ID Cards Protest at Brand Street

Guy Fawkes says \'Down With This Sort of Thing\'Protesters gathered outside the UK Borders Agency office in Brand Street, Govan to protest against the introduction of ID cards for non-EU citizens wishing to apply for student or marriage visas.

The demonstration was organised by action group Glasgow Anarchists who fear the cards will make it easy to steal a person identity and will be the iceberg in the creation of a national identity card scheme

On Tuesday November 25 the biometric ID cards came into force across the UK. They will contain a photograph linked to a fingerprint and personal details of the holder.

Action groups including NO2ID, No Borders Scotland and UNITY showed their support at the demonstration. Each card will cost £30.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: ‘The first ID cards are being issued to people making applications to remain in the UK as a student or based on marriage. This will be followed in 2009, by identity cards for British workers in sensitive roles and locations and extended to young people in 2010.’

They added: ‘This national identity scheme will help protect against identity fraud, illegal working and immigration, crime and terrorism, and those trying to abuse positions of trust. It will make it easier for people to prove they are who they say they are.’

But two students who were at the demonstration are not convinced.

Steph Spoto of California is at Edinburgh University and will have to apply for a card to remain in the country. She said: ‘This is just awful, I hate the idea. I love Scotland and want to be able to continue working here. I am mainly concerned by the database which will hold the information – we really have no idea who will have access to it.’

Stephen Dietrich, who is studying Human Ecology at Strathclyde University and volunteers at UNITY, a support base for asylum seekers,  said: ‘This is identity theft made easy. I am not convinced about the security of the database.’

A spokesperson for Glasgow Anarchists said: ‘We are very suspicious of the ID cards. If your card is lost or stolen, essentially, you will have lost your identity.’

Similar demonstrations were held across the UK at six Border Agency offices, Glasgow, Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Croydon.

Stow College – Glasgow to New York

Experts from Stow College recently told delegates at a New York conference that the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths needs a radical overhaul to encourage more young people to study them.

Senior staff at the Glasgow learning establishment were invited to return to the American conference run by the Association of Community College Trustees for the second year in succession to share their secrets of success.

Stow College is bucking the international trend for falling student numbers in science, technology, engineering and maths – the STEM subjects. The city centre college has had a 36% rise in applications for science and engineering courses alone, this year. It has introduced new pathways into STEM subjects and careers with courses tailored to suit school age pupils through to mature students. Stow is also the first place in the West of Scotland to introduce a new ‘Skills for Work in Energy’ course to attract school pupils to careers in renewable energies. It recently introduced a new exit route from its phenomenally successful ‘Access to Medicine’ course into Dentistry at the University of Glasgow.

Said Alex McLean, Vice Principal of Stow College and one of the team to take New York by storm: ‘It is vital we address the problem of falling numbers of students in the STEM subjects. Our national and international economies demand skilled workers in these areas to meet current needs throughout the developed world. We are working closely with partners in Scotland to address this problem and to meet Scottish Government priorities. We also plan to work with international partners to address the issue in a global context.’

Dr Peter Hughes is the Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, a key partner of Stow College. He said: ‘A key element of a successful Scottish engineering sector is the supply of well-qualified, motivated, young people. Many companies have difficulties recruiting such personnel because of the downturn in pupils studying the key subjects of science, technology and mathematics. Initiatives to reverse the trend can play a vital part in developing key skills for the future. Scottish Engineering is pleased to support Stow College in developing effective pathways into science, engineering and mathematics.’

Starter Pack Girls Bare All – for Charity

December 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Glasgow South, Local News

Starter Packs Bare AllThe girls at Starter Packs in Govan are showing their cheeky side in a calendar which they hope will raise £6,000 for the charity.

The ‘Govan Gals’ have bared all, almost, for the photographs which were taken in the kitchen of a house in Linthouse.

As the LOCAL NEWS hits the street, the calendar was expected to be on sale in the Starter Packs’ office in Burleigh Street at £9.99p each.

The idea came about a month ago when some of the girls were having a drink. ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time,’ said Sarah Findlay. ‘In the cold light of day we have gone through with it and are pleased with the end result.’

Sarah, project leader at Starter Packs, features in the calendar as Autumn Nights. She said: ‘The calendar has a 50’s retro theme, strategically positioned period items save our blushes. There are no skinny malinkies – the calendar proves real women exist.’

Starter Packs has been running in Govan for 20 years and provides essential items in a welcome pack for homeless families and single people taking up a permanent tenancy in the Greater Glasgow area. 

Sarah said: ‘Everyone who features in the calendar is either staff or a volunteer with Starter Packs or they are people who have used our service.’

To find out more, or to get your hands on a copy, drop into Starter Packs, 41 Burleigh Street, Govan or telephone 0141 440 1008.

Elder Park Primary Earmarked for Demolition

December 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Glasgow South, Local News

It survived two world wars including an assault from the German Luftwaffe but now Elder Park Primary School is to be demolished by new owners Quarriers.

The children’s charity bought the 1899 Victorian red sandstone building for £265,000 from Glasgow City Council last year and intends to flatten it to construct an epilepsy centre. The plans have incensed locals who have formed SOS Linthouse, Save Our School. They hope to make the charity re-think its plans to demolish the building on St Kenneth Drive in Linthouse.

Govan was recently declared a conservation area but ironically the school is twelve feet over the boundary line.

Sarah Findlay of SOS said: ‘This is winnable and we intend to fight for this.’

Around 30 people comfortably gathered in the school for a meeting last month while heavy rains and high winds battered the water tight building.

And the group’s spirits have been boosted with the involvement of MSP Nicola Sturgeon who is now in the process of facilitating a meeting between Quarriers and SOS. There is hope this might be convened before the end of the year.

Sarah said: ‘No-one for Quarries has turned up at any of our meetings and all we have had is a letter. Children at the school have proposed the school could have an art centre on the ground floor and housing above – which would be great for the area.’

A spokesperson for Quarriers said: ‘Two years ago when Quarriers first began searching for a site in Govan to build a new National Epilepsy Centre, the criteria was that is should be situated close to the Institute of Neurology at the Southern General Hospital. When Quarriers agreed to purchase the site in September 2007 it was made clear to all concerned that the school would be demolished in order for the National Epilepsy Centre to be built. The new centre will be of national importance and will mean that people who suffer from Epilepsy in Scotland will be able to benefit from the most modern and up to date services.’

Boys’ Brigade 125th Anniversary

More than 750 people crowded into Glasgow Cathedral to mark the 125th anniversary of the Boys’ Brigade (BB) in October with boys from, naturally, the 1st Glasgow Company taking many of the duties during the service. This included laying a wreath on the plaque in the Cathedral to Sir William Smith, the BB founder. The Boys’ Brigade is the oldest existing uniformed youth organisation in the world.

Despite heavy rain which forced the displays and activities before and after the service to be held in the nave of the church, the Anchor Boys, the Junior Section and the Company Section all gave of their best. The 231st Glasgow Company’s pipe band also entertained.

The Right Revd David Lunan, Moderator of the Church of Scotland gave the address. 

And celebrations will continue till April when a Tattoo will be staged in Braehead Arena to showcase the talents of BB members from across Scotland.

A Seniors Dinner was held at the end of last month in Rutherglen Town Hall. 

From its origins in Glasgow in 1883 the BB has spread to over 64 countries around the globe and it has been an inspiration and influence to countless of other youth organisations.

This session of 2007-2008 is, in fact, the 125th session of the 1st Glasgow Company In May 2008 the Company held its 125th Annual Inspection which was a great success. The Company is still very active and continues to serve young people in the same area of the city.

The Glasgow Battalion has six districts covering six geographic areas. Within these districts there are 76 smaller companies. A total of 3074 boys and 801 staff are managed by the Scottish headquarters which are based in Ibrox.

Centenary for Shawlands United Reform Church

December 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Churches, Glasgow South, Local News

As the United Reform Church in Shawlands prepares to celebrate 100 years of worship in the same building, an invitation is extended to anyone with connections to the Southside church to get in touch.

Formerly a Churches of Christ congregation, the first service was held on Moss-side Road in 1909 so arrangements have been made to hold several anniversary services next year.

John McGeary, church elder of twenty years said: ‘Many of our past members have moved out of the district but it is hoped we can contact those who either attended or were married in the church to invite them to our special services.’

Alongside the 60- 80 members who regularly worship at the church in Moss Side Road, groups such as mothers and toddlers, painting classes, musical classes and martial arts, regularly use the premises. All are invited to join in the centenary events.

Some of the highlights planned for the coming year include a reunion service on April 25 for members no longer in the area.  Throughout June, July and August the church will be open every Wednesday for private visits and prayer. A Flower Festival on September 19 and 20 will coincide with Doors Open Day which the church will be participating in.

John continued: ‘It is our dearest wish that those who attend a special service will recall many happy memories of their time in the church as a member or attending a wedding or a baptism service or simply as a visitor who joined us for Sunday morning worship.’

To contact John phone 0141 632 4660.


* The United Reform Church is a Christian Church in the tradition of the Reformation and is the union of four established churches; The Congregational Church of England and Wales, The Presbyterian Church of England, The Re-Formed Association of Churches of Christ and The Congregational Union of Scotland.

SPARR Celebrates Govan’s Heritage

December 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Features, Glasgow South, Local News, Top Stories

Friday Night in Brechin's BarA ship launches down the slipwayGovan’s shipbuilding heritage and historic links with the Gaelic speaking communities of the Western Isles have been celebrated in a dramatic performance called SPARR. Held in the Big Shed in Govan – the former Harland & Woolf engineering shed which has hosted flagship productions such as ‘The Big Picnic’ and ‘The Ship’ the free promenade performance was a year in the making.

Based on the actual lives and stories of Gaels who arrived in Govan to work in the ship yards, SPARR is the Gaelic word for ‘rivet’ and also means ‘to create an opening’.

Cast members in highland garb welcomed the audience into the huge space as the performance started. A wooden boat was being built in one part of the auditorium. A huge screen showing images from Govan’s past provided a backdrop. A two tier scaffold held musicians and the Glasgow Gaelic choir, and the clangs and clamour of the shipyards filled the air. As the evening progressed, the performers moved into and among the audience to tell the story. The audience were led from the crafting of Hebridean boats to the heavy industry of shipbuilding on the Clyde. In one memorable sequence, a local worker is teasing the ‘teuchters’. He is soon put in his place by a Gael who says ‘You just build the boats, but your feet are dry. We build them, sail them and skipper them as well.’

The cast line-up in front of the screen and start hauling ropes. The motion reaches a climax and the ship on the screen launches down the slipway. The workers cheer and throw their hats in the air. It is hard not to share the sense of achievement and pride. The evening closes with the Govan Fair procession led by the currentFair Queen and her entourage. The cast and audience followed the Queen to an area set up as a carnival and everyone sang an emotional version of ‘Flower of Scotland’. The final words spoken were ‘Welcome to the Govan Fair, the bar is OPEN!’

The project began with oral histories and folk memories being gathered from the community. These strands were developed into a narrative and a script. This traced the lives of Gaelic men and women as they arrived in Govan and established themselves in the workplace and in the community in the 19th and 20th century.

Participating groups in the production of Sparr included the Glasgow Gaelic Choir, Galgael, Cran Theatre Company and Theatre Hebrides. The project was led by Fablevision. Frank Miller from Cran Theatre said; ‘Govan has a vibrant, talented cultural community. I have never been let down by their energy and commitment in the telling of their stories. This project is the most ambitious production I’ve worked on so far. It really works and has captured the imagination of Govan as a whole – individuals, groups, communities and organisations. It is a lot of fun discovering a part of Govan’s history which, to some extent, has been forgotten.’

Sparr is designed to be an integral element of the Govan Cultural Hub. This is a vision for a centre of learning attracting local people and visitors alike. They can access traditional cultures and heritage and witness for themselves how Govan has managed to incorporate that diversity into a 21st century community. The cultural hub is co-ordinated through the Central Govan Action Plan which is a partnership aiming to retain and respect people’s roots and knowledge of past times in order to develop a strong community future.


The production of Sparr was developed by a team including: Liz Gardiner, Overall Director, Fablevision; Graham Hunter, Executive Director, set  design/historical advisor; Di Jennings, Project Coordination; Frank Miller, Artistic Director, Govan; Ian Stephen,  Scriptwriter; Peter Wilson, Film/Digital/Media, Govan; Elaine Marney,  Funding Coordinator/heritage resource materials development; Muriel Ann MacLeod Creative Director, Theatre Hebrides.

Govanhill Law Centre Opens

December 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Features, Glasgow South, Local News

A new law centre in Govanhill was officially opened by the Lord Advocate the Right Honourable Eilish Angiolini, last month.

Located in Butterbiggins Road, it will provide information and support on housing, employment and other issues for local residents.

Advice is free and the aim is to root out slum landlords, gang masters and organised crime in the area.

Govanhill has some of the most severe housing problems in Scotland, with an estimated 750 slum flats. Many of them are occupied by Roma families who do not know their legal rights and are, therefore, vulnerable to exploitation.

The new law centre has four staff including a speaker of Slovak. They will serve all sections of the diverse Govanhill community.

The model is based on the successful Govan Law Centre and has been developed by that Centre’s Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly. It has taken almost three years and £500,000 to get the Govanhill Law Centre open.

Funding and support has come from the Scottish Government, Govanhill Housing Association, Govanhill Community Development Trust, Oxfam and trade unions Usdaw and Unison.

The centre’s first case is already under way to find a sure and swift way to use compulsory purchase legislation to force the closure of the area’s slum properties.

Already the Centre has instructed one of Scotland’s top QCs to provide a legal opinion on how legislation can be used to eradicate substandard private rented accommodation in the area.


Mike said: ‘We will work hard to earn local trust and confidence. Together, we can root out the slum landlords and the gang masters. Together, we can expose the Mr Bigs and their criminal practices. Govanhill Law Centre will always be on your side and we will always help to fight your corner. It’s your community and it’s time to claim it back from unscrupulous private landlords, gang masters and criminals.’

Eilish told the Local News: ‘Govanhill Law Centre will provide a very valuable rights-based facility for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. When I was growing up in Govan, I was struck by the inequality of the opportunity which existed for people who did not have proper access to clear information. As a result, they could miss out on services and advice which was available.’

Glasgow City Council leader, Councillor Steven Purcell said: ‘The new Govanhill Law Centre is a very welcome addition to the range of support now available in the area. Firm action is being taken to address the complex issues affecting the community. Providing better access to legal advice must be seen as part of the action.’

Janice McEwan, Chairperson of Govanhill Housing Association said: ‘We are delighted and excited at the prospect of the new Law Centre working in partnership with us to improve the slum housing conditions I thought we would never see here again.’

Louise Carlin, Manager for Oxfam Scotland’s Poverty Programme said: ‘Having its own Law Centre will be a real asset to Govanhill. People will have something on their doorstep that will help change their lives for the better.’

Advocate Ross Macfarlane from the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, stated that he and another 20 Advocates will be on call to provide additional advice on matters relating to housing, employment and other issues.

For more information contact –

Govanhill Law Centre, 168 Butterbiggins Road, Govanhill, Glasgow, G42 7AL. Tel – 0141 433 2665

Knightswood Youth Theatre

December 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Glasgow West, Local News

Knightswood Youth Theatre has scooped a Philip Lawrence Award and £1,000 for using drama to bring together asylum seekers and refugees with young people to enhance mutual understanding.

They were presented with the award by News at 10 stalwart Sir Trevor MacDonald, home secretary Jacqui Smith MP and Frances Lawrence at a special ceremony in London last month.

The national scheme rewards those aged 11 – 20 who have achieved excellent standards in citizenship by making a positive difference to the world around them.

Knightswood Youth Theatre, which formed last year, grew out of a series of pilot workshops in the area under the leadership of drama worker Aileen Ritchie.

They meet weekly running drama workshops which they take to the stage to benefit the local community. The group regularly perform for free in places such as schools and community centres.

Nine groups in total received an award this year in the scheme which was set up in 1996 in memory of head teacher Philip Lawrence who was murdered whilst protecting a pupil outside his school.

It recognises groups helping their local communities by working together, understanding faiths and overcoming difficulties faced by some young people.

In the short time they have been together they have sold out two nights at the Tron Theatre as part of Refugee Week 2008 and performed in Stirling and Edinburgh in the National Theatre of Scotland Exchange festival.

The group can be contacted at 200 Lincoln Avenue, G13 3PR or by telephoning 0141 958 1640.

The group will be pleased to receive any donations to fund future projects.

Stroke Club celebrates anniversary

December 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Glasgow East, Local News

The first ever stroke club in Scotland continues to go from strength to strength as it celebrates its thirty fifth year of service in the East End.

Lightburn Harmony Club, which started in 1973, holds the unusual record for the length of time the organisers have served in the voluntary sector.

The seven core volunteers have given 111 years’ service among them. Jean Miller, founder member of the club with 30 years’ service said: ‘We are a club for the forgotten people in society.’

Every Monday between 12pm and 3pm they gather to give those affected by a stroke the chance to regain their confidence and to help them integrate back into society.

In May the club was dealt a blow when they lost their home in Shettleston Halls when it was gutted by fire. However, they have found new accommodation in nearby Shettleston Community Centre.

Jean said: ‘In the past, if someone had a stroke, they went home and were told not to talk about it. We set out to give people somewhere to speak of their experience instead of bottling it up.’

Currently the club runs one bus from Easterhouse and one from Shettleston to shuttle people to the centre with donations and goodwill enabling willing volunteers to continue their work.

Anyone in the area affected by a stroke and looking for more information can contact Jean on 0141 774 5635.

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