Meeting Minutes, 31 March 2020

MCTCC Meeting Minutes – 31 March 2020


Community Councillors:

Dr Duncan MacLaren (Chair), Tam Coyle (V/C), David Cowan, Peter Hayman, Niall McColl, Eileen Mills, Chris Murphy, Gerald Hirst and Daniel O’Malley.



Elected Representatives:

Cllr Eva Bolander.

1. Welcome by the Chair and other matters

Niall read through the agenda to everyone and informed everyone on the etiquette to using Zoom for our meeting, This included how to unmute our mic to speak and then re-mute it, and an icon to ‘raise your hand’ if you wish to speak.

Duncan welcomed everyone to the meeting. The Police sent their Apologies saying if we have any questions these can be emailed to them.

2. Apologies:

Sergeant Philip Showell and Cllr Angus Millar

3. Minutes of the last meeting (25th February 2020)

There were no changes. Duncan read through the action points and gave an update where possible.

4. Matters Arising not in the Minutes

David Cowan has put forward his name for the office bearer role of Secretary. Steven Dowling confirmed that there were not other candidates put forward since the previous Friday. As such, Duncan proposed David Cowan for the role MCTCC Secretary, this was seconded by Tam Coyle.

5. Report from the Treasurer

The balance of is £1693.60. There are no other immediate outgoings. David Cowan thanked Gerald for reimbursement of an audio recorder.

6. Police Report

IG, Secretary of Greyfriars Community Gardens, reported to MCTCC earlier in the month how stickers had been attached all around it’s boundary fence from the *’Gtown Drug Plug.’*MCTCC forwarded her concerns on to the police, by email, and received a reply from Sgt Philip Showell. He confirmed this information would be passed over to their Intelligence Team.

IG noted that is the first instance of defacing the gardens and will be vigilant in reporting further incidents of this kind to the police. Tam agreed and reminded us that the police recommend making calls to them with any information considered relevant.

Daniel raised the issue of homeless people who have been trying to the get into The Herald Building, through the fire escape, to the bin area. Signs have been put up asking residents not to let unknown people into premises by ensuring doors are closed, and locked, behind them when coming or going.

Rough sleepers were also a repeat problem at 103 Hutchinson St, where there was a fire previously. They have returned to the ‘moat area’ under the old Sheriff Court Building. It seems to be in a pattern with Niall’s, Tommy’s and Daniel’s building. Tommy contacted his factor (Speirs Gumley) who replied saying they had no power to have rough sleepers removed from internal areas of his private building, including the common stairwell.

Daniel noted that on Albion St, junction with Ingram St, behind the Italian Kitchen car park, the grass has been left marked due to cars parking there when it is has been wet. The cars have blocked the pavement to passers-by and so is unsafe. In addition, it has marked one of the few pieces of green land in the area. It would appear drivers have chosen to park there to avoid paying for parking, as there are ample parking bays available nearby. It is unknown if this is private land or owned by Strathclyde University or the restaurant (as it borders on the car park). David will ask Strathclyde Uni if the land belongs to them.

New graffiti has appeared in, and around, the Trongate area. This, and trespass of rough sleepers will be reported to the to the police by David.

7. Merchant City Park

Peter reported on the MCP meeting on the 29th of March. A sign has been erected on the site at 69-97 Ingram St advertising the land for lease or possible sale. Offers are to be received by the 29th of May at noon. MCP informed it’s support group by email on the 20th of March. There is a possibility that the closing date will have to be extended due to the emergency coronavirus measures.

MCP have contacted Pauline Barclay, Managing Director of City Properties, noting MCP’s interest in the plot in July 2019. The Closing Date for offers would not be rescinded, although it may have to be extended.

MCP were considering a late Community Right to Buy (CRtB) application which, if granted, would give MCP a pre-emptive opportunity to acquire the land before it was let or sold on the closing date. A Press release was being prepared to gain support. It is understood that if the land is sold to a private developer then this will be the end of the project.

DH has completed our Business Plan with some help from Niall to format the document. Capital and operational costs will be required to run this site as a public park. This can be used when contacting City Properties to show we are in the process of contacting potential funders.

MCP meeting held with the Land Reform Fund last year, unfortunately this was at the end of their financial year when their money was spent. They may be in a better position to help us at the start of this year’s grant roll-out.
David Hughes noted that City Properties will be aware that we are in dialogue with potential funders if deadline is delayed. Cllr Bolander suggested it might be an idea to set up MCP as a Community Trust Fund rather than a limited company.

Although MCP aim to create a new park, the main assets are already in place, such as the many trees, and the famous mural. The site has been derelict for 40 years. Daniel noted that it serves a dual purpose by opening a park in the City Centre, it also gets rid of a dusty car park, making the City Centre a greener place.

Peter noted how the priorities of the City Centre Regeneration Strategyand those of MCP’s are very similar. This includes increasing the green space in the city where people can meet and make the city centre an attractive place for people to visit. MCP has the support of many local people and businesses. After the lockdown is over, the park could be a place where people come to enjoy the city once more.

8. Councillors’ Reports

Councillor Eva Bolander began her report by explaining how GCC is still working with the new coronavirus measures. An emergency administration has been setup in order to keep the necessary work to go on. This is being handled by the leader of each of the political party, the Chief Executive and some ancillary staff. Meetings are being carried out virtually or by keeping a two metre physical distance between everyone.

All standard GCC committees are being cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Cllr Bolander has been trying to ensure that any large planning decisions are not to be taken under the contingent circumstances, but that they are delayed to allow for proper discussion and consultation later. From the political side, there has been support for this, but less so from Planning and other GCC officers. The only planning decisions which should be processed further are those that are not significant or have already been decided upon.

The Coronavirus Bill has been put through the Scottish Parliament by Mike Russell MSP. Planning and Licensing are part of this legislation. The details of this Bill will be available later in the week. On the issue of rough sleepers, they have been offered access to empty hotels during this crisis as they are vulnerable against Covid19.

David Cowan reported that in Sgt Phillip Showell’s email it was said that there was CCTV in the Parnie Street area. However, at the previous meeting it heard that this was not the case. She noted that the direction a CCTV is pointing will determine if there is useful footage of the crime, and this could be a misunderstanding in saying ‘there is no footage’ as opposed to their being no CCTV at all.

9. Planning Application

Peter Hayman displayed a picture from an article in The Herald business magazine with an artists impression of building developments on Clyde Street an extension of the quayside along Custom House Quay. This appeared to go against the St Enoch DRS (District Regeneration Strategy) report.

Also displayed were plans for several high rise blocks along Clyde street which had full planning permission and already exceeded criteria in the DRS. A meeting offered by Lisa Scott senior planner for Custom House Quay development with Duncan MacLaren and Peter Hayman had to be cancelled due to the lockdown. Peter said he would contact Lisa Scott.

Cllr Bolander had not read the article but she recalled a similar article to this last year. It could be that the illustration is what the developers would like to build, however there have not been the corresponding planning applications made. Duncan and Peter have arranged a virtual meeting with Lisa Scott.

Jocelyn Square Development Update

At the last meeting there was a presentation from the developers. Afterwards there was an in-depth conversation with local residents. MCTCC voted to put in an objection to this development.

The planning application was changed to amend the original application. Research of the history of the site had found the land was polluted due to being the site of a photographic processing factory, it was alleged. This was not mentioned on the application. The developers now want to make the roof terrace an amenity space. Duncan sought clarification of what this meant and was informed that it would be for ‘wellbeing’ activities only.

The roof terrace leads to a loss of privacy to local residents. If the building went ahead they would have rows of windows facing them. Tam noted that the streets have are narrow around Jocelyn Square. Eileen Lowe, a local resident, has been trying to contact other residents.

The Chair distributed a draft objection to Jocelyn Square to the community councillors by email today and asked that he receive replies by noon tomorrow. The site is still to receive full planning permission for the building.
Gerald Hirst reported seeing a strong objection by the Police on the GCC Planning Dept. website to the roof terrace. He recalled it explained this would negatively impact maintaining the high security required outside The High Court entrance and side gate. Peter recommended that members look at the Planning application 20/00822/FUL webpage as it includes a heritage report.

Lack of Recent Planning Notifications

The Chair has been receiving fewer lists of planning applications for MCTCC. He wondered whether it was because of the lockdown or because there had been no planning applications.

Cllr Bolander had noticed this too as the last list she received was on the 18th of March. She will make enquiries about this. It could be that people are working from home which meant they did not have access to the planning application system to distributive. This is part of the reason, as she said earlier, that she wants no controversial decisions to go through; and for the time frames to be extended to allow for proper scrutiny. We are going to have wait to see if the new legislation from the Scottish Government affects this.

Peter noted an application in St Enoch Square for 30 residential units.

There has been an application at 184 Ingram St for a change use to retail. However, on Google Maps this turns out to be a door in between two retail units, hence the description has to be clearer.

10. Licensing Applications

There were no licensing applications of interest.

11. Possible ‘Friends of Ramshorn Park’ Update

Duncan and Tam attended a meeting with Cllr Bolander and Cllr Angus Millar. A GCC official at the meeting informed everyone they are several ‘friends of’ groups for parks and the like. MCTCC could contact them and find out how to set up such a group. It was mentioned the site could be an additional venue for Merchant City Festival events.

Councillor Bolander recommended finding a group of competent people who wish to be involved. An inaugural meeting would then be held and a draft constitution agreed upon. A lecturer from Glasgow University, Steven Mullen, has noted an interest. This will have to be taken forward after the lockdown.

12. Future Meetings During Lockdown

Steven Dowling’s office had been in touch to say we could be excused from holding meeting during the lockdown due possible Governance breaches in these extraordinary circumstances. At the mid-monthly meeting, the community councillors decided we would go ahead and attempt to hold meetings online, with Niall’s help. It was agreed by everyone this meeting seemed to have managed well. The Chair suggested that we continue to hold our meetings by Zoom. The voting tool was used to agree this.

13. AOCB

Cllr Bolander noted that the Area Partnership can still have funding passed for worthwhile causes. This could be for activities which can help isolated or vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.
She noted there would seem to be lack of support groups within the Merchant City and Trongate area. Duncan and David Hughes noted there are informal arrangements, such as signs up in their buildings offering to fetch shopping for those who required this help.

Date of next meeting:

Tuesday 28th of April, 2020 at 7pm – Details will be circulated.

Action Points

  1. Action against the graffiti from *’Gtown Drug Plug’*on the outside walls of the Greyfriars Gardens; rough sleepers in the Herald Building Albion Street, 103 Hutchison Street (including the moat area), illegal parking leaving the grass churned up and turned into mud.(Duncan MacLaren to write to Sgt Philip Showell about these matters)
  2. Send note to Cllr Eva Bolander re lack of CCTV on Parnie Street (David Cowan)
  3. Report back on call made to Lisa Scott regarding the article about large building along the Clyde and even some on the river. (Peter Hayman)
  4. Enquire about the lack of planning applications coming to community councils (Cllr Eva Bolander)