A Freedom of Information request revealed that Glasgow City Council have paid £72 000 over the past two years in compensation cash for their own staff.
The figure comes as part of a wider trend in Scotland, in which the three largest councils paid out £164 000 due to accidents at work. Edinburgh and Stirling paid out the remaining £92 000 between them.
The three councils together forked out cash for more than 60 claims in the past two years. Most of the claims made were related to the operation of heavy machinery, slipping or falling.
Glasgow City Council refused to discuss individual cases of compensation requests, claiming this would breech data protection law. They admitted at least one of the claims was also due to violence in the workplace.
City councils have been criticised for the “unacceptably high” number of mostly “avoidable accidents” for which they have had to pay out for.
Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “While some staff might have legitimate claims because of negligence, there is a worrying rise in compensation culture across local government offices. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for cases where a bit of common sense would have avoided the accident.
“Given the size of the bill that has been revealed for only a small number of councils, the Scotland wide bill is almost certainly be much, much bigger.”
Eben Wilson, of TaxPayersScotland, expressed disappointment over the sheer amount of compensation paid out due to various safety measures being made to avoid such accidents. He claimed it was down to “poor management” that such large sums were being paid for more minor accidents.
He said: “Councils spend millions on training courses and safety measures trying to avoid these claims, but they do not seem to stop as many payments as could be expected.”
The Glasgow City Council Executive Committee approved spending capital funds of £3.3million towards the Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan this week.
The sum is to be spent over the next five years and the council hopes it might be supplemented by other avenues of funding.
The Glasgow Reporter talked with a delighted Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council Chair Andrew Montgomery, about his reaction to the news. Montgomery said:- “It’s absolutely great for all of us who have worked so long and so hard to get this approval. It’s great to now be at the stage where we at least now know that the future for Shawlands is on the way up rather than the way down.”
Montgomery acknowledged the work of Councillor Archie Graham in ensuring the plan reached the Executive Committee. “We are grateful to Archie Graham, the councillor for Langside, and the Deputy Leader of the Council, for pushing the Town Centre Action Plan forward, and getting it on the Executive Committee agenda so early in the new year for the administration.”
Last night the Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council held a scheduled meeting to discuss how to progress the Town Centre Action Plan which coincidentally fell the same day the news that the funding was approved.
The Community Council plans to make an application to Awards for All to get some grant money and then apply for other funding from the local Area Committees so they can start making improvements to the community. Last night they defined potential short term and medium to long term action plans.
Short term ideas include transforming the wall that supports the walkway to the Shawlands Arcade into a mural which Montgomery says is similar to what they have done underneath the Kingston Bridge. Another idea was to fund the replacement of the telephone box outside the Granary at Shawlands Cross with an old traditional telephone box which can be bought second hand. The Community Council were also keen to discuss installing hanging flower baskets along Pollokshaws and Kilmarnock Roads with the Shawlands Business Association to beautify the area.
The lack of public toilets in the area was also raised. Montgomery said:- “One of the key things that we discussed was that as representatives of the community and as members of the community we really need to feed into that plan at the very early stages so that the voices of residents are heard. It constantly came up that there are no public toilets in Shawlands.”
He pointed out that the are has no baby changing facilities either and added:- “if Shawlands is to have a vibrant daytime and evening economy, then we think the provision of public toilets is something that’s crucial. Again it could be something that in the early stages of the plan could be provided, on the basis that it’s not going to be something that would be wasted money, because it is something that in every survey has constantly come up.”
One medium to longer term potential improvement the Community Council discussed at their meeting was the refurbishment of the area in front of Langside Hall; by removing the trees outside and relocating the taxi rank a public square with raised seating could be created, which could also double as a stage for any public events. Montgomery said:- “If that could be done in the next couple of years, as we come into the Commonwealth Games year in 2014, it would create a potential area where events could happen and visiting fans could gather and things could go on there.”
Montgomery is mindful that the money will need to be spent carefully. He said:- “We can step back from the kind of idea that £3.3 million pounds is a welcome amount of money, but it’s not a pot of gold. We will need to certainly be very careful of how that money is spent.”
The Town Centre Action Plan proposes the creation of a Shawlands Partnership which will bring together key local partners and stakeholders including the Community Council. Montgomery expects that there will be another Town Centre Action Plan meeting which will set about establishing the Shawlands Partnership and he is looking forward to working with other organisations to implement the Plan.
He said:- “It is absolutely critical now that plan has been approved, that funding has been allocated and we now need to motor on and work with the local councillors, the council, the Shawlands Business Association. We all need to work together to see what significant improvements can be made in the area and that obviously includes AWG who have such a strong holding in the form of the Shawlands Arcade.”
Bailie Liz Cameron, Executive Member for Jobs and the Economy at Glasgow City Council, said on the Glasgow City Council website:- “Shawlands Town Centre is undoubtedly one of our premier civic centres, a favourite destination for both shoppers and those using its renowned bars and restaurants. The council has joined with local people and businesses in recent times to create a plan that can take Shawlands forward over the next five years, and I believe this Action Plan marks the beginning of a very exciting period for the area.”
As Queen’s Park gets set to celebrate its 150th anniversary, one concerned resident has been engaging with the Glasgow City Council calling for short and long term improvements to the park, including the reinvigoration of its Friends Group, which has not been active for almost 10 years.
Resident Tony Halifax first raised his concerns about Queen’s Park with Glasgow City Council in February this year. He is now set to point out these concerns to Glasgow City Council Assistant Area Manager Douglas Gellan in a walk around the park to be scheduled quite soon. If Land and Environmental Services (LES) approve, we understand that Gellan has also said he will consider how the Council can support a Friends of Queen’s Park group which Halifax is keen to start. Additionally, the two men have been discussing how Glasgow Community Reparation teams could undertake remedial work which would improve the standard of the park for everyone.
Halifax said:-”They are only offers at the moment, they’ve not been set in stone. But if they are, if there was help to get us a Friends of Queen’s Park set up, I’m sure we could actually make that work. If we could get the Reparation teams in place, then that would actually address some of the backlog of work and then after that the Friends of Queen’s Park working with LES might just actually be able to get a better path forward than we’ve had to date.”
While Halifax already knows about eight people who would be interested in restarting the Friends of Queen’s Park he’s keen to engage with the wider community. He said:- “In terms of the community spirit, I think it would be nicer to open up to a wider community and get a greater involvement if we can.” If the council were to allocate some funds to the Friends Group he would set about finding out what the wider community would want from a Friends Group and Queen’s Park itself.
He is hopeful that the local community will voice its opinion about the park though he is concerned that Glasgow has “a very large silent majority.” Response to his recent actions to engage with the Council from those he has spoken with “state very clearly that they’re saddened by the deterioration of the park; that it’s actually been going on over a long time and nothing’s being done about it. They also actually cite how dirty the Shawlands area and the park location are. That’s come up at two meetings now: the first about the Shawlands development plan which actually took place in early February and more recently at an East Strathbungo meeting which Nicola Sturgeon MSP attended, as well as regular notations at the Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council meetings.”
Halifax is realistic about the impact of Council budget restrictions, and believes the community needs to step in to fill the gap. He would like to understand what the council’s planned maintenance programme is for the park. “From that,” he said, “we can work with the council to find out how the community feels about it via the Friends of Queen’s Park. Then the Friends of Queen’s Park can contribute to the vision and the work plan. And the second aspect is to get supporters of the park who will become workers. So the community takes up some of the slack on behalf of LES.”
The Glasgow Reporter first walked around Queen’s Park with Halifax in the middle of March when he initially raised a number of his concerns. Top of his list was the amount of fallen leaves. The leaves, when left to rot, he said, develop acidity which destroys the grass. There are many stretches in the park where this is evident. The park has since been mown and many of the leaves have actually been removed.
Halifax cites tree maintenance as another concern. He said:- “In terms of general maintenance the trees here are over 150 years old. There are some fantastic specimens but there is very little tree maintenance taking place. Without it the branches get heavier and heavier, and eventually when we get a strong wind, lo and behold the trees fall down. We’ve seen evidence of lots of trees actually falling down within the park area, none of them being replaced, some of them not actually being removed. Now with some better maintenance I think we could address that.”
The walk around the park revealed other concerns. Fences, damaged by the falling trees, have been left unrepaired, grass verges are not maintained and there are a number of areas in the park with drainage problems. The Council in a letter of response to Halifax said that fencing repairs had been noted and passed to the department’s internal blacksmiths.
Halifax describes the Victoria Road entrance to Queen’s Park as “shockingly bad.” There’s a light missing from the right hand side of the park gate. Behind it is a sign that fell down which has not been repaired, and there are cones covering a hole that has been there for over a month. The whole effect is a rather tired welcome to the popular Southside park.
Halifax is clearly enthusiastic about the area. He said:-”I think being a newcomer to Glasgow by choice, I have clearly a passion for the city, and for Scotland. I recognise the parks of Glasgow as being an intrinsic part of the city, particularly in the way that they work with the communities; providing leisure, recreation and social contribution. Now within that, Queen’s Park is of particular interest because of its historical value. I think its design, its use and its social benefit is of such importance that to see the decay that’s actually occurring at the moment and the lack of maintenance is worrying. And I think that’s why I feel so passionately about it; seeing such a wonderful asset falling into disrepute.” He would like Queen’s Park, currently a district park, to achieve City Park status but is unsure why it doesn’t already fulfil City Park status criteria.
The Glasgow Reporter contacted the four councillors representing Glasgow’s Southside ward, regarding the complaint Halifax had raised about Queen’s Park. Councillor Anne Marie Millar said she had not received any complaints about the park recently, but confirmed that she would raise it with LES. While she was aware that there currently was no Friends of Queen’s Park group she subsequently said:-”LES is liaising with a constituent who is trying to form a group. LES have stated they will fully support this, and I’m advised they have arranged a meeting in two weeks time.”
Regarding the anniversary of Queen’s Park, Councillor Millar said:- “150 years is, in my opinion, something worth celebrating and I will discuss with LES and the relevant interested parties to see how we can celebrate this.” She had been further advised that “LES have started work in the park to prepare it.”
Councillor Millar added:- “I think Queen’s Park is a valuable asset not just to the surrounding community but to the City. It is a park that I took my own children to and now my grandchildren, weather permitting, and they all have enjoyed this park over the years and still do.”
Named after Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen’s Park was opened on the 18th September 1862. It was designed by landscape architect Sir Joseph Paxton (who also designed Kelvingrove), with some design modifications from city architect John Carrick. Falling within the Southside ward, it is bordered by Pollokshaws Road, Langside Avenue, Landside Road and Queen’s Drive. Its 148 acres include the well known Glasshouse, a boating and a nature pond, play parks, a golf course, tennis courts and plenty of land to explore. Around 300,000 people visit the park each year.
If you are interested in becoming a Friend of Queen’s Park, please contact us at email@example.com
There is still hope that the Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan will be included in this month’s Glasgow City Council’s Executive Committee agenda, it was reported at the Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council Meeting held at Langside Hall on Thursday 5 April 2012.
The Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan Steering Group met on Monday 19 March 2012 to discuss the Action Plan. Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council Chair, Andrew Montgomery, who attended the meeting, reported that there was cross party support for the plan being submitted to the Executive Committee. Glasgow City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Archie Graham (Langside Ward) was charged with the task of getting it on the agenda.
Montgomery said: – “It is difficult to know whether it will make the final Executive Committee.”
If it is approved by the Executive Committee, who will meet for the last time before the local election on 26 April 2012, a budget will be allocated to the Action Plan. The bid will then go to the Capital Expenditure fund, and it would be unlikely that it would be refused if already approved by the Executive Committee.
Montgomery again encouraged council candidates about their commitment to Shawlands. Concerns for the Shawlands community were first raised by businesses and residents in 2008, and having funds allocated to the Town Centre Action Plan would signify real progress.
Montgomery said that he was very pleased to report that the Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan Steering Group will continue to meet despite initial plans to replace it with a Shawlands Partnership.
Much discussion during this month’s meeting centred on how useful the police report was for this Community Council. The police report statistics for April showed an increase on last month in the total number of incidents of assaults and vandalism in the Strathbungo and Shawlands areas but a decrease in the number of street drinkers and theft in Strathbungo. Also noted was an increase in the number of incidents of drugs, street drinkers, theft and theft from a motor vehicle in the Queen’s Park area.
It was highlighted that the police report focussed on ‘main street’ crimes and left no room for other more minor offences, such as washing being stolen from back lanes, to be reported. Community Council member Tony Halifax added:- ”It doesn’t tell us whether the police are concerned, or whether we should be concerned.”
Montgomery agreed. He said:- “Raw numbers aren’t really helpful. It kind of leaves us to draw our own conclusions. There’s no background to it.” He also thought that a clearer definition of assault and vandalism was needed. He resolved to follow this up, and planned to contact the police and invite an inspector to join the next Community Council meeting.
Councillor Danny Alderslowe presented his Councillor’s Report. In addition to attending the last full Glasgow City Council meeting he had attended a number of residents meetings and had been liaising with private landlords on behalf of residents. He had been trying to get in touch with the landlord of a Niddrie Road flat which had experienced flooding three times and was now affected by dampness. He had also been working on behalf of residents who had to move out of their Allison Street flats and had ended up paying Council Tax on two properties. Councillor Alderslowe had been working to ensure they were reimbursed.
Councillor Alderslowe will not be standing at this year’s Glasgow City Council elections. Mr Montgomery said after his report:-”You have been an excellent councillor. Danny, you go with grateful thanks and absolute best wishes.” Elected for Southside Central Ward in 2007, Councillor Alderslowe has served on seven Committees during his term, including Southside Central Area Committee, Education Children and Families Policy Development Committee and the Sustainability and the Environmental Policy Development Committee. He is also a board member of the Govanhill Baths Community Trust.
Two local candidates standing in this year’s Council elections attended the Community Council meeting and were given an opportunity to speak. Those present heard from Scottish National Party candidate for Pollokshields Norman Macleod and Scottish Labour candidate for the Southside ward Soryia Siddique. Glasgow City Council’s elections will be held next month on Thursday 3 May.
Due to Shawlands Academy being closed for the Easter weekend, April’s meeting of the Community Council was held in a meeting room at Langside Hall on Langside Avenue.
The next Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council Meeting will be held 7pm on Thursday 10 May 2012 at Shawlands Academy.
Local government elections take place on 3 May 2012 and there is already a bitter contest hotting up at The City Chambers.
The SNP have said that online comments made by the man behind Labour’s biggest election campaign in Glasgow are a ‘body blow’ to their campaign. Dominic Dowling, who is the election agent for all of Labour’s 45 Glasgow Council candidates, has used the Labour Hame website to praise the leadership of Alex Salmond and also deride his own party’s inability to connect to voters since devolution.
The comments – made last summer and reported in today’s Sunday Herald – also warn that the result the council election ‘could be devastating’ unless Labour got its message out through grassroots campaigning.
Mr Dowling also describes Alex Salmond as ‘a politician of genuine caliber [sic.]’ and said he has “connected with the electorate in a way that none of Labour’s post-devolution Scottish leaders has done.”
Since these comments were made, the Glasgow Labour council group has been plunged into internal chaos and infighting, with a third of sitting councillors deselected, and a spate of resignations that has seen Gordon Matheson’s comfortable council majority evaporate.
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, commented:
“Mr Dowling has a key role in Labour’s election campaign, and his assessment of the state of the party is devastating. This is a body blow to Labour’s crisis-hit campaign in Glasgow, and beyond.
“His warning that the results of the council elections ‘could be devastating’ unless Labour got its message out has not been heeded. Labour have instead reverted to type, with a relentless stream of negativity filling in for their complete lack of ideas.
“By contrast, SNP candidates on the doorstep are able to put forward a positive platform to build for recovery, and help families with the council tax freeze and our commitment to extend the Living Wage to all council employees.”
LAMONT STAYS SILENT AFTER YET MORE BULLYING ALLEGATIONS
As Johann Lamont prepared to address her first Scottish Labour conference as leader this weekend, further questions were raised by the SNP over her authority as her party’s discipline crumbles around her.
In recent weeks, Ms Lamont has stayed silent as the list of allegations about the behaviour of Labour candidates and elected members grows.
• Johann Lamont has yet to make any response to serious
allegations of threats and bullying against Councillor Anne Marie Millar of
Glasgow City Council. These allegations have since been compounded by
the actions of the City Building Board in Glasgow, which summoned Councillor
Millar – the victim – the explain herself, while continuing to take no
action against the alleged perpetrator, Councillor Gilbert Davidson
• On Tuesday 28 February, Labour made a late candidate
selection in the Garscadden/Scotstounhill ward in Glasgow. John Kelly –
the election agent of Margaret Curran MP – was selected, despite being
the subject of another complaint about bullying by a Labour member in
• Former MSP Frank McAveety is being promoted by Labour as one
of its leading candidates for the local elections in Glasgow, despite
being the subject of an ongoing police investigation
• Although she was elected as leader of Scottish Labour MPs,
MSPs and councillors, Ms Lamont took no action in response to the
arrest of Eric Joyce MP, leaving Ed Miliband to suspend the Falkirk
MP. It took Ms Lamont over a week to make any response to the Eric
Joyce case. She has also stayed silent on comments by a Labour HQ
source that Labour would “rather have a nutter than a Nat” in Falkirk
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said:-
“Johann Lamont will address her first Labour conference as a leader without control or credibility, presiding over a party whose internal practices increasingly reveal it to be unfit for office.
“I have now written twice to Johann Lamont, asking her to take action following the alleged acts of bullying and intimidation against Councillor Anne Marie Millar, which were witnessed by myself and many others in Glasgow City Chambers a few weeks ago. She has not had the courtesy to reply and has said not a word publicly to condemn this behaviour by
one of her party’s elected members.
“Not only that, the party has gone on to select yet another candidate against whom a complaint of bullying and intimidation has been made. And while over a third of their council group was prevented from standing again for Labour because they were deemed not good enough, a former MSP who is subject to an ongoing police investigation is apparently entirely suitable as a Labour candidate, as is Alistair ”Taj Mahal” Watson”
“It’s quite clear that in Glasgow Labour there’s one rule for some people and one rule for others, and if you’re one of the favoured clique you can rely on Johann Lamont to stay silent, no matter how you behave.
“As Labour’s roll of dishonour grows ever longer, voters in Glasgow and across Scotland can clearly see that there is something rotten at the heart of the Labour party – and that its leader Johann Lamont apparently has neither the will nor the inclination to do anything
“Glasgow and Scotland deserve better – if Ms Lamont is unwilling or unable to get her own house in order, how can she ever seriously be considered as a potential leader of the country?”
By Susannah Radford
The future of nine Glasgow Railway stations was at the heart of the debate at the Glasgow City Council Meeting in the Council Chambers last week.
In the first motion of the meeting, Councillor Alistair Watson called on The Scottish Government “to instruct its Transport Agency to withdraw the consultation document on the future of Rail and engage in meaningful consultation that will support the growth of the Rail Network in Glasgow.”
His motion follows the huge public response to the Transport Scotland fact sheet published in December 2011. This fact sheet listed a number of railway stations in Glasgow located within a mile of each other, heightening fears that some might be closed.
Labour Councillor Watson was highly critical of the Rail 2014 consultation document which examines the way that train services will be delivered from 2014 onwards, saying the consultation was ” flawed.”
SNP Councillor Craig Mackay proposing an amendment to the motion, highlighted there were “no plans to close stations in Glasgow,” and accused Labour of “scaremongering.” Bailie John McLaughlin, seconding the SNP amendment, also highlighted in his speech that there were no proposals to close any stations.
Councillor James Dornan defended the consultation, saying that it was about asking questions and again reiterated that the consultation “will not close any stations.”
Lib Dem Councillor Christopher Mason, warned against the phrase “there are no plans” while providing a few historical examples of when politicians had gone back on their word.
Councillor Watson summing up the motion said that this was “an issue important to Glasgow.” He was happy to accept Scottish Green Party Councillor Kieran Wild’s amendment as an addendum. Watson’s motion was voted in favour of the SNP amendment 55 – 18, with 1 abstention.
Councillor John Flanagan raised a motion to set up a Cross Party Working group to engage with the carers of people with Alzheimers. This group would ensure that carers were supported and listened to.
Councillor Flanagan was inspired by the efforts of Tommy Whitelaw whose ‘Tommy on Tour‘ campaign raised awareness of dementia throughout Scotland, particularly the challenges faced by the carers of those with dementia.
Seconded by Councillor Glass, a number of councillors lent their support to this cause. Councillor David McDonald said he “was humbled” to read some of the carer’s letters collected by Tommy Whitelaw.
Just before a unanimous council vote to set up a Cross Party Working Group, Councillor Flanagan praised Tommy Whitelaw:- ”He is a real true life hero to Glasgow.”
Prison Visiting Committees also came under the spotlight when Councillor Mary Paris called on The Scottish Government to “oppose the abolition of Prison Visiting Committees and to support instead their strengthening.” Prison Visiting Committees provide an independent monitoring of prisons and committee members are made up of volunteers.
There was strong support for Councillor Paris’s motion. Councillor Mason urged MSPs not to approve the consultation document. He said that Prison Visiting Committees were fundamental. Representing the citizen in the prison service, he said:- “They are there on behalf of us to make sure standards in prison reflect community aspiration.”
The motion was voted for by 50 – 12.
Click here for the full Council agenda for the meeting held on 16 February 2012.
Click here for The Edinburgh Reporter’s coverage of The City of Edinburgh Council’s motion regarding the abolition of Prison Visiting Committees
The planning applications committee meets on Tuesday morning to discuss some planning proposals the most noteable of which is the plan to revamp part of the Broomielaw by putting up four 2 storey buildings for use as shops and restaurants with outside seating areas.
Meanwhile you can access the full list of all planning applications which have started their planning journey this week on the City Council website.
Here is the full agenda for the meeting:-
View Selected Pack
n October 2010 the Royal Academy of Arts presents the first major exhibition in London for over 40 years to celebrate the achievement of the Glasgow Boys, the loosely knit group of young painters who created a stir at home and abroad in the final decades of the nineteenth century. The exhibition at The Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, features over 80 oil paintings, watercolours and pastels from public and private collections by such artists as Guthrie, Lavery, Melville, Crawhall, Walton, Henry and Hornel. Together they presented a new art, which had a major impact at home and abroad in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. The resultant works were, from c. 1880 to 1900, among the most experimental and ambitious to be produced in the UK.
Taking inspiration from such French Naturalist painters as Bastien-Lepage and also from Whistler, the Glasgow Boys produced some of the most revolutionary painting in Britain, drawing praise in London, Munich, Vienna and further afield. Their symbolist pictures were admired and emulated in secessionist circles in Germany and Austria.
The exhibition maps the Glasgow Boys’ responses in both subject matter and technique to developments in art which were taking place in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s. These artists sought to liberate their art from the staid, dark toned narrative paintings being produced in Glasgow and Edinburgh in order to explore the effects of realist subject matter and the particular effects of light captured through working out of doors, directly in front of the motif.
More information from The Royal Academy website