Meeting Minutes, 29 August 2023

Attended by: Tam Coyle (Chair), Gary Atkinson, David Cowan, Peter Hayman, Niall McColl, Colin McKay, Scott Thornton, Rios Wardley-Smith; AC, RE, DF, DH, TMcK, GMcK, GM,  Police – PC Rob Wilson; Ward Councillor Angus Millar; By video – Eileen Mills, EM, NM, JR, DS, EW

Apologies: Carla Arrighi, Ward Councillors Eva Bolander and Deputy Lord Provost Christy Mearns

1. Minutes of meeting held on 25 July

Proposed by Scott, seconded by DH. Approved. 

2.  Police Report

PC Wilson said there had been no additional crimes or disorder associated with the World Cycling Championships which had been well received. Overall it had been a very positive event.

Between 26 July and 29 August a total of 106 crime incidents had been recorded in the MCTCC area, with 40 detections.

An increase had been seen in ‘opportunistic’ crimes, especially from licensed premises, such as thefts of wallets, laptops and mobile phones. He urged residents to be vigilant in such circumstances.

Responding to David, who reported bogus delivery drivers trying to gain entry to a block of flats, he said residents should not open the door unless they knew the identity of the person concerned,.

The football season, including European club and international matches, were now in full swing, meaning an extensive police presence. 

Engagements with buskers were continuing.

Candleriggs remained a particular problem for pavement parking. Police were keen to co-operate with parking enforcement wardens and GCC but there had been some ‘road blocks’ to progress. 

In answer to a question from Peter he said police did not differentiate between electric and ‘normal’ bicycles when investigating cycling on pavements. 

GM said he had observed an incident in Glasgow Green when a delivery cyclist had knocked down a pedestrian and been surrounded by an angry mob. Should he have become involved? PC Wilson thought not. 

Although not in the MCTCC area, drugs were a problem in among other locations Gallowgate and Bell Street.

Tam raised the issue of drugs taking around the Old Sheriff Court building. PC Wilson said police had been liaising with the factor.

EW, who had been attentioned to this meeting by police officers, reported increased use of drugs in a close at Goosedubs Lane off Howard Street. PC Wilson said residents should ensure there was no unauthorised entry and a bin store code needed to be changed.

3. Presentation by Wise Group on its Relationship Mentoring Service

Ann Nye explained this organisation’s services aimed in particular at helping those living in fuel insecurity. It provided guidance, advice, mentoring and counselling, and can issue fuel vouchers. Services include fighting addiction, gaining life skills, and improving physical and mental well being. Wise has funding until October 2024. Referrals have to be made by an outside organisation such as a charity. 

In answer to a question from Scott, Ann said Wise had no special outreach to the deaf community and she agreed to look into this.

4. Elected Members’ Reports

Angus said he had been briefed by developers who wanted to build more Purpose Built Student Accommodation in Osborne Street/Old Wynd but information on concrete proposals had been thin. 

There remained a lack of student accommodation in the city.  GCC had tightened up rules and standards for student accommodation several years ago. Profit margins on such developments were relatively high in this sector.  Student accommodation needed to fit in with the general character of the area concerned. There was a place for more student accommodation but there had to be a housing mix. His personal preference was for mainstream residential accommodation on this site.

Scott said he and Gary had attended an online meeting with the developers and been surprised to learn the proposal was for a building of up to 16 storeys to accommodate 275 students. Another application for similar student accommodation was for a site on the other end of the same street.

Gary said he and Scott had made clear the Community Council’s concerns about over-concentration of student accommodation in the city centre.

Scott added that at the recent GCC briefings on the ‘Golden Z,’ real estate developers had been delighted with the potential for student accommodation.

Speaking about the Dominus Osborne Street development Eileen said the original proposal had been for 98 flats. Why did it change to student accommodation? Angus said no application had yet been submitted. Eileen said the original proposal for development of the site at the other end of Osborne Street had also been for residential accommodation.

Peter said he was concerned that developers were talking about such buildings ‘fitting in’ with the emerging character of the area. The proposed adjacent King Street development risked being a series of ‘Lego blocks,’ permitting the maximum return on investment. GCC should be setting a ‘direction of travel’ for developments in the city centre. 

Angus told the meeting that Eva was planning a walkabout in the area on Thursday to look at more sites for markets and planters as part of the Open Spaces budget. 

He had often contacted Council officers about pavement parking on Candleriggs and hoped to have another Day of Action to tackle this.

He planned to have another walkabout to review local cleansing issues. Community Council members should give him suitable dates for this.

Angus explained Glasgow City Council’s consultation on busking in the city centre. Scott noted he had circulated a draft response to MCTCC members and, since no adverse comments had been received, would be submitting that before the deadline of 2 September. 

Angus reported on GCC’s recent briefings on the ‘Golden Z’ which addressed the overall vision for much of the city centre. The Council wanted to be proactive and work in partnership with land owners, developers and the community. Eileen said this flew in the face of the situation regarding ‘Merchant City Park’ on which there had been no community engagement. 

DH said the Council’s own excellent Merchant City Regeneration Handbook (which includes green spaces as a priority) should be its vision for the area. Developers were not concerned whether their proposals aligned with city planning policy.

Tam said 26 trees would be sacrificed if the Ingram Street car park proposal for 109 flats were approved. Angus replied that he was unable to comment on this because of conflicts of interest. It would be judged on its planning merits. 

Scott said he had received slides of the Golden Z presentations and could forward them to anyone interested.

In response to a question from TMcK on the removal of benches in George Square Angus said he would check when they would be returned. DF asked why new rubbish bins only had two slots instead of the previous four. This meant they were less effective.

JR, attending via video, complained about loud music from live bands from the Merchant City Festival site which had its occasional licence extended from eight to 13 weeks. The band has been playing 10 metres from her lounge. She had complained to the Council’s noise control department (which had tested decibel levels from the different end from where the amplifiers were situated), police and GCC Licensing to no avail. How had this been allowed and what had been the consultation process?

Angus said he was unaware of the terms of the licence but would check. it was noted that the Festival was due to close the following Monday.

5. Planning

Applications are on the Community Council’s Website. Peter said they mostly concerned advertising media such as screens and decorations. A retrospective application had been received for extension of a marquee outside the Hootenanny pub in Dixon Street (where there is a Billy Connolly tribute mural).

An application had been lodged for an advertising box, perhaps housing a defibrillator, outside Tinderbox in Ingram Street. Gary said this offered an opportunity for miscreants to urinate beside it. There was a need for a defibrillator but on a different site. Deadline for objections is 11 September. 

6. ‘Merchant City Park’

Eileen reported that the Scottish Government’s reporter would be making a visit to the Ingram Street site on 7 September (It was later announced she would also be holding an online hearing on 13 September).  

A major issue would be the ‘Agent of Change’ principle which concerns the risk of music venues being closed because of noise complaints from neighbours. No one had specified the size of the gap between the City Halls and the proposed flats. Matters relating to the new National Planning Framework (NPF 4) would also be important.

Local residents, including members of the Community Council, had made further submissions to SG.

DH said the ball was now in the Scottish Government’s court. 

He added there were six huge air conditioning fans on the roof of the Old Fruitmarket – another noise issue. Eileen asked if planning permission had been granted for them. 

Scott said he assumed the reporter would listen to the loudest noise which might be emitted from the music venues while she was there. 

7. Licensing

Tam and Gary are due to represent MCTCC at GCC’s Local Licensing Forum on 5 


8. Treasurer’s Report

Bank balance of £10,666 with £130 expenses due to be paid out.

9. Grant-giving scheme

The MCTCC sub-committee of Gary, Niall and Scott will meet on 6 September to consider the four applications received so far.

10. Friends of the Ramshorn

Has not yet met. A bid had been submitted for funds. 

Niall has complained to the City Council about inadequate emptying rubbish bins.

Scott reported Strathclyde University had advised MCTCC that the Ramshorn Church would be accessible to the public only on annual Open Days. It was scandalous that apart from these couple of days a year Glasgow citizens were not permitted to admire the interior of one of the city’s most beautiful churches. Angus said the Council could not force a private owner to open its doors but perhaps MCTCC could work with Strathclyde University in the context of Friends of the Ramshorn.

11. Elections to Community Council

Scott reminded the meeting that nomination forms for membership should be returned to Mary McPhail, the Independent Returning Officer at Glasgow City Council, by 8 September, either directly or via him. Each nomination must be proposed and seconded by a resident on the electoral roll in the MCTCC area. The nominee must also be on the electoral roll.

This would be an election for a full four year term. All current members and office bearers stand down. 

MCTCC has been advised by the City Council that it is currently entitled to a maximum of 11 members. If there are more than 11 nominations a secret ballot will be held at the AGM on 31 October.

Next meeting: Tuesday 26 September, City Chambers, 6.30 pm