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.

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.

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.

GHA Hidden Charges Uncovered

November 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Features, Local News, Top Stories

Like peeling an onion, each time the LOCAL NEWS carries a story about Glasgow Housing Association, another layer of concern is revealed.

Last month we told how MSPs have written to the Scottish Housing Regulator to ask for an investigation into the finances of Glasgow Housing Association (GHA)

This month, house owners who are obliged to have GHA as their factor are discovering they have been charged a 6% management fee for overcladding, re-roofing and other external works done in the past two years and a 3% contingency fee.

‘I am appalled,’ said Alison Gallacher whose four in a block has been completed. ‘I am in dispute with GHA about the £7600 they have charged me for this work which was not necessary, but purely cosmetic.’

For two years I have been trying to get them to answer questions about the bill and provide me with warranties for the work done. I worked 50 hours a week to try to pay this off at more than £600 a month. Initially they wanted the whole amount to be paid within 14 days! But after eight months I ground to a halt and couldn’t do it any more,’ said the administrator. She has now put the issue into dispute and has held back a large portion of the bill on her Sandyhills home, until she has acceptable answers.

‘Because I’m trying to find answers to the questions myself – I’ve discovered my bill includes a management fee of 6% I knew nothing about and a 3% charge for ‘contingencies’ which I knew nothing about. Both with 17.5% VAT on top. A lot of people have been bullied into paying these enormous bills but a lot of working people – like me – are questioning the bills and asking for a breakdown of the costs.’

One letter Alison sent to GHA in December 2007 was only responded to in October 2008 and enclosed a copy of a letter GHA claimed had been sent to her in May 2008, apologising for the ‘long delay in responding.’

Said Alison: ‘I never received a letter from GHA in May. They are claiming a management fee but all they are managing to do is put people into debt.’

An East End home owner who is also upset following work on her four-in-a-block home, told the LOCAL NEWS, ‘The work has been grossly overpriced and does not represent good value for money. Charging a percentage management fee on every property is wrong. We will never see the contingency money again and my bill of £12,000 is fully 50% more than the average they quoted on literature they sent out last year.’ She added: ‘GHA are not being open with me. The lack of information is upsetting and the whole experience is very, very stressful.’

To ease the stress, Glasgow Save Our Homes Campaign meets on the first and third Thursday of each month at 7pm in the Quality Hotel (formerly the Central Hotel) Gordon Street at Glasgow Central Station.

‘We believe it is illegal not to put a management fee on an invoice,’ said Sean Clerkin who leads the Campaign. ‘Using GHA’s own figures of £14,000 as the average bill for overcladding/re-roofing, we estimate GHA is taking in £21 million on the management fee alone. We think it is tantamount to fraud that the management and contingency fees have been deliberately hidden from home owners till now.’

The Campaign invited members to start a non-payment campaign in December last year. Now they are targeting MSPs with complaints about the GHA bills.

Glasgow MSP Robert Brown, has taken up the issue. A senior civil partner in a prominent law firm before he was elected to the Scottish Parliament, he is the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Justice and serves on the Justice Committee and the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

‘When I was in legal practice, Any agent acting for a principal was obliged to put that management fee on their accounts. The idea, therefore, of a hidden management charge on GHA accounts is not satisfactory. A contingency fee is normal but there is an argument that it could be seen as an ‘add on’. He told the LOCAL NEWS that he has ‘ongoing correspondence with the Scottish Housing Regulator and GHA.’ He said: ‘I welcome GHA’s attempts to be more transparent and to provide more comprehensive and comprehensible bills. But on the current situation GHA has pretty poor customer relations.’

In response to questions from the LOCAL NEWS on the management and contingency fees on the overcladding bills, GHA issued the following statement:

‘We’re fully committed to improving transparency in all our communications including those with home owners. Last month, for the first time, we issued itemised bills to owners, which give the detail behind the costs of investment works. We charge a modest project management fee because we do not believe that tenants should underwrite costs for homeowners. Our charge of 6% is significantly lower than that of many factors – 10-12% is more common. We are improving homeowner feedback on the quality of work and we intend to provide much more information on repairs and maintenance when a new contract comes into force next year.’


* Do you have an issue with GHA, especially on bills for overcladding? If so, contact the LOCAL NEWS on : or send a brief outline of your situation to The Editor, The LOCAL NEWS, Yam Publications Ltd, 73 Robertson Street, Glasgow G2 8QD.

Factors to be investigated

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Top Stories

The office of fair trading (OFT) has announced a major investment into property factoring in Scotland.

This follows evidence gathered by the Scottish consumer council during a survey of 134 homeowners in Dennistoun.

The study will consider issues such as how much choice and information is available to home owners, how property managers are selected, the quality and costs of the services and redress when things go wrong.

Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director of infrastructure said:’ This study will take a detailed look at Scottish property management services, consider how well they are working for home owners, and take a view on any recommendation which might bring positive outcomes for consumers in Scotland.’

Sean Clerkin from the Save our Home Campaign said:’ We welcome this investigation and hope that they will take a close look at Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) too. If GHA’s property factoring division has nothing to hide then it will have nothing to fear from this investigation. We will contribute evidence to the study.’

The Campaign alleges the GHA uses bullying tactics, including the threat of court action against homeowners with whom they are in dispute. There are around 100,000 homes in Glasgow which receive services from factors for communal insurance, repairs and maintenance.

Campaign launched against budget cuts and loss of 28 jobs

July 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Top Stories

SarwarWestminster MP Mohammad Sarwar has launched a campaign to save Glasgow Science Centre.

Around 28 jobs will be lost at the Southside complex because the Centre’s £1.754 million budget has been cut to £1.415m this year with more reductions planned.

Claiming the cuts amounted to 40%,  Mr Sarwar said: ‘This is a quarter of the 120 staff. The centre is a prestigious facility and very important in promoting science. We shall be challenging the Scottish Government to reconsider its plans. These cuts are contrary to the SNP’s commitment to tackling poor interest in science in our schools.’

Outside the iconic riverside building, he and a cohort of Labour MSPs, Councillors, Lib Dem supporters and Unite trade union representatives released news of their online campaign. In the following 48 hours, 22 people had signed the petition. Almost half the names were of those at the launch.

Mark Hughes, a Community Liaison Officer at the Glasgow Science Centre since 2001 and their Unite Trade Union representative said; ‘We are devastated that so many people will lose their jobs. Staff morale is very low. The Government’s review only looked at visitor numbers and has ignored the invaluable outreach work which benefits 70,000 people Scotland-wide, including some of the most remote and deprived areas.’

Glasgow Lib Dem, MNSP Robert Brown added: ‘This is a short sighted action on behalf of the Scottish Government. Publicly they claim they support the science centres and have increased funding for the four in Scotland. But they have actually decreased support from £1.7m to £1.08m, which shows their hypocrisy.’


Govan Councillor Stephen Dornan said: ‘The Science Centre is the jewel in the crown of Govan. We are really unhappy that this important and vital service could be lost.’

Kirk Ramsay, Glasgow Science Centre’s Chief Executive announced the job cuts as the Centre reached its seventh birthday. He said: ‘We will be forced to streamline our operations to safeguard our core mission of education.’ But as funding is set to dip even further over a three-year period, it is likely further changes will have to be made. ‘This is a very sad day for Glasgow and for the talented staff who have worked tirelessly to promote science and who now face an uncertain future,’ he said.