Today’s attempted eviction of the Free Hetherington, formerly the Hetherington Research Club, is an unacceptable action on the part of Glasgow University management. The Free Hetherington has been occupied by students since 1st February in protest at education cuts and in support of free tuition. The active involvement of police in the attempted eviction only served to inflame a volatile situation.
I whole-heartedly support the actions of Glasgow University students who have taken part in a peaceful occupation of the Free Hetherington. They have chosen to act in response to the Tory-led ideological cuts which are set to wreak immeasurable damage in every area of public services. The Free Hetherington is a democratic space and a centre of solidarity for resistance to the ideological cuts agenda coming from Westminster, meekly passed on to Scotland by the SNP Government.
Glasgow should be proud of its citizens who choose to take peaceful action to demand protection for our education, our health services, our libraries, and every aspect of our lives that is under threat from this new drive to privatise.
I will continue to do all I can to support students and academic staff at all of Glasgow’s universities and colleges that face devastating cuts as a result of political choices made by those in power.
The Green MSPs are fully against the proposed biomass energy plant at Leith Docks and to the other plants proposed by Forth Energy around Scotland.
I have received many emails from concerned locals expressing their objections to these proposals and I met with protesters from the No Leith Biomass campaign outside Parliament on 24th February. I was very pleased to see so many people had turned out to make their voices heard.
We have been against these proposals as soon as it became clear that biomass isn’t the carbon neutral magic bullet that its promoters claim it is.
As plans for the plant have been more closely scrutinised and more details have emerged regarding its size, location, sourcing of the wood and impacts on traffic, and emissions, our opposition to it has deepened.
We believe that wood is much better used as a building material and not a fuel, it is much better to focus on wind, wave or solar energy.
Here is a copy of a motion which I lodged on the subject in June 2010:
S3M-06690 Robin Harper (Lothians) (Scottish Green Party): Wood Panel Industry and Biomass Plants— That the Parliament strongly supports the wood panel industry’s campaign, Make Wood Work, and applauds this effort to promote the optimal use of a valuable and limited resource; acknowledges the important role that wood products play in storing carbon; expresses concern at the inefficiency of burning wood to generate electricity alone; understands that the Scottish wood industry could not support even one large-scale biomass plant on its own; supports the industry’s call for the Scottish Government to introduce a moratorium on consents for electricity-only biomass power plants; considers that the wood panel industry is Scotland’s largest industrial generator of renewable heat, and encourages the UK Government to adjust its policies toward better use of Scotland’s timber resources and to include the wood panel industry in the proposed renewable heat incentive.
Patrick Harvie MSP and I will do everything we can, at every opportunity we have, to question, challenge and overturn these appalling proposals.
In January I lodged a motion in the Parliament to secure continued funding for the Bookbug Programme, a Scottish Book Trust scheme which distributes books to children and toddlers. 240,000 free packs of books – called Bookbug packs – are gifted to all children in Scotland at six weeks, 18 months, 3 years and in Primary One. Free singing and rhyming sessions – called Bookbug Sessions – take place in libraries and other community venues across Scotland. Continued encouragement to read comes from Bookbug’s Library Challenge, a scheme to encourage parents and young children to join and borrow from libraries with certificates and badges.
This came to my attention after seeing the ordeal that similar schemes in England went through where they were told that they’d lose 100% of their funding for this decision to then be reneged upon by the UK Government. I did not want Bookbug to have this same experience with the Scottish Government and I am delighted with the decision of the Scottish Government to continue funding for this successful project.
Here is a copy of the motion:
S3M-07712 Robin Harper (Lothians) (Scottish Green Party): Bookbug— That the Parliament expresses regret that the Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up programmes for children in England had to experience what it considers the trauma of being told that their funding would be cut by 100%, to then have the UK Government backtrack on its announcement; commends all those who campaigned in support of what it sees as these important programmes, without whom it believes the UK Government would have been content to deny children in England the invaluable service of Bookstart; believes that the Scottish Book Trust’s early years programme, Bookbug, delivers an important and excellent start for all babies, toddlers and children throughout Scotland in encouraging them to enjoy books and to be read to by their parents and carers, and urges the Scottish Government to continue its funding for Bookbug in Scotland and avoid what it sees as the unnecessary missteps and u-turns experienced by its counterparts in England that were introduced by the UK Government.