green Children of Woolpit published and has two most interesting and in-depth interviews on a podcast for the Flat Earth Society.
Entitled ‘Children from the Sky’ the book explores theories around the appearance of two green coloured children suddenly appearing in a medieval village in England. They were dressed strangely, spoke a language totally unknown in the area – which was a busy pilgrim place where many travellers passed through – and who not only caused a great stir at the time but who are still being discussed today.
The podcast gives him time to give his detailed reasoning behind the book but also to explore other areas of professional interest to him ranging from outer space to Glasgow’s modern standing stones circle which he helped create.
He is still working on research on the Green Children by tracing the descendants of the girl who survived into adult hood, married and had children. The green boy died some time after being found.
Another book by Duncan is about to be published: The Stones and the Stars: Building Scotland’s Newest Megalith This tells the story of the creation of the modern stone circle Duncan devised and had built in Springburn Park. Said Duncan: ‘These two books have taken 18 years and 32 years to find publishers – it’s great to have them come off at last!’
Duncan’s wife Linda is developing a career as a photographer. Her image of an equinox sunset has been used by publishers Springer for ‘The Stones and the Stars,’ book cover and some of the illustrations in the green ‘Children from the Sky’ are Linda’s too. Both Linda and Duncan signed copies of the latter title at a meeting of the Theosophical Society in Glasgow on Thursday 23 August. It can also be found in the CCA in Sauchiehall Street and ‘Plan B’ in Parnie Street.
Dr. David Clarke, an Honourary Research Fellow with more than a dozen books published on supernatural belief, UFOlogy and contemporary legends, plans to use some of Linda’s photographs in his forthcoming History of Astronomy in Glasgow.
On Tuesday 21 August, BBC Radio Suffolk interviewed Duncan about his book Children from the Sky. This can be heard online in the Lesley Dolphin slot where Georgina Wroe sits in and talks about green things including farming, food and the green children of Woolpit.
May Day in Glasgow was mainly unobserved by anyone of any political hue. A saltire flew above the City Chambers.
But there was one exception: – a group of Anti-Cuts Coalition Campaigners boldly stood outside the City Chambers’ front door and waved their red banners to show they cared.
They are all standing for election in local council wards so it wasn’t just a fun exercise.
Said Eric Stevenson (centre) ‘I haven’t given up on Socialism.’ A retired housing administrator, he is standing in Drumchapel –Anniesland ward. ‘I was a member of the Labour Party for 37 years and was expelled for being Militant. The current parties – including Labour – are letting people down. People have to have a voice and that’s why we are part of this country-wide Anti- Cuts Coalition.’
The others are from left: Ronnie Stevenson (Eric’s brother) who is standing in Langside ward; Luke Ivory who is standing in Springburn; Graham Campbell who is standing in Anderston City Centre and Akhtar Khan who is standing in Pollokshields.
Luke, who has recently come to Glasgow from Sutherland said: ‘People of Glasgow need an alternative. We’re it!’
Weel kent figure Graham Campbell who is secretary of the Afro Caribbean Centre in Glasgow and who works for an Anti Racist charity, added: ‘People are friendly but not giving away how they are going to vote. We think our results will run close to the Green Party’s votes.’
Added Akhtar, who with Graham , is a member of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC): ‘It’s a tough one to call. I might be fifth out of the eight candidates.’
All are agreed, the Anti-Cuts Coalition is a new political kid on the block and one they believe voters should consider as an alternative to established parties who’ve disappointed the electorate in the past.
By Laura Montgomery
Voting day has a special significance for Glasgow City, the women’s football team based at Petershill Park in Springburn. They meet Forfar Farmington in the Premier League Cup semi-final on Thursday 3 May when local elections take place across Scotland.
Having won the trophy two seasons ago, but knocked out at this stage of the competition last year, Assistant City Coach Donald Jennow knows his side need to keep their focus to progress against a talented and committed Forfar side.
He said: ‘On Thursday we will take on Forfar for the second time this season. As is so often the case at City, the big games keep coming. Having just faced Hibs and Celtic, back to back, we have this midweek game against a stubborn Forfar side. It was at this stage last year I tasted defeat for the first time with City and in seasons past the League Cup has proved a bit of a stumbling block for us. ‘We hope to put that right this year. All involved at the club are very keen to progress in the competition but are fully aware of the challenge we will face. Forfar will be a determined side and I’m sure all involved at Forfar will relish the opportunity to compete in the club’s first semi-final. For us, we will rely on our experience to hopefully guide us through to the final. Make no mistake, we do not take any opposition or any competition for granted. We must earn every victory, every point and every trophy we ever want to hold and that is what we aim to do on Thursday.’
Glasgow City defeated Forfar 4-0 on Thursday at Hill of Beith to progress to the final of the SWPL Cup. Goals from Lisa Evans, Leanne Ross, Eilish McSorley and Jane Ross. Full match report elsewhere on website.
The sharp disparity between jobs and joblessness was highlighted this week in Springburn. A government announcement on Wednesday said Remploy’s Springburn factory will close with the loss of 46 jobs of which 43 are held by people with disabilities.
On Friday, Scotland’s First Minister visited the nearby manufacturing base of Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft’s (RSBi) to pay tribute to its 240 award winning staff – of whom more than half have a disability.
The two establishments are within a five minute drive of each other.
On his visit, First Minister Alex Salmond said: ‘Jobs are this government’s top priority, and a major part of that is investing in workforce training and development.
Employers, workers, union and communities working in partnership with government to promote workplace learning, benefits all of us – which is why it’s so important to recognise achievements like those of the STUC award winners at Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries here in Darnick Street, Springburn.’
He went on: ‘Scottish Union Learning is supported financially by the Scottish Government and I’m proud of what our efforts are helping to achieve. But of course, the real credit lies with the staff here who work so hard to develop not only their own personal potential but the effectiveness of their teams. Each and every one of them has my very best wishes.’
RSBi is operated by City Building, Glasgow City Council’s arm’s-length construction firm.
City Building managing director John Foley said: ‘The First Minister’s visit today is recognition of the great job our staff are doing every day at RSBi, producing quality products for the public, private and third sectors. RSBi is a commercially successful organisation because we continue to adapt our product range to suit the evolving needs of our customers. That’s why we can employ 240 people. RSBi is not run as a charity but as a thriving social enterprise.’
Community Union – the largest trade union within RSBi – provides funding for a range of training courses via the Scottish Union Learning Fund, which is administered by the STUC.
Many RSBi staff have benefitted from training through the Fund, which has brought a direct economic benefit to individual employees and to the company as a whole.
Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: ‘The STUC Union Rep Awards highlight the invaluable contribution that trade union members make in the workplace.’
The First Minister’s visit was organised after Robert Mooney, a development officer at RSBi, was awarded the STUC One Workplace Equality Award by the First Minister in November 2011.
A registered blind person, Robert invited the First Minister to visit his workplace and witness the state-of-the-art manufacturing taking place at Springburn.
RSBi has had a presence in Glasgow for more than 200 years. The business has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the marketplace and currently specialises in manufacturing a wide range of products from office, domestic and educational furniture to timber kits for houses and schools and beds among many other items.
In Remploy’s factory in Edgefauld Road, the impact of the closure announcement was just sinking in. Established since 1976, it is one of the 36 out of 54 Remploy factories expected to be closed this year as not commercially viable. This is because of the Westminster Government’s decision to reduce current funding as part of a package of reforms ‘to maximise the number of disabled people supported into work.’ Of the 46 workers at Remploy in Springburn, 43 have disabilities. They manufacture steel wheelchairs. Government funding for the entire Remploy network is expected to be reduced during 2012/13 with the aim of completing changes by autumn 2013. Soon, Remploy will start discussions with trade unions and management forums to begin the formal consultation on the proposals.
After the announcement William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East said: ‘This is devastating news. In my constituency there are almost 20 people chasing every vacancy. It is incredibly tough out there. There is a big enough shortage of jobs without placing strain and pressure on some of the most vulnerable members of the workforce. The way this has been sneaked out is unacceptable.’
In Glasgow last year, Employment Services found 534 jobs for disabled and disadvantaged people.
You don’t even need to knock! More than 100 buildings and 12 allotments will be taking part in Glasgow’s Doors Open Day on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September. But the first Doors Open event starts on Monday 12 September with a hosts of talks, competitions and walks scheduled for the rest of that week in the run-up to the grand weekend. Look out for your free copy of the booklet containing all the information. They can be found in most public places like libraries. But also look on the website for details: www.glasgowdoorsopenday.com The Doors Open Day host, Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, has organised a clever link with Google Map to pinpoint each venue you might be interested in.
For anyone who has not yet enjoyed Doors Open Day, the whole idea is that you get to see inside some of the city’s magnificent buildings that would not normally be open to the public. Among the new places this year are Red Road Community Flat in the 31 storey tower block in Springburn. They are set to be demolished soon. The former Our Lady and St Francis Secondary School which is now the HQ for the Wise Group in Charlotte Street, G1 5DW. Hampden Park for football fans in Letherby Drive, G42 9BA. The Hunterian Museum within Glasgow University G12 8QQ and a multitude of other interesting places.
Running alongside the Doors Open will be OPEN GATES in which twelve of the city’s allotments will put out the welcome mat and people can see what happens there.
Free shuttle buses will operate from the front of Glasgow City Chambers in George Square to go to historic Provan Hall in Easterhouse – at least as old as Proven’s Lordship in the city’s High Street. Another free service will go the award winning Stables building in Castlemilk thanks to Cassiltoun Housing Association.
A photographic competition will have a category for over 18s and for under 18s with fabulous prizes. For those aged under 16 a fascinating Passport competition will be running. In marked venues, a question will be displayed related to the building itself. Each competitor is challenged to find the answer to that question within that venue and do the same for at least four different places with the deadline for sending in the forms being Friday 30 September.
The whole concept is a great way to get people talking and walking and gaining knowledge of and a pride in this wonderful city of Glasgow.
Clear your diary – get through as many doors as you can. It’s fun!
Scottish Champions, Glasgow City Football Team is through to the last 32 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. They will know on Tuesday who they will play when the draw is made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
The team qualified when they beat Klaksvik in Serbia 5-0. This ensured that City topped Group 5 with three wins out of three, scoring 17 goals and conceding none. In turn, they became the first Scottish team ever to reach the last 32, knock-out stages of Europe’s most elite club competition.
Said Head Coach Eddie Wolecki Black: ‘I am delighted we have gone through and to be honest, we thoroughly deserved it. We can now look forward to a really challenging end to the season. I am proud of the players for all of their hard work and dedication. They deserve to play at the highest level in European football.’
On the day, Glasgow City defender, Rachel Corsie celebrated her 22nd birthday, captaining the team. Goals from Katharina Lindner (2) Leanne Ross, Jo Love and Eilish McSorley ensured City’s place in history.
To fund the next stage of their progression upwards, they will host a Sports Person’s Dinner on Friday 26 August at the Art Club, 185 Bath Street in Glasgow’s city centre. The trip to Serbia alone, cost £15,000. There are a few seats remaining at £40 per person and sponsor spots of £100 are on offer. The beautiful venue, three course meal and first class speakers in Kenny Clarke and Sandy Strang make for an inviting evening. Contact Laura Montgomery, Manager on: email@example.com Eddie will fly out on Tuesday 23 August to Nyon for the draw. His team is now seeded 20th in Europe. The top 16 seeds do not need to qualify and City expect to be drawn against stiff competition. Said Eddie: ‘This gives our girls the chance, once more, to really test themselves against some of the best in the world. Naturally, we’d like to avoid the Germans and the French. And we’d prefer not to face the might of Arsenal who are No.2 seed. But we are under no illusions. We may even be the only completely amateur team still in the competition so no matter who we get, we will need to be at our very, very best.’
City’s home leg will be played on either Wednesday 28 or Thursday 29 September at Petershill Park, Springburn, Glasgow, their home ground. ‘Not too shabby for an amateur side.’ comments Laura Montgomery Club manager and reporter for all the games.
A youth programme which helps reduce anti-social behaviour in the North and West of Glasgow has been hailed as a success by former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson.
The former Scotland International captain was among special guests at the annual awards and dance shows run by A&M Training – a programme which is part funded by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA).
Run by ex-Dundee United winger Andy McLaren, the A&M Training scheme tackles youth disorder, racism and gang violence. Founded on his own hard experiences, the scheme encourages youngsters to keep fit through football and dance classes.
Around 2000 youngsters have already signed up for Operation Reclaim in the North of the city and also the West End Diversionary Project.
Birmingham City star Barry Ferguson presented trophies at the Operation Reclaim awards night at the Mitchell Theatre recently.
Barry said: “I’m delighted to support A&M Training which delivers top-quality diversionary coaching activities across Glasgow. Each week around 2000 young people benefit from these services – and they are free.
“I attended the dance and awards show and was blown away by the numbers involved, the talent on show and the quality of the coaching.”
GHA and the Scottish Government fund the West End Diversionary Project, which covers areas including Drumchapel, Yoker, Scotstoun and Anderston. Operation Reclaim is funded by GHA and North Glasgow Community Planning Partnership and runs in areas including Sighthill, Springburn, Milton and Royston.
GHA’s Executive Director of Development and Regeneration, Alex McGuire, said: “Projects such as Operation Reclaim and the West End Diversionary Project are making a real difference to young people in the North and West of the city.
Former Scotland footballers Robbie Winters, Charlie Miller and Gary McSwegan are also lending their support to programme.
Andy McLaren, founder of A&M Training, said: “We’re the only sports coaching charity in Scotland providing free coaching services delivered by professional footballers and dancers.
“The programme has had a tremendous benefit in reducing youth crime and disorder and improving the health and well-being of large numbers of young people.”
The five regeneration agencies in Glasgow – tasked to get people ‘job ready’ – made 200 staff redundant at the end of March. Employees had to volunteer for a severance package. But key workers will not be allowed to go.
Because funding from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Enterprise Agency has been withdrawn, the five agencies are merging into one body funded solely by Glasgow City Council.
From Friday 1 April, the new single body – Glasgow Regeneration Agency (GRA) – will employ a total of around 600 people compared to 800 over the five previous bodies.
Instead of headquarters in Gorbals, Govan, Springburn, Drumchapel and Easterhouse, a central headquarters will be established at 112 Ingram Street. Each of the current five areas will have a local ‘hub’ which has still to be identified from their local properties portfolio. All the companies are limited by guarantee and registered charities.
Said Councillor Alistair Watson: ‘We are determined to ensure local delivery of services is maintained. We do not have the money to sustain five agencies but the local service delivery has been proven to work.’ He said property that was surplus to requirements, would be sold and leases would be evaluated to establish what was cost effective to retain or to buy out.
Behind the scenes at the five agencies, bitter tears are being shed. Said one insider: ‘This has been a horrendous process. There has been no information forthcoming. Everything is totally outwith local control.’
In another agency an employee said: ‘I don’t know whether to take the package or not. Nothing is clear and I certainly don’t know if I’ll be offered a job in the new set-up.’
At a third establishment, a staffer declared: ‘I’m going. It is sad to see such good teams being dismantled.’
A transition team has been working on the new single body under the leadership of Calum Graham who was Chief Executive Officer of Glasgow West Regeneration Agency. He is intrim Chief Executive of the new agency.
Working in Ingram Street, the brain stormers have to devise a strategy to maintain front line services from April 1 when the new financial year starts.
A spokesman for the team said: ‘This merger into one body will mean that, in the challenging financial environment, we are in a better position to maximise the resources we will have available to continue the fantastic front-line work of the regeneration agency staff. It is hoped that with the large numbers indicating an interest in leaving voluntarily, compulsory redundancies will be minimised. Service delivery will remain in the most disadvantaged communities across Glasgow.’
One of the key outcomes of the merger will be a reduction in senior management, back office and administrative staff.
The Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) had to approve the dismantling of each of the five charities and the formation of one to incorporate the work of all.
Around 35 home owners and tenants invaded Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) headquarters in Trongate on Wednesday 30 March, to complain about shoddy work on their properties.
Said leader of the Glasgow Home Owners and Tenants Association, Sean Clerkin: ‘We are demanding an independent survey of the overcladding and re-roofing work which has been done in the city. We are sending a strong message to all the political parties during this election run-up, that there is a time bomb of ill-health and deteroriating properties because of the sub-standard work carried out.’
Vice Chair of the campaign, Anne Booth said: ‘We elect people to look after us. They are not doing this. When there is a problem they don’t help.’
A spokesman for GHA admitted the organisation was taken by surprise by the sit-in. He commented: ‘To date, we have overclad more than 36,000 homes across the city, making them warmer, drier and more energy-efficient. There have been issues with the work done on only a very small number of these houses. An independent survey carried out by the Building Research Establishment concluded that dampness found in a very small number of homes was caused by heating and ventilation issues and NOT as a result of the overcladding work.’
But the home owners who have been joined by tenants experiencing similar problems said: ‘We have proof of major sub-standard work with little or no proper quality assurance by GHA Ltd. The result is dampness has occurred and cracks have been appearing in properties in Bridgeton, Cardonald, Pollok, Springburn, Helenvale, Summerston, Parkhead, Sandyhills, Maryhill and Parkhouse, among others we have documented. Glasgow is sitting on a potential housing and health time-bomb.’
They claim that an independent specialist technical survey should be carried out to identify the full extent of defective work and remedy the faults ‘before disaster strikes.’
‘It is not being melo-dramatic to say the sub-standard work will increase the spread of bronchitis and asthma,’ said Sean Clerkin. ‘The fabric of buildings will also be damaged. We can foresee many of the properties having to be demolished in a few years’ time.’
A former tenant chair of GHA, Sam Harper, who received an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List for his services to social housing, told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I am seriously considering sending the honour back because of this and other issues.’
The home owners, who are obliged to have GHA factor their properties, said they had 39 households making defects and dampness complaints in Pollok area alone. They claim that 16 tower blocks have had to be reclad for a second time because of faulty workmanship. ‘That is a large number out of 100 tower blocks in Glasgow,’ said their spokesman. ‘We have identified four areas where this is being done – Parkhead, Helenvale, Townhead and Sandyhills.’
There are 60,000 tenants and 26,000 factored home owners in Glasgow under the jurisdiction of GHA. The authority is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act so preventing indepth research.
Before the Scottish Parliament was dissolved for the election on 5 May, Alex Neil, then Minister for Housing and Communities, met with the Glasgow Home Owners’ Campaign’s elected representatives. But the outcome was a letter saying, essentially, the issue was one for GHA to deal with and not the Housing Minister. ‘This was very disappointing,’ said Anne Booth. ‘Someone needs to take responsibility for the shoddy work and the problems that people are now experiencing.’
Westminster MPs visited Pollok Post Office in Silverburn and the adjacent Credit Union in a fact-finding tour of postal services in Scotland. All members of the Scottish Affairs Committee which is chaired by Ian Davidson MP for Glasgow South West, they met staff and board members of Pollok Credit Union and the Post Office which sit side by side in Silverburn.
Said Ian Davidson: ‘Pollok Post Office is a positive example of how, by using the initiative of local people, the future of vital community services can be secured. The local credit union runs Pollok Post Office and successfully provides two very important services from one unit, at the same time as offering security for local jobs.’
Credit Union Manager Jim Garrity, told them how the Credit Union, established in 1993, had negotiated for a year to take over what had been a failing post office in the area. He said: ‘When Silverburn was being mooted we met with Retail Property Holdings, the Franchise holder and negotiated with the Royal Mail Group, who manage Post Office Counters for a year to win them over to the idea of the Credit Union taking on the P.O. Franchise. When agreement was finally reached it meant that Pollok Credit Union was in the unique position of being the only credit union in the UK to operate a Post Office and credit union together.
‘We believe that this provides customers and members a good mixture of Financial Services under the one roof. Both the Post Office and credit union staff have been trained on both systems to ensure that our businesses can cope at peak times.
He added: ‘For this to be successful you need a strong credit union, who can deliver stability and resources to complement the services of the Post Office and good staff to deliver these services to the community. In the 15 months of operation in the new unit at Silverburn, both businesses have shown a 20% increase in turnover and 30% footfall increase. We are delighted to say that in 15 months the failing post office business is now in profit.’
Earlier in the day the MPs visited the Glasgow Mail Centre in Springburn and returned to vote in the House of Commons the same evening. Previously they had visited rural post offices in Oban and other places to find out first hand how they survived.
Their investigation continued in Committee when they received evidence from a variety of senior officials from the Royal Mail Group, Postcomm and Ofcom and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. ‘We expect to produce our report early next year,’ said Ian Davidson.