Of the 21 people retiring as Councillors from Glasgow City Council, around ten attended a poignant farewell earlier this week. Hosted by Lord Provost Bob Winter, who is, himself, standing down, it brought closure to many of the participants.
Said Jean McFadden who represented Garscadden-Scotstounhill and has served the city for 41 years: ‘Everyone felt it was a really nice touch to honour those of us leaving. Each person was presented with a personalised plaque which has the city’s coat of arms and the dates they’ve served. I have similar plaques from Glasgow Corporation but this is the only one which has my name on it.’
She has no plans to retired. Among her many ongoing activities she is an official examiner for work submitted by honours law students at Strathclyde University; she will get back to studying Advanced Italian for herself; she will mentor girls in a secondary school to help them achieve their potential; and she might go for an HGV licence!
‘I’ve always fancied driving one of those heavy goods vehicles round a tight corner!’ she said quite seriously. These are all outwith her commitments serving on the Legal Services Clinic and the Scottish Planning and Environment Law’s editorial board among others. She has also set herself to correct fundamental errors in some newspaper archives about who did what and when in the revival of Glasgow. ‘I just want to put the record straight. I was council leader from 1979 to 1986. That is when the team decided to change the direction of the city to move it into the creative industries and the financial sector. The minutes are there so I want the facts to be known.’
One of her future students will be former Drumchapel- Anniesland Councillor Matt Kerr, who leaves the Council to read law at Strathclyde University. He was selected after the resignation of Steven Purcell. He also attended the Lord Provost’s farewell event and said it was a very pleasant occasion.
Councillor Alex Glass who represented Greater Pollok for 13 years, told this website: ‘The evening and the presentation of the plaques was a good way to close off my time as a Councillor.’ Latterly he had been business manager for the city, overseeing many of the negotiations which kept Glasgow’s coffers from being emptied. One of the ways he saved the city money was to recommend cutting the fresh flowers budget. ‘That saved £50,000,’ he said. ‘ Stopping newspapers for every Councillor saved another £30,000 and at least that was saved on print bills when we cut back on paperwork.’ Aged only 52, he said this will be the first time in his life he’s been made redundant and he has, so far, no job offer. ‘I’ve work to do at home which I’ve long promised to complete for my wife,’ he said with a smile. ‘So I’ll do that and wait and see what happens. Everything is in the hands of fate,’ he commented philosophically.
Latterly a Bailie, Councillor Catherine McMaster has served Glasgow North East for several terms and said: ‘The event was not an obituary! It was really important to have something to say you’ve been here. Our training records were also included for every Councillor was expected to have extensive training in many areas of the work we do. That is the kind of record that was ignored by the Labour Party and dismissed in our interviews with them,’ she said pointedly. She was one of the Labour Councillors who did not take it kindly that she was de-selected by the party. She admitted she was still angry with the party for deciding she was ‘past the sell by date’ – ‘that is pure ageism,’ she commented. Her plan is to re-commence her private practice as a psychotherapist. ‘I’ll update my accreditation first,’ she added. The leading thinker behind the celebration of Glasgow’s medieval history, which has excited much attention and creative talent, she plans to continue to use her history knowledge within her local community in Easterhouse where Provan Hall Trust operates a building considered to pre-date the Provand’s Lordship on High Street. She said that her community had been generous in their appreciation of her work for them. ‘It has been a great privilege to serve this community. I’ll leave the new team to get on with the job and hope they will work to ‘let Glasgow flourish.’ But that will depend on how many voters turn out on Thursday.’
By Klaudia Jedrychowska
pic by Stuart Maxwell
Christopher Hughes, aged 31, Labour’s candidate, has won the Glasgow City Council by-election in Drumchapel and Anniesland.
The voters stayed loyal to the Labour Party despite the big disappointment of former Leader Steven Purcell’s fall from grace and office in March.
Just after the results were announced, Christopher said: ‘Councillor Purcell is still highly regarded by the local people. He was a very fine councillor for them for many years. Steven is only one person. All of us in the Labour Party are committed, together, to bring changes that we want to see in a more productive and positive society. I think people, generally, trust the Labour Party to deliver for them in Drumchapel and Anniesland.’
He added: ‘I’m delighted. I’m extremely pleased that people chose me to win. It was a team effort, the campaigning team was fantastic. It’s been a very good day, lots of people came in, it was a big turnout.’
Christopher also highlighted the areas for improvement. He said: ‘The things that people are telling me on the doorstep are: they want safer streets, they want more facilities for their kids, more investments at schools, more opportunities for training and jobs. So these are the kind of things I’ll be fighting for.’
He lived in Yoker for nine years and studied geography at the University of Aberdeen before working for arts charity NVA as a Community Development Officer.
Paul McGarry, the Scottish Liberal Democrats candidate, said: ‘Chris and I were the only two candidates seen by the local people in the constituency. History told that Labour had a very good chance to win. They held the four Councillors’ seats in the past and other representative positions locally.’
The other candidates were: Larry Butler, Scottish Green Party; Frank Rankin, Scottish National Party; Matthew Smith, Scottish Conservative and Unionist.
After Thursday’s by-election the Labour Party again have four Councillors in Ward 14. The other established Councillors are: Paul Carey, Jonathan Findlay and AnneMctaggart
The voting system used in the by-election is a form of proportional representation, called the single transferable vote system. It provides proportional representation and aims at minimising ‘wasted’ voices by transferring votes from sure losers to other eligible candidates. Voters chose their preferred candidate by putting number 1 against that candidate’s name; number 2 represents second choice and so on. The result is that no vote totals can be announced as in the first-past-the-post system.
The Drumchapel/ Anniesland by election result was announced in the Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre just before 2am on the same night as the general election count was taking place. For general election results see elsewhere on this LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW website: www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk
The Election count has begun. At the SECC in Glasgow the LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW team is working hard to bring the results fast to our website watchers. Alan McCrorie, Martin Graham and photographer Stuart Maxwell are fielding the results of the seven Westminster constituency seats while colleague Klaudia Jedrychowska is concentrating on the by-election results for Drumchapel-Anniesland, Ward 14, once held by Steven Purcell.
By Klaudia Jędrychowska
Five candidates from Drumchapel and Anniesland are today fighting for the Glasgow City Council seat vacated by Steven Purcell.
The by-election was called after the Leader of Glasgow City Council resigned from that post then stood down as a councillor for Ward 14.
Larry Butler is contesting the seat for the Scottish Green Party, Christopher Hughes for the Scottish Labour Party, Paul McGarry for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Frank Rankin for the Scottish National Party, and Matthew Smith for the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party.
Previously, local people had demonstrated strong support for Labour, giving the party all four seats for that Ward in the City Council.
This by-election will show whether or not Labour will maintain its strong position within the community, given Purcell’s resignation and questions about his conduct while in office.
Local Councillor Jonathan Findlay, a Labour colleague, said: ‘This will have zero effect on today’s by-election. People will be looking at the whole record of the Labour Party and local representation.’
He added: ‘Steven was one of my best friends and the best man at my wedding. I knew him very well. He was a very good Councillor and he was very good for the city. It’s a great loss to Glasgow and Scotland.
‘No-one will replace Steven.’
In 1995, aged 22, Purcell became the youngest Scottish Councillor ever elected. Ten years later, he became Leader of Glasgow City Council.
Today’s General Election issues may influence the council by-election. With the Liberal Democrats strengthening in the opinion polls and the prospect of a hung parliament, Labour’s predominance in North West Glasgow may be challenged.
This inspires Lib-Dem Paul McGarry. He believes Leader Nick Clegg did a very good job putting the party’s message across and it will influence today’s elections locally and nationally.
He added: ‘Local people are frustrated by inactivity and problems not being solved. People tell us they had been phoning up the Council trying to get the things fixed, but nothing was happening.
‘We want people to feel that when they’re phoning up the Council they are not getting ignored. People in this area say they want somebody they can talk to, someone who will listen.’
In this by-election the support is divided, it looks like it will be a close thing. It is the second recent by-election in Ward 14. In June 2009, the Labour candidate, Annie McTaggart, won by 2584 votes.
The polling stations will be open till 10pm and the result should be announced early on Friday morning.
The by-election to replace shamed former Council Leader Steven Purcell will be held the same day as the General Election – Thursday 6 May.
His Ward – number 14 out of the 21 in Glasgow City – covers the Drumchapel-Anniesland area. Five candidates had been nominated by the deadline of Tuesday13 April.
They are: Larry Butler, Scottish Green Party; Christopher Hughes, Scottish Labour Party; Paul McGarry, Scottish Liberal Democrats; Frank Rankin, Scottish National Party and Matthew Smith, Scottish Conservative and Unionist.
Local schools will be used, as usual, as the polling stations along with the Phoenix Neighbourhood Centre, Knightscliffe Leisure Hall, Blairdrum Neighbourhood Centre and Temple-Anniesland Church hall.
Steven Purcell has officially resigned as the Leader of Glasgow City Council.
A statement from his legal team cited reasons of ‘exhaustion’ from ‘added pressures’ of the Commonwealth Games and the SPT scandal led to his decision.
Councillor Jim Coleman, Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council, will now lead the Council.
He said: ‘The Labour group has accepted Councillor Purcell’s resignation as Leader.
‘What’s important now is that the people of Glasgow know that as far as the Council is concerned, it’s business as usual.
‘The administration will continue to provide leadership for the city as a whole. As always, our focus is firmly on Glasgow’s priorities.’
Councillor Purcell, 37, who grew up in Yoker, joined The Labour Party in 1986 and was elected as Leader of the Council in May 2005.
A vigorous and tenacious ground-level operator many tipped Purcell to go on and lead the Scottish Labour Party.
Peter Watson, of Levy & McRae solicitors, today issued the following statement on behalf of his client, Councillor Steven Purcell.
‘My client is now resting and recovering from exhaustion in the care of professionals.
‘Steven does this with a heavy heart but the strain of running one of the UK’s largest authorities combined with the added pressures of the Commonwealth Games planning and the controversy over Strathclyde Passenger Transport has just proved too much for a man who lived and breathed Glasgow 24 hours a day.’
The Labour Party has been shocked by the news.
Michael Connarty, MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk Constituency, knows about the potential pitfalls facing a relatively young man in a powerful position.
He was leader of Stirling Council when he was 33 and stayed in the job for 10 years and understands the issues that can come with top local authority job.
He said: ‘The leader’s office in Glasgow City Chambers can be a very lonely place indeed.
‘When you plunge from grace there is no support and there is very little pastoral care from the political world.
‘I’m sad to hear this news as Steven Purcell has done amazing things for the city of Glasgow.’
Glasgow is aiming to go back to its roots as the ‘dear green place’ with an ambitious campaign to cut its carbon emissions, meets its energy needs and cash in on the eco-friendly energy boom.
The ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ study by the University of Strathclyde has identified how the city can cut its carbon emissions by 30% over the next 10 years.
In a programme outlined at the City Chambers, proponents of the scheme claim green energy projects could bring in £1.5bn of new investment. It also; recommends a biogas scheme which turns sewage and waste into energy, creation of urban woodland on vacant land, district heating and smart grid electrical systems, use of biogas and electrical powered vehicles and a campaign to help Glaswegians change their behaviour and recognise the importance of sustainability.
Leader of Glasgow City Council Steven Purcell told LOCAL NEWS: ‘There’s a huge opportunity, particularly to invest in the skills that the emerging clean, green industries are looking for, and I think one of the exciting things about this is the idea that our colleges and universities will begin to invest in the kind of courses and training required to provide a labour force for tomorrow’s jobs.’
Batting for Glasgow, he added: ‘I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the UK that’s being as ambitious, whether it’s the skills agenda, the energy masterplan or being much more ambitious in what we do in terms of waste management.
‘We know from this very significant piece of work that’s been done in the past year between the University of Strathclyde, major energy companies ScottishPower and Scottish & Southern Energy and other private sector partners that these opportunities are real. Business and the public sector can’t have invested the time and energy we have in the past year for no reason.
‘I’m confident that we have the energy, the skills and the ambition to deliver on this.’
Asked about squaring the plan for urban woodlands with the demand for housing building within the city, the council leader responded: ‘For every development that takes place in the city, we will guarantee that we will mitigate any carbon emissions by other developments like the urban woodlands.
‘Also, we’re making it a clear requirement now of our planning approach that we look at any development and test how low they are in carbon emissions.’
The plan also suggests a light rail network for the city centre area. However, it is ‘one of many ideas around transport infrastructure that we are flagging up as a possible solution to improving public transport and making the system more viable,’ said Mr Purcell.
‘Clearly it’s something we can only put into the marketplace and see if there is interest.’
By Erik Geddes
Glasgow’s community centres will bear the brunt of hefty budget cuts after the city announced it has a £61m hole in its finances this year.
There were jeers outside City Chambers as 150 people gathered to protest the cuts in public services, which will mean the closure of 11 community centres, a swimming pool and a community library.
Culture & Sport Glasgow will see its budget fall by some £1.7m.
A number of jobs – the city hopes up to 600 voluntary redundancies – in key areas such as community workers and welfare rights are to be slashed.
Some, but not all sports centres will shut for two half-days a week
Kelvingrove, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Burrell Collection – recognised as Glasgow’s flagship and showcase attractions – will not be affected by the reduced opening hours.
Knightswood Pool and Sighthill Community Library will close. In the east of the city, Bellrock Community and Garthamlock Recreation centres will go. The cuts mean closures of facilities in Cadder, Ledgowan, Wyndford and at Red Road.
In the south-east of the city, Cathkin will close, while Invercraig/West Drumoyne and Lorne Street centres in the south west are also targets.
In the west, Argo Street and Overnewton centres will also close.
The facilities to close are, according to the council, ones ‘which have both low usage and would require substantial funds for essential repairs’.
Nicola Burton, Chair of Save Lorne Street and Secretary of Kinning Park Community Council, was one of the protesters whose community centre is set to close on 31 March.
‘The mothers and toddlers are a massive part of Kinning Park community.
‘If this service is cut and the centre closed it would rip the heart out of Kinning Park.
‘Everyone from Mums and Tots, dance classes to community council meeting take place here.
‘We were not involved in the consultation process at all, I’ve not been able approach anyone from Culture and Sport Glasgow. The fact that they are now considered arms length seems to remove them from responsibility.’
Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council dismissed pressure to cut back on their use fancy cars at ceremonial occasions.
Steven Purcell, Leader of the Council, joked that certain elements of the Scottish Green Party Budget proposals were ‘middle class’, and the sort of things he would hear at a West End dinner party.
The proposal – from Councillor Danny Alderslowe – was to reduce the use of limousines by the council.
It was claimed that £175,000 could be saved by using taxis instead of limos for most journeys.
Councillor Alderslowe said: ‘Limos for councillors are a sheer indulgence during these hard times.’
Despite the Labour-led administration ignoring this proposal, he found reason to be positive with the school gardening projects proposals taken on board.
This will see new beds and fruit trees implemented in all of Glasgow’s ‘additional support for learning’ primary schools.
Speaking exclusively to LOCAL NEWS, Councillor Alderslowe said: ‘They (the Labour lead administration) have taken something from our budget every year for the past three budgets.
‘It’s good to know that they that they are adopting some health and some green issues, even if it’s just on a smaller scale.’
The biggest cheer of the chamber came when City Treasurer Gordon Matheson declared an extra £8m to deal with the pot holes in Glasgow’s roads, taking the total spend to £12m.
Glasgow marked Holocaust Memorial Day with a sobering reflection on the events of the Second World War, an uplifting tribute to a survivor of those terrible times and a message to the city’s youth that they have a legacy of hope to carry on.
This year is the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland by the Red Army.
Lord Provost Bob Winter and Leader of Glasgow City Council Steven Purcell were joined at the City Chambers by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, Communities Minister Fergus Ewing and leaders from the city’s many faith groups to tell pupils from the city’s schools that as the Holocaust passes from living memory, young people must keep the lessons learned at such a high price alive.
There was a tribute to the late Rev Ernest Levy, who survived seven Nazi concentration camps and became a cantor at a synagogue in the south of the city.
Rabbi Moshe Rubin, of Giffnock & Newlands Synagogue, reflected upon the tireless work of his friend, who died last year, in spreading his message of tolerance and understanding.
Recounting one of his many conversations with Rev Levy, Rabbi Rubin said Ernest insisted he could not stop with his work. ‘The story must be told, so that we make sure that it is never repeated again,’ he said, quoting the survivor.
‘Recording that in book form, the longest days of his life, was nightmarish. Literally, he would suffer nightmares throughout his life, and especially through those many months when he was writing down his memories. But it was as he told, many times, that it was for his grandchildren to remember.’
Citizens Theatre Young Co performed Voices from the Holocaust, taken from the words of ordinary people who struggled to hold on to their sanity in the camps – places where there was no sanity.
Pupils from Shawlands Academy featured in an educational film – to be distributed throughout Scotland as a DVD – about their trip to Auschwitz and their impressions of the camp with its exhibits of suitcases, hair shorn from inmates, empty canisters that contained poison gas and photo galleries where victims of the mass killings stare down at visitors.
Linda Hooper, Principal of Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee, spoke about her school’s remarkable Paper Clips project, which is the subject of an award-winning 2004 documentary.
The project, which aimed to collect six million clips as part of a voluntary afterschool programme aimed at raising awareness of the Holocaust and teaching tolerance, created huge interest across the US. A global rush to contribute to the project has followed.
Principal Hooper was inspired by the story of anti-Nazi resistance in Norway, who used the paper clip, the invention of a Norwegian Jew, as their symbol.
‘The event of the Holocaust, that horror, happened because people chose hate and intolerance,’ she said.
‘I look out at you and I think how marvellous it is to be a part of this diversity. That’s what we’ve tried to teach our children, that there’s a huge global community out there.
‘I can be anywhere on this globe in 18 hours or less, so when I start thinking in those terms, as I say to the children at our school: you’ve got to think that those people are your neighbours.’
In his address, the Justice Secretary said he hoped that Scotland could create ‘a future that will ensure, for our children and grandchildren, do not suffer the fate that our parents and grandparents suffered before us’.
‘One of the many lessons we’ve learned when confronting the horrors of the Holocaust is an understanding that mobs and movements are made up of individuals, and that each and every one of us has a choice.
‘Each of us has a moral responsibility to ourselves, our society and the world we all share and inhabit. We can all challenge discrimination where it resides.’
Mr MacAskill concluded: ‘It is important to remember that we must never forget … but perhaps the best words I can leave you with, since yesterday it was Burns day, that “for a’ that and a’ that; It’s coming yet, for a’ that; That man to man, the warld o’er; Shall brothers be for a’ that”.’
By Alan McCrorie
Glasgow Housing Association’s new chief executive celebrated his first day in post by helping front a major community regeneration plan targeting eight areas of the city.
Martin Armstrong joined Communities and Housing Minister Alex Neil MSP and Leader of Glasgow City Council Steven Purcell in Maryhill to announce eight ‘transformational regeneration areas’.
The partnership between GHA, the Scottish Government and the council aims to build thousands of homes in the target neighbourhoods. The first scheme, in Maryhill, should, if approved, provide 400 new homes. Initial plans are for 300 owner-occupied and 100 for tenants at Maryhill Locks.
There are plans in hand for 300 homes in Laurieston, mainly for rent. However, the partnership hopes to build a total of 1700 homes for rent, sale and low-cost ownership there.
The plans also call for new health and community facilities, as well as green spaces and commercial and retail properties.
The regeneration model would be rolled out across the city to include Sighthill and Shawbridge, Red Road, North Toryglen, Gallowgate, Ibrox and East Govan.
He said: ‘There’s more than just houses,’ said Martin. ‘We want to establish a sense of sustainability in the community that hasn’t been there in the past.
‘It would be wrong of me to put a timescale on it, but clearly what we’re going to do is to give urgency to the transformational regeneration areas. What we want to do is work with these eight communities and ensure there’s a realistic timescale that we can deliver.
He added: ‘GHA will be part of the partnership to make sure the houses are built to a good standard, they are retained at an affordable rent level, and also we will play our part in other initiatives surrounding employability to ensure we create a good, stable environment in which people can live and educate their children.’
Steven Purcell said: ‘This will be about building homes that people want to live in and creating employment in a time of recession. It’s good news for people in this part of the city who’ve waited a long time to see their community change in the way that other communities across Glasgow already have.’