Meeting of Merchant City and Trongate Community Council – Tuesday 30 May 2023, City Chambers, from 6.30 pm
Attended by: Tam Coyle (Chair), Gary Atkinson, David Cowan, Mark Dougan, Peter Hayman, Eileen Mills, Scott Thornton; Ward Councillor Eva Bolander; DF, DH, MH, TMcK; Police constables Rob Wilson, Sean McFadden and probationary constable Ben Oliver; By video – Depute Lord Provost Christy Mearns, Nicole Mitchell (Evening Times)
1. Welcome and Apologies
Tam welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Apologies: Councillors Philip Braat and Angus Millar; Carla Arrighi, Niall McColl, Colin McKay, Ros Wardley-Smith
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting (25 April)
Approved with amendments: Item 6 – Reference was to Osborne Street not Hutcheson Street; DH attended. Scott to forward corrected version to Steven Dowling.
3. Police Report
Tam said late night parking on pavements remained widespread with often the same cars offending week in and week out.
PC Wilson said police powers were limited but there had been an improvement in the situation in Brunswick Street with new signs and yellow lines. Engagements with businesses had been positive.
Tam complained about the noise from buskers at the foot of Miller Street. PC Wilson said a scheduled Day of Action in the city centre had not taken place because of operational contingencies but was planned for later.
PC McFadden thought the buskers’ code of contact had been quietly ‘refreshed’ but Eva said this was not the case as far as Glasgow City Council was concerned. He might have been referring to the old Code which she circulated a month or so ago.
Tam asked for information on what the legal decibel level should be. PC Wilson said this was a matter for Glasgow Council.
DH asked if there was any initiative to stop the continuing incidence of graffiti by gangs marking out their territory, including on the Clyde Walkway where he had seen four offenders using ladders. Surely these had been observed on CCTV? There should be a zero tolerance policy because the impact was contagious. PC Wilson said all such incidents should be reported on 101 since police then had an audit trail. Gang ‘tags’ could be applied quickly.
In response to a question from DF he said that over the past 6-12 months there had been a worrying increase in youths carrying knives and other weapons.
David Cowan asked if the anti-social behaviour in and around Glasgow Cross on Saturday night was to be allowed to be an annual event. Eva said the Council was setting up a meeting to achieve more ‘joined up thinking’ about how to stop it. There should be more of an onus on the football clubs.
Scott said he had seen hundreds of fans heading to Parkhead in the afternoon before the match, carrying and drinking alcohol.
4. Presentation from Lorenzo Mele, Merchant City Festival and World Cycling Championships (3-18 August)
Lorenzo was representing Glasgow Life to talk mainly about the cultural events which are being incorporated in the Championships which he described as the biggest sports event in the world in 2023.
He explained there were 10 host venues, mostly in Glasgow. The ‘Go Live!’ focal point, Fan Zone area and finish line would be in George Square (open 9 am to 8 pm) with other hubs including Glasgow Green, Tollcross Park, Knightswood, Cathkin Braes and the Emirates Stadium. People would be encouraged to try out new sports. Road race ‘activation sites’ would include Kelvingrove Park, City of Glasgow College, Argyle Street and Merchant Square. All events and access would be free.
There would be extensive disruption in the city centre. Road closures and restrictions would be in place from 31 July. Information would be available on getreadyglasgow.com and emails could be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business engagement sessions would take place in early June and explanatory letters sent to residents.
Peter asked if closed off roads could be used to allow people to enjoy cycling and admire the city centre sights without traffic. It would be an ideal opportunity to showcase Glasgow.
Scott asked if any tickets would be required for access to George Square to which Lorenzo replied it would be ‘first come first served.’ Scott said this risked squeezing a quarter into a pint pot since there was likely to be massive demand for access to a relatively small area.
Peter said he found the artists’ impression of George Square which Lorenzo presented was overly optimistic in terms of spectator numbers. There were likely to be many more.
Eva said public services such as rubbish uplifts were bound to be affected, including the build-up to the championships which Lorenzo advised would start in George Square from 25 July. How would this be communicated to residents? Lorenzo said there would be a live Twitter feed with an email address and telephone number for contact. Scott said any telephone lines should be adequately staffed.
In answer to a question from Peter, Lorenzo said organisers had not yet tackled the impact of sponsors’ promotional activities.
5. Elected Members Reports
Eva reported that the application in principle for the Master Plan for redevelopment of St Enoch Square had been approved by GCC’s Planning Committee this morning. She had been impressed how well the developers had listened to the views of the community. The development was less massed in scale than previously with buildings no more than 10-12 storeys high. No one on the Committee had raised any objection. However, as ever the devil would be in the detail.
Peter found the artists’ impression published in the Evening Times to be underwhelming and wondered if Glasgow Council could exert its influence to ensure Glasgow’s fine buildings in the vicinity were retained.
She explained the Council’s advice on introduction of the Low Emission Zone which in theory was being enforced from 1 June. (A letter to residents issued this week said residents in the Zone will not need to meet its requirements until 1 June 2024 but if their vehicle did not meet emission standards and wanted to take advantage of this grace period they would need to apply to the Council). Eileen felt notification of the LEZ had been left too late.
Tam said the gates of the Ramshorn cemetery were being closed at 4 pm every day. Why could they not be left open longer during the Summer?
Scott asked if Eva’s reference to a ‘surgery’ as part of the St Enoch development meant a GP surgery. Eva said there might be some kind of medical establishment. Scott said here had been no mention of this in the most recent property report by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership.
In response to a question from Scott about how many Council staff were continuing to work from home post-Covid Eva said there had a drop of around one-third in all (not just Council) people working in city centre offices or businesses. Return to offices was one of the issues being tackled by the City Centre Recovery Task Force. The cost of living crisis was another major impediment to the recovery of hospitality since many people were packing lunch boxes instead of going out to restaurants or cafes.
Christy said a quote had been received for a dozen bollards on the East side of Candleriggs at a cost of £25,000 which had been deemed prohibitive. What was included in the quote?
On behalf of MCTCC Peter will lodge an objection to the proposal to build Purpose Built Student accommodation in Osborne Street/New Wynd.
Eileen provided an update on the proposal to build 109 apartments on the NCP car park in Ingram Street rather than create a Merchant City Park for which the Community Council had campaigned for four years. The Reporter has advised she will hold a public inquiry or hearing into the Scottish Government’s ‘Calling In’ of the application.
Despite assurances from the Scottish Government some of the 151 named objectors had not received a letter or email inviting them to take part in an inquiry or hearing. Anyone who had not received such a communication needed to contact SG by Friday.
In relation to a possible change of use for the former Bose premises at 136 Ingram Street (to include food and drink) Eva said it was becoming easier for premises to change their classification.
Mark said metal chimneys from cafes or restaurants rose no further than roof height which meant apartments on that level could be subjected to unpleasant cooking smells. Ward Councillors suggested MCTCC ask GCC Planning to consult with Community Councils on the issues of change of use and extraction ventilation but what should be stated in that request?
Social Hub Hotel (Candleriggs quarter) – Mark asked why a hotel would need an off-sale licence. What would be the benefit to hotel residents? To be discussed at the next Mid Monthly Meeting.
8. Treasurer’s Report
Total of £10,200 in the bank with another £500 invoiced to ITV for compensation for local residents for filming of the ‘Shetland’ series in Miller Street.
9. Friends of Ramshorn
Very positive first meeting held. Minutes to be circulated. Domain name to be selected and registered.
10. Website and other publicity
IT Security and Privacy policies have been posted on the Community Council’s Website.
11. Grant giving scheme
No application yet received.
12. Other business
Area Partnership meeting to be held in the afternoon of Tuesday 15 June; Ward 10 Community Councils’ meeting to take place that same evening. Eva said the latter should feed into the former.
Next meeting: Tuesday 27 June – 6.30 pm in City Chambers.