Tam Coyle (Chair), Carla Arrighi, Gary Atkinson, Peter Hayman, Niall McColl, Eileen Mills, Scott Thornton, Ros Wardley-Smith; Ward Councillors Eva Bolander, Philip Braat, Baillie Christy Mearns, Angus Millar; Police – PCs Rob Wilson and Sean McFadden; MD, TD, DF, DH, EL, CMcK, TMcK, GM. By video: OG
1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES
Tam welcomed attendees to the meeting, held unusually on a Monday rather than Tuesday.
Apologies were received from Police Inspector Johnny Waters.
2. POLICE REPORT
PC Wilson reported that police had worked with parking enforcement officers in Merchant City last Saturday night and served 84 penalty notices. This exercise would be repeated in a month.
Several joint ‘engagement events’ had been held with cyclists and motorists re bikers’ safety and observance of the Highway Code. Tam noted that the Community Council had led efforts to have Candleriggs made pedestrians-only for all but two hours a day to allow deliveries to businesses.
Tam said he would discuss with police the issue of noisy buskers with police ‘off the table.’
Councillor Braat asked how successful recent bike marking and cyclists’ engagement events had been.
Scott asked if there had been a significant incidence of the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) canisters. PC Wilson said there had been a few seizures from younger people.
EL asked if anything could be done about queuing of sometimes as many as 25 people outside Shawarma King takeaway, often blocking King Street. PC Wilson said it might be possible to talk to the owner but it was more a safety rather than police issue.
DH said graffiti offenders had been allowed to get away with impunity for far too long. There was a high correlation between the incidence of crime and areas hit by graffiti since that indicated no action was being taken against anti-social behaviour.
Councillor Braat said buskers often tried to outdo each other with noise volume, an example being those outside the Bank of Scotland in St Enoch Square.
3. ELECTED MEMBERS’ REPORTS
Baillie Mearns said notices of legal action had been served on businesses in Candleriggs continuing to encroach on pavement space.
Councillor Bolander said a series of events would be held over five days as part of the ‘Go Live!’ programme in conjunction with the World Cycling Championships from 3-13 August. These would include acts previously featured at the Merchant City Festival (MCF) which would return in 2024.
Councillor Millar said representations had been made about the proposal for student accommodation on Trongate/Hutcheson Street and Osborne Street, with a looming deadline for the latter.
Councillor Braat reported anti-social behaviour by young people congregating around the Museum of Modern Art.
Signage had been left by Scottish Water in and around the High Street long after the work had finished, creating a safety hazard, especially for the visually impaired.
Scott asked Councillor Bolander for an update on waterfront developments between Glasgow Green and Central Station. Despite various attractive presentations over the last few years very little progress seemed to have been achieved recently.
Councillor Millar said strengthening of the quay wall had been part of the City Deal funding reached in 2014. This involved a number of projects. The value of the original grant had been eroded in the meantime. Scott asked if the previous plans had been too ambitious and had proved unaffordable. Councillor Millar said an update on overall funding would be available in the next couple of months.
Peter, Tam and Eileen updated the meeting on the proposal (approved by GCC’s Planning Applications Committee on the casting vote of the Chairman) to build 109 apartments on the site of the NCP car park in Ingram Street. This application had been ‘called in’ by the Scottish Government which is to appoint a Reporter to review it. MCTCC has campaigned for four years to have a community park built in the site.
Gary asked about the impact on residents of the introduction of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) which Councillor Millar summarised. Enforcement should not be forced upon residents without adequate notice. In response to a question from Peter about air quality he said buses’ emission standards needed further improvement.
MD queried why motorists had been penalised last Boxing Day, a major shopping day, since GCC had decreed it was not a public holiday and therefore parking fines could be imposed,
Tam noted that community engagements for the next TRNSMT pop festival were scheduled for 19 April and 24 May (Calton Community Centre 5.30-7 pm). MCTCC would be represented.
EL queried the permitted hours for noisy construction work, saying work near her home had begun at 7 am. Following the meeting Councillor Bolander confirmed recommended working hours for noisy works on construction sites are: Monday-Friday 8 am to 7 pm, Saturday – 9 am to 1 pm; Sunday – No noisy works should take place.
Tam said EL’s complaints about lack of privacy due to re-siting of a lamp post would be covered during a forthcoming walkabout by Community and Ward Councillors.
4. PRESENTATION ON SAFE NEEDLE AND OTHER DRUGS PARAPHERNALIA DISPOSAL
Lise Fisher of GCC introduced her colleague John Campbell on the latest aspect of their work of the past few years on cleaning up needle and drug paraphernalia. John manages the Council’s needle exchange programme and chairs the city centre harm reduction action group. He explained that 400-500 people a month inject themselves away from home every month, sometimes in public places. This involves 6,000-7,000 needles a month.
Changes in procedures had helped, including giving out single use packs of needles and using foil as an alternative needles to inhale the drug instead of injecting it.
Lise said a six month pilot programme would involve setting up one large 60 litre capacity container for accepting used needles and other items. This would be situated in New Wynd Lane, an area known for drug abuse, and monitored daily. The concept had worked successfully in other towns and cities. The Council was not condoning drug abuse but trying to lessen its impacts.
In answer to a question from Gary, John said the aperture would be just large enough to accept needles and have a sloping roof so nothing could be placed on top.
EL complained that the drug problem kept getting shifted to that area from other parts of Glasgow. Why could it not be placed in Ingram Street? It would attract more drug users to the area. Lise said the location had been selected because of the high incidence of discarded needles left around New Wynd.
MD said he was heartened by the initiative and added the King Street pharmacy had proved to be a flash point because of the doling out of drugs from it.
TMcK queried whether drug users in other parts of the city would go all the way to this container to discard their needles.
Peter had circulated a report on recent applications. These included a proposal for Purpose Built Student Accommodation on Trongate/Hutcheson Street. Deadline for objections is 10 April. Peter showed a picture of the elevations and said it was another example of the new featureless architecture blighting the cityscape. Buildings were being built higher and higher regardless of architectural merit.
Tam reminded the meeting that MCTCC had strong feelings about the need for more student accommodation in the city centre. The meeting confirmed the Community Council’s objection to this proposal and Peter was asked to convey this to GCC. DH said students had no stake in the local community and adding even more accommodation for them ran counter to Glasgow Council’s aim to bring more families into the city centre.
ST noted that statistics provided at a recent consultation on Glasgow’s Housing Strategy included an increase of 40% in student numbers in Glasgow in the past eight years.
He said the representative of another student accommodation development, in Osborne Street, had promised to share a report compiled by Savills on projected student accommodation shortfalls. Tam said he would pursue this with Porter Planning.
EL queried the proposed (and now approved) 7 storey student accommodation in Jocelyn Square.
Councillor Bolander said there was a need for more student accommodation but public transport meant students could easily reach the city centre from accommodation in other parts of the city.
On a general point, Tam said it was wrong that GCC imposed no limit on the height of new buildings.
Tam will represent MCTCC on a GCC Focus Group on 21 April.
Proposal for a ‘House of Gods’ hotel in Glassford Street hotel (next to the post office) includes opening until 2 am for private functions (for up to almost 400 people). MCTCC has concerns about this as well as a proposed rooftop bar. Tam will seek clarification from GCC Licensing on where such large groups would gather with a view to objecting on behalf of MCTCC.
7. MINUTES OF LAST MEETING
To be amended to include apologies from Gordon Wylie.
Proposed by Scott, seconded by Tam. Approved.
8. TREASURER’S REPORT
Carla reported a current bank balance of £10.508.
9. GRANT GIVING
Niall said a sub-group of himself, Gary and Scott had compiled guidelines, criteria and a scoring matrix for a scheme to use some of the money (mostly donated by film companies) for projects of benefit to the local community. An updated draft will be circulated to Community Councillors for discussion at their next mid-monthly meeting. In principle it will be presented to the April public meeting and, if agreed, launched. Peter and Eileen may apply for funding for legal assistance in connection with Merchant City Park.
10. NEW COMMUNITY COUNCILLORS
Colin McKay and Mark Dougan have accepted invitations to join MCTCC and were welcomed.
11. LITTER PICK
More volunteers are required for the clean-up of the MCTCC area on Saturday 15 April.
12. WEBSITE UPDATE
Niall said he and Ros had received a quote of around £3,000 for refreshing the Website. He will request other tenders and investigate matched funding.