Glasgow’s own plan Bee

August 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Councillor Matheson and PlanBee Ltd director Warrne Bader with some of the bees which have moved into the City Chambers hives.

Councillor Matheson and PlanBee Ltd director Warrne Bader with some of the bees which have moved into the City Chambers hives.

Glasgow’s plan B has nothing to do with the Referendum!  It is the Council’s strategy to increase the population of honeybees in the city. Around 120,000 bees have been installed in two insulated beehives on the roof of Glasgow City Chambers.

Vital in the food chain, this kind of bee is under threat because of pesticides and climate change.

Council Leader Gordon Matheson – who is also chair of Sustainable Glasgow – said: “Bees pollinate a third of the food we eat and also pollinate trees which helps reduce air pollution by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Numbers have dropped dramatically so Sustainable Glasgow is helping reverse that decline by installing these hives.

“I hope the bees will flourish and help us ensure Glasgow remains a Dear Green Place for generations to come.”

PlanBee Ltd is the company which provides the bees, the hives and the training programmes. Council staff have swarmed to be trained in hive management.

Bees can travel up to three miles to find their target flowers.  Said Warren Bader of PlanBee Ltd: “Glasgow is a fantastic garden city. Bees can be safer in a city than in the countryside where a lot of farmers use pesticides and plant monocultures (just one type of crop) which isn’t healthy for pollen production. In a good summer the bees can produce plenty of honey.” He added: “Unless you are a flower, the bees really aren’t interested in you so no one should be worried!”

Wax from the bees will be used as furniture polish in the City Chambers. What happens to the honey will be decided when the quality and quantity is known.

Glasgow aims to become one of the most sustainable cities in Europe by cutting carbon emissions by 30% by 2020 / 21.

Already it has a network of electric car charging points; solar powered parking meters; Green Wardens; electric vehicles in the council fleet and a Green Energy Services Company to promote and oversee renewable energy projects. The Stalled Spaces initiative has seen 32 disused spaces in Glasgow brought back into use as community gardens, performance space and locations for public art installations. This scheme will be rolled out across Scotland.

Next year Glasgow plans to hold Green Year 2015.  Twelve months of activities will celebrate the city’s green credentials and encourage others to do their bit for the environment. Twitter: @greenglasgow.

Govanhill still seeking solutions

November 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A forceful Facebook campaign resulted in almost 200 people attending a ‘gathering’ to discuss the state of Govanhill and Crosshill on Saturday 16 November in Holyrood Secondary School. At the end of the day, Westminster MP Anas Sarwar and local MSP Nicola Sturgeon answered questions.

The four behind the Facebook campaign with the censored survey. (from left) Jade Ansari Murphy, Fiona Jordan, Michelle Buskie, Joe Beaver.

Angry local residents said it was a repeat performance of five years ago when a similar event showed how run-down the area was and what the main problems were.

But the Restore Govanhill Community Group who set up the Facebook initiative with co-operation from Glasgow City Council, Govanhill Housing Association, Govanhill Community Development Trust and Police Scotland, delivered some straight talking.

Neutral chairperson Jonathan Coburn of Social Value Lab set out the plan for the day which ended with a free lunch but not a free-for-all. He conceded there were ‘lots of tensions,’ and that ‘Glasgow City Council was not the best at listening.’

Pressure of time obliged Gordon Smith of the Govanhill Partnership to give a very fast presentation on local service provision. A powerpoint presentation provided a great volume of facts and figures which, he said,  proved the area had ‘moved on considerably.’

He touched on the £1.5 million provided by the Scottish Government to reduce the density of private landlord provision with 500k of that due to be used in 2014/15.

Improvements in backcourts were highlighted. ‘But this is not finished. Nothing like it,’ he added. ‘There are nine backcourts to go.’  Front garden improvements in Allison Street were about to start and a community training garden was included in the Development Trust plan.

He detailed how much had been spent already on tenement repairs and controlled entry systems. ‘But they’re not much use if people don’t bother to use them,’ he commented. Another £5 million was committed to housing stock repair. And 500 tonnes of fly tipped rubbish was cleared away from the area last year. Around 80 bags of street litter are picked up locally, daily.

Gordon Smith went on to say increased Police visibility had reduced anti-social behaviour.

Despite all the improvements, five of the 12 datazones were ranked in the bottom 10% in Scotland for health. Another four were in the bottom 5% for addiction and mental health problems. While drug related health issues were down, low birth weight was only ‘improving.’

The success of 600 children from four local primary schools enjoying the ‘Big Noise Orchestra’ established by Sistema Scotland was important, he said, as a long term intervention.

Assessing the level of poverty, Govanhill had half its datazones in the 15 bottom ranks in Scotland.  All but two datazones were in the bottom 30.

Other statistics he gave were that people in the area were 150% more likely to be unemployed, 50% were on benefits and 75% on job seekers allowance.  Of the 2600 properties owned by private landlords 2300 were now officially registered.

His outline of Govanhill differed from the survey carried out by the Restore Govanhill Community’s survey.

In her first ever public speech, Jade Ansari Murphy, who started the Facebook campaign, said: ‘No one said the place was getting better. The vast majority said it is getting worse and a few said it was about the same.’

‘Living conditions here are not acceptable. People are leaving because of crime and lack of cleanliness.’ Pictures posted on the Facebook pages showed how bad some streets and backcourts were. ‘But why has it needed a Facebook campaign before anything is done?’ she asked.

‘This is our community. We want a clean living environment. We want to be happy to live here.’ Her passionate speech was followed by details of the survey given by Fiona Jordan, another of the Facebook campaigners.

Restore Govanhill Community had asked nine questions which were answered by more than 220 people in a seven day period using online internet technology and going round local businesses such as hairdressers to ask people not on the internet, for their views.

When asked: ‘How strong is the sense of community in Govanhill?’ 54.07% said not strong; 31.10% said strong and 15.79 said very strong.

When asked: ‘How safe do you feel in Govanhill?’ 81.11% said ‘not safe’, 15.21% said ‘safe’ and 3.69% said ‘very safe.’

When asked: ‘How clean is Govanhill compared to other areas in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland?’ 100% said ‘not clean.’

Said Fiona: ‘We thought we’d made a mistake when we got 100%. We laughed and said that couldn’t be true and certainly would not be acceptable in any university dissertation. So we went back to check all the figures. From the comments we found the word ‘clean’ was the problem. People said we should have used – manky, boggin’, minging – compared to other areas.’

Comments ranged from ‘a disgrace,’ to ‘a hovel’. This illustrated the great frustration people felt and their sense of shame.  We urgently need more resources. All residents need to know the process to dispose of anything. How come the entire contents of a house can be dumped in the street and no one knows who did it?’

One of the many workshops listened to a local woman who'd been told she couldn't get into the event because it was full.

Continuing with the analysis of the survey she said the question ‘How proud are you to say today, you live (or have lived) in Govanhill?’ had 70.42% saying ‘not proud’ 13.62% saying ‘proud’ and 7.98% saying ‘very proud’ with 7.98% saying the question didn’t apply.

When asked: ‘Overall, are you satisfied with your experience jof living, working and visiting Govanhill?’ 79.81% said ‘not satisfied,’ 16.90% said ‘satisfied’ and 3.29% said ‘very satisfied.’

Summarising the changes need to improve Govanhill, the survey said the area needed ‘a vision.’

‘Government at both national and local level must show leadership and come together with the local community to provide that strategic vision. Many people now look to neighbouring communities such as Gorbals and Oatlands and feel that in comparison, their area has either been abandoned or ignored.  At best, Govanhill has received ad hoc, fragmented investment and improvements to the physical built environment and any attempts at improvements to local services such as cleansing have been short term and inconsistent.’

Some people surveyed saw ‘demolition of the area’ as the only solution. Others said that strong leadership and investment from Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council was an ‘absolute requirement’ to ‘re-awaken the spirit of Govanhill.’

Said the summary: ‘This leadership must have the capacity to create and deliver a regeneration strategy that utilises joined up thinking and services from all areas and aspects of government and local agencies. That strategy must implement legislation to prevent slum-like properties, unscrupulous landlord practices, unsanitary cleansing conditions and a feeling of threat to safety from ever prevailing again in Govanhill.’

The ‘snapshot’ survey had been printed out to distribute on the day. But two of the Facebook Restore Govanhill Community Group were confronted by five police officers before the event started and warned that if they did distribute it they’d be liable to be prosecuted for some racist comments it contained.

Said Jade: ‘We were very careful to delete anything we thought was unacceptable and we don’t know how the police got a copy of the survey.’

Another member of the Facebook Group was visited by two police officers on the morning of the event to be questioned about a person who’d lived at that address 13 years before. They also asked where the current householder was going that morning? When asked for their badge numbers, the police officers left.

Following workshops where people vented their strong feelings on the issues, the politicians faced the diminished crowd.

Commented Jade afterwards: ‘We feel we’ve been met in a positive, constructive manner and look forward to meetings promised soon.’







Renfrew Ferry under threat

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

renfrewferryStrathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) are holding a special budget meeting on 22 January to discuss the fate of the Renfrew Ferry. SPT operates the ferry service, which runs from Yoker on the North bank of the Clyde to Renfrew on the South. A ferry service has operated at the site for the past 500 years. A spokesman for SPT said: ‘SPT, like many other local government agencies and local councils, is facing severe financial problems. For next year’s budget we have to find savings of £2.5m. To that end we are looking at every line of our budget including our current subsidies to bus, Subway and ferry services. No final decisions have been made nor will be made until SPT’s special budget meeting on the 22nd of January.’ The ferry service subsidised with £430,000 funding per year, and the two boats currently in service, the Renfrew Rose and the Yoker Swan are coming to the end of their operational lives. The two boats have been in use since 1984. One ferry operates at any given time with the other held in reserve for periods of maintenance and repair. Each ferry can carry 50 passengers but rarely exceeds five people on one trip. There were around 140,000 passenger journeys on the ferry last year.