Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"The need to know. The publics right to be informed"

Public meeting organised jointly by "Georges X Chalkboard" and "Save our Homes Campaign" Thursday 16th March 7: 30 at the Woodside Hall, 36 Glenfarg Street, Glasgow G20 7QF (Map)
The meeting was called to address and demystify a range of issues including: Second stage transfer - What is the future of your home and your community.

"Save Our Homes Campaign" is a group who recognise the need for joined up thinking, and cooperation, and that the housing problems and confusion that tenants are experiencing, is city wide and systematic.

Georges X Chalkboard is a small drop in social centre, set up and run by volunteers. We have been involved in a range of activities, from local history projects, music, local group meetings We cater of all ages.

What the group is finding more and more, through talking to local people, is a need to discuss housing problems. In as much as it has becoming one of the staple occupations of the shop. The confusion and insecurity of local folk who are unaware of. Where they will be in a year or two, whether there house will be demolished, or whether they will they get one of the new houses that have been promised, is having a drastic effect on the community. This insecurity, compounded by the private development, that is sprouting up all around them, the lack of repairs to rented property, or the over pricing to house owners, when repairs are done, is creating frustration to both rented and house owning tenants and has fueled and created the need for the above meeting.

The Chalkboard has risen to the challenge of doing what is necessary in trying to help people understand from an independent point of view, of what is involved, when tenants have to decipher the plans, strategies and promises, of organisations such as the Glasgow Housing Association, and Glasgow City Council, who spend great deals of money, selling ideas to the public and very little, on allotting costs towards public representation.

This meeting will attempt to address and explain the wider issues that will eventually have an effect on all of our houses and financial costs to ourselves by the upheaval of property development that is consuming our city.

The indications are that people are getting sick of the constant barrage of council led attacks on social infrastructure: Hamiltonhill where a public meeting attracted 70 angry residents with more unable to get in, who are fed up being ignored by housing bosses. Or the outrage at a public meeting when the council put forward an idea to tarmac Victoria parks football pitches as a 260 permanent car park, and space for 400 more cars, for use by a sports complex. - While ten minutes from the stadium (Scotstoun) the Clydeside has an abundance of space for thousands of cars. It is in this context that the public will have to start informing each other of the ramifications of these events and their detrimental effects on community life. The Chalkboard as a community social center, feels it has a responsibility towards these aims.

The Georges X chalkboard is in receipt of no public funding, is independent, and is not affiliated to any political party.

Georges X Chalkboard,
34 Clarendon Place,
Glasgow, G20 7PZ,
T: 0141 332 2902

---------Info on flier---------------

What does GHA's business plan mean for you?

Is your home under threat of demolition, and if so why?

What is second stage transfer
and what does it mean for

What is the future of GHA
rental guarantees – will rents
go up?

GHA's planned doubling of
charges for homeowners, what
does it mean for you? Are
you already being charged too much?

Whether you are a tenant of the GHA or a homeowner GHA's latest business plan
is likely to have implications for you. This is a joint meeting being held by
the Save Our Homes Campaign and the George's X Chalkboard.

Invited speakers include:-

- Sean Clerkin (Save Our Homes Campaign, Chair)
- The George's X Chalkboard

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Kids can't beat obesity if we sell off green space

REPORTS and surveys make the lives of young Scots sound nightmarish. They talk of anti-social behaviour, underage drinking and obesity. JOHN WATSON, policy officer of Barnardo's Scotland, believes one answer is, quite literally, child's playOUR children are getting fatter. One in three is officially overweight by the time they leave primary school. Worse, one in five are "obese" and one in 10 "severely obese".

That means they are so fat their health is at risk, now and in the future.

Politicians, parents, teachers and health experts across the country are all working on ways of keeping youngsters trim.

But at Barnardo's, we think there is one easy way to help: let children play.

Perhaps play is so simple that we have taken it for granted and forgotten how important it is. But there is no better way for children to get - and keep - fit.

So what do I mean by play? I am not talking about structured PE lessons or fitness regimes, however helpful they might be.

I am talking about what it is that children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons.

Or as one child put it to me: "Play is what I do when nobody is bossing me around."

And that smart kid is backed by an increasing body of research showing that this "free playing" brings vital benefits.

The British Medical Journal has reported the main solution to the "obesity epidemic" in young children should be to "reduce television viewing and promote playing".

Other researchers found free play, far from being simple time out for children, was second only to PE classes in terms of burning off calories.

But play is about more than simply exercising the kids. Play also has a social dimension, and the interaction, negotiation and teamwork, promoted by playing in groups and teams helps in developing children's social skills.

A recent youth justice report stated that "A lack of structured leisure activities was cited in social work reports as a factor contributing to offending behaviour for 59% of the sample."

Through play, children learn about themselves and their environment, and are able to test and expand their own limits.

Playing is accepted as a vital part of personal development and the Mental Health Foundation has found lack of play opportunities is a cause of increasing mental health problems in children and young people.

Unfortunately, for too many of our children the opportunities to play are limited and seem to be getting worse.

Last month, an Evening Times' article highlighted how playing field sites in Glasgow are being sold off to make cash for frontline council services, causing fury among groups which insist the council should be promoting more active lifestyles.

The article revealed around 45 children use the North Kelvin pitches every Sunday.

And only weeks ago a battle also began to prevent a large slice of Victoria Park in Jordanhill being turned into a car park.

Parents are also more likely than ever before to keep their children in - for their own safety. Stranger Danger has been blown up into a major parental concern.

The distance children are now allowed to roam from their own homes has been cut to a ninth of what it was in 1970.

When they do go out, unaccompanied children are increasingly seen as a social problem and children themselves say that hostile adults make them feel unwelcome outside.

And our streets have less and less space for children to play. They are increasingly dominated by cars and new developments mean playing fields have been lost at a rate of one a day in the last eight years.

Astonishingly, in the UK there are now 80-acres of golf course for every one acre of children's play space.

And the shortage of play areas is at its worst in some of our most deprived areas. Areas such as North Glasgow and Possilpark are particularly lacking in good play facilities and last spring parents in the area held a conference to look at ways of improving play environments.

The parents have presented a petition to the Scottish Parliament for more action.

But, despite growing concern over the problem of play deprivation, it seems the penny has still to drop with politicians.

The Government doesn't even have a policy on helping people to play - despite having a policy on almost everything else.

Efforts to support play can take many forms - providing a swing park, marking out some football pitches or leaving some good open space for running around.

It should involve teachers and nursery staff understanding the importance of free play.

Now more than ever play provides a targeted and effective response to the needs of children and young people in Scotland and it should be supported with a vigour which reflects that.

Barnardo's and Play Scotland are calling for a broad package of measures - a Play Strategy - that aims to provide a safe and accessible play environment for every child in Scotland.

21/02/06 Evening Times

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

There are alternatives in planning to be heard - Start a community forum?

Canongate Community Forum issues Alternative Strategies Plan The Conangate Community Forum is asking for input about the development plan concerning the old town Edinburghs. Suggestions, Feedback and Comments need to be in on Wednesday latest, in order to be influential for Thursdays Edinburgh Council meeting. Full ArticleFull Article

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Don't lose your planning rights

IT'LL ONLY TAKE YOU 2 MINUTES Ministers are attempting to erode your right to participate in Scotland's planning system. Despite high expectations, the reforms proposed by the ministers fail to tackle the imbalance of the current planning system. Worse still, existingrights of involvement for communities in key planning decisions are to be curtailed. We need you to stand up for your rights. We need you to say 'no' to less involvement. To say 'no' to less rights. Instead we need you to say 'yes' to a planning system that is fair for all. Please take 2 minutes to urge your MSPs to press for this draft legislation to be improved.


Without your help you and your communities face being cut out of Scotland's
planning system. Unless you act, the only thing you might be allowed to
comment on in the future will be the colour of the gates of a toxic dump or
polluting factory. Thanks for your help.

>>>Please pass this email action alert on to all your friends

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

What do "we" get out of the Games

IN 2014, Glasgow intends to host the Commonwealth Games. In 2007 and 2008, Glasgow intends to prepare for that great event by selling off football pitches at Maryhill Road, North Kelvinside; Acre Road, Summerston; and Cowlairs Park, Springburn.Pitches next to recently closed primary schools are also planned to be built over.

Normally cities which host international sporting events squander large sums of money on the razzmatazz - but at least leave their citizens with decent sports facilities as a leftover.

Sydney’s open-to-the-public Olympic swimming pool is world famous for producing swimming champions from out of the Australian working class. But Glasgow plans to buck the trend by being the first city to waste the money but at the same time cut public sports facilities.

SOLD OFF The plans are that a few sports facilities will get a much needed facelift – but many more will be sold off for private housing. And all this is under cover of preparation for the Commonwealth Games.

NORTH KELVINSIDE The pitches at Queen Margaret Drive / Maryhill Road are fully booked.

They are among the few around here with floodlights and changing rooms. But Queens Cross Housing Association has just lodged a planning application to build 100 flats – mostly expensive flats for private sale – on the site where North Kelvinside Secondary School stood. They want the pitches for private housing too. Glasgow City Council has just ruled those pitches ‘surplus to requirements’. What are young people meant to do, if they can’t play football? The Council puts money from land sales ahead of youth concerns.

STOP But we should be able to stop them. With a strong local campaign, a public local planning inquiry can be won Government rules are that pitches should not be closed without creation of new ‘like for like’ provision. And Clouston street is not new provision – that has always been a sports ground.

CLOUSTON STREET / ‘COMPENDIUM’ PARK The Clouston Street pitches are a great success story for the local community.

Ten years ago the Council tried to sell off the pitches for private housing. A huge local campaign forced a public local (planning) inquiry. The inquiry ruled that the Clouston Street pitches must be kept forever. But the victory was not that easy. Glasgow City Council were furious they had lost. They refused to re-open the changing rooms or even maintain the pitches. The pitches became covered with rubbish. Alcoholics and junkies moved in to the old changing rooms – with the Council turning a blind eye. The pitches became covered with used needles and broken bottles.

The City Council hoped to sicken people so much that they would agree to let the site be sold for housing. But local people would not give in. Now they have finally won. £1.25M is to be spent refurbishing Clouston Street Pitches. 20% of the site will be lost to private housing – through (who else!) Queens Cross Housing Association.

But the rest will become a new ‘Compendium Park’, with: a 7 a side football/hockey pitch three multi-courts team based changing accommodation floodlights cricket/golf nets extended jogging track, external fitness area/gym reflection zone for tai chi, yoga (!) climbing wall100m sprint track and warm up area.

The Burgh Angel says: “Well done to local campaigners! They are an example to us all of what can be done with enough determination and staying power. But refurbishment of Clouston Street is not a replacement for the North Kelvinside pitches – we need both facilities in use, just like they were ten years ago. Why should we settle for anything less?”

SAINT AUGUSTINE’S Eight years ago St. Augustine’s Secondary in Milton was closed. Within 48 hours the Council had moved in to demolish the attached swimming baths and changing rooms. The Council had heard that locals were planning to occupy them to save it for the community. A few weeks later, the Council granted planning permission to itself to sell off the entire St. Augustine’s playing fields for private housing. But local people wouldn’t stand for that. Clouston Street campaigners travelled over to offer planning advice. Partick Thistle – who trained on those pitches – gave their support. After a long campaign, a public local planning inquiry was granted. The inquiry lasted a full week – but in the end the Council was beaten. St. Augustine’s pitches were ordered saved forever. Again, the Council were furious. They left the pitches to rot, with no changing rooms, no goalposts, no maintenance. They hoped people would give up and allow the private housing. But local people kept fighting.

Should we start a campaign to oppose Glasgow 2014 because of the great football pitches sell off? We could tell Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive Officer Michael Hooper exactly what is going on, and ask him to refuse Glasgow’s 2014 bid because of that. But would that be going too far? Let us know what you think by contacting the Burgh Angel at: St. George’s X Chalkboard, 34 Clarendon Place G20 7PZ, Tel: 0141 332 2902

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It's just not tennis!

Games bid "hit by club sale"
THE SALE of a West End tennis club could have a negative effect on Glasgow's bid for the Commonwealth Games. Campaigners fighting to save Dowanhill Tennis Club have questioned what kind of message its closure would send out to the panel deciding the fate of Glasgow's bid for the Commonwealth Games.Dowanhill is currently on the market, with offers of more that £5million already lodged. Its members would receive as much as £100,000 each if the deal were struck. Billhead Councillor Niall Walker whose ward covers Dowanhill told the Mail that Scottish tennis might have a good chance of winning some medals at the games and that despite the strong pool of players in the West End, there is a shortage of courts.

Niall Walker raised the matter at a council meeting last Thursday, where he ask if the council accepted that the loss of even a single tennis court would send out the wrong signal to the Commonwealth Games bid. He said: 'The Council is trying to promote Glasgow's bid for the Commonwealth Games. I support this bid, and I believe tennis going from strength to strength in Glasgow. "But our players need all the encouragement they can get. Imagine what the Games Panel would think if a tennis club, whose courts are in demand, was closed and flats built on it?" Esther Daborn of the Save Dowanhill Tennis Club Action Group said: "for us it's about the closure of recreational facilities and the effect it would

have on youngsters who may have aspirations to play in the games." Campaigners are also furious the office-bearers at the Dowanhill club have allegedly limited numbers of new members or excluded them from full voting rights. It is also claimed that the office-bearers have rejected offers from other clubs to use Dowanhill's courts, with only two of the four currently being used.
Source West End News

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