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.
Last Wednesday I marched with, and addressed, the 2000 or so students demonstrating at Glasgow University against the proposed cuts to the university. On that same day I lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament against these proposed measures which would axe many undergraduate courses, including many modern European languages, nursing and anthropology.
The current range of language courses taught at Glasgow University are an essential part of the university’s educational mission, and it would be a serious act of vandalism to cut them, especially after just eight days of consultation. Frankly bizarre proposals are also on the table to cut social work, nursing, adult learning and anthropology. Scottish Ministers must act to protect these courses by properly funding higher education.
Here is a copy of the motion:
S3M-07943 Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Scottish Green Party): Proposed University of Glasgow Cuts— That the Parliament expresses deep concern regarding cost-cutting proposals at the University of Glasgow in a number of areas including a reduction in the number of modern languages available for study to two or at most three, which it understands would mean the cessation of the teaching of Russian, Polish, Czech, Portuguese, German and potentially Italian; considers that potentially affected staff and students were given alarmingly short notice of these proposals; also considers that the proposals do not take account of the importance of language learning in higher education for the health of Britain’s economy and future business prosperity that has been highlighted by a number of recent reports; believes that many universities feel forced to make cuts because of the political choices made by the Scottish and UK governments to cut higher education funding, and calls on the Scottish Government to protect higher education against this agenda of cuts and to work with the Principal of the University of Glasgow to prevent the destruction of entire courses in modern languages, nursing, anthropology, social work and adult education and to begin a new, meaningful consultation process with staff and students to seek mutually acceptable alternatives that would safeguard university education for the long term.
The North Kelvin Meadow community gardeners are calling on everyone who wants to preserve this mature greenspace in the heart of the West End to get emailing and letter writing! Local people have created a beautiful garden and meadow in this community space and are fighting proposals that would construct yet another unwanted ‘luxury’ residential development. The developer, New City Vision, is moving quickly in its pursuit of planning permission and so the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign is looking for as many people as possible to write emails or letters in protest.
For people who have enough time to write two letters over the next while, you can get started immediately. Write to New City Vision Ltd now at Steven Black, Project Manager. New City Vision Ltd.13 Newton Place, Glasgow, G3 7PR or send an email to email@example.com.
Just state your objections to the planned development and make clear why you don’t like the plans. New City Vision Ltd must report all letters that they receive as part of their report on the community consultation process. So the more people who write the better, as it will show that the community stands together, firm in opposition. It would be great if you can send a copy of your email to the organisers of the Meadow Campaign, so that they can keep track of progress. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you will only have time to write one letter, hold off until late March or April 2011, when the developer will submit its planning application to the Council. Then it will be time to submit your formal objection to the plans. As soon as the application has been handed in, the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign will send out another call for support, so keep an eye on www.northkelvinmeadow.com or this website.
I’ll be contacting the developer myself shortly to let them know my long-held views on these plans – it is past time to start truly valuing the precious greenspaces we have left. Glasgow City Council shouldn’t even be thinking about selling off a piece of land like this – what does it plan to do once it has sold off every last bit of open space for more flats and huge profits for property developers? Glasgow’s dear green places must be protected for the common good – not sold off, forever, for short term gains and private profit.
Last week, I met with Martin Fell, co-owner of Tchai-Ovna teahouse, who is a central figure in the campaign to Save Otago Lane. The campaign is directed against the construction of two blocks of luxury flats in the West End’s Otago Lane, which would destroy the Lane’s character and charm and severely damage the small businesses that bring people to the area.
During our meeting, Martin and I discussed the latest developments. The developer has withdrawn its original planning application and submitted new plans to for a total of 45 flats and 4 townhouses. This is one below the number of dwellings which would require the more lengthy community consultation process.
This means that there is now only a very short space of time in which concerned individuals and groups can voice their objections and tell the Council to “Leave Our Lane Alane”! Any objections submitted to the original planning application no longer count against the new proposals, so it’s important for people to make their voices heard one more time.
The new closing date for objections is the 4th of March 2011 and I urge everyone to get their objection letters or emails to the Council as soon as possible. Letters should be addressed to Executive Director, Development and Regeneration Services, 229 George Street, Glasgow, G1 1QU and emails to email@example.com . Don’t forget to include the planning application number: 10/03061/DC.
It’s also important that your objection is focused on so-called material considerations, such as traffic or parking problems or effects on conservation areas that the new buildings would cause. For advice on this see here. For the latest updates on the Save Otago Lane campaign, see the campaign website www.saveotagolane.co.uk
I’ve already submitted my letter of objection to the new proposals and I hope that you’ll be able to find time to do the same!
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Cycling Success Seminar organised by ED Cycle Co-op an award-winning cycling project based in Bishopbriggs, just north of Glasgow. They’ve had terrific success at boosting the levels of cycling at local schools – Bishopbriggs now has nearly three times the Scottish national average of primary pupils cycling to school, a change in just one year not seen anywhere else in East Dunbartonshire! The Co-op is keen to build on that success too, and the seminar gave us a chance to reflect on the achievements of the Cycle Co-op’s 2010 cycling initiative and an opportunity to discuss plans for developing the project in 2011.
I was thrilled to meet the guys from Paper Bicycle too, and to have a go on one of their lovely bikes. They’re not only putting great bikes onto the streets, they’re also busy proving that Scotland doesn’t need to import everything that people want to buy – these are bikes being built right here in Scotland.
Making it easier for people to travel by bike has huge benefits for our society – cleaner air to breathe, fewer carbon emissions and lots of healthier, happier Scots. It’s time the Scottish Government started walking the talk when it comes to active travel. The inspiring work of ED Cycle Co-op shows what could be achieved in communities across Scotland, if decision-makers start backing our kids on bikes instead of committing billions to massive new infrastructure projects.
Last week I set out the commitment as a Green MSP to back equal marriage legislation in the next session of Parliament.
A poll conducted for the Green MSPs late last year showed that equality is now overwhelmingly popular in society at large with 58% of Scots supporting the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry if they wish to, and just 19% against.
The idea that same sex couples are second class citizens is deeply offensive and on the wane, but it still needs to be challenged. The Equal Marriage campaign is an attempt to remove one of the last elements of discrimination in law, and deserves our support. The antiquated notion that same sex couples are in some way morally inferior needs to be put to rest once and for all.
The progress made toward equality over recent decades has been dramatic, but prejudice and discrimination are still very real in our society. It’s important that the law should recognise that love is love, that family is family, and that a “separate but equal” system of family law is still giving cover for prejudice.
It would be relatively simple for Scotland to open civil marriage up to same sex couples and civil partnership to mixed sex couples, so that people can make their own choice on their own terms. The churches would also be free to reach their own view, instead of being banned by law from recognising all relationships equally.