Tue 7 Feb, 2017

Christy Mearns

Glasgow

Over the past few weeks I've been talking to residents about plans to demolish the Old College Bar on High Street to make way for a block of student flats. While gathering signatures for my petition, I have spoken to enough enthusiastic signees to demonstrate a real concern, not just of cultural heritage being ripped out of Glasgow, but also about the short-term, poor-quality architecture that we often see replacing it. Many people are jaded because of a lack a voice with which to influence decision-making, particularly in the planning process. Despite often huge opposition, many eventually give up trying to influence planning decisions, and the result: a loss of hope for people here.

The benefits of this kind of regeneration are one-sided and the social cost is high. Although new and better developments are needed, this building like many others before it, is hugely significant to the people who live here and the history it represents. It has served as a pub for centuries and is a cornerstone of the local community. It's a space treasured by Glaswegians who socialise here. At a time of social isolation, we should be preserving spaces which bring people together, not destroying them purely for profit's sake.

In the case of High St, let's demand that it be recognised for what it is: the medieval quarter of the city, holding immense cultural and historical value. We've seen Glasgow City Council celebrate the commercial potential of Glasgow (the 'Style Mile'); let's also see it reflect the huge cultural value of Glasgow's important Historical Mile.

There is also a real crisis for small businesses in the area, many of whom have had to shut up shop since new landlord City Property took over, from Glasgow City Council. Small businesses and charities, many of whom had previously been given concessionary rates, have been forced to pay for expensive repair costs and historic damage that the council should accept responsibility of, due to years of negligence. When our local business are facing challenges we should be focusing on supporting them, not tearing them down. Approving this application would be another nail in the coffin for small businesses; those who know well the communities in which they serve and who offer under- recognised social benefit to them, qualities which cannot be measured in simple GDP terms.

The city centre and surrounding areas have seen a huge increase in unaffordable student accommodation in recent years and the speed of these applications shows no signs of slowing down. Developers in Glasgow are benefitting from a boom in this type of housing which offers a high return on their investments. The problem is not the students who take up residence in them but ultimately opportunistic developers and the council, who seem out-of-touch when it comes to promoting sensible development and regeneration.

I want to see a more holistic approach to planning, one that recognises the bigger picture: of the long-term, environmental and social impacts of these types of development; the effect on communities and cultural heritage; and the needs of students from low income brackets.

I recently attended a busy public meeting about this and many residents and students gathered to express these exact concerns. It's clear that people want more say into these type of decisions and I want to see the planning process strengthened to reflect this. It is time for us to recognise the importance of our local people and businesses and to push back against rip-off student housing. That's why I have launched the petition to save the Old College Bar and it's why I’m hoping you will support it.

If elected I will push for communities to have greater voice in the planning process and I will fight for planning reform. I’ll also encourage Community Right to Buy and will work with Green Councillors and MSPs to push for a more progressive land reform agenda, one that does recognise the value that communities add to the land and places around them.

 

Sign our petition to save the Old College Bar here:

https://greens.scot/glasgow/save-glasgow-s-oldest-pub-from-demolition?q=glasgow/save-glasgow-s-oldest-pub-from-demolition

Get involved

More like this

What’s the Future for the Govan Graving Docks?

Allan Young Mon 11 Dec, 2017

Make sure you have your say and join the campaign to save the Govan Graving Docks from extinction.

If you have seen the Govan Graving Docks in the last 30 years you would be forgiven for not recognising what it was in front of you.

Described as “outstanding” and “without parallel in Scotland” by Historic Environment Scotland, the docks helped make Govan a global name. Despite being a hub of tremendous industry and enterprise for a century, the Graving Docks, or Dry Docks as they are also known, now lie derelict and abandoned.

Glasgow Greens Gain Cross-Party support for a Universal Basic Income

Allan Young Thu 2 Nov, 2017

Today we made good progress towards getting a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for Glasgow. I amended a welfare motion to call for a cross-party working group to investigate plans for a UBI in Glasgow. The amendment was approved and the motion was carried with collective support from Greens, Labour and SNP.

Hopefully now can be the start of a collective effort across the chamber to create a robust plan of action. And about time too.

As I outlined in the chamber today, now is the time for a step change in economic thinking.

Putting an End to Period Poverty

Kim Long Thu 2 Nov, 2017

Today I was proud to give my maiden speech in full council on the incredibly important issue of period poverty.  Here's what I had to say: