Readers of this blog will probably be familiar with my involvement in the Save Otago Lane campaign. You can see a copy of the recent parliamentary motion I lodged on their behalf here – calling on the Scottish Government to listen to the campaign’s call for an Environmental Impact Assessment into the proposals.
On Saturday, I took part in a big demonstration with Save Otago Lane – and it was a gorgeous sunny day for it! I was really inspired by the number of people who turned out to show their passion for the West End’s unique and quirky lanes and to call for the Council to protect them. Together we took to the streets with colourful banners and placards and worked our way up University Avenue to Ruthven Lane, then to Cresswell Lane and Decourcy’s Arcade, then back to Otago Lane. I was honoured to have a place at the front of the march with the giant “Leave Our Lane Alane!” banner!
At the end of the march, I was asked to speak to the crowd. I talked about how important places like Otago Lane are for creating and sustaining vibrant communities. Otago Lane and the other West End lanes are full of energy, character and originality and are a haven for small independent businesses. I urge Glasgow City Council to take note and listen to the people! I have also long campaigned for better planning systems in Scotland that really take people’s views into account – it’s simply not good enough for developers to just tick the right consultation boxes when people still feel ignored and powerless.
Thank you to the hard-working campaigners at Save Otago Lane for organising this successful march – and a big thank you to everyone who turned out to demonstrate. As your Glasgow MSP, I’ll continue to do all I can to fight these plans.
On Saturday 9th October I launched Transition Edinburgh South’s Eco Festival at South Morningside Primary School, and was accompanied by Councillor Alison Johnstone. It was a brilliant day for everyone involved with so much going on – from music workshops to banner painting, Eco drama and a programme of interesting talks.
I took part in a question and answer session with children from South Morningside Primary and local residents. I also spoke about my instrumental role in establishing the Climate Challenge Fund, which has supported Transition Edinburgh South by funding two sustainability projects.
It is great to see a project that my work in the Parliament has helped to support go from strength to strength, and I look forwarded to future similar events.
The “luxury” flat development planned for Otago Lane in the West End of Glasgow may be excused the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment before getting the go ahead. Glasgow City Council will make this decision soon, and there’s no question in my mind that a development of this size, sited right within a Green Corridor, needs a thorough assessment of the impact it might have on local wildlife, plantlife and waterlife.
So well done to Woodlands and Park Community Council for setting out the detailed case to the Scottish Government ministers pointing out the flawed arguments used by the developer to try to argue that an EIA isn’t required. If Glasgow City Council really cares about biodiversity and looking after the green spaces that make city life worth living, it will insist on an Environmental Impact Assessment for the Otago Lane plans and take full account of the findings.
With this in mind, I’ve submitted the following motion to the Scottish Parliament –
S3M-07159 Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Scottish Green Party): Otago Lane Environmental Impact Assessment— That the Parliament notes the submission from Woodlands and Park Community Council (WPCC) to the Scottish Government, which raises the lack of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposed residential development at 65-77 Otago Street and Otago Lane, Glasgow; understands that the site is within both a green corridor and a conservation area and therefore considers that an EIA is imperative; shares the WPCC’s view that the assessment made by the consultant on the size of the development and its impact on the area is contradictory, contains ambiguous language and fails to demonstrate that an EIA is not needed; is concerned that the issues of flooding, drainage, water quality and the development’s impact on wildlife have not been adequately addressed; urges the planning committee at Glasgow City Council not to accept the developer’s argument that an EIA is not necessary, and calls on the Scottish Government to provide a sympathetic and timely response to WPCC’s concerns.
Many people living in Govanhill and Strathbungo have been angered to learn that there are plans to close Crosshill Post Office on Victoria Road, and move the service to an empty jewellery shop on Cathcart Road. Crosshill Post Office provides an excellent, long-established service within an historic building designed for the purpose. I’ve submitted the following motion to the Scottish Parliament to draw attention to these plans and the strength of feeling that exists within much of the local community.
S3M-07158 Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Scottish Green Party):
Crosshill Post Office—
That the Parliament believes that the decision taken by the Post Office to move Crosshill Post Office on Victoria Road, Glasgow, to Cathcart Road, Glasgow, is regrettable, given what it considers to be the excellence of service, ease of access for pedestrians, better transport links and purpose-built building of the existing site; sympathises with those post office employees who are now uncertain of their job security; considers that too many of Scotland’s post offices are being closed down, and calls on the Post Office to take full account of the views of local users of Crosshill Post Office, many of whom, it believes, strongly oppose the proposed move.
On Wednesday 29th September I presented the awards at the Eco-Schools Scotland Expressive Arts Competition 2010 enititled ‘Beauty and the Beastie – Scotland from Flow to Forest’.
Joining me in presenting the awards was ‘Dog’, from ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’ Puppet Show, and we are shown here giving the award for the Primary Photography category in of the Biodiversity Compeition to a Miss Robyn Aitkenhead for her stunning pictures of thrift (sea pink) and a lighthouse!
A great evening was had by all and I am so pleased to be involved and to undertake the role of giving out prizes.
On Saturday I attended the Annual Holyrood Communities Conference. This day was aimed at small local community groups who may previously have had little engagement with, or support from, the Parliament.
In the afternoon I ran a workshop on social media explaining how the use of websites and blogging, and networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, can really drive forward a campaign, giving it a massive amount of free publicity, generating rapid support for the cause. It was great to dispel some of the misconceptions and fears surrounding social media. It really is very simple to use, and the benefits that engaging with it can bring to a campaign are immense.
All in all the day was very successful with people leaving having a much better idea about just how accessible the Parliament is, and how they must not hesitate to engage with it if it can be of benefit to them. I hope next year is an equal triumph.