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.”
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.”
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:-
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Newly elected MSP for Glasgow, Humza Yousaf, has urged Glasgow City Council to call a moratorium on their proposals to withdraw concessionary rates for local charities.
The current proposals are estimated, by Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS), to affect 200 local charities, community groups and service providers.
Mr Yousaf has released an open letter to Glasgow City Council from local charities, national organisations, international NGOs, civic leaders and cross party MSPs calling for a rethink on the proposed plans.
The letter urges the city council to consult with the third sector and warns that many local services will be lost, if the plans go ahead, with the cost having to be met by the local authority and taxpayers.
Humza Yousaf MSP said:
“I’ve been consulting many local charities over the last week and it is clear that these plans are making all of them extremely anxious and worried.
“The findings from GCVS clearly indicate that many of Glasgow’s loved charities and local community organisations will have to shut if their rent is forcibly increased by the City Council.
“The proposal seems extremely ill thought out. With local services, such as Carers centres, having to be reduced or scrapped, the taxpayer and the city council will have to pick up the bill
“These proposals are a dagger in the heart of Glasgow’s historic and global reputation as a caring and compassionate city.
“With support from DEC members such as Oxfam and Islamic Relief, Civic leaders from Churches and Mosques and even cross-party support from my parliamentary colleagues, I am sure the call for a moratorium is loud and clear. I urge Glasgow City Council to listen to that call.”
The letter is below:
Charity Concessionary Rates
We the undersigned, urge Glasgow City Council to reconsider its position to withdraw concessionary rental rates for charities across the city.
We believe that Glasgow has an historic tradition of responding to those most vulnerable in our society and current proposals would threaten this global reputation.
Many of the charities affected offer a vital local service which they can only provide because of the concessionary rental scheme. The withdrawal of this will lead to many of them having to either close down or provide a seriously reduced service.
We believe the cost to the local authority of losing these services will far outweigh the income they may generate from withdrawing the concessionary rate.
We therefore call on Glasgow City Council to put an immediate moratorium on their plans and consult with the third sector to find a way forward, whereby Glasgow’s reputation as a caring city is not put at risk.
Judith Robertson – Director Oxfam Scotland
Habib Malik – Chairperson Islamic Relief Scotland
Rev. Neil Galbraith – Moderator of the Glasgow Presbytery
Mr Shaheen Tufail – President of Glasgow Central Mosque (TBC)
Rev. John Matthews – Chair Faith in Community Scotland
Martin Sime – Scottish Council Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
Helen MacNeil – Chief Exec Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS)
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers
Dr Rami Ousta –Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure Scotland (BEMIS)
Colin Lee – Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO)
Gary Christie – Head of Policy & Communications Scottish Refugee Council
Ross Galbraith –Glasgow the Caring City
Agnes G. McGroarty – Glasgow Forum of Scottish Seniors Alliance
Humza Yousaf MSP (Glasgow Region)
Sandra White MSP (Glasgow Kelvin)
James Dornan MSP (Glasgow Cathcart)
John Mason MSP (Glasgow Shettleston)
Bill Kidd (Glasgow Anniesland)
Bob Doris (Glasgow Region – SNP)
Ruth Davidson MSP (Glasgow Region – Scottish Conservatives)
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow Region – Scottish Green Party)
Angela Donaldson – Scotland Director Arthritis Care Scotland
Shirley Maxwell – Epilepsy Connections
Elizabeth Gore – Energy Action Scotland
David Thomson – Destiny Church
Frances Monaghan – Wise Women
Mohammed Rajak – Ucare Foundation
Jack Trow – Harps Community Project
Robina Qureshi – Positive Action in Housing
Firooz Behseresht – Iranian Scottish Association
Derek Goh – Glasgow Chinese Association Kut-O Village Benevolent Society
Furrah Arshad – Ethnic Enable
Arvind Salwan – New Media Corp
Ian Dickson – Your Choice (Strathclyde)
Kiran Women’s Support Group