Meeting Minutes, 30 March 2021

Online Conference through Zoom Tuesday 30th March, 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), Eileen Mills, Daniel O’Malley and Chris Murphy.

Residents: EM, TD, ST, GM,HW,AP, GS,CM, JR, AM and Ruth Suter (Glasgow Times).

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

1. Welcome by the Chair

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, especially as it would be one of the last meetings for Sandra White as a MSP and gave gratitude for valuable contributions to MCTCC meetings. She thanked the Chair and would continue to attend to our meetings.

2. Apologies

Received from: Sgt. Showell (Police Scotland), Bailie Christy Mearns and PP

3. Minutes of the last meeting (23rd February 2021)

Eileen Mills noted that the final Action Point was to be reported on by the Chair. The Chair will write an email to Tesco regarding Covid safety precautions and send a copy to ST.

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

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

  • No response from Ian Elder to Peter Hayman
  • Peter McCaughey had not replied to Tam Coyle; another email was sent.
  • Sandra White reported that her assistant had contacted the relevant department regarding hand sanitiser.
  • Action point 5 concerned recycling bins. The Lord Provost said most reports to him have been from the west of the city, but in Peter Hayman’s case additional recycling bin maybe the solution, he has been sent the local bin collection rota.
  • Cllr Millar has been in contact with Denise Hamilton who intends to attend our next meeting and can outline plans for the latest George Square redevelopment.
  • CCTV has now been requested Parnie Street and Carrick Quay carpark, Sgt. Philip Showell will be able to give a report on the misuse of drug issue.
  • After enquiring with Steven Dowling, MCTCC cannot give grants or contributions to a charity, i.e. MCP, if this is from its GCC administrative grant. In the past year, because of COVID, some community councils were permitted to give small sums to local charities caring for the vulnerable or homeless.

4. Matters Arising not in the Minutes

There were no matters arising.

5. Report from the Treasurer

Gerald Hirst confirmed that we have received our GCC administration grant of £500, less £78.64 for insurance, hence a net income of £429.36.. There was also an additional GCC grant, due to lockdown hardships, which consists of two instalments of £250, the first having been received. This brings our balance to date of £1808.70.

6. Report on those issues forwarded to the Police

Tam reported that the Police will be at the next meeting when we will be using MS Teams. A resident made an enquiry about the safe-use drug van in Parnie St. Sgt. Philip Showell has sent several emails, it was noted during the meeting in progress, explaining the Police are not involved in the installation of CCTV. He shall give report will be given regarding the Parnie St, and it’s problems at the next meeting.

Councillor Millar made inquiries, due to residents’ request, if there are any official plans to increase ‘safe drug use’ facilities. Both HSCP and the Police confirmed there were no such plans, not least because this would contravene the current legal framework.

7. Merchant City Park (MCP) update

Peter Hayman gave confirmation the Ingram Street car park site has been sold to Artisan Real Estate Ltd. It was noted that this is the same company which is building the high tower block incongruously behind Custom House facade, and another at 292 St. Vincent St.

Eileen Mills enquired if the Ward Councillors could re-state MCP’s case to the GCC. Councillor Bolander, who may become a member of the Planning Committee, cannot report on the subject especially now the sale of the site has gone through. Councillor Millar also has confirmed his conflict of interest which he declared when first appointed to becoming Chair of City Property (Investments) LLP.

8. Councillors’ Reports

Councillor Eva Bolander is arranging to a have the Tontine Lane cleaned after an accumulation of debris. The High Street Rail Station revamp is awaiting the new designs; this is part of many regeneration projects which Cllr Bolander is involved with. The extension of the river quay walls will have new designs coming forth, but the design team has recently been appointed so this will take time.

The COP26 environmental conference is looming closer, and MCTCC will be briefed on what activities are planned as some may impact upon our areas.

Councillor Angus Millar reported how the graffiti removal programme is underway; however, the council officers have noted that there are some locations where it does not take long for it to reappear again. It is going to need a partnership involving the police. and others, to eliminate this in the longer term. There has also been pressure wash cleaning in the city centre, e.g. St. Enoch Square.

As part of the ‘Spaces for People’ programme – decorative planters are being installed in roads around the city including the Merchant City, in collaboration with businesses to make social distance easier for the expected increase of pedestrians and shoppers.

The City Centre Taskforce, tasked with the economic recovery of the city centre, have launched two additional grants: a discretionary fund for business support assist in returning people back into work, and funding to increase public seating.

Eileen Mills enquired if the Council has considered what to do if people are slow, or do not, return to the city centre. Cllr Millar referred to the City Centre Strategy has been developed over the last year whilst aware if is not known the impact city centre businesses will be. Glasgow is hindered by the fact that it does not have a sizeable resident population to bolster business.

Cllr Bolander reported there are plans for a new secondary school to be built just south of the River Clyde. There are also two other reports prepared: the City Strategy and the Residents Strategy which makes mention of need to increase the number of residential buildings in the City Centre.

Peter Hayman noted the quality of the artistic graffiti on the Clyde walkway, and that there is a wide variation, and it is important to distinguish what is worth keeping among the graffiti. Cllr Millar noted this and the concept of ‘legal walls’ to work on, but the blight on the city must be the priority.

Sandra White MSP confirmed that our April meeting would be last meeting she will be attending as an MSP. She would like to see another occupant of the defunct Debenhams store which should be considered for mixed use to include a residential purpose. A prominent company in Buchanan Street, formerly Borders Books shop, has now closed.

It has been a busy month in the Scottish Parliament with Bills to be concluded before the dissolution for the elections. This has meant many pieces of legislation to vote upon, often until late in the evenings.

One notable success which has been resolved a certain degree, is that of the external building cladding and all the difficulties this has caused. The Scottish Government announced there are to be free safety assessments for homeowners in a report published on the 19th March. From the end of March, there will be an eight-week cycle to gather assessment requests. Details of this will be published on Thursday. There will be one assessment per building to receive the ESW1 certificate to confirm the cladding is fire resistant.

The Chair congratulated Sandra for the work she has put into resolving this matter.

9. Planning Applications

Peter Hayman reported on his MCTCC objection to the demolishing of the Old College Bar at the corner of High Street and George Street. Tam reported on good communications with the operator previously.

10. Licensing Applications

Tam reported on the Candleriggs ‘pop-up’ bar which has submitted for a Licence to sell alcohol and resume the beer garden operation on Wilson St. They have applied for an 8 x 14-day licences, running continuously. This has a starting date for this is 26th of April. Concerns were expressed on the effect this would have on existing bars and restaurants in the area.

The Citation restaurant has asked for 192 outdoor seating places to serve alcohol and food outdoors in Hutchinson St., Wilson St. and Brunswick St. The closing date for objections is the 9th April. It was decided to submit individual objections.

Whitbread Inns – 24 Howard St (Premier Inn) – has applied for an offsales licence. Mediteranneo – 159 Ingram St – applied for an on-site and off sales licence. The newsagent at 8 Saltmarket has applied to sell alcohol off sales.

The TRNSMT festival has been granted permission to hold four events on four consecutive days Glasgow Green in mid-September. This will cause great damage to the grass, as one of the events has been moved here from Bellahouston Park due to the grass has not yet recovered from a similar event last year. Sandra White noted there had been lots of complaints about the glass panes shattering at the nearby Winter Palace due to the noise of the TRNSMT music festival.

The Merchant City Festival is to have a meeting on the 7th April.

11. MCTCC Social Media

Niall McColl gave his monthly report which included the following: – Our 2021 survey is now live at Everyone was encouraged to share the link widely as it aims to understand what our community thinks are the main issues affecting our area and what might be done about them. This will help define our future plans including how to further improve our engagement with the community.

The survey will remain open for a couple of months and is being advertised via social media and through an email to our contacts. We will present feedback at a future meeting.

This will be our last Zoom meeting for now. From April, until we can resume face to face meetings, we will be using Microsoft Teams. The registration process is slightly different, but more streamlined. Participants can download the Teams app from their computer, tablet or mobile, or use the web app. There is no option to join via a dial-in number. A guide to using Teams has been added to the website.

We are now using Microsoft 365 for our administration (file storage, minute preparation, etc.), as this is more cost effective than Zoom. Our privacy policy has been updated as a result of these changes; the revised policy took effect today, and a mail will be sent shortly to everyone on our mailing list advising them of this.

The Chair thanked Niall for cleaning the graffiti off the MCTCC noticeboard in Wilson Street. On Trongate this was done, but by persons unknown; however, thanks were expressed to Ruth Suter who mentioned this in her article in the Glasgow Times.

Eileen Mills noted that the new poster design for MCTCC ought to have bright colouring to attract people’s attention as few people appear to stop and look. The Chair asked our current membership to creating their own poster designs, as all previous attempts to find a suitable designer had, so far, failed.

12. Addressing Local Issues

Regarding Jocelyn Square, the Chair gave a brief history of the project in which the development was approved, not by the planning department of GCC but by a reporter sent by the Appeals Division of the Scottish Parliament. This was against the many objections of the local community, councillors and the Police. This undermines the principle of subsidiarity.

Tam Coyle had read the report and was unhappy to see that the Reporter had found that only 26 windows, out of 144, of residents’ premises would lose sunlight and privacy. The reporter did not see this as adequate cause to reject the project. Eileen Mills noted that there were many conditions outlined for the project to go ahead and enquired if there were any grounds to still hold the developer to account.

Sandra White MSP has been a long supporter of a third party right of appeal as businesses can appeal – and appeal, whereas residents have no such right. This has been rejected as a Private Members Bill in the Scottish Parliament over several Administrations. Cllr Bolander agreed, and added that the developer appealed in this case over the time taken by GCC Planning to reach a decision.

There will be supplementary guidance for students’ accommodation. There are to be changes to the planning criteria surrounding short-term lets in order to make them stricter; Sandra looks forward to the new Bill being passed in the next Parliament.

Cllr Millar gave a summary of the history of the Ramshorn Graveyard which has been closed for most of last year. He was pleased to report that he held a meeting within the last month, to transfer the property back to GCC’s Property and Land Services from City Property. This transfer should facilitate for more community involvement and more proactive discussions with heritage and community groups. However, the gates cannot reopen until, at least, the dilapidation process is finalised with Strathclyde University.

Cllr Bolander shall contact the Chair about arranging a meeting with the Friends of the Necropolis to give advice on how to best setup a similar group for this site.

13. AOCB

The organisation of an MCTCC Hustings has been voluntarily undertaken by Daniel O’Malley, Niall McColl and Tam Coyle. This will be a separate meeting.

The expected date is Thursday 29th April, 7-9pm – one week before the Scottish Elections on the 6th May. Steven Dowling has given approval for this with some useful guidelines.

It will be held on Zoom by means of the Webinar function which restricts those on video to just the candidates but not the audience. Also, questions can be submitted only text the Chair, which means that it will be difficult for the public meeting to be ‘hijacked’ by biased supporters because they cannot interrupt the proceedings. The hustings will then be broadcast on Facebook and possibly other video formats.

Tam will be the timekeeper: there will be two minutes answer time for each of the six questions: three general questions and three for local issues. Tam has arranged hustings for our community in the past. The Chair and Treasurer (budget of around £50) gave their approval. Tam and Daniel then asked for people to put forward questions for consideration.

Tam noted that, from an email of Steven Dowling, the Merchant City now almost 4800 residents, close to the 5000 required to qualify for a local doctors’ surgery.

The Chair thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.

Date of next meeting:

Tuesday 27th April, 2021 at 7pm A Teams link will be circulated for registration.**

Action Points – February

  1. Chair to write to the CEO of Tesco regarding the provision of hand sanitiser (Duncan)
  2. Response from Ian Elder regarding putting Peter Hayman in touch with Planning/City Property (Peter Hayman)
  3. DRF artist, Peter McCaughey, to interview Tam Coyle (Tam Coyle)
  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)