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.
[caption id="attachment_591" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Photos courtesy of Tony Halifax"][/caption]
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.
Progressing last month’s ‘Future of Shawlands’ meeting was of high importance for the members and residents who met at this month’s Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council meeting held last week at Shawlands Academy.
Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council Chair Andrew Montgomery proposed making use of the upcoming Glasgow City Council elections to achieve this goal. There was unanimous agreement to his suggestion that the Community Council write to all parties and individuals running for office asking them what their manifesto would say about Shawlands and the Shawland’s Town Centre.
Montgomery was pleased with the support for last month’s meeting but was keen to maintain the focus on finding a solution. The Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan is due to be finalised by May but there was discussion at last week’s meeting suggesting that the Glasgow City Council early May elections would delay the final document.
Shawlands has been categorised as a Tier 2 or ‘major’ town centre by Glasgow City Council. Montgomery said:- “When you look at it, in the last 10 years Shawlands is the only Tier 2 Town Centre that has had no investment.” He compared it to other Tier 2 town centres in Glasgow which had seen considerable amounts of money invested.
Other people attending the meeting echoed this need for investment. One person didn’t think Shawlands was going to survive without immediate action. Last week three shops shut and three more are set to close soon. Rates and footfall were said to be contributing factors.
A local resident commented that Shawlands was ‘a fantastic area’ and it was ‘what a vibrant urban area should be.’ She had already taken part in many community activities to enhance and clean up the area.
A number of ideas on how to improve Shawlands were said to have come out of February’s meeting. Held on 9 February at Shawlands Academy, the ‘Future of Shawlands’ meeting was attended by Glasgow City Councillors, representatives from Development and Regeneration Services (DRS) and around 90 members of the public. The meeting provided a forum for public concerns and was a chance for the public to comment on the draft Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan. It is thought that DRS are working to distribute the ideas contributed from members of the community.
In addition to Councillor David Meikle‘s report, local police officers delivered the police reports on the Strathbungo, Shawlands and Queen’s Park areas. In response to a resident’s concern regarding the armed robbery at Jim Blair Insurance in late February, the officers said that CCTV footage images had been circulated and they were trying to get a positive identification. They highlighted that there were more officers in the area of Shawlands as a result of this armed robbery and they hoped this would reassure the public.
As part of the Licensing Report an application by Peckham’s V & V Limited was discussed. Peckhams have applied for on and off sales licenced hours in the old Bank of Scotland building at the top of Skirving Street. While there were a couple of people in opposition to this application, many thought that it was a brand that would add value to the area. It was voted that the Community Council would raise no objection to this application.
The next Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council Meeting will be held on Thursday 5 April, 7pm at Shawlands Academy.
Litter was discussed again and again by those present at the meeting. Shawlands was called ‘filthy,’ ‘manky,’ and ‘a dump’ by residents upset with the amount of litter being left in the town centre.
Led by the former Chair of Shawlands & Strathbungo Community Council, Scott Mackay, the meeting was also attended by Councillors Kahlil Malik, Archie Graham, David Meikle and Paul Coleshill. Council Planning Officers Tim Mitchell and David Dunlop were also there and they outlined the history of research and consultation which has led to the current draft Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan.
The Town Centre Action Plan seeks ‘to re-establish Shawlands as the Heart of the Southside, by balancing the needs of place, people, businesses and sustainable living’. Using a holistic approach to address the challenges the district faces, it hopes to ‘ensure that Shawlands is desirable place in which people can choose to live and invest.’ One sobering fact from the plan was ‘of the 20,990 residents in the catchment area, only 3000 consider Shawlands to be their main centre.’
Last night was a chance for public concerns to be heard and debate concentrated on the more visible issues facing Shawlands, such as litter, the vacant shop fronts, parking fees and the Shawlands Arcade, long considered to be an eyesore. While Arcade management were said to be trying to attract investment, with Sainsbury’s potentially planning to open a shop there once more, opinion was divided on what should be done to address this ‘anchor’ of the town centre.
Andrew Montgomery, Chair of Shawlands & Strathbungo Community Council, was very pleased with how the meeting went. “I thought it was really good. There were a good number of people here. People are really passionate about Shawlands; I think that again came across. But there are some fundamental basic things. People have said the streets are dirty, they need to be cleaned. People have been saying that for years. What do you need to do to get that message across to the Council? I mean how often do people need to say the streets are filthy?”
He is keen to see how the Action Plan develops. “The really important thing,” he said, “is that the Draft Action Plan is there, the consultation is just finishing. We’ve got to see an Action Plan that comes out with action points.”
He would like to see specific commitments on service delivery met. “We’d like to see a service delivery for cleansing. So the streets will be swept by 8 o’clock each morning. There’ll be a further sweep at 3 o’clock on the afternoon on these days. We’ll monitor that for six months and see what standard that sets. We’ll revisit it and see whether it’s the right standard.” He also believes that the street furniture and signage in Shawlands needs to be looked at, and that local businesses must play a part. “The Businesses Association are talking with firms to say ‘well if we all put a hanging basket up each, it will cost us £30 each but what a difference it would make to the street.’
David Dunlop, from the Council’s Development and Regeneration Department, thought the meeting was very positive. He said:=”Litter’s clearly a major issue. But we moved beyond that. We started to talk about the nitty gritty issues, the challenges that it faces, so it was very positive.”
Dunlop has high hopes for the Town Centre Action Plan and wants the Shawlands one to “set the standard” for future action plans in Scotland. He continued:- “I want to go beyond simply physical regeneration and think about it in a holistic way. Nice pavements won’t solve anything. Litter won’t solve everything. It’s about looking at the broader sense, trying to tackle it across all the series of different mechanisms. And that’s what is important.”
There is still time for those interested in the future of Shawlands to comment and contribute to the final Action Plan which might be published by May, if not before. Dunlop strongly encourages involvement:- “We urge people to take the time to try to go through the Action Plan. I know it’s a big read. And I know that the supporting documents are even longer. But it’s worth taking the time. We want you to criticise. We want you to take it apart. You know, it’s too important.”
The meeting ended on a positive note and those present were able to talk further with the City Planners and local Councillors.
Referring to a point made earlier in the meeting when a member of the community encouraged the people of Shawlands to ‘take control, ‘Montgomery agreed, and said:- “We are community; we all need to come together. I’m very much looking forward to get a shot of the power cleaner to clean the streets! So I’ll be applying to get that on a Saturday morning and that will keep me busy on Saturday morning.”
The Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council meets the first Thursday of every month at 7.00pm at the Shawlands Academy. The next meeting will be on Thursday 1 March 2012.
For a copy of the Shawlands Draft Town Centre Action Plan click here.
For a copy of the Shawlands Retail Study click here
For a copy of the Shawlands Town Centre Action Plan – Health Check click here and then select ‘Completed consultations’ under Your Council. The Health Check is listed there.
Click here for a copy of the 2009 Shawlands survey.