Glasgow City Council elections – response from candidates

With elections for Glasgow City Council being held this Thursday, 3 May, we can now reveal the opinions of the candidates for the Canal ward within which the North Kelvin Meadow lies.

On April 9th, North Kelvin Meadow campaign wrote to all 12 candidates for the Canal Ward requesting their support for our campaign. Ten candidates replied and their responses are published below in full.

Despite the strength of local opinion urging Glasgow City Council to cease their quest to build on the Meadow, both our Labour candidates agree merely to discuss the matter further. This is effectively a repeat of the same standard script that previous Labour councillors, MSPs and MPs have all repeated and falls far short of the action the local community demands.

Other candidates however, showed much stronger support for the campaign and the protection of the Meadow. These included the SNP candidates who have pledged to fight for the retention of the Meadow as a community resource.

If you care about the future protection of North Kelvin Meadow and wish to see the end of the threat of development then please do take a moment to read through the responses we have received. We have an excellent opportunity to elect local representatives that fully understand the mood of the community on this issue and who genuinely care about saving this resource for future generations of Glaswegians. It is highly likely that if we don’t take this chance now there will be no Meadow by the time of the next set of local elections.

The following candidates did not reply:

Fay Dornan, Glasgow First

Angela McCormick, Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition

The responses received from the candidates are shown below:


According to WWF Scotland analysis, Glasgow City performs well on per capita climate emissions, yet fell behind on the 2010 recycling target. This is good news for reducing emissions, but not so good for recycling. An SNP administration would strive to improve recycling achievements as an essential aspect in improving economic efficiency overall. We would also crack down of casual littering with existing legislation being used to ensure that the message goes out that at a time when serious budget challenges to environmental services exist, responsibility for not creating a mess in the first place is the responsibility of all. The Council must make it easier for people to do the correct thing!.

We fully support the North Kelvin Meadow campaign’s objectives.

The SNP has clear policies regarding the protection of greenspaces and greater community consultation and empowerment.

If elected, we look forward to working with the North Kelvin Meadow campaign in protecting this community resource for future generations.

Billy McAllister
Gavin Roberts
Scottish National Party (SNP)


Since being elected as a Councillor the Canal Ward in 2007, I have been a member of the Planning Applications Committee which decides which buildings get planning permission. Under Planning Law if a Councillor makes any public statements for or against a particular planning application they may not vote at the Planning Applications Committee when that application is seen. Any Council candidate backing or opposing New City Vision’s proposed planning application is effectively ruling themselves out of effecting the decision making process.

As a Councillor I have been a very strong advocate for improving green spaces and developing allotments. I have been the Chair of Lambhill Stables who have developed new allotments, I am the Chair of Friend of Possilpark Greenspace who have taken leases to improved neglected land by landscaping and growing wild flower meadows, I am also the Chair of Ruchill Allotments who just are starting a project to develop a new allotments site on Bisland Drive.

If re-elected I would like to make use of my experience as member of Planning Application Committee and my expertise of the Council’s Local Development Plan for the good of the community.

Kieran Wild
Scottish Green Party


Thank you for your recent letter on behalf of the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign. I have read with interest the information provided, representing the Campaign’s position on the situation regarding the former Clouston Street Playing Fields.

My understanding is that discussions regarding the future of this site, including opportunities for the public to express a view on the use of the site, have been ongoing since the mid 1990s, throughout which period of time proposals involving a mix of housing and public greenspace have been under consideration. I believe that the current decision to pursue the New City Vision proposal was taken in May 2008 following the collapse of the Compendium Park proposal, and taking account of the views expressed at a local exhibition of four options. Subsequent to that decision the North Kelvin Meadows campaign was established.

It is clear that the Campaign has a strong desire to see this land retained entirely as open space. I also understand, however, that the capital receipts from the sale of this land will contribute toward key council commitments, such as the renewal of local primary schools, investment in social rented housing and, of particular local significance, the upgrading of the North Kelvin Playing Fields.

If elected as a councillor in the Canal ward I will have a duty to ensure I act in the best interests of all those I seek to represent. Please be assured that any action I take will take account of the views of the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign’s desire for local open space and community garden space, alongside the needs of other groups within the communities of Canal and the views of the North Kelvin Community Council.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely

Chris Kelly
Scottish Labour Party


Thank you for your recent letter regarding the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign. I have noted the information you provided, and have read your website.

I know that proposals for the former Clouston Street Play Fields have been under discussion for many years now, and that New City Vision proposals are currently being pursued.

When the final proposals are brought forward, if I am elected, I would of course consider the views of the local community, as well as that of local groups, such as the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign, and the North Kelvin Community Council. In addition, I would take into account the views and needs of the local community with regard to greenspaces and other local priorities such as regeneration and the upgrading of the North Kelvin Playing Fields.

If I am elected, I would be happy to meet with the Campaign to discuss your concerns.

Kind regards,

Helen

Helen Stephen
Scottish Labour Party


Further to your letter dated 9th April, I can inform you that I have looked into some of the background of this issue and, if elected to represent Ward 16, would undertake to revisit this situation again as soon as possible.

I would add that, in line with Scottish Liberal Democrat policy, we do support appropriate use of green space. However, matters such as this are dealt with at a local rather than party level.

In the meantime I would draw your attention to the North West Open Spaces and Environmental Programme which is ‘an integral part of the Integrated Grants Fund ‘Physical Regeneration Open Spaces and Environment (PROSE) Programme, which aims to achieve outcomes around improving access to open spaces and growing spaces and making use of vacant and derelict land.’ You may well have heard of this fund, but if you have not, it is worth investigating. The contact is Andrena Coburn at andrena.coburn@glasgow.gov.uk.

Thank you for informing me of your local concern for this space and I look forward to working with you in the future should I be elected Councillor for Ward 16.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Johnston
Scottish Liberal Democrats


Thank you so very much for your letter about the above project. I was so glad to be put fully in the picture as I do remember the very beginnings of this saga but then it seemed to go on the back burner and I hadn’t seen much in the local paper so your letter has given much detail about which I had no knowledge.

First and foremost I want to say that I am completely behind you in this campaign. I feel you all have a legitimate grievance about the way in which the Council has handled this affair. It really is much the best policy to meet face to face, hear the different points of view and, hopefully, be able to come to some kind of understanding and agreement. Sadly, the Council is not good at this kind of thing as you all well know.

I cannot do anything at present but I’d like to make some suggestions which might just help a bit. You want to give the impression that your views are widespread and well supported so can you start up a Petition? It could be on—line or one in which the local shops could play a part (or even both). You want to have as many people signing up to show their support. Get the media interested. The local paper will probably be happy to help but how about trying the Herald or, probably even better, the Evening Times? They might even back a Petition and feature it. It’s worth a try. Try Community Councils, not just your own but neighbouring ones — they might well have this kind of problem coming up in their own areas. You could even try Scottish Television. Show how much you have done, how successful you’ve been and you should most certainly stress the less obvious advantages of your success – teaching children to appreciate nature, learn about wildlife, the value of conservation and so on. You could write to the Scottish Wildlife Trust (address probably in the Library). The more varied your approach and the wider your range, the more strength you’ll have and this all counts.

I’m sorry not to be able to help you more but I hope that these suggestions might be of use. Let me know how you get on and I’ll see if I can think of any more ideas.

With best wishes to you in your campaign — I’m on your side!

With all good wishes to you all.

Margaret Walker
Scottish Conservative and Unionist


Thank you for your letter of 9th April 2012, to which I make no apology for not responding to by return. I wanted to survey the area for myself prior to replying and my first chance to do so was on Friday.

Firstly, let me say that I congratulate you and your fellow campaigners in your campaign to keep this as a green area for the Community. On viewing the Meadow, l was very impressed by the signs asking people to keep the place tidy and details of the recycling and composting areas. Obviously a lot of pride has been taken in looking after this area. It was also a treat to see the squirrels enjoying running about, something that wouldn’t be able to happen if this land was developed.

What l also comprehended whilst surveying the area, was the fact that the houses which overlook the Meadow in Garrioch Road, Clouston Street and Sanda Street, as well as the surrounding areas have no gardens of their own and this area would also be seen by some as a Residents’s Garden or their own little green space that the whole community should be able to enjoy.

Increasingly in recent years, we hear of communities no longer working together or people not knowing who their neighbours are, but here we have the ideal opportunity where people are willing to work together for the good of the community. From your research and questionnaires, it is obvious that this is a community who are keen and willing to see the area kept for their use and this should be supported as much as possible.

If elected, I would endeavour to assist you in whatever way I can, for this community facility to be kept as such for generations to come. I would try to influence the Council to re-visit the decision to sell the land which, as you have pointed out, is in contradiction to their own policies, as well as being within a Conservation Zone. I would also investigate the possibility of the land either being sold or rented to the local community group for a very small nominal fee, which would then give the residents committee their own a legal claim to the land.

I thank you for bringing your campaign to my attention and I trust my thoughts and views are to your satisfaction

I wish you every success with your campaign and look forward to hopefully being able to assist you with your endeavour.

Yours sincerely

Graham Nicholls
The Scottish Unionist Party


I am a candidate for the council election in the Canal Ward. The letter you sent me was very interesting and if elected i will try all within my power to keep this as a meadow. We have far too much green space taken for housing and communities having no say. This is a legacy for our children and our grandchildren. Let us keep it as such.

Jim Berrington
Socialist Labour Party


as a candidate in the forthcoming local elections i would thank you for your recent letter regarding your campaign and for bringing it to my attention. I have many fond memories of Clouston st pitches from my football days. i was under the impression that the council had just left these pitches to become overgrown and neglected which saddened me as Glasgow could be doing with more pitches and open areas for kids to play in and take part in sports. However your informative letter was appreciated as i did not know that local residents were tending this area and creating a space for all local residents to enjoy. The fact that the council are not even implementing their own policy to consult with local communities regarding the disposal of these areas is very sad indeed.

If elected to the council i can assure you of my support and the support of the Scottish unionist party for your campaign. And to get Glasgow city council to revisit its decision and to consult with the local residents. i would like to wish you and the north kelvin meadow group well for the future and hope that you achieve your objectives.

yours sincerely

Brian Brown
Scottish Unionists, Proudly Scottish, Proudly British


Text of our letter to candidates

Dear candidate

North Kelvin Meadow Campaign – Request for support

As you are a candidate for Councillor within the Canal ward of Glasgow City Council, we would like to seek your views on our campaign and ask you to lend your support to us in the pursuit of our objectives.

North Kelvin Meadow is an area of green space north of Clouston Street. Formerly football pitches that were neglected and abandoned by Glasgow City Council, it has now become a semi-natural meadow and woodland. It is a much-loved, much-used and much-needed open space in the heart of a residential area.
In the absence of any maintenance by Glasgow City Council, a group of volunteers has, in recent years, managed the land providing growing and composting facilities and meeting regularly to keep the land free from litter and fly tipping. The group has brought the abandoned changing rooms back into use as a community gardening shed. Raised beds were installed to provide growing facilities in an area of the city with insufficient allotment provision.

All this was achieved with minimal funding and a lot of hard work. Astonishingly these efforts resulted in court proceedings being brought by Glasgow City Council against the campaigners. The Meadow has since received several neighbourhood awards from Beautiful Scotland and continues to be a thriving community resource in an increasingly built-up area.

Despite this success, the Council continues to deem this land, which has never been built on, as surplus to the city’s requirements and wishes to sell it off for 90 private housing units, including a parade of £600,000 townhouses that are clearly far beyond the reach of the majority of Glasgow residents.

The Council has appointed its preferred developers, signed legal documents and since 2008 local residents have been kept in limbo waiting for a planning application to be lodged. Four years on, this has still not happened. The land remains unsold and so still belongs to us all. The Council continues to refuse to meet with the campaigners and the developers continue to be vague about their intentions. This means that the community cannot progress with any substantial improvements to the land (e.g. repairing fences); neither can we apply for any of the many grants that we know are available and that have already funded similar community projects.

As Glasgow City Council hasn’t felt it necessary to consult the community about the use of the land, our campaign group carried out its own consultation, distributing questionnaires to all addresses in the surrounding streets. 94% of respondents agreed that the land should be kept as a green space for the community to use. 96% supported the work done by the North Kelvin Meadow campaign group and want to see it continue. An online petition in support of the campaign has attracted over 1200 signatures, and the campaign has attracted support from MSPs and been mentioned favourably during debates in the Scottish Parliament. It also has the support of community councillors in the surrounding area.

In theory the Meadow should also have the support of the Council. But the Council’s policies have been ignored when it comes to dealing with North Kelvin Meadow.

City Plan 2 presents a policy of encouraging building on brownfield sites in preference to greenfield sites, and yet the Council’s Housing Land Audit classifies the Meadow as a greenfield site. Furthermore, Glasgow City Council’s own “Sports Pitch Strategy Policy and Implementation plan”, which applies to abandoned pitches such as this, states that:

“Any proposals to dispose of sports pitches should be subject to consultation with local communities, and require a determination by Council that these pitch spaces are not required as part of any other open space function.”

And yet the Council has not consulted with the Community and has still not recognised the important function that the Meadow provides within the North Kelvinside area.

Our campaign requests that Glasgow City Council immediately revisits its decision to sell the land for housing; that it acknowledge the Meadow’s current role as a key open space; and that it fully and openly consults with the local community over ways in which the land can be maintained as a permanent open greenspace for the benefit of the whole community.

If elected as Councillor you will be able to influence the policy of Glasgow City Council and will be able to help us save this land for future generations. We would therefore like your views on our objectives and to know if we can count on your full support along with that of the rest of your party/group within the final Council.

Any response you provide to us will be published on our web site (www.northkelvinmeadow.com) and will be circulated to our list of volunteers and friends via email.

Should you wish to discuss this further with us, learn more about the history of the land or have a guided tour please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Yours sincerely

etc.

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