Meeting Minutes, 26 January 2021

Approved MCTCC Meeting Minutes – 26 January 2021

Online Conference through Zoom Tuesday 26th January, 2021, at 7pm


These minutes were approved at the MCTCC Meeting on 23 February.


Community Councillors:

DrDuncan MacLaren (Chair), Tam Coyle (V/C), David Cowan (Secretary), Peter Hayman, Niall McColl (Social Media Manager) Eileen Mills, Gerald Hirst (Treasurer) Daniel O’Malley and Chris Murphy.



Elected Representatives

Lord Provost Philip Braat, Councillor Eva Bolander and Councillor Angus Millar.

1. Welcome by the Chair

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

2. Apologies

Received from Alison Thewliss MP, Sandra White MSP, AP and KM.

3. Minutes of the last meeting (24th November 2020)

Eileen Mills suggested that on Page 2, second paragraph, to change “outcomes” to “outlines”. The minutes were accepted as a correct record of the previous meeting. Proposed by Gerald Hirst, and seconded by Peter Hayman. the Action Points thus:

  1. Ian Elder offered to contact City Property/Planning departments for Peter Hayman. No response as yet.
  2. DRF Artist Peter McCaughey to interview Tam Coyle. Tam has spoken to Graham Ross last week about this, but no response.
  3. Sandra White MSP to check with the First Minister the percentage of alcohol in hand sanitiser lotion at the entrance to public buildings. The Chair will check if there has been a response, Eileen Mills is not aware of any response. There had been no response but Duncan has sent an email to Sandra White on this.
  4. Tam Coyle to liaise with Euan Martin re. 13th storey building at the corner of Candleriggs. Euan has tried to raise awareness of the issue with local residents.

4. Matters Arising not in the Minutes

There were no matters arising.

5. Report from the Treasurer

Gerald Hirst reported the balance of the MCTCC bank account remains at £1,163.94 as there were no expenses over the festive break.

6. Report on those issues forwarded to the Police

Tam read-out the latest ongoing correspondence, from Sgt. Philip Showell of Police Scotland. Covid-related issues comprise the main pressure points on police resources. Although the vast majority of the public obey the lockdown rules, some people do not.

Due to recent complaints of the misuse of drugs the following streets are being monitored: Albion St, Hutchinson St, Virginia St and Saltmarket. Glasgow’s drug issues have been in the media and Sgt Showell assures us the police are acutely aware of extent of this blight and the upset it causes to law-abiding citizens living in, and visiting, the City Centre. They are liaising with GCC, Abbey Pharmacy and Neighbourhoods and Sustainability at Eastgate. Sgt Showell encourages the public to report crimes to 101 or through the Crimestopper website: ~ .~

Sgt Showell wrote that he believed that a lot of what is being seen is more visible and residents are more aware due to the significant reduction in routine footfall in the area. Whilst most people are within homes/work and following rules, certain sections of the community are not. This is often not a choice. He is very careful to make sure we do not demonise many of those sections of the community who have incredibly challenging and very complex needs and problems. Ultimately, they really need help.

He emphasised how serious the drugs situation is in Glasgow but is hopeful that the money that is being committed will improve what is realistically a public health issue as opposed to a criminal justice issue.

He also informed us that he has a new partner, Sgt. Heather Lenihan, who will be available for assistance and advice in our area.

A local resident noted that City Centre is not in good state and that drug taking is prevalent there. Tam noted that the police are carrying out regular patrols of the affected streets. The resident noted the high GCC Council Tax for the area which does not seem right considering how far the Merchant City’s prestige has fallen.

Councillor Bolander understood the tenant’s frustration and noted that when the issues are cleared in one area, they often reappear in another nearby area, unfortunately. Cllr Bolander informed MCTCC that the Alexander Thomson Hotel in Argyle St had now closed down and most of the homeless residents have been accommodated elsewhere.

Cllr Angus Millar is aware of the situation in the City Centre. There was a recent meeting of a Centre Taskforce team who look after the city centre and there was a presentation by the police who noted such issues. He has another meeting with the police and will raise issues that people forwarded to him and report back Lord Provost Philip Braat has contacted the City Centre Liaison Manager and copied Tam into the correspondence. Community Safety Officers will be patrolling the Miller St area who will report on any issues of anti-social behaviour. The CCTV operators have been told to look out for any drugs-related issues. All of these measures will not immediately solve the problems but they will avert many of them and aid the police in knowing what the issues are.

Tam noted that Alison Thewliss MP has raised this drugs issue in Westminster asking for powers to be given to the Scottish Parliament to tackle the drugs problem by, for example, establishing safe consumer rooms with access to health and social workers.

7. Merchant City Park (MCP) update

Eileen Mills has received a final decision (25th November) from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) saying the decision from the previous Officer had been upheld. It did refer to a failure of communication from GCC. Eileen Mills acknowledged the letter and expressed her disappointment.

Peter Hayman has heard no more from Ian Elder after the last meeting, with the presentation from Graham Ross of Austin Smith Lord, regarding a possibility of setting up a meeting with City Property. The MCP group are in the process of gaining charitable status with OSCR. Gerald Hirst has been contacted by OSCR, the Scottish charity regulator, and was advised to change the application to be in more general terms due to the alleged sale of the Ingram Street site. There is an MCP meeting this week to discuss this.

On a separate matter, Daniel O’Malley noted that there has been filming on the site, which was believed to be for a Bollywood movie. Cllr Bolander noted that the Glasgow Film Office, located in the Merchant City, have been successful of late with the production of the television series Guilt 2 currently underway in Parnie Street and the surrounding area. Short notice of numerous parking restrictions and road closures this causes have been reported to her, and so a publicly accessible information website and email alert system would be helpful. Duncan noted that the communication about road closures sue to filming had been very good of late with emails being sent to Duncan who passed them on to Niall for the website etc..When they are relevant for our area, they are advertised on the MCTCC social media.

8. Councillors’ Reports

Lord Provost Philip Braat reported on anti-social behaviour in the Ward, and mentioned the ongoing problems outside GOMA which is a popular place for young people to congregate. This has caused concerns about the lack of social distancing. Although this on the boundary of our area, there is still some impact on Merchant City and Trongate residents.

He has had reports of late emptying of bins in early January and asked for residents to report any issues regarding this. Gerald Hirst and Peter Hayman reported that the recycling bins of the Todd Building were not being emptied fully, and residents there would like to see more recycling bins, in particular a bin for glass.

Peter Hayman would like to see LES be able to recycle further items. It is understood there is limit to the type of materials, under the Triangle Number system. Lord Provost Braat would suggest this to Land and Environmental Services (LES). Duncan suggested that more communication about recycling and how it is converted into energy etc. was necessary as, just as there were anti-vaxxers, so there were people who did not believe that recycling actually happened. The Lord Provost assured everyone that the recycling did happen. He had visited the recycling facility in December 2020 and suggested that, when normality returns, he could organise a visit to the facility for MCTCC.

Councillor Eva Bolander, who had objected with many others, including MCTCC, residents and the police, to the Jocelyn Square development found the Note of Intention via the Scottish Parliament’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division which had said that the planning application should be accepted very disappointing.

The Chair wrote to Lorna McCallum via the Appeals Division disputing her findings but there has so far been no reply. Cllr Bolander will raise this with Sandra White MSP in order to ask a question at First Minister Questions.

In Duncan’s opinion, it was bad policy that the higher authorities kept going against those at the local level, as has happened several times in Glasgow by reviews carried out by Edinburgh. This was against the principle of subsidiarity. Tam Coyle concurred and could not understand how an independent reporter in a fleeting visit to the environment could decide against strong cases made by the Police, MCTCC and local residents whose privacy would be invaded. He asked if this was truly the final appeal. Cllr Bolander confirmed this was the last appeal and reminded everyone that the reporter, Lorna McCallum, was not part of the Scottish Government. In cases like this, the developer can appeal, but the community may not; proposed changes to the Law are being mooted with regards to this inequity. Cllt Bolander reminded us that, even though planning approval has been given, it does not always result in a building development going ahead.

A Jocelyn Square resident reported that a chemical testing company from Gateside, Manchester, had been testing the ground as it was once the site of a photodeveloping factory. It was noted that such travel was against current travel restrictions due to Covid19. With regards to the possibility of the Police attending CC meetings, a report has been published that promotes training CC members to use Microsoft Teams video conferencing.
It has been in the media that Strathclyde University are planning to make Rottenrow as the central area of its campus. There have been new designs drawn up for the area.

Councillor Angus Millar thanked his colleagues as they have covered many of the areas he had been working on. He meets regularly with LES and is also available for reports to be sent to the entity. He would like to see more awareness about how best to use the recycling facilities available to avoid contamination. He will ask those responsible for the George Square renovation to give a report to MCTCC. Peter Hayman noted that MCTCC requests to take part in such projects had been ignored, which goes against what the role of Community Councils is. Cllr Millar understood this frustration.

Tam Coyle commended the attendance of himself, Eileen Mills, Gerald Hirst, Duncan MacLaren and Peter Hayman at the two Austin Smith Lord forums earlier this month, where their concerns were given due appreciation. Eileen Mills reported that it was discussed, at length, how the High Street suffers from the level of fast-moving traffic there, and asked how well GCC and DRS were working together towards the development of the High Street. Cllr Millar confirmed there was a good uptake of participation in the seminars and regretted not being able to attend at least one of the meetings and will update on the High Street renovation in near future. We are now one year into the emergency restrictions and GCC and partners, are starting to consider how to transition back ‘normality’.

He has received reports about a perceived rise in graffiti in the city centre. This has been accumulating for some time, and may have been made worse due to their being fewer people around to mitigate this. The council officers who clean graffiti have also been more focussed on removing offensive graffiti. Cllr Millar is keen to see the City Centre cleaned up for the return of shoppers and a revival of the Clean Glasgow campaign and for the forthcoming COP26 conference from 1st -12th November.

Daniel O’Malley asked what the interpretation between nuisance graffiti and wall art was. Cllr Millar said that cleaning was being busy responding to reports and would be very unlikely to erase any graffiti that could be construed as being of an artistic nature and mentioned the success of the Glasgow’s mural tour.

Peter Hayman reported on the wall art opposite Custom House Quay on the riverside and commended it for lifting the spirits of the many people using the walkway. Cllr Millar noted that some had been GCC commissions from about 15 years ago which had raised the artists’ profiles.

The Chair asked if there was any progress with the opening of Ramshorn Graveyard, Cllr Millar has not had a response to his request, but will re-enquire with Strathclyde Estates Dept.

9. Planning Applications

Peter Hayman reported a Theatre School and a movie studio has been given full planning approval at 41 Stockwell Place.
New internal offices are being built internally in the Italian Centre.
A new hotel is being developed at the junction of Glassford St and Wilson St, opposite to the Post Office. There was nothing controversial in the applications.

10. Licensing Applications

There were no licensing applications.

11. MCTCC Social Media

Niall McColl gave his report which covered developments in the Mailing List organisation, website and Facebook and twitter accounts (222 and 36 followers respectively). Sendinblue distribution list now has 32 confirmed followers, another 10 are yet to do so. David Cowan has been given a demonstration and written instructions on how to use the system and publish the agenda and minutes on the website.

The website is now fully compliant with The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018. An accessibility audit from June 2020 has been added and linked to the Accessibility Statement. Niall is considering how feasible it is to livestream our meetings on Facebook or another platform, and will report on this in due course. He is also developing a survey to investigate what the public know about our organisation, the issues we tackle and how we help the community. A draft will be circulated to Community Councillors before the next mid-monthly meeting, with the aim to launch this at the full meeting in February.

12. Addressing Local Issues

Local Issues had been covered in the items above.

13. AOCB

The Chair gave a summary of report sent from Sandra White MSP in which she reported on two issues: the drug consumption van for which a taskforce is going to be setup, headed by Angela Constance MSP; Sandra is going to raise the issue of building cladding with the First Minister. Eileen Mills asked the Chair to check to if there was any report from her on the hand sanitiser regulations.

Tam Coyle reported that the cost of each CCTV camera installation was £16,000. Cllr Bolander reported that a new business fund is due to be approved for businesses in the City Centre to compensate for losses due to the lack of customers during lockdown.

The Chair thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.

Date of next meeting:

Tuesday 23rd February, 2021 at 7pm. A Zoom link will be circulated for registration.

Action Points

  1. Response from Ian Elder regarding putting Peter Hayman in touch with Planning/City Property (Peter Hayman)
  2. DRF artist, Peter McCaughey, to interview Tam Coyle (Tam Coyle)
  3. Sandra White MSP to check with the First Minister regarding the percentage of alcohol required medically in hand sanitisers to be effective against Covid (Duncan MacLaren)
  4. Issues around drug-taking and dealing to be communicated to Tam for the police(all)
  5. Report bin and recycling issues to Lord Provost Braat (Lord Provost Philip Braat)
  6. Lord Provost to arrange an MCTCC visit to recycling facilities in Glasgow once it is safe to do so (Duncan MacLaren)
  7. To raise the Note of Intention result on the proposed development at Jocelyn Square to Sandra White MSP (Cllr Eva Bolander)
  8. Presentation on George Square to be given to MCTCC (Cllr Angus Millar)
  9. Contact Strathclyde University Estates Department re the opening of the Ramshorn Graveyard (Cllr Angus Millar)
  10. Draft survey on MCTCC’s profile among area residents to be circulated to Community Councillors (Niall McColl)