Landmark Churches at Risk

Landsdowne Parish ChurchKelvinside Hillhead ChurchThe Heritage Lottery Fund has rejected an application from the Four Acres Charitable Trust for less than £1 million to save and re-vitalise Lansdowne Church on Great Western Road.

Said David Robertson, Project Director at Four Acres: ‘They had six applications totalling £4.5million in front of them at their December meeting. But the Fund had only £1.5 million to give out. We’re in good company, however,’ he added. ‘An application from Glasgow’s St Andrew’s Cathedral on Clyde Street, was also rejected.’

He said it is not the first time the Trust has experienced such a knock-back. ‘We’ve been here before, so we’ll fight on.’ The Trust saved Downhill Church which is now the successful pub/restaurant known as Cottiers.

Roy Henderson, minister of Lansdowne Church of Scotland told the LOCAL NEWS, ‘It is remarkable how well Landsdowne people have taken the news. They are very sanguine about it.’

A major landmark on the skyline at Kelvinbridge, Lansdowne is ‘A’ listed and in need of significant funding for essential repairs and conservation work. The proposal between the congregation and Four Acres Trust was for the Trust to buy the property, obtain grant funding to repair, restore and convert the elegant space for commercial and community use – such as worship for the congregation.

The congregation turned out in force to a public meeting called by Friends of Glasgow West to examine the situation of Church Buildings @ Risk. David Howat speaks for the Friends ad hoc group concerned with Church Buildings @ Risk. He said: ‘Lansdowne and Kelvinside Hillhead Church are among the finest examples of Glasgow’s exceptional Victorian heritage. Their loss would be unthinkable. There is a very real danger either might be lost for ever if a viable and sustainable use cannot be found for them and funding put in place to carry out essential repairs and conservation of important stonework and stained glass.’

He added that the physical condition of both buildings is deteriorating rapidly.

Kelvinside Hillhead church in Observatory Road off Byres Road has a major problem with its roof which was badly damaged by storm a year ago. It had been offered Heritage Lottery Funding but only if the Church of Scotland was prepared to guarantee that the church had a future as a place of worship. That assurance has not been given, so far, so the building’s future is in jeopardy. The interior roof framework has now been seriously affected by the unattended storm damage.

The Friends had called the meeting in Hillhead Library on Wednesday 4 February, to bring attention to the urgency of the situation.

Around 60 people attended on an icy cold evening to hear David Howat, David Martin a conservation and architecture specialist and David Robertson of the Four Acres Trust.

‘There are 165 religious buildings in Scotland on the Civic Trust ‘at risk’ register,’ they were told by David Howat, a solicitor and one of the Friends of Glasgow West. ‘Of these, 25 are ‘A’ listed. And neither Lansdowne nor Kelvinside Hillhead features in the 11 ‘at risk’ in Glasgow.’ He said that such beautiful examples of art and craft were an intrinsic part of the community and irreplaceable parts of the landscape. ‘Each day the dry rot destroys another bit of a building. We wouldn’t let this happen in our close and we shouldn’t let it happen in our churches and communities.’


Said Ann Laird, Chair of Friends of Glasgow West, who chaired the meeting: ‘There is an opportunity for innovative answers. Cottiers is just one example.’ She urged anyone concerned with the spectre of losing such landmark buildings from local neighbourhoods to lobby city Councillors and Members of the Scottish Parliament and Westminster MPs.


  • A challenge to photographers to record the interior of Lansdowne has been made on flickr picture sharing site by The first open day for photographers was on Sunday 8 February.
  • Minister Roy Henderson has a blog on Steeple 208 with some interesting insights into how the congregation and the community might proceed.

School Protesters Hijack MSP in Maryhill

February 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Features, Glasgow West, Local News

An announcement that the Heritage Lottery Fund was giving £1 million to restore the derelict Maryhill Burgh Halls was hijacked by angry parents campaigning to retain their local schools.

While officials were inside looking at the empty shell of a building, about 10 parents arrived and some of them chained themselves to the railings outside.

‘We’ve got to make a stand,’ said Laura McKenna who has a 3-year-old son at Wyndford nursery. ‘Closing the schools will destroy the whole community. They expect us to take our kids a 45 minute walk to a nursery in Summerston. You can’t put a wee one on the bus by themselves. Buses only take one baby buggy at a time and what are you supposed to do to get the older children to school at the same time?

When she exited from the building, MSP Patricia Ferguson, told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I know these parents well. We’ve had discussions about the situation. I agree with them, it will take the heart out of the community and I’ve made my views known to Glasgow City Council.’

The affected schools are Ruchill Primary, Our Lady of Assumption, St Gregory’s Wyndford and St Agnes’s.

Before the parents had descended on the building, Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland and Billy McAllister, Chair of the Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust had both expressed their delight at the funding. Said Colin McLean: ‘This is exciting news and is an important step forward in the revitalisation of modern Maryhill.’

Billy McAllister added: ‘This very substantial grant is crucial for unlocking the balance and deliver our ambitious and much-needed community project. More than five years’ hard work has been put into this. I am confident we soon will be celebrating the re-opening of this much-loved hub.’


Councillor George Ryan, Executive Member for Development and Regeneration at Glasgow City Council, said: ‘This is another step towards the full restoration of the Maryhill Burgh Halls and the Maryhill Leisure Centre. When completed, some of the area’s most celebrated buildings will be restored back to their rightful role in the heart of the community.’

PlatForum Launch New Health Project

February 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Features, Glasgow South, Local News

The new offices for PlatForum, the mental health organisation in Govan, were officially opened by Nicola Sturgeon, Govan MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and Jenny McGlynn a longstanding member of the South West Community Mental Health Project.

They both cut a ribbon at 31 Burleigh Street, last month.

PlatForum provides information and support and is lead by service users who live in the South West Glasgow area.

Its aim is to provide a voice for people with mental health issues to have a say on how mental health services are run.  They also want the service users and provider to work together and share information.

Eddie Aitken, Secretary of PlatForum said: ‘PlatForum is an organisation that provides a way for service users of local mental health services to have a say in how these are developed. We work closely with a number of local statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure that any changes to our mental health services are done with our input.

So far we have adopted an action plan that sets out the priority areas of work for PlatForum and we’ll be working to meet those over the coming months.’

Castlemilk Pool Re-Opened

February 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Features, Glasgow South, Local News

Castlemilk Swimming Pool has re-opened following a £5m renovation. The building closed over two years ago when it was discovered that the 1970’s-built structure was deteriorating. The facility now features three new pools with a 120-seat viewing gallery, a dance studio and a fitness suite.

Councillor Archie Graham said: ‘The re-opening of Castlemilk Pool after its refurbishment will delight the local community. The new layout of the pool, alongside the revamped health suite, provides the people of Glasgow with another first-rate sports facility.’

The pool officially re-opened on Monday 2 February. Councillor John McKenzie told the Local News: ‘I intend to visit in the very near future with my 3 year old grandson. I am totally delighted that at last the pool is open. After so many false dawns I know that the people in the area will also be delighted. I have had a constant stream of people asking when the pool would be re-opened.’

The closure of the pool left Castlemilk residents with a 5 mile journey to the nearest swimming pool at Gorbals Leisure Centre or a 6 mile journey to Bellahouston. Eastwood Pool is a similar distance but there are no direct public transport links between the two locations. Holyrood Sports Centre offers swimming facilities but only 2 evenings a week and on Saturdays.


Victory for Glasgow Home Owners Campaign

A move by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) to allow home owners up to two years to pay large bills has been welcomed.

‘This is a victory for us,’ said Sean Clerkin, leader of the Glasgow Home Owners’ Campaign (GHOC) which has been campaigning vigorously for more time for owners to pay. The average bill for re-cladding, re-roofing and similar work is £7000 per household and payable within one year.

Said civil servant Linda Wood (61) (pictured right): ‘I’m delighted. I don’t have a sword of Damocles hanging over me now. But I’ll still need to work two years longer than I had planned to pay my bill of £6648.35.’

In a four-in-the-block property, she would have had to repay £550 a month under the original scheme which required bills to be cleared within one year. ‘There is no way I could do that. I don’t have that amount of money. But spread over two years it is possible –just!’


Said a GHA spokeswoman: ‘we believe the extra lifeline will assist owners who are willing to pay their bills, but are struggling to meet the current 12 month payment period.’ She added that the vast majority of owners – 98% – pay their bills within the 12 month period.

School and Nursery Closures

Jim McCannParents across the city are mobilising in protest against threatened closures of schools and nurseries.

Glasgow City Council has announced 22 closures and amalgamations, in an attempt to address the issue of sub-standard buildings and under-occupancy.

There will be a consultation period starting in February, for parents and others to comment on the proposals.

St Gilbert’s primary in Germiston is one of the schools facing an uncertain future. Pupils will move to St Philomena’s primary nearly a mile away, and pupils from Barmulloch primary are due to move in to the St Gilbert’s building.

Members of the parent-teacher council secured 5000 signatures on a petition within two days of the proposals being announced. The group also held a public meeting to discuss tactics.  Mary Scott has two grandchildren at the school, Rosemary, 6 and Jordan, 8.

Mary, who worked as a breakfast club assistant at the school for eight years, said: ‘The kids are settled in the school. To move them would be a major disruption to their education.’

Jim McCann has three children at the school, Chloe, 10, Amy, 9 and Ryan, 7.   He told the Local News: ‘Our family moved to Airdrie for two years, and we thought so much of St Gilbert’s that we commuted the kids to school here. We have now moved back to the area, largely because of the high quality of education provided at the school.’

St Gilbert’s has 190 pupils on the school roll, and employs 10 teachers, 5 support staff, 4 cleaners and 2 breakfast club staff.

Attending the protest meeting were Paul Martin MSP and councillors Jim Todd, Grant Thoms and Phil Greene.

Grant Thoms announced that the council’s forthcoming budget vote on 12 February includes the projected savings from the school closures, but the schools consultation does not finish until March, indicating that the decision has already been made. Phil Greene also alleged that elected officials were kept in the dark until the last minute, and the news was leaked via the Evening Times newspaper before the schools were informed.

Schools and nurseries on the Southside will also be affected. Victoria Primary in Govanhill has 88 pupils and 60 pre-school children in its nursery. Cathy Wotherspoon, chair of the Parent Council, said: ‘Moving the pupils to Annette Street and Cuthbertson Primary is a bad idea. There is a full class of 22 P1 children waiting to come into the school and there is a waiting list for the nursery. Moving the nursery kids to Govanhill Nursery makes no sense as that nursery is already full to capacity. There were 175 parents and kids at our public meeting because people feel strongly about the issue. The school and nursery are like a family, it has taken a long time to build this atmosphere.’   

Shawbridge Street nursery is also facing closure, with the children due to join with Pollokshaws nursery, then move to the new Tinto nursery and primary school facility after a year. Rachel Beattie worked at the nursery for 21 years before she retired. She said: ‘The nursery has always operated at full capacity. The building is in excellent condition. Pollokshaws nursery is listed as being in poor condition, so why move children from a good building to a bad one? Also, John Maxwell primary is to remain open right until the new Tinto school is ready, Shawbridge should remain open also.’ Stacey Buchanan’s son Kenzie White, 3, is enrolled at Shawbridge nursery. Stacey is concerned about the level of disruption. Having just moved to the area, this is Kenzie’s second nursery. If the plan proceeds he will have attended four nurseries in total before starting primary school.

At a meeting of the full council on Thursday 29 January, councillors voted in favour of proceeding with the consultation.


The full list of proposed closures and amalgamations;


  • Sighthill Primary to close and pupils to transfer to Rosyton Primary.
  • St Gilbert’s primary to close and pupils to transfer to St Philomena’s. Barmulloch primary to close and pupils to relocate to St Gilbert’s building. 
  • Victoria Primary to close and pupils to transfer to Annette Street and Cuthbertson Primary. Victoria Nursery Class to transfer to Govanhill Nursery.
  • Bellahouston Primary to close and pupils to transfer to Ibrox Primary.
  • Albert Primary in Springburn to close and pupils to transfer to Elmvale Primary.
  • St Agnes’ primary in Cadder to close and pupils to transfer to St Blane’s.
  • St Aloysius’ Primary in Springburn to close and pupils to move to St Stephen’s.
  • St Gregory’s in Maryhill to close and pupils transfer to St Mary’s.
  • Wyndford Primary in Maryhill to close and pupils to transfer to Parkview Primary.
  • St James primary in Calton to close and pupils to transfer to Alexandra Parade primary.
  • Ruchill Primary to close and pupils to move to Westercommon Primary.
  • Our Lady of Assumption primary to be closed and pupils to move to St Cuthberts.
  • Shawbridge Nursery to close and children to move to Pollokshaws nursery.
  • Kinning Park Nursery to close and children to move to Festival Park Nursery.
  • Merrylee Nursery class to close and combine with Holmlea Day Nursery – these are housed in the same building. 
  • Mile End nursery to close and combine with Bridgeton Family Learning Centre.
  • Garscube Nursery to close and combine with Cowcaddens Day Nursery, both housed in the same building.
  • Craigielea Nursery and Broomapark Nursery to close and children to attend St Denis’ primary instead.
  • Anderston Nursery  Class to lcose and children to attend either Anderston Street Nursery or Sandyford Day Nursery.
  • In Dalmarnock, Queen Mary Street nursery is to close and children will be offered a place at London Road Nursery.
  • Newark Drive, Nithsdale Road and Pollokshields Nurseries to close, and children to transfer to new early years centre at Pollokshields Primary Annexe.

Gaza Protests

Gaza Protest in Glasgow City CentreA thousand people marched through the streets of Glasgow on Saturday January 3 to show their support for Palestinian civilians caught up in the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.

 The marchers called for an immediate end to the violence and the removal of blockades which are preventing aid from reaching the besieged Gaza residents. The marchers assembled at Blythswood Square then made their way to the Merchant City.

 They were addressed by speakers including MSPs Bill Kidd, (SNP) Pauline McNeill, (Labour) and Hugh O’Donnell (Lib Dem), as well as Barrie Levine of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace and Nazia Iqbal of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation.

The following night, a fundraising dinner at the Glasgow Central Mosque by Islamic Relief raised £160,000 for humanitarian aid for Gaza. The dinner was attended by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, who said: ‘I congratulate Islamic Relief and the people of Glasgow for raising over £150k in one evening.

‘This shows the strength of feeling from people about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.’

On Tuesday January 6, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that Gaza faces an imminent humanitarian disaster. The Committee’s director of operations, Pierre Krähenbühl, said ‘There is no doubt in my mind that we are dealing with a major crisis in humanitarian terms. The situation for the people in Gaza is extreme and traumatic as a result of ten days of uninterrupted fighting. In that sense, their situation has clearly become intolerable.’

Further demonstrations took place in London and Edinburgh on Saturday January 10 by both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups.

 At the London pro-Israeli rally, Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks called for an end to violence saying: ‘We say to those who criticise Israel: You want Palestinian children to gorw up with hope, so do we. You want Palestinians to be able to live with dignity, so do we.’

In Edinburgh around 7000 people marched in support of the Palestinians. As protesters passed the American Embassy, a torrent of shoes was thrown at the building – including ski boots and clogs. Three police officers suffered minor injuries.


Glaswegians in the 2009 Honours

Aileen McGlynn and Ellen HuntA Southside sportswoman is among those who have been acknowledged for their contribution to society in the New Year’s Honours List.

Blind paralympian cyclist Aileen McGlynn of Crookston was awarded an OBE – Order of the British Empire.

Aileen told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘It is an amazing end to the year. Once I received my MBE in 2005, which in itself was a great honour, I didn’t expect to get anything more.’

Aileen cycles tandem with her cycling pilot guide, Ellen Hunter of Cornwall who also received the OBE.  Both meet up in Manchester to train at the velodrome before big events. Said Aileen: ‘The sooner the velodrome in Glasgow is open, the better!’

She won two gold medals at last year’s Paralympic Games in Beijing and even smashed the world record for the 1 km timed trial which she and Ellen had set in Athens in 2004.

Another honour goes to East Ender, Sandra Forsythe, Glasgow Housing Association’s Tenant Chair. She said she was ‘humbled’ by her MBE and added: ‘The recognition was a complete surprise. I am still in shock. However, it’s good to know that those who give up their spare time voluntarily are being honoured. I’ll be accepting the MBE on behalf of all tenant volunteers in Glasgow.’

Sandra was elected Chair of GHA Board in January 2005 and has just been re-elected as chair for another year and as a board member for another three years. The outer East area covering Greater Easterhouse, Shettleston, Tollcross, Baillieston and Carmyle nominated Sandra for the Board but she represents the whole of the city. She has been involved in Glasgow’s housing since 1991.

Raymond Francis Hemmett of North Kelvinside was made an MBE. He is a senior conservator of paintings with Historic Scotland. A conservator for 35 years, he said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted.  It is good for conservators in general because they do not normally get recognised. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes and while the work of the curators is important, the conservators play a part.’ One of his most exciting projects was the re-decoration of the King’s Dining Room in Edinburgh Castle.

Alexander (Sandy) McGeoch was appointed MBE for his services to the Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland (YESC). Originally from Banff in Aberdeenshire he moved to Glasgow and the Maryhill Park area and now lives in Milngavie. He told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘It made me feel extremely good that the industry has recognised me.’ Sandy has worked with primary and secondary schools and further education facilities across Scotland since 1993 and has built up the number of clubs from 23 to just short of 300. YESC provides hands-on experience of science and engineering projects such as ‘Rampaging Chariots’ which gives students the chance to build their very own working robot.

Sandy said: ‘The robot building gives the kids skills in mechanics and construction but it is fun too. Making sure the kids learn through having fun is important or else it would simply been seen as an extension to the classroom.’

The Herald and Evening Times Group’s Managing Director , Tom Thomson, received an OBE for his services to music. He was chairman of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. ‘This honour recognises the outstanding success of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scotland’s position on the musical world stage as acknowledged by Glasgow’s recent award as a UNESCO City of Music,’ he said.

Ian George Taylor, district manager of Jobcentre Plus in Glasgow received an OBE.  Harry Benson, world renowned, Glasgow photographer was awarded a CBE.

Olympic cyclist, Chris Hoy, received a knighthood. He also has the accolade of having Glasgow’s multi-million pound Velodrome to be built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, named after him.

Chinese New Year on Burns Night

Chinese New Year and the 250th anniversary of poet Robert Burns’ birthday coincide on Sunday 25 January this year.

The Scottish Government will use the date as the launchpad for the Year of Homecoming to persuade exiles and diaspora to return to Scotland to celebrate.

Glasgow’s Chinese communities will settle for a modest, but rousing, New Year event on Monday February 2 in the Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow.

There will be entertainment by various Chinese groups and artists hosted by the Chinese Community Development Partnership (CCDP)

At the CCDP’s annual general meeting at the end of last year, Chinese Consulate- General Shi Yufeng was guest of honour. He congratulated the Partnership of 16 organisations for what they had done for the community. This included a spectacular Chinese New Year Celebration in the Royal Concert Hall in 2008.

Annie Mead, Chairperson of CCDP presented the 7th annual report. She said that an assessment of their plan to have a One Stop Chinese Community Centre, revealed the idea did not meet funding criteria. Despite the disappointment, useful data was obtained which will inform future plans and developments. The Youth project had had a very successful year and would continue to be supported by CCDP but because funding had failed to materialize for the work, it would be up to the young people who had benefited from the previous efforts, to organise themselves into an effective and dynamic group.

‘We firmly believe that as one door closes, another opens,’ said the Chairperson. She gave credit for the considerable achievements of the Partnership over the previous year, to the dedicated, hard-working and efficient staff and the Directors who had given their time, support and advice to the work as well as all the volunteers and their invaluable contributions. She added that she was proud to report that Development Officer, Joyce Tai, had completed her studies at Glasgow University and had graduated as a fully qualified community development workers.

Bailie Gordon Matheson, who chaired the annual general meeting, paid tribute to the CCD for trying to ‘do more, with less.’


Pollok Credit Union and Post Office

January 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Features, Glasgow South, Local News

The first ever post office in the UK to be run by a credit union opened for business in Pollok last month.

The merging of Pollok Post Office with Pollok Credit Union has come as a welcome relief to the area not only in securing the future of 14 local jobs but also in ensuring the longevity of a first class lifeline service.

By as early as February the offices will relocate to the Silverburn Shopping Centre in the Winter Gardens where a unit beside Barrhead Travel has already been acquired.

Currently the offices occupy a facility in phase III of Silverburn – part of the older Pollok Shopping Centre.

The new facility will continue to offer the same level of service but footfall is expected to increase dramatically because of the new location.

Four mail counters and two credit counters will be established and the staff will be trained to operate both.

Ian Davidson, South West MP and MSP Johann Lamont joined in the official launch on Monday December 8.

Jim Garrity, manager of the credit union said: ‘This partnership will secure two vital services within the local community. Post office services and credit union services will be delivered from one unit. It is especially appropriate in the current financial crisis that both should be working together closely.’

Pollok Credit Union has an outlet at The Wedge nearby and in Shawlands where much of the office work will still be done.

Ian Smith, Royal Mail’s Senior External Relations Manager said: ‘This will help secure the future of the post office in Pollok with the coming together of two trusted brands.’

Johann said: ‘This is very welcome for the area and is another example of the pioneering people in Pollok. It is a great initiative.’

Next Page »