Meeting Minutes, 31 August 2021

These minutes were approved at our meeting on 28 September. Proposed by Gerald Hirst; Seconded by AL

Online Conference by Zoom
Tuesday 31st August, at 7pm

Community Councillors:Duncan MacLaren (Chair) Tam Coyle (V/C), David Cowan (Secretary), Peter Hayman, Gerald Hirst (Treasurer), Eileen Mills, Daniel O’Malley and Scott Thornton.

Residents: EM, AL, GA.

Elected Representatives.: Alison Thewliss MP, Vice Lord Provost Christy Mearns, Cllr Eva Bolander, Cllr Angus Millar

Ex-Officio: Sgt Philip Showell (Police Scotland), PC Robert Wilson, PC David Moffat, Ruth Suter (Glasgow Times) 

1. Welcome by the Chair

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting including those residents here for the first time.

2. Apologies

Received from: Lord Provost Philip Braat (internet connection issues) and Niall McColl.

3. Minutes of the last meeting(27th July, 2021)

The minutes were proposed as a true representation of the meeting by Gerald Hirst and seconded by Tam Coyle.

4. Matters Arising not on the Agenda

Action Points will be discussed during the meeting.

5. Report from the Treasurer

Gerald Hirst reported expenses this month were £110.87 for website hosting security measures. This leaves the MCTCC bank balance, of 31st August, as £1,376.64.

6. Police Report

Sgt Philip Showell reported upon the ongoing policing projects and impromptu arrests in our area. The noise from ‘prestige’ cars (e.g. Ferraris and Lamborghinis) making loud, unsettling exhaust booms, has caused upset to local residents, as the cars race around the Merchant City. Sgt. Showell reported that a number of cars have been stopped and found to be coming here from all over Central Scotland.

Eileen Mills noted a new device called a ‘Acoustic Camera’ which works by the camera detecting a vehicle breaching the legal noise limits, it triggers a camera to take pictures of the vehicle registration number and any other relevant images to allow a fine to be sent out to the vehicle owner. These have been installed in parts of London which suffer a similar problem. They could be more effective than relying on people reporting such cars, which may be miles away by the time the police receive the details. Sgt Showell will make enquiries and added that another difficulty is how it can be hard to issue an arrest, or reach a conviction, if noise regulations can be interpreted in such a way as to cause ambiguity as there is a certain amount of noise being allowed.

Officers are continuing an operation of patrolling Argyle St and Trongate to further reduce anti-social behaviour and drugs misuse. The City Centre will soon have two new community police officers: PC Robert Wilson and PC David Moffat. Finally, Sgt Showell asked for the support of residents by reporting any issues of concern using the 101 phone service to tackle local issues.

GA reported he had participated with Aberdeen’s city centre renewal plan and how it was notable there were no activities in Glasgow to make it more family friendly. The Chair noted it is a priority to increase family facilities in our area.

7. Elected Members Reports

Alison Thewliss MP

Alison Thewliss MP had a ‘walkabout’ survey of Trongate and the city centre with Kaukab Steward and Angela Constance MSP, Minister for Drugs Policy. The purpose was to help them understand some of the many challenges facing deprived communities. The issue of Safe Drug Use places, discussed previously here, that would allow for this to be done more safely, under medical supervision, is being supported by the Scottish Government. Although such facilities have been established in several European countries, Westminster is not willing to legislate for these in the UK.

Ms Thewliss has had complaints about anti-social behaviour in the public car parks, leading her to contact the operating companies. Improved security access measures will be brought in, as and when it is feasible for car park sites in our area.

The fallout of the U.S. and UK withdrawal from Afghanistan has had on vulnerable individuals and families seeking to leave has been her main focus of correspondence and work in the last two weeks.

Cllr Eva Bolander

Councillor Bolander met with Police Inspector Ross and others today, amongst the issues discussed were anti-social behaviour and drugs misuse. The Violence Reduction Unit is continuing to operate in Trongate, Saltmarket and the Clyde walkway for the next two weeks. This will continue for the TRNSMT festival.

On Queen Street there is a loose manhole cover which makes a considerable noise when trucks and buses go over it. She contacted the relevant agency to have this replaced soon – to the relief of local residents.

Cllr Angus Millar

Councillor Millar reported that the loud exhaust noise for powerful cars was also discussed at the above meeting. The police announced that ‘Operation Sideburn’ will result in more visibility for police officers as a deterrent. This should result in fewer incidents, as it has worked in the past. That said, the public has to help the police also by reporting such instances by phoning 101 and taking note of the offending car’s details to identify the culprit drivers.

He and Cllr Eva Bolander are planning, in the next week or two, a walking survey with council officers to look at the cleansing situation in our area. He commended the work of Denise Hamilton, and the City Centre Task Force team, for how well they have worked in the structure to improve coordination of cleansing tasks. Their area coverage has recently been expanded to include the Yorkhill area.

Cllr Angus Millar gave an update on the Ramshorn Graveyard. Talks are ongoing for the historic churchyard to be opened as a ‘contemplation garden’ and it is hoped this will lead to the gates finally being unlocked in the next three months to celebrate COP26.

GCC is looking to plan, and implement, an ‘intermittent city centre regeneration programme’ spanning 2 years. The original regeneration plan was scheduled to be run over a five year timespan; however the detrimental impact of around 18 months’ lockdown could not have been accounted for.

Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns

Suggestions from David Cowan that the streets require cleaning have been raised within GCC Chief Executive. She met with a group of business owners and council officers last week identified specific spots (i.e. around bins) that required pavement cleaning. The bins themselves should also be cleaned, not an enviable job admittedly, but does make a significant improvement to the street experience for everyone.

It has been requested that SPT clean the Perspex covering the entrances to St. Enoch’s and Buchanan St subway stations. These will make a big difference to the main thoroughfares in the city centre.

She has proposed that ‘Street Clerks’ take notes on minor issues that may be missed such as fly-posters left up and such, so that more targeted work can be done. John Street has been flagged up as needing cleaning due to mess caused by contractors after working there.

She has been looking at actions brought in as a result of Covid restrictions, such as outdoor seating, which is good for bars and restaurants, but causes much greater nuisance for people on their streets, higher noise levels, and cars parking on pavements. It can also pose a barrier to residents and pedestrians walking paths. She does not know for how much longer that awnings and outdoor seating will be in place.

The Low Emission Zones consultation is open to the 2nd September. Secure bicycle storage hubs are being considered within the City which is until the 3rd September. Open Space Funding will be becoming available soon and it would be good to see this used for more trees and plants. Trees improve mental wellbeing and absorb some vehicle pollution. The Area Partnership can be involved in distributing this.

Questions to Elected Members

Scott Thornton complimented the depth of the reports and it was good to see Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns attending. He asked about electric charging points, discussed at a previous meeting. Cllr Eva Bolander has made enquiries, as long ago as last year, and noted that to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the Carrick Quay area would be difficult. However, they are available in Bell Street, High Street and Duke St.

Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns mentioned there are 218 charging points in the city. More information about charging points, including any grants, can be found by emailing:-

Cllr Bolander, Chair of the Area Partnership for Anderston, City and Yorkhill, recently passed funding for green projects of almost £50k; however the cost of one new tree installation is £8,000. The areas of deprivation are Townhead and Anderston and there are projects going on there to improve green spaces. In the City Centre, the Avenues project will be installing more greenery but will take some time. There will be more details

AL was grateful about previous contact with Ward 10 Councillors and asked what is the best way to contact them.

The Chair said that some of the worst litter louts were smokers. On a Sunday morning, outside many pubs, restaurants and Casinos, the pavement is carpeted with cigarette butts. He would like to see owners and staff to begin to clean up this mess as a matter of course after the establishments have shut. Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns said there is a clear link between the establishments and the mess. As she is on the Licencing Board, with which they interact quite regularly, and a new stipulation could be inserted into licenses. She asked that he contact her to see if it was possible to take this forward. Cllr Bolander noted this was an issue outside some work locations and the situation improved after contacting the management.

GA agreed this would be a good step forward from his experience in Aberdeen where he was a licensee holder. Re the problem of checking how full bins are, if ‘smart bins’ which signal when they are full are used, that would allow for more efficient emptying.

8. Planning Applications

Peter Hayman shared his screen to show the list of current planning applications.

None were of note. An example of the applications were:-
A basement in Glassford Street to be used as an office
127 Argyle Street, change of frontage
7 George Street, change of signage.

Peter Hayman discussed the recent walk along the River Clyde with GCC officials who talked through the current, and future, state of the buildings going up along the river. It was noted the height of the buildings was excessive and the loss of heritage very regrettable. There are plans to extend the river quay walls 10 meters into the river. Further information can be found at:- .

Mr Hayman also gave a brief presentation of the plan he created to increase pedestrianisation in the Merchant City. The Chair recommended people to read the full report available on our website under the Campaigns tab:- .

9. Licensing Applications

Tam Coyle distributed new applications to MCTCC members.
A – Received 19th August: Ref No.: MO00345; 8 x 2week Temporary Market Operators Licence to Keasim Events Ltd, Festival Village, Merchant Sqr, Mon – Sun, 11am – 10pm. Last date for objections is 15th of September, 2021.

The 8 two week licenses seem to be ongoing. Why the GCC Licencing continually approves these was discussed. Depute Lord Provost will look into this matter.

B –Application received 18th of August. Ref No. GC2375 – Virgin Hotel, 236-246 Clyde St. Variation of Licence for 61 people on an outdoor terrace; increase occupant capacity from 200 to 1491 persons, rename to Virgin Hotel, addition of an open air terrace, gym/exercise and fitness facility and change bedroom layouts. Last day for objections is the 16th of September, 2021.

It was thought that the large increase was maybe due to a function room.

10. Merchant City Park Update

Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns met with Artisan Holdings, the new owners of the Ingram Street car park site about a month ago, The company stated that they were aware of the strength of feeling towards the retaining of the large mural on the side of the Fruitmarket Concert hall wall. Their proposal at the time of speaking was to retain this and aim to keep this open to the public to view, inside a courtyard perhaps. A new planning application will appear in the next few months.

Eileen Mills reported how, after meeting with Provost Braat on 2nd July, he offered an introduction to Artisan Holdings. However, it was felt that as the planning application for a new building on site was the inevitable outcome, this was at odds with the aims of Merchant City Park’s. The site, if it had been able to convert into a park, would have been the only family friendly area in the City Centre. She also wonders if people will see the mural in any detail if it is only from a short distance away from the walls of the new building.

11. MCTCC Social Media

Website – Added an “MCTCC In the News” section, to track articles in the local press featuring the community council, thanks go out to Ruth Suter of the Evening Times. Website links have been rationalized and general tidying up carried-out.

Awareness – Couple of articles in Glasgow Times in the last few weeks, with thanks to Scott for his help

Posters are ready for putting up on the noticeboards. Scott Thornton is working on a flyer about MCTCC for local businesses.

Email list – 69 subscribers + 14 since May
Facebook – 343 Followers + 50 since May
Twitter – 87 followers + 27 since May

12. Addressing Local Issues

Scott Thornton, Duncan MacLaren, Niall McColl, Provost Braat and Cllr Bolander attended a tour of the waterfront on the 11th August to discuss future plans for the site with the design architects from New Practice. An application is expected Easter next year for a five year development with an aim to attract people down to the waterfront from Buchanan Street through St. Enoch’s. There will be minimum development on the south side other than some landscaping.

The quay wall will be extended by 8 meters or more for cafes, bars and restaurants. Quite a few events have been held to publicise this. There is going to be a public exhibition with scale modelling in The Briggait on 6th and 7th October. MCTCC will monitor progress and thanked the architects for the tour.

The Chair and Vice-Chair attended a meeting with Cllrs Millar and Bolander, some time ago, regarding setting up a Friends of Ramshorn Graveyard. This will be discussed at the next mid-monthly meeting with a view to taking this forward to the full October meeting.

13. AOCB

An email was received from Steven Dowling to notify us that voting for new office-bearers will take place at an AGM in October 2023. However, it was noted that there will be a short AGM this October and anyone among community councillors is free to stand for office-bearer positions.

The Chair thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting: 

Date of next meeting:**Tuesday 28th September, 2021 at 7pm **
A Zoom link will be circulated for registration.

Action Points

  1. Enquire about installing ‘acoustic cameras’ (Sgt Philip Showell)
  2. Contact the Depute Lord Provost regarding establishments clearing up cigarette butts outside (Duncan MacLaren)
  3. Look into the eight week licences for Keasim Events Ltd for the Festival Village (Depute Lord Provost Mearns)