Meeting Minutes, 23 February 2021

These minutes were approved at our meeting on 30 March 2021.

Merchant City & Trongate Community Council Meeting Online Conference through Zoom, Tuesday 23rd February, at 7pm


Community Councillors: Dr Duncan MacLaren (Chair), Tam Coyle (V/C), David Cowan (Secretary), Peter Hayman, Niall McColl (Social Media Manager), Gerald Hirst (Treasurer) and Eileen Mills.

Residents: EM, TD, ST, GW and Ruth Suter (Glasgow Times newspaper).

Elected Representatives: Sandra While MSP, Councillor Eva Bolander and Councillor Angus Millar.

1. Welcome by the Chair

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and informed us that our associate member, Megan Rooney, has had to step down from the Community Council due to work and study commitments.

2. Apologies

Received from: Provost Philip Braat, Bailie Christy-Mearns, Daniel O’Malley, Megan Rooney, Chris Murphy and PP.

3. Minutes of the last meeting (26th January, 2021)

The January minutes were approved as a correct record of proceedings. These were proposed by Gerald Hirst and seconded by Eileen Mills.

The Chair then went over the Action Point from the last meeting:

  • Ian Elder offered to contact City Property/Planning departments for Peter Hayman. No response as yet.
  • DRF Artist Peter McCaughey to interview Tam Coyle. Tam has sent another email regarding this and is awaiting a response.
  • Sandra White MSP to check with the First Minister about the provision of alcohol based hand sanitiser by businesses, gyms, etc. in preference to alcohol free hand sanitiser. The alcohol content should be at least 60% as per WHO guidelines. Eileen Mills thanked her for her work on this matter, and recorded that whilst it was now recognised that direct aerosol transmission from person to person was the greatest risk, the virus could still be caught by touching some surfaces upon which the virus had landed and then eyes, nose or mouth. With the approach of relaxation of lockdown measures, the provision of effective hand sanitiser would become even more relevant. Mr Thornton noted that some popular High Street stores do not have adequate hand sanitiser facilities at their entrances. Also, there is a lack of any supervision to ensure that social distancing is being observed; this is especially the case at the checkouts. The Chair will write an email to the CEO of the stores in question.
  • Sandra White MSP has written a ‘Notice of Concern’ to the Scottish Government in regard to the approved planning consent for Jocelyn Square, she will feedback what the response is.

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 for the last month. Councillor Bolander will enquire if there could be an extension of the time community councils have to spend their funds effectively. Gerald has prepared the MCTCC financial accounts for 1st September, 2019, to 31st August, 2020. The accounts were proposed by Tam Coyle and seconded by David Cowan. They will now be sent on to Steven Dowling before the March deadline.

6. Report on those issues forwarded to the Police

Tam Coyle received an email shortly before the meeting from Sgt. Philip Showell and informed the meeting of the contents. The misuse of drugs was the main cause of complaints. The Safe-Use van has reduced the number of discarded needles found by the public. The police have been monitoring the local car parks (Albion Street and Virginia Street in particular) for evidence of vagrants or drugs users. However, this should really be the work of the carpark management and not the police.

It was noted that the safe use van (now a second-hand ambulance) is now parked at the end of Parnie Street each day, Monday to Friday. Mr Thornton enquired about the Carrick Quay carpark, opposite Pipeworks, where drug debris has been found in recent months. He enquired about the possibility of installation of CCTV. Tam noted this issue, Cllr Bolander encouraged him to continue to report such issues.

7. Merchant City Park (MCP) update

Peter Hayman explained the aim of the group was to turn the current NCP car park space at 69-712 Ingram Street into a park area where there is a mural which has received international recognition. When MCP registered an interest in the site, GCC sold the site to City Property who marketed the site for sale or lease, with a closing date of the 28th August, 2020. Since then, we understand that a private bid to buy the site is being processed, but that is as much as City Property have said.

Eileen Mills remarked that that very day Sir David Attenborough had been invited to address the United Nations’ Security Council by the PM who chaired that month’s session, regarding Climate Change; also that later this year Glasgow is to host the 2021 United Nations Climate Conference. How incongruous that at just such a time, Glasgow City Council should support the felling of 20 mature trees within the City Centre, against the wishes of the local community, and instead, promote the selling of the land to building developers.
EM requested that the Ward Councillors go back to the Council, to ask that they review this policy, and reconsider the local community’s aspirations to transform the area into a Park.

Sandra White MSP recognised the good work done by the members of MCP, including Gerald Hirst, for the work they have done. The carpark itself has been in a dilapidated state for many years. GCC will have been given money to host the COP26 conference which could be used, if only temporary, to make the site a gathering place to enjoy the sunlight during the day, as most of Glasgow streets are in the shade most of the day.

TD posted a link that showed the 69 -97 Ingram Street site for sale on a website. It was noted that the link listed the site as ‘Under Offer’ and still carried the Closing Date of 28 August 2020, which seemed odd.

8. Councillors’ Reports

Councillor Eva Bolander as Chair of the Anderston/City/Yorkhill Area Partnership talked about a report on the homelessness situation in Glasgow given at the last meeting which Duncan also attended on behalf of MCTCC. There are still two grants available for neighbourhood clean-ups.
Housing First have moved many people out of the temporary hotels and moved them into housing. There still a few residents in the St. Enoch’s Hotel but they will be given more permanent accommodation soon. She can forward this report upon request.

There has been an update to the District Regeneration Framework in which Merchant City is classified as part of The Learning Quarter Zone. She understands there was good input to the regeneration forum in January from MCTCC members.

The ‘deep clean’ of the City Centre is planned for coming out of lockdown. The Spaces for People project continues; however, some places have been taken away as they were not being used, but it continues around George Square for the time being.

Councillor Angus Millar gave an update, from an email he circulated today, about the Ramshorn Graveyard. City Property own the land and leased this to Strathclyde University which came to an end in 2018. The community has been trying to gain access to this historic site for most of the lockdown period. There was a two-year extension to the lease in which access was agreed until September 2020; however, since then, the gates have been locked. It is now at the ‘dilapidation stage’ where all the maintenance tasks are to be completed before handover the site back to City Property. Once these arrangements are complete, the access issue will be addressed. He would like to be involved with local groups and GCC to help gain access for the public. He, and Cllr Bolander engage with the City Centre Taskforce. Part of the clean-up of the City Centre will include the removal of a considerable amount of graffiti. However, as yet there is no start date and so she is keen to see what the details of clean-up are, and how and when it will be implemented. Duncan mentioned that the MCTCC’s notice board outside the Tron Theatre had been defaced with CFC (Celtic Football Club) painted on to three windows. A Rangers fan group has now plastered one of their large stickers on one of the windows.A draft GCC recycling strategy report is to be presented to a committee this week. This will include waste management and hopes to improve the recycling facilities to residents and businesses.Peter Hayman noted that the Active Travel Forum restarts next Wednesday. Cllr Bolander was happy to see the promotion of better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists which as increased during lockdown. She will also look into arranging a meeting with the Ramshorn Graveyard to the which the Chair would be invited to attend. It was discussed that the site should be given the same status as the Necropolis Graveyard, and not be managed by City Property who are, in essence, an GCC estate agent, but by the same office in charge of the Necropolis.

Sandra White MSP thanked the Councillors for the news about the deep clean of the City Centre which has been requested for some time. She recalled the time when the Ramshorn Church was a theatre and was enjoyed by people. She speculated that it would be good if the graveyard, Church and the carpark could formulate a joint plan since all of them are on the tourist trail. (Please note that the erstwhile Ramshorn Church is owned by Strathclyde University).

The Scottish Government are aware of the problems of the future of the ‘high street’ with many shop closures after lockdown being anticipated. A regeneration strategy is being considered. Everyone regretted the closure of the large Debenhams Store. There are two new grants available for mobile workers and homeworkers, as well as a self-employed hardship fund.

The much-anticipated new licensing scheme for temporary short-term lets (e.g. Airbnb) has been withdrawn by the Government; instead, draft guidelines will be produced. The Scottish Housing Minister will make a statement about the building cladding issue in the next few weeks.

ST enquired if there were plans for the closed Debenhams store. Sandra White MSP understood there is talk, at Westminster, of a new tax being considered for online retailers who do not have to rent, business rates and do not even pay tax.

Councillor Bolander mentioned that considerations were being given to convert empty retail units into residential properties. This could apply to buildings in the City Centre.

9. Planning Applications

There no planning applications of significance.

10. Licensing Applications

There were no licensing applications of significance. ST asked if there was any response from licensing application of, what was, the Annie Millar Pub. Tam put in an MCTCC objection on the 24th December, which he was copied into, and no response has been received. Carrick Quay Owners Association put in an objection.

11. MCTCC Social Media

Niall McColl gave his monthly report which included the following: – The MCTCC Facebook site has 234 followers on Facebook – up by 12 this month. Our “post engagement” is up by 220% in the month, so more people are clicking on what’s posted. We have 39 followers on Twitter, up by three this month and 44 subscribers to our mailing list.

The subscribe button is now more prominent on the website, and has been added to the email signature.

The MCTCC Survey questions have been written and agreed with the Community Councillors. The lack of time means it has not been published yet; however, it will be formally launched at the March meeting. Our meetings will be moving to Microsoft Teams from the April CC meeting.

A Microsoft account is slightly less expensive than Zoom, and gives us much more functionality – access to Microsoft forms (for surveys, questionnaires etc.), 1TB online storage, as well as access to the Office apps for the Secretary.

The website privacy policy will need to be updated, along with our information security policy and the instructions for access, before we can complete the process.

There will be several test runs using MS Teams before the mid-monthly meetings.

Office 365 administration for businesses is quite complex but we will, with time, become familiar with using it.

David Cowan thanked Niall McColl for his ongoing help to distribute the minutes using Sendinblue and publishing the minutes and agenda on the website.

12. Addressing Local Issues

Local Issues had been covered in the items above.

13. AOCB

Eileen Mills requested the Ward Councillors ask GCC to re-visit the plans for the Ingram Street Car Park site and that this be placed as an action point in the next month’s minutes. She would like to see this discussed at the full March MCTCC meeting.

The Chair thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.

Date of next meeting:

Tuesday 30th March, 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 to check with First Minister regarding the promotion/recommendation of the provision of alcohol hand sanitiser (at least 60% concentration) by businesses/gyms etc, as opposed to alcohol free hand sanitiser. (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. Presentation on George Square to be given to MCTCC (Cllr Angus Millar)
  8. Contact Strathclyde University Estates Department re the opening of the Ramshorn Graveyard (Cllr Angus Millar)
  9. Arrange a meeting to discuss the Ramshorn Graveyard (Cllr Eva Bolander)
  10. Report back whether CCTV can be installed at the Carrick Quay carpark owing to drug paraphernalia being found there (Tam Coyle)
  11. Residents can receive a copy of the homelessness report mentioned in these minutes from Cllr Bolander (all to Cllr Eva Bolander)
  12. Draft survey on Niall McColl’s profile among area residents to be circulated to Community Councillors (Niall McColl)
  13. Move from Zoom to MS Teams for April MCTCC meeting (Niall McColl)
  14. Raise question of MCP applying for Partnership and other grants at mid-monthly and MCTCC meetings (Eileen Mills)