Glasgow & West Parks & Greenspaces Action Network – feedback from \”A First Statement\”

Glasgow and West Parks and Green Spaces Action Network – A First Statement

The threat at present
Our parks, playing fields and green spaces now face a multitude of threats and no figures currently exist for the sheer amount of green space that is currently lost.  All to often official figures mask the actual loss of green space by noting that there has been ‘no loss’ of football pitches and other facilities because there is no requirement for the authorities to note when land surrounding such facilities has been built upon, or the pitches have been moved.

At a national level we face a government that has placed a strategic importance1 on ‘realising’ public sector assets, which includes parks and green spaces, for the growth of new large private companies and development, and at a local level we face the threat of Glasgow City Council’s parks strategy which effectively amounts to a rezoning of all of the city’s parkland as land suitable for retail and development (“The Plan includes proposals to: Improve the range and quality of facilities in parks such as cafes [and] restaurants”)2, and all across the West we see the same levels of rapacious and unsustainable housing development.

Our green spaces are also under threat from a number of community development company projects intrinsically bound up with Scottish Executive strategy.  These include the Local Development Strategy for the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Clyde Gateway Project set up to push through the M74 motorway extension and the East End Regeneration route.

The Role of our Parks

It is widely known that Scotland is the sick man of Europe, and this is especially true in Glasgow, where in some areas male life expectancy can be as low 54 years, and we are now faced with a generation of kids who may be unlikely to outlive their parents.

There is a broad political consensus that having adequate playing fields, green spaces and other such facilities is important in encouraging people to exercise, which in turn is likely to counteract the poor health of the population, and in the Clyde Valley and Glasgow particularly poor health and inequalities abound (“The health of [Glasgow] residents is not good compared with the rest of Scotland and indicators of wealth, health, crime, employment and educational attainment reveal the scale and extent of deprivation in Glasgow to be much greater than in any other area.”)3 so our parks are especially important and key to our health and wellbeing.

They are important too in the role they play in ensuring mental health and that is crucial too because Scotland has the highest rate of young male suicides in the Western world.

In terms of biodiversity and the environment, their role in the environmental education of city children and much else their role cannot be overstated, especially as the effects of climate change and rising oil prices make it less and less viable for inner city residents, especially poor people, to just to hop in a car and travel to the countryside.

The role of these spaces then cannot be overstated in educating children about the environment and the natural world.  That is something we build upon at our peril.

Best practice for parks and green spaces – The role that we see a green spaces network playing

Parks are natural meeting places, and many are sizeable enough to comprise serious real estate.  This leaves them open to being seen business opportunities for cafes, pubs and restaurants as well as being seen by many councils as suitable homes for private sporting venues and other land intensive developments such as schools.

We however feel that instead of seeing the public estate as new inner city building land, their social function as meeting places, inner city calm and free recreation ground needs.

What we want the network to push for. . .
— Better Pitches  —
~ Facilities need to be improved.  Blaes pitches need to be brought into the 21st century with new surfacing such as Astroturf or high quality grass.
~ Pitches need environmentally friendly lighting if we want our kids to continue to exercise during the winter, and avoid polluting the surrounding areas with strong lights.
~ These sporting facilities need to be free – they can’t be business ventures because if we want the poorest in our society to benefit from them (and they need it most) then we can’t expect kids to pay for it.
— Increased Security —
~ For many parks and green spaces security is a major issue which affects whether people want to use them for recreation.  After the murder of Farah Noor Adams along the Maryhill locks of the forth and Clyde Canal the number of women using the canal decreased dramatically.  There is a problem too in that many parks and green spaces can be left vandalised and unattended for days.  For example recently Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow’s West End opened its gates with rubbish strewn all over its grassy verges – Glasgow City Council had failed to clean it up and failed to stop people littering extensively throughout the park during the previous day.
~ In order to address security concerns and ensure that our parks are safe and well maintained for people to use we need to see more parkies throughout all of our parks.
~ In order to make canals and walkways safe, and crucially feel safe, for people to use we have to extend wardens and patrols along these areas otherwise we are effectively putting them out of reach to vulnerable people and women through inaction.
~ If security cameras are to be introduced to safeguard our parks these cannot be used as an excuse to reduce the number of park wardens or other workers, and they are no substitute for a human presence.  Ideally security cameras would function as cameras do for concierge stations in tower blocks – rather than transmitting to a central monitoring station they need to be manned by park wardens in our parks.
— Real Development For Our Parks —
~ Many of our parks have been neglected by councils for a long time.  They have bandstands, public toilets, changing facilities and pitches that are run down, and glasshouses that lie broken and empty.  Little care or attention has been spent in keeping them clean, tidy, presentable and crucially usable for citizens.  We must oppose this neglect and underuse being used as an excuse or pretext for unwanted development.
~ We need to extend the range of community activities that go on in our parks; rather than parks being rented out for concerts and private functions we need to extend the range of creative community organised events, such as fun days and festivals, nature walks and sports coaching.  Our parks can only be at the heart of our communities if they are used by them.
~ We need to ensure that public buildings that councils have closed or allowed to become dilapidated are restored and reopened, and we need to ensure that they are not handed over to commercial ventures.  It is a disgrace that in the height of summer on some of the busiest days for parks many are left without toilets or changing rooms, and public buildings lie closed.
~ Well placed noticeboards for community information should be sited in our parks, and facilities such as public toilets and changing rooms need to be extended to our recreation spaces to increase their usefulness for sport, play, and relaxation .
~ We should play a role in supporting moves to increase legislative protection for our parks and green spaces.  We need to protect the public estate from future erosion, and we need to safeguard the historic heritage of our parks and green spaces and ensure that trees are not cut down without proper reason and established wildlife and habitats are not disturbed without just cause and the support of the public.
~ The public needs to be taking the decisions which affect our estate and planning decisions cannot continue to be taken in secret.  They need to be opened up to popular participation and scrutiny.
— Mutual Aid & Support —
~ Perhaps most of all however we see a role for the network in developing a central, common voice for local campaign groups in defence of our parks, a pool of contacts, a number of groups helping each other out, sharing information, help and support and bringing together people from different areas to ensure more frequent successes for community campaigns.
~ We want to share experiences on how groups have won struggles to save or extend local facilities so that other groups can benefit from this know-how
~ We want to involve as many ‘friends of’ groups as we can to help build a powerful grassroots voice to safeguard our greenspace and provide real meaningful backing for regional and national campaigns and attempts to get legislation changed
~ We want to force the parks and greenspaces issue onto the agenda of policy makers, to start to force a meaningful say for communities across the West in the planning process.
~ We want to use grassroots strength to carry out campaigns throughout many communities, not just in isolation.
~ We want to able to support groups where individuals do not yet have the skills or the time or the community involvement required to safeguard their greenspace to be able to develop these capacities.
~ We want to set up ties and links to other organisations across the country and work positively with others involved in similar issues and struggles, where we can
Above all we want to make use of our strengths.  We are strong but at the moment we are isolated and much of the public estate is fast disappearing, but together we can reverse this erosion and start to win improvements in our parks and green spaces.
Together we are
stronger. 

If this is the kind of network you would like to be part of then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Contact: / 07910627970
And we’ll add you to the network!


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Seems good so far, I think we need to be careful in the ‘Security’ section of the report. We do not want to encourage over-surveilance, the recent facistical response of the police in Kelvingrove Park to abuse of Alcohol has ruined the atmosphere of the place for many people. As regards to rubbish, there are no signs asking people to tidy up within the park itsaelf, and the bin facilities are also inadequate. I’d be willing to bet a glass and can recycling bin at the base of the main hill would’ve gone a long way to encouraging people to tidy up their empties.

Comment by mikey

Kelvingrove Car Park! My gripe about Kelvingrove concerns the increasing use of the area within Kelvingrove Street gates as a car park for various commercial activities. A[part from the parked vehicles I have seen cars driving at the same speed as they would on a road when the park was full of families and children playing.

Comment by Paul Barham


Comment by WENDY SMITH

Hi Nick,

As Chairman of St. Leonards Community Council, I have a vested interest in our comunity and how selling off greenspaces are going to affect us all.
I have headed many opposition meetings and objection demonstrations on our behalf and latterly held a mass demo in the Colonsay Fields this year.
It will be crucial to our case when we go to the Public Inquiry some time in 2007 that we have the full support of all interested parties.
It would appear that even the act of over 9000 residents writing their obkections to South Lanarkshire Council, they have disregarded our demands to leave Colonsay alone.
The fact that we will have elections this spring has fed the locals their agenda menu so to speak!
We hope that we can put enough pressure on certain parties to push the Colonsay issue up to the top of their electioneering profile and make it a huge campaign issue for us.

If there is anything you feel we shold know, or if we have any similar pints to raise, then we should meet to discuss our plans accordingly.

Thanks for now,

Graeme Macklin
01355 230385

My Secy is Mrs Avril Anderson
25 Tiree
East Kilbride
01355 238846.

Comment by Graeme Macklin

Hi Nick,
I was just trolling through and saw the report you published in 2006. It is now 1 year on and as you may well know, we WON OUR CAMPAIGN to……..

Despite many who supported the campaign, but said ” you will never win” and “it’s all done and dusted” we were victorious and have achieved what we set out to do.
This has been a wonderful experience for us all and to be right up there taking on the ‘heavy weights’ like South Lanarkshire Council Planners and more.
It was brilliant to be able to put up an honest and reliable case for the Public to choose to support. This they did in their thousands and after all it is the public that indirectly pay the wages of their councillors.

The People have spoken ! They have voted with their pens on paper, and with their feet so whatever way you want to descibe the outcome remember……. IT IS NOT OVER until IT’S OVER !

Regards and thanks to all our supporters,

Graeme Macklin Chairman
St. Leonards Community Council
East Kilbride.

Comment by Graeme Macklin

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