Meeting of Merchant City and Trongate Community Council held in Glasgow City Chambers – Tuesday 25 April 2023
Attended by: Tam Coyle (Chair), Mark Dougan, Niall McColl, Colin McKay, Eileen Mills, Scott Thornton, Ros Wardley-Smith; DF, JG, DH, MG; Police – PC Rob Wilson; Ward Councillors Philip Braat and Eva Bolander, by video – David Cowan, Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns and Councillor Angus Millar.
Apologies: PC Sean McFadden, Peter Hayman
1. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (27 March)
Adoption proposed by Niall, seconded by DH.
2. POLICE REPORT
PC Wilson said a joint further session of action on parking breaches with Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) due on 15 April had to be cancelled because the PEOs declined to work extra evening hours. Police had gone out that evening anyway with the same aim.
Three further bike training/marking sessions had been held, two in universities since students were believed more vulnerable to cycle theft
Councillor Braat said marking events were important in deterring thefts.
Scott said evening and after dark gatherings of teenagers were becoming commonplace on the south and east asides of the St Enoch Centre. PC Wilson said. this was on the police’s radar and patrols were being stepped there as well as in St Enoch Square.
Scott said the Buskers’ Code of Conduct was a matter for Glasgow City Council and he realised that currently no licence was required but asked PC Wilson how many times in the past 12 months police had issued warnings to buskers playing more noisily than stated in the Code (music not heard beyond 30 metres away) and how many items of equipment had been confiscated. There was no point in having a Code if it was not enforced. PC Wilson said this would require an application to Police Scotland under the Freedom of Information Act.
Councillor Bolander said the City Centre Task Force would be discussing this in a more general review the following day. Scott said this might require Scottish Government action since a similar legislative situation existed in Edinburgh.
MG said addicts were discarding needles and other drugs paraphernalia outside her home in Parsonage Square. It was pointed out this was not in the MCTCC but Calton CC area. PC Wilson took details and will follow up. Tam will put MG in touch with Lise Fisher of GCC and follow up on Eileen’s request for some of the links/publications/results, referred to by the presenters, where other countries had set up a system similar to that about to be trialled in Glasgow.
3. ELECTED MEMBERS’ REPORTS
Councillor Braat said he had raised the buskers’ problem with Police Inspector Waters. Buskers were becoming louder and more brash, and this was having a detrimental effect on tourists, some of whom had asked buskers to turn down the volume. The Code was perhaps 10 years old and it may be time for this to be reviewed.
Councillor Bolander said she had also raised the issue with Inspector Waters and it may be possible to ‘dust off’ a review of the Code carried out pre-Covid.
She outlined the culture and sporting programmes for the Merchant City Festival being incorporated in the World Cycling Championships which would be an even bigger event than the Commonwealth Games. The MCTCC area would be
Depute Lord Provost Mearns said motorists were still parking on pavements in Candleriggs.
Residents had complained about the extremely short notice of the Candleriggs road closure because of drainage work for the build-to-rent development. She had contacted the contractor and a greater notice period had been conceded.
The Panopticon had been in touch about anti-social activity in the area. The New/Old Wynd lane was being checked daily and four days of action had taken place. Several thousand pounds worth of drugs had been taken off the streets.
No progress had been achieved in getting various cafes in Candleriggs to abide by formal GCC notices restricting their tables’ incursions on to pavements. Enforcement might be possible through Licensing.
Occasional licences were reportedly being granted for premises communally owned by residents at the Old Sheriff Court. This was being investigated by Licensing.
She was continuing to investigate potential for more zebra crossings on side roads and seeking funding for this.
Councillor Millar said action points had been followed up after his recent walkabout with Councillor Bolander and MCTCC Councillors.
Parking infringements were also bad in Brunswick Street. Some 70 penalty notices had been issued following a recent enforcement drive. More parking attendants were being recruited. There had been a sharp dip in the work force during Covid.
Tam said there should normally be no vehicles on the lower part of Candleriggs after 11 am on any day. Depute Lord Provost Mearns said there was temporary dispensation because of the current building scheme. Eileen asked why Graham the developer was proposing drivers access Candleriggs from Trongate which is no entry access.
As City Transport Convener Councillor Millar had had further discussions with Peter Hayman on the McPhean proposal with a major aim being the improvement of low traffic interventions. He would like to discuss this with local stakeholders, including the Community Council, at a later date take the plan forward.
Eileen asked if there would be a presentation to MCTCC about the World Cycling Championships in August. Tam said this would be discussed at the next Mid Monthly Meeting.
DF thanked Ward Councillors on behalf of GCC for the 24 hour response to his complaint about racist graffiti on the pavement on the Clyde waterfront.
4. DRUGS PARAPHERNALIA
Tam will ask Lise Fisher for an update on the siting of the new container in New Wynd.
5. LITTER PICK
Niall reported on the event on 15 April. Tam thanked Councillors Braat, Bolander and Millar for joining Community Councillors on the clean-up.
Cigarette butts outside licensed premises had been shown to be a major problem. DF said a backpack vacuum cleaner could be bought to sweep these up. Councillor Braat said a stout brush would help.
Scott said many Council litter bins had been open, with contents spilling out into the pavement or street. Cleansing operatives should ensure they were locked shut after being emptied. Councillor Braat said budget may be an issue. He said the number of bins had been reduced and replaced with larger ones to make collection quicker. He had noticed a lack of recycling bins for glass. Councillor Bolander said maltreatment by passers-by could be part of the problem.
To deter seagulls and pigeons commercial premises should not put rubbish on pavements or streets but on their own premises. Notices should be put up around George Square in particular asking people not to feed pigeons, especially since bird flu remains an issue.
DH said in future it would be better to carry out such an exercise on a Sunday. Tam said MCTCC might consider doing it again but no more often than quarterly and perhaps only annually.
Councillor Bolander said GCC’s Commercial Waste team should raise with licensed premises the need for more bins for glass recycling. and ash trays for cigarette butts.
She suggested that in future stickers should be attached to bags stating: “Collected by MCTCC.”
MCTCC has objected to the proposal for student accommodation on Osborne St. Scott noted that the Billy Connolly mural next to the development would be destroyed as a result.
Eight MCTCC Councillors attended a briefing on-site at The Briggait. Work on Phase 1 is due to start in May, initially to create more space for indoor markets.
Following intervention from MCTCC the lamppost under a complaining resident’s window had been turned to face outwards.
A resident had reported construction noise starting at Jocelyn Square at 7 am. Councillor Bolander said that although an 8 am start on weekdays was only ‘recommended’ by GCC it had been included in the ‘advisory note’ to construction companies which gave it greater weight. Tam said MCTCC was grateful to Ward Councillors who shared its concern.
Tam said there was a need for adequate notice to be given of licence variations relating to construction, especially late night work.
Merchant City Park – Eileen said it was up to the SG Reporter as to whether she wished to contact any or all of the 143 objectors to the Ingram Street car park application. The Reporter’s target deadline is 23 June 2023. Of the 8 missing documents requested by DPEA seven have been supplied by GCC to date.
Colin asked the purpose of scaffolding on Queen Street/Ingram Street. Eva said she would check.
Tam reported on his participation in a recent meeting of GCC’s Licensing Focus Group. He had been surprised that the MCTCC area had not been designated an area of over-provision of alcohol licensing.
He told that meeting MCTCC did not want alcohol licences for serving outdoors to run later than 10 pm and pubs should not be allowed to serve beyond midnight. Councillor Bolander said the issue would go out to further consultation. The status quo might prevail.
MCTCC has objected to the application for the ‘House of Gods’ Hotel on Glassford Street, including because of the rooftop bar and requested 2 am licence for private events.
Hootenanny pub – Between 5 and 8 feet of the lower section of the Billy Connolly mural are already covered. The proposed two storey extension would cover more than half of it. There would be no amplified music outside.
Scott said some of the flagstones in St Enoch Square were broken. Had that damage been caused by stallholders at major events? It should be a condition of the granting of a licence for a stall that it was conditional on restoring the site ‘as new.’ Councillor Bolander said noise from attractions was becoming excessive.
8. TREASURER’S REPORT
Treasurer not present. Tam will contact Carla.
9. GRANT GIVING SCHEME
Approved as presented by Niall. The sub-committee of him, Gary and Scott will take this forward. Details are on the MCTCC Website. Applications will close on 31 July.
10. ANDERSTON, CITY AND YORKHILL PARTNERSHIP
Gary represented MCTCC but not at this meeting to report.
11. FRIENDS OF THE RAMSHORN
First meeting due on 17 May with guest speaker.
12. MEETING OF WARD 10 COMMUNITY COUNCILLORS
David represented MCTCC at the most recent meeting and has since reported to his fellow Community Councillors. Tam and Scott will represent it at the next meeting on Thursday 25 May.
Scott reported on filming for ITV’s new Shetland series on 4 May in Miller Street (exterior shots outside Canada Court and inside in The Spiritualist until 11 pm) and Trongate/King Street with use of Virginia Street (and Court for equipment access) for vehicle parking. The production company had been asked for a donation to MCTCC’s grant-giving fund.
14. WEBSITE AND OTHER PUBLICITY
Niall and Ros will be reviewing various quotes for enhancing the Website.
Business cards for MCTCC Councillors and office bearers have been provided.
Posters for notice boards are being re-designed. These can also be placed in prominent locations, perhaps including the post office.
DF said MCTCC should consider advertising. Niall said this could be too expensive.
15. ROBIN JONES
Tam said no date had yet been set for the funeral of one of MCTCC’s longest serving Councillors (Later it was advised this will take place in Watford on 16 May. Details of the Webcast are available from MCTCC Secretary).
16. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Eileen reported on her participation on the consultation on the re-development of George Square and said it was clear that many of the decisions had been taken in 2016 and the GCC representative himself indicated that, seven years on, financing will require reconsideration. It was acknowledged, in particular, that the condition of George Square surface and the Walter Scott plinth were poor. All other statues would be removed and assessed for damage before deciding whether or not to return them to the Square, perhaps in a different position.
Scott said the consultation he attended was told a planning application would be submitted in the Summer with work projected to start in 2025 with completion in early 2028.
Scott said he had received a detailed update from Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership about the possibility of a GP surgery for Merchant City. He would study this and report back to MCTCC. Anderston CC is interested in liaising on this.
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday 30 May at 6.30 pm – City Chambers